Let There Be Light

Being a design student, we have homework. Duh. Every student has homework. Heck, this blog that you’re reading is homework. But design students are among the select few that have a “different” kind of homework. Other majors, such as Biology, Chemistry, etc. write papers and memorize things. We don’t often times do that. While others are up all night staring at their textbook trying to cram facts into their minds the night before an exam, design students have to come up with a visually appealing work of art. I’m not trying to downplay the work of non-design or media students; I’m trying to say that we have different kind of work. Therefore, we need a creative, collaborative area to work in that promotes communication and creativity. One place that does this extremely well is 2e Creative. All their employees work in one large room (shown below) with windows lining the far wall and desk spaces that are open and customizable.

Image by Katie Wallace. Viewing the workspace of 2e Creative.
Image by Katie Wallace. Viewing the workspace of 2e Creative.

Since I am a senior in the Graphic Design program, I already know my process for working on projects. I know to always have Oreos on hand in case of a mental breakdown. I’ve slowly and painfully learned to not wait until three days before a project is due to get to work on it. Good design isn’t something you can just throw together. However, it can be difficult to find a good, inspiring place to work. Over the years, I have learned which places are best for me to work in to create good, quality products, and which places seem to drain the creativity from my body. My favorite works spaces in the last few years have been the Digital Media lab in Snyder (the old one by the doors), Jo’s Java, and Maves Art Center.

Image by Katie Wallace.  Bookshelf at 2e Creative in the staff lounge.
Image by Katie Wallace. Bookshelf at 2e Creative in the staff lounge.

What do all these places have in common? They are big, wide-open spaces with at least some natural lighting. There’s something interesting for me to look at when I space out trying to think of an idea for my design, or just when I have temporary designer’s block. Good design can’t be created in the confines of a basement or cubicle. Spaces like that just don’t harbor the ability to think creatively and freely. Designers need a place where they can think freely and consistently be inspired. The structure of cubicles just won’t cut it.

Example of photography I did for Timber-lee Camp

This last summer, I was the Media Marketing Assistant at Timber-lee Camp. This means that I supervised the media interns and made sure the projects done by the interns was good, quality work. This also meant that I had a few big projects of my own. Every Thursday night I made a video to recap the week, and I also did design work, photography, and other video projects. However, the space I was given to work in was insufficient. The office space given to me was a conference room that we had to share with the full-time staff, so sometimes I didn’t even have a sufficient place to work. The windowless, brown and white panel walls just weren’t doing anything for me. Technology was not allowed outside our designated work area when campers were around, and my little cabin room I shared with 2 other girls definitely was not an ideal place to work. So where did I go? McDonald’s. That might sound really weird, but frankly, I was a lot more productive there than I was in my workspace. McDonald’s was brightly lit, and I could even go outside if I wanted to. The patio was my favorite workplace on Saturdays and after 5 on Weekdays when I didn’t have office hours. It was no 2e Creative, but it worked. I didn’t feel like I was trapped in a dungeon. I felt free and relaxed.

Designers simply have difficulty working in a non-creative workspace. When they feel trapped and condensed, nothing is going to get done. Nothing good, anyway. Give designers an open place to work! Add in a ton of windows. Brighten up the place. Rearrange the space every once in a while. Just do something to get the creativity flowing. Good, quality design can’t happen in a cubicle. Get outside, go somewhere new, anything to get away from the monotony of a four wall bedroom.

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