Core Value No. 3: EXCHANGE OF IDEAS

Forget the designer-client relationship you’re used to. And don’t sit around waiting for the solution to come down from the mountain. When you enter into a relationship with Collaborative Studio, you’re going to be part of the process. You’re going to be in the mix.

Our core values–there are only four–aren’t your typical dry stuff: 1) Excellence in work and life. 2) Creativity and innovation in all we do. 3) Idea exchange through collaboration. And 4) honesty and integrity. A simple but powerful list.

When we say “idea exchange,” we don’t mean just among ourselves. We really want the client to be a contributor. We have no interest in showing off how smart we are. We want to know how you tick, how you work and live, and what makes you laugh. Tell us when you are at your best or your worst.

How do we work? It depends on you. Because your needs are what we revolve around