WeTransfer Studios partnered with the Clio Awards to explore how and where creatives work best. Rather than another studio visit feature, we asked five creatives around the world to describe their dream workplace, which illustrator Owen Gatley brought to life for us.
Cybel Martin is an award-winning director of photography based in New York city. She’s worked with the likes of Netflix, ESPN and National Geographic and shot commercials for Sony, Reebok and Timberland. Her films have premiered at Sundance, TriBeCa and the Berlin Film Festival.
“The beauty of film production is my that my “work place” is always changing – filming on a beach in Belize one week. downtown Los Angeles the next. I'm a kid in a visual candy store.
My creativity thrives when there is order and structure. I love containers, folders, clocks, anything color-coded and alphabetized. My meditation and yoga practice is also very important. I wouldn't be opposed to a gong on set – and a band of yogis to practice sun salutations with me during my breaks.
Sunlight is vital to my happiness and creativity. My perfect workspace would provide me with sunshine on demand. Not artificial – I know the difference. You know that cartoon character who is followed by one rain cloud that affects only them? I want the sun version. Either a tiny planet, or a quantum-physics-engineered sunroof so I can always look up and feel the sun, without it altering my lighting on set.
Coffee. Must have strong coffee. Nothing fancy. If Craft Services could perform an Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony (simply pick the raw coffee beans, roast & grind them) three times a day, I'd be pleased.
Film crews are fun people. We laugh often. Sometimes we do stress out and could use an instant injection of joy. Nothing does that better than puppies. Especially Pomeranians for me.
A portable, temperature-regulated Pomeranian Dog Run, complete with Poms, sound proof walls (don't want to upset our Sound Mixer), plush toys and puppy snacks would be a reasonable request.
All of the chairs should be massage chairs. For those who have to stand all day, I'd like a masseuse to circulate amongst the crew members – do a quick shoulder rub and dab essential oils on our brow.”
Pann Lim is the co-founder and creative director of Singapore agency Kinetic, whose belief in strong, concept-led design has seen him rack up more than 400 industry awards. In his spare time he also creates the much-loved Rubbish Famzine, an eccentric, thematic publication written, illustrated and designed by Pann, his wife and his two children.
“I work best when I am happy. There's no better way to perform than when you are at peace with everything you do. Without any baggage in my mind, I can work in any conditions – noisy or quiet, messy or neat.
Kinetic Singapore is in a restored shophouse located about ten minutes outside the city. We call it Peranakan style and there is nothing I don’t like about it, so I would keep that.
I would like the walls covered in vinyls that I love. Music can range from jazz to death metal to alternative rock, and anything and everything in between. It would be nice if there are a few turntables with different set-ups.
I want to be surrounded by things that inspire me. I would like a library of books and magazines and I’d like the space to be filled with furniture and other objects made by creatives I admire. Electronics from Dieter Rams, vintage film cameras by Leica, furniture by the Eames, Marcel Breuer, Gerrit Rietveld, Enzo Mari, Robin Day. In fact, I would love to have Robin Day in the same studio to learn from him. I have always admired his work and his philosophy.
I wouldn’t mind spending time with Miles Davis as well – quite a crazy guy with his trumpet! And I will also have a chair and table for Marina Abramovic, so I can gaze into her eyes like like in The Artist is Present performance.
There should also be rows and rows of vintage Sofubi toys and figurines, ranging from Ultraman to Masked Rider. And I would love the whole studio to be filled with tropical plants, like the rafflesia. It produces a massive flower and it’s said to smell of rotting flesh!”
Chicago-based Daniel Kuypers works at the intersection of culture, creativity and branding. He started out as a musician and DJ himself, and went onto run his own highly-respected indie record label. Moving into branding, he led the creative department at Music Dealers and he’s now Director of Music at Energy BBDO, where he oversees campaigns for clients like PepsiCo and SC Johnson.
*“My current workplace is a fluorescently-lit box in a building shaped like a box. It’s not quite a Mies Van Der Rohe, but it aspires to be. My office in particular is a small, dimly lit space with oddball art and a mini-fridge filled with pickles and wine.
