Do stuff that counts. Each and every day. Grab a hold of some chalk and start coloring in your path forward. Better yet, grab some friends and get to work. Better together.
The birth of the Kickstand
Over a year ago we designed a popup mini-park installed on Langdon Street in Montpelier, VT to provide a much needed gathering space along a narrow downtown street frontage. Part of the arts based creative placemaking project, Langdon Street Alive, we won a small commission to design a seasonal small outdoor seating area to liven up a sunny corner of a building with a flourishing bike and outdoor sports shop and its busy parking lot.
Designing for the in between
What's curious about projects like the greater Langdon Street Alive initiative and The Kickstand specifically is a lack of a road map to follow for streetscape improvements. Not exactly architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design, designing for the in between is all of that and none at the same time. Perhaps that's why Creative Placemaking has risen to best describe projects like these increasingly popping up around the country, in downtowns, brownfields, with new programming, arts and culture based initiatives and more.
Creative placemaking focuses on activities whose end result lies in helping transform communities, the quality and character of their places, while often building capacity for growth, economic development and oppourtunity. The Kickstand is an example writ small of such place shaping and capacity building.
The design includes two small seating areas backed by a long embracing bench fronted by stump seating and tables with canopies overhead. To help build capacity for bike parking, an existing bike rack was relocated to the raised area to the west of the seating area. Recycled steel brake drums were used for planters to anchor the thin end of the Kickstand. Splayed 1/2 metal rods form the screen wall which provides a little bit of solidity while helping create safety visibility from the street through into the parking lot. (A local police department requirement)
Thanks to design collaborators including Rogen Design Build, Ward Joyce Design and David Frey who came up with The Kickstand name. Rogen Design Build collaborated with us to do a design build version of the original idea which in our estimation tremendously improved upon it. Using local Hemlock milled from Fontaine's Sawmill the design build team crafted the project over the course of a couple of weekends with some fine tuning over the course of the summer.
Earlier this summer Arocordis Design’s longtime client, National Life Group, an Insurance and Financial Services company headquartered in Montpelier, began using their newly renovated lobby designed by Arocordis Design.
The renovated 4,500 SF Lobby elegantly opens up and makes more approachable a campus wide space used daily by over 2,000 people. Arocordis Design aligned the renovation design with National Life’s youthful #Cause driven culture and sustainability ethos while elegantly connecting to its past........
Recently work was completed on a heavy renovation of a central Vermont 1840's cape style farmhouse for a mutual friend and daughter. Her long term goal is to get off fossil fuels and live as close to net zero in the long term as possible while refreshing the historic "bones" of a vintage old Vermont Farmhouse in a budget minded yet values driven way.
We helped set to stage to transform a 175 year old building of average quality with relatively recent upgrades including....
The rise of user Experience and Branding
Recently, internal space branding and creating powerful user experience or (UX) has risen in importance as key design factors in planning and developing design strategies for office and workplace projects. User experience when linked with the data from the rise in beacon and sensor technologies embedded into furniture, floors, walls, ceilings, lighting and more, provide the possibility for new insights on the power of place to support work, workers, and the workplace. However, these new technologies must be met with...
A new small prototype green home we have in design. 1,300 sf +/- of single level living space, 2 bedrooms, flexible kitchen-dining-living area whose space extends to a generous terrace and pergola. The single living level recognizes the growing need for homes allowing older homeowners age in place, reducing the need to further downsize....;
Designing your office or workplace offers some terrific opportunities to cultivate strong cultures, worker engagement, and performance. Watch our video explaining more. Connect with us!
Best Practice Tips for creating inspiring places and spaces
Curious about how architects work to help their clients create attractive and purposeful interior spaces as part of a renovation, addition or new construction project? See our video with helpful insights into our creative process. With our work we seek to help you, your organization, your business, or your family move gracefully through what often is a stressful, complicated part of any project.
For a typical project, small or large numerous decisions await which require careful integrative consideration and creative insights on sustainability, indoor air quality, durability, comfort, branding, cost, production time, installation coordination, and more.
Watch to learn more
Curious about next steps?
After watching, let us know if you have any questions or comments. To learn more click on the contact us button below. You're welcome to leave comments here. Check the opt in box to receive our updates from the Arocordis Blog with events, insights and more we share here.
CORA Health Services, Inc. hired Arocordis Design recently to develop concept design and renderings of their soon to open 5,400 SF. Kennerly Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. We worked with their national and regional operations leadership to help them infuse their new space with tasteful brand-focused design....
Earlier in the summer of 2016 we provided interior architectural design services for National Life Group and their just finished reception area renovation at their Dallas area office location serving over 200 plus employees.
Finished this summer, this presents a new face for the Texas location while connecting to company wide aesthetics and brand story. We designed the reception desk area, planter and engineered stone rough and polished cladding, sign marquee (For weight reasons) as well as provided general direction as to wall graphics, furnishings as well as fixed finishes. ...
Growing, an adding team members? Seeking to better align your Place with your Culture and Brand while upping collaboration, engagement and productivity?
Are you and your management team, company leaders struggling with how to best move your office or workplace design project forward?
See this brief video for more on how we can help.
Problems with distraction and inability to focus?
- Do you, your coworkers or employees complain about unwanted noise and distraction in your open office workplace?
- Do you wear headphones to quiet the cacophony of sound around you? Do you have no place to go to make private phone calls? Or do you wear them to avoid getting interrupted?
- Do you work from home as much as you can to avoid being in your noisy office?
If you answered yes to any of the questions you likely are experiencing some design shortcoming in the layout, design and detailing of your office or workplace. To help you and others maybe avoid this in the future we offer Seven or so tips which if followed might contribute to a higher performing open office work setting where you can collaborate, innovate yet work in quiet when you need and want it....
Pardon its dog-eared appearance but that's the way it goes for a book which has traveled hundreds of miles, had coffee spilled on it, and been underlined more times than we can count.
Why is it a great business book for a high aspiring business and organization? Friedman takes you behind the scenes, out into the open office, meeting spaces and into the board room
Recently we attended a lunch and learn about some of the key issues facing the State of Vermont in its Tech focused economic development efforts as well as key focuses for the year ahead for the new administration. We heard about statewide economic development efforts from Mike Schirling, Secretary of the State of Vermont Agency of Commerce, Community, Housing and Economic Development. (A mouthful) For a renewed beginning see beta version of www.thinkvt.com. Thanks to Vermont Technology Alliance for spearheading this and Logic Supply for hosting the lunch and learn.
Areas of economic development focus
Innovation center, maker hubs
Accelerators and incubator ecosystem
Enhance coworking opportunities
Better and more fiber
Access to capital
Easier customer experience navigating permitting, contracting
Smooth access to needed agency services.
Vermont Senate and Vermont House of Representatives economic development committees please support additional funding for the Agency to market the whole story of Vermont rather than no funding. This story spans across tourism, technology, sustainable business in technology, agriculture, food and spirits, our historic downtowns and naturalbeauty, entrepreneurialism and more?
Lots to keep talking about these issues Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), Vermont Chamber, Vermont Business Roundtable, Vermont Business Magazine, Seven Days, Burlington Free Press and keep the conversation going. Vermont needs to thrive for the generations to follow. Lots of work to do, bills and important cross party lines and advocacy conversations to have.
Confused about how to accelerate and inspire innovation in your office or workplace through its layout, design and culture building? To help, we share some insight garnered from an interesting Steelcase white paper "How Place Fosters Innovation." With its evergreen advice, we continue to refer to and share it with clients and partners year after year in our work with others. We feel its insights help frame and shape innovation related organizational thinking and workplace design strategies for large and small businesses alike.
an innovation mindset matters
Today's hyper-competitive business environments, whether in public, private or nonprofit sectors, demand high performing organization naturally seek a state of innovation, continuous learning and a growth mindset. Successful companies adopt a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. To cultivate authentic and sustainable growth, especially with a focus on seeding innovation, mindset matters.
Frequently though, we find the Place where people work and How they work misaligned with the needs of the business or organization adopting an innovation mindset.
Frankly the office and workplace falls short!
We believe attuned place design supporting this natural drive for innovation can power healthy disruptive and sustainable growth, all the while providing the right resources for day to day work, pointing the way towards enduring success.
The Steelcase White Paper offers a framework for organizations to assess why, how, who and what is the work primary to their business. Through it, with the help of architects like ourselves and other consultants, they assess the kind of work culture they currently have, the work processes valuable to them today, and what they strive for in coming future that might be different than today with a growth mindset. In light of this continuum, we believe it is critical to view your workplace as an ecosystem of flexible spaces and resources supporting your people doing their work. whether face to face and or virtual collaboration, heads down focus work, customer service, communication, potential development and human resources, training and development and more.
Aligning Place to purpose, needed work processes and collaboration requires choices of how, where and when to do differing kinds of work. We like to think of the office or workplace, or business as a unique organizational and space ecosystem. We use the concept of ecosystem to describe the workplace as an integration of people working within and together in their physical spaces, along with supporting technology, furniture, building systems and organizational systems. Doing so redirects the conversation away from entitled "I" space to empowered "We" spaces whether at the scale of one person, a small team or grouping of teams within a larger whole.
Ecosystem thinking also acknowledges the changing dynamics of an organization, its culture and broader identity. Organizations themselves have lifespans and experience stages of growth, transformation. maturity and rebirth. Given these life cycles, placing them within a workplace ecosystem mindset seems entirely logical. Startup, mid-stage, mature and legacy phases constitute the major chapters of organizational life which if anything is dynamic rather than fixed.
Your business is a work in progress just like you
This evolving process of carrying out and doing your business and its work befits what is really happening; we are all works in progress. And yes work is messy, held together in some cases literally and/or metaphorically by duct tape more often than we like to admit, and full of failures which inspire potential future success. Like natural systems, your organization fits into an eco-system with all of its parts and pieces serving some kinds of inter-related purpose.
We think the first step to more clearly understanding your organization's innovation oppourtunity is to closely examine and reflect together on what's your purpose and the primary motivations behind what you do. Or don't do.
Purpose and Cause: The Why
First look at your organization in the mirror with your team. Do you have a clear sense of mission and purpose? Having a collective sense of identity and purpose forms a cultural glue uniting individuals into teams of mission driven performers able to carry out at different times, disruptive and sustaining innovation. If you lack organizational clarity and passion about your mission and core purpose likely it will be difficult to innovate together.
The other aspect of this lies in the your organizational size and how your group, team or self fits into the overall whole. Whether you have three or 5,000 colleagues makes a difference in how to work with an innovation mindset. With smaller size comes greater agility and quick adaptability to change processes, tools and use your spaces differently. The larger you are, the more complex the innovation equation becomes. Also the greater oppourtunity.
Regardless of size, make sure you have a clear sense of mission and purpose and you authentically as individuals and teams can connect with it. If you don't, you have a terrific opportunity to codevelop and collaborate together on redefining your core mission and values. Then you will be ready to innovate together whether in disruptive or sustaining ways. The reason is you will already be innovating working hard together to cultivate and build your culture.
Individual versus collaborative versus distributed work
Examine closely your ratios of how you actually work right now regarding how much is individual, group, collaborative and distributed work. Distributed work may be an unfamiliar term to you.
You may think you work in a traditional office setting with most people working out of your office. But do you really? You likely already work on the distributed work continuum. How often do you work from home, a local coffeeshop, park bench holding video calls with team members across numerous time zones and cultures? Likely much more than you did five or ten years ago.
Where you work right now, how much space is devoted to individual workspaces versus common work areas including social, learning and cafe spaces? Today's newer space ratios range closer to 60/40% for individual to common to 50/50 or even 30 / 70% in organizations taking pride in a more "We" focused culture.
In general today's innovation focused business work with less dedicated personal workspace emphasizing instead shared spaces ranging from heavily social to extremely focused increasingly popular quiet spaces. Looking around your workplace do you see those ratios or do you see those from ten to fifteen years ago with a much higher amounts of owned workspace and less meeting spaces.
Depending on what your work is, you likely collaborate with partners and team members working from home, coworking spaces, other subcontractors assisting you with specialized services from a far needing occasional onsite workspaces. The ratio of personally committed "owned" workspace versus shared in common, collaborative and just-in time work areas is very different than even five or ten years ago.
You probably already work with virtual collaboration spaces like GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Facetime or Duo. Some of you work like this daily, others less frequently. This shared virtual working is distributed working. Compared to 10 years ago and technology tools available then, today's tools offer unparalleled convenience, ease of use and collaborative functionality. Plain and simple, we are all working differently and by extension, innovating in new ways. We can only expect this level of disruption of how we work to continue infinitely.
So honestly, you're working more differently than ever before. So then, what models of innovation might work best for your organization, your work, purpose and brand? Your why?
Models of innovation: Centralized to decentralized
"Some organizations look inward; others look externally for fresh ideas and new ways of solving problems." From Steelcase's research perspective they have eight or so models spanning the innovation spectrum from centralized (closely held, proprietary) to decentralized (open or crowd sourced and more). Where and how do you do your best work, where you and your coworkers thrive in regards to innovation? Choosing one requires close examination of your organizational leadership style and how you collaborate well as well as your purpose.
Those models of innovation are:
- (Centralized) In-house marketplace model
- In-house share model
- In-house center model
- Off-site model
- Partnership model
- Consultancy model
- Network model
- Community driven model (Decentralized)
Depending on the kind of business you're in, your size and organizational complexity, one or a hybrid combination of the above will likely fit. In our design practice, we have worked in a variety of models to best help our clients with organizational fit to purpose. For some larger ones we act almost as an embedded design and innovation consultant. For smaller ones we act in the consultancy role as outside architectural design experts working on a project by project basis. Or we work on larger project design teams whether leading the overall effort on behalf of the client or participating as a team member among many.
Defining fit to purpose for innovation efforts
Finding the right model also speaks to where your organization is in its life space and maturity. The model you choose to work with also echoes your leadership model and style. as well as active practice of innovation with recurrent and well supported work processes and resources. Choosing a decentralized crowd sourced innovation model within a heavily centralized leadership model may not align, however alternatively, following it may fuel disruptive innovation difficult to achieve within such an organization and its prevailing leadership style.
Defining the fit of innovation efforts to your organizational purpose is extremely important. Part of this plays into understanding if your are looking for sustaining innovation or disruptive innovation outcomes. Examining innovation models in the context of space design and layout is an essential next step.
So then, how to foster innovation by design? Here are a few principles borrowed from the Steelcase research as well as augmented in (parentheses) by us from our own practice and applied research experience.
Workplace design principles to spark innovation
- Make a Place (and Tell Your Story): Create and cultivate strong pride in place and opportunities for creative collisions and focused work. Given the rise of distributed work choices and capabilities you must have strong reasons to come to work, bond socially with coworkers and partners face to face. Make sure to leverage your interior environment to integrate branded storytelling, touch and waypoints reinforcing mission, purpose, and core value messaging. Select furniture, finishes and materials which reinforce your brand DNA.
- Make it inspiring: As the Steelcase research shares "creating stimulating, engaging spaces can jump-start and sustain creative thinking." (and collaboration opportunities.) Bring nature near into the interior, daylight and views with strong connection to brand values with a variety of choices of informal and more formal spaces.
- Make it flexible and adaptive: (Take care to carefully balance long term space needs with avoiding permanent "monument" construction which makes later space changes and adaptations expensive and time consuming to make. Use easily changeable, movable walls, furniture and lighting where feasible in the majority of your work spaces leaving a minority of areas with more fixed architecture. This fixed architecture might include storage rooms, restrooms, special conference areas, labs, production facilities and specialized manufacturing. Embed technology which allows for telepresence and forward flexibility adaptable to emerging technologies along with wireless capabilities.) Create communication protocols internally via technology with an agile focused facilities and operations team to assist in co-creating and adapting existing spaces.
- Make it Social (Yet Create Quiet Places): "Social capital between co-creators is crucial for innovation to occur. It builds trust, especially important when teams are doing intense work. Open and relaxed areas for informal conversations (and creative collisions) are critical components for successful innovation spaces." (Sprinkled within active collaboration areas provide places of refuge and Quiet Spaces and places for innovators to think alone, recharge, work in small groups have risen in importance since Steelcase released these findings. Provide "clearings" amidst collaboration areas with shared common areas with comfortable cafe style seating adjacent to food and drink for recharging and relaxed informal interactions. Create a shared kitchen counter area to act as an interaction hub.)
- Make it Collaborative: "Innovation teams require a shared mind. Individual insights and memory need to become learning and memory" with easy visibility to project or innovation work history throughout the space says the Steelcase research. They go onto suggest the following: (Our additions in parentheses)
- Position individual workspaces around group workspaces to maximize visibility. (and proximity to shared work)
- Provide group areas for informal brainstorming and informal information swaps. (fostering creative collisions)
- Plan for extensive dialogue with digital information and intense collaborations around computers (and smart devices , wall and furniture surfaces) involving (face to face) and virtual team work.
- Provide for vertical (and horizontal) interactive displays, white boards (white board surfaces applied to walls)
- (Consider mobile, easily reconfigurable furniture to encourage DIY team oriented project based reconfigurations)
- (Maintain an informal and evolving set of collaboration and design thinking protocols easily understood and widely shared to create continuity and clarity about the collaboration process)
- (Provide a maker space or series of mini-maker spaces with maker tools and support props for rapid prototyping and ideating developing concepts. [Legos for adults. But leave in the Legos])
Innovation is evolving
Since work processes, technology continue to evolve in truly breakneck speed many of these above ideas may well need to be dramatically rethought and re examined in coming years. How will machine learning and artificial intelligence impact innovation process and capacity development? Could be extremely powerful in regards to inventing many new possibilities arriving from human and AI collaboration. While the future is unclear in respect to AI, our shared drive for new ideas and impulse to innovate remain constant.
Remember sharing purpose and cause fuels your drive to innovate and cultivate the right kinds of workspace and culture to do this important work. We believe without this cultural glue your innovation efforts will falter and lack purpose, with stunted success. In the meanwhile, keep aspiring to do good things and keep a steady supply of duct tape around.
You will need it! Do you follow or practice an innovation mindset or framework similar to what we share here? Do you practice any of these innovation design principles? Or do you see different forces at play impacting how, where and why you work? Please share in the comments sections below. Let's build a dialogue.
Contact us if you have more questions or if you want to learn more about how to apply this Innovation Framework to your business or organization by design. We want to help you thrive.