Magazine Office Gets a Facelift
by Leah Rourke
*This article was written for Powell River Living Magazine. Pick up a copy or see the magazine here. *
When Isabelle called me to makeover the Powell River Living office, I was ecstatic. Designing commercial spaces is so much fun because I get to think outside the box and incorporate creative, unusual ideas. In an office, I must also consider the way the space is used by both staff and clients. It’s a true case of form follows function.
So I set off on my adventure in makeover-land starting with a team meeting. We talked about what was working and what wasn’t, and what their goals were for the re-design. The overall space plan was working fairly well. We just needed to tweak a little bit and swap some of the desks around.
My intent was aesthetic. I wanted to improve the first impression for clients, to make the space look professional but creative, to give everyone a wow factor. Whether or not that was achieved, you can be the judge.
This is my account of how it all came together.
The first time I actually saw the office was in late July, and it was a chance for me to take stock. I had to take off my designer hat and think like a client (which was easy, since I am). My first impression of the office wasn’t tremendous, I’ll admit.
While it was important to PRL’s staff to have an open-concept, as it is a creative office environment, there are also a lot of things that should be hidden from clients’ view. Clients should feel welcome and relaxed, but know instantly that the office is a professional place of business. It is a fine balance and not easy to achieve. That’s what designers are for!
These were my goals: to find a way to add impact that truly showcased the creative brilliance of the team at Powell River Living magazine; to provide a welcome environment for clients and staff; and to hide the untidy part of the creative process.
I gave my very trusting clients a little preview to approve. They did, and we were away.
Isabelle mentioned that she had a ton of back issues of the magazine in storage and I knew I wanted to use them. I envisioned a wall of some sort, and Steph (my trusty design assistant) came up with the idea of wrapping them around blocks. And so the feature wall was born. Over the next two weeks, Steph wrapped magazine covers around hundreds of wood blocks.
It was important to incorporate branding in the design, so colours are repeated throughout and a sign, donated by Impact Signs, incorporates the PRL logo in to the feature wall. Valley Building Supplies generously donated most of the materials to make the wall, as well as the custom bench and shelf. I put Isabelle to work giving the space a new backdrop, so with the help of Relay Rentals and their donation of Cloverdale Paint, she had a weekend project on her hands.
Things were starting to come together. I sewed the slip covers for the love seat and chair. The feature wall “bricks” were being built (it doesn’t hurt to have a handy carpenter for a brother!) Then I built and stained the base for the feature wall, the custom designed bench and the shelf, and I sewed the toss pillows and the covers for the room dividers.
Just when things were rolling along smoothly, reality showed up! Rarely does everything go exactly as expected. The brilliant plan I had for a reclaimed custom built table failed miserably two days before D-Day. Plan B and plan C are a designer’s constant companion. Creativity and the ability to think on your feet are necessities. So I came up with another option which I think turned out even better than my original plan anyways. The coffee table was painted in the accent red colour and has a glass top so it can proudly display current and past magazine covers.
Over the weekend everything came together in a typical way, the usual ups and downs and the odd curse word, but in the end a new fresh look that everyone can be proud of (with the possible exception of Hunter , the office’s Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever, who is still a little mad at me for kicking him off the sofa). I encourage you to go visit the team, check out the new digs and see the design up close.