I enjoy organized chaos. Dim lights, cold air and quiet.
My dream workspace would be shaped like an octagon with no two walls exactly parallel, and it would have a skylight the size of a Nissan Versa. My office would have one window, and that window would look out into some woods. But the office would not be in the woods, just the view from the window is sylvan.
It would have multiple sofas, of multiple materials – leather, suede, canvas. It would have a few comfy chairs, each with an ottoman and each with the ability to recline. There would be rugs – mostly shag-Danish, but also some tasteful jute.
I want weirdo art, things that people twist their neck to look back at, have to mention, feel uneasy about, want to like but can’t admit they do.
I would need a fridge for pickles and leftovers, and a wine cooler. I would also need a mini-bar for cocktails and trinkets. The office would, of course, have excellent speakers, extraordinary acoustics – floating panels that could turn the room from live to dead.
Also, a wood-burning fireplace. And slippers for me and all guests.”*
Musa Okwonga is a writer, poet and performer who lives and works in Berlin. He has written two books about football, contributed to The Guardian, The New Statesman and The New York Times and he was described by Q magazine as a “globe-straddling Mike Skinner.”
*“This may sound strange, but I pretty much have my dream workplace already. I have never written better work than I do right now. I need solitude to create, but I also need to know that I can leave it whenever necessary.
If I had to think of a better place to work, I would choose to live in a first-floor apartment on the corner of a building which had natural light coming in from all windows, and which looked out onto a body of water.
In terms of decoration, I might go for the combination my sister had in her bedroom when we were growing up; we painted the walls polenta-yellow, and we laid down a deep-blue carpet (the closest colour is a shade called “ultramarine”). That room permanently looked like an ocean shore, even in winter, and in summer, whenever the sun caught it, it was spectacular. When you walked on that carpet barefoot, it was like stepping through a shallow tide, and I forget the number of times I fell asleep on it.
I would have a fridge filled with my favourite flavour of smoothie – blueberry, strawberry, banana, pomegranate and watercress.
I would probably also have the same bed I have now, a four-poster bed with a low mattress, along with a deckchair looking out over the water. And a nice high ceiling – Berlin gives you the taste for those.
I consider the geography of Berlin to be part of my workplace: the fact that the city is so flat means that you can just get out and wander everywhere on foot, which is great when you’re teasing out the answer to a creative question.”*
Dr Nelly Ben Hayoun
Nelly Ben Hayoun is an artist and filmmaker once described as “the Willy Wonka of design and science.” Fascinated by the furthest reaches of the world – from outer space to the depths of the oceans – her work is daring, ambitious and utterly unique. Her latest venture, the University of the Underground, is a new type of degree course that uses creative thinking to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems.
*”I know that creativity is not a linear process, and accepting that chaotic approach right from the start has made things less stressful over the years. It’s about never compromising, and being aware that you need to prepare and train mentally and physically for whatever is around the corner. Being a creative is about being very disciplined with yourself and others in order to achieve that human magic.
My dream workspace should be permanently mobile, a living Noah's Ark divided into:
i) Laboratory and experimental studio
ii) Wet space for scuba gear and samples
iii) Kitchen and living room
v) Dance floor
vi) Painting and color studio
vii) Antenna for SETI signals, with direct lift access to the internet cable of the world, 11km underwater
On board I will have a pirate radio, an option to buy stocks and modify economic models.
I need a partner in crime in all projects, it can be a sociologist, a radio presenter, an artist, a fireman, or a playwright etc.
I have two type of people; the living partners in crime and the dead partners in crime. With the dead ones, they inspire me and I enjoy imagining what they would have done if they were in my position; for example existentialist Jean Paul Sartre and his girlfriend Simone De Beauvoir, political philosopher Hannah Arendt, poet Boris Vian, dramaturge Antonin Artaud, chemist Marie Curie.
Then there are the other experts who I have worked with on projects like Space Viking and the International Space Orchestra – biologists and physicists and all sorts of others. I’d of course take my family too – so I need a big boat!”*