Episode 54: Matching Office Design to Office Culture with Cassie Sipos and Gillian Bowman from Baskervill

Who are Cassie Sipos and Gillian Bowman and the key takeaways in this episode?

In a slight twist on our usual format, today we have two guests for the price of one! Join us as we speak to interior design experts Cassie Sipos and Gillian Bowman from Baskervill.

As you listen to this exciting interview, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of office design and how it should match culture
  • The most common things that are forgotten about when designing office spaces
  • What Gillian and Cassie think of company culture
  • And much, much more

The Questions

You represent your clients very well and with you guys it’s not like “Oh, that’s a Baskervill design,” or “That’s white and black so that’s Baskervill. That’s great. Wow, they put their signature on everything they do.” I think, for me, what I see is extreme professionalism in that what you do for clients is you bring to life their culture. No matter what it may be, you have a respect and an intensity that says, “We can bring this to life and we can do it with a great sense of design interiors.” So, Cassie, the question really comes about: what are your thoughts on office environments and culture?

Answer: I think they definitely relate to each other. Taking into perspective what we’re asking them, what do they want to get out of this office design? What does their culture need to really thrive? Then we go and going off of that and turning it around we create a design, a space, that can really help that culture and help it to organically come about as well. Not boxing in the culture, but rather letting it thrive, I think is the most important thing when going back and forth to office environment matching that culture and vice versa. You really need to think through all the tasks the company needs space for and how to design spaces to best suit those tasks as well as the type of people who work there. The people at a big accounting firm are going to need to do, probably, different tasks than the tasks done by people in design, so we have to think of who we are really designing for here. What are we trying to create in this space? From there, that culture can come about as well.

What do you believe is the most common thing that people forget to do when they’re designing their offices that you’ve noticed from your own experience? Is there something that you see people struggling with all the time?

Answer: I think, for me, there’s not enough quiet space. I mean, we’re here and we work and we have spaces that you can go to work by ourselves, but I think especially in general there are offices that think “Great, we’ve created all these open spaces,” and that’s great. There’s collaborative space and that’s awesome. But now, I think that there’s a lot who realize “Wait a second, we can’t forget that quiet space to work and there are people that really can’t focus with a lot of distractions and need to retreat to really concentrate.” I think that’s something that in my experience and in general we need to draw back and realize that we do need these private spaces. That’s one thing, and the other is that sometimes lighting is the first thing that I notice when I walk into a building personally, and I think I like the lighting we have here in the office. We have a lot of natural light, but I’ve definitely been in spaces where I think that the lighting has often been an afterthought. I think that it should be the first thing that you think of as a designer because it’s very important and can really – I mean, there’s the whole circadian rhythm thing so lighting is definitely important.

Your firm recently did an office experiment on your own firm. Can you tell us about that?

Answer: Cassie and I kind of did this fun experiment where what we really just trying to do was some of our own research and be proactive with clients coming to us. We said: “How do we show our culture, and how do we build our culture within an office space? And how do we incorporate these new, flexible, collaborative designs into where we work?” We thought if we’re going to be advising our clients on some of these trends, why don’t we see what it’s like first hand? “Practice what you preach.” Initially we didn’t start off like “How can we change something in this space to be flexible and collaborative?” It was more like “How can we use this space differently?” I think that initially what sparked our idea was that Cassie and I said that we were going to step away from our desks. That’s where we had been sitting for most of the day, working from them, and we thought “You know what, why don’t we try and decide where we’re going to work based on the task?” Are we checking emails or are we wet-lining drawings? Are we meeting with another teammate to discuss something? So basically everyday we would try our hardest to think if we needed to be at our desks or could we be more efficient sitting somewhere else?

Culture According to Cassie and Gillian:

Culture is so vague and it is overwhelming, like if you are doing something day to day then how do you step back and see what your personal culture is or what your company’s is? Really, it’s the behaviors and actions that are going on everyday. For everyone that works at that company, it’s striving for a common goal.

Go To Quote for Inspiration

Book Recommendations:

  • Gillian – Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Cassie – The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

What Cassie and Gillian Want Their Company to BE:

Cassie

  • BE Curious
  • BE Open
  • BE Creative

Gillian

  • BE Observant
  • BE Thoughtful
  • BE Flexible

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview:

Where to Find Cassie and Gillian:

  • Follow @Baskervill on Twitter
  • Visit the Baskervill website
  • Email Gillian at gbowman@baskervill.com
  • Email Cassie at csipos@baskervill.com

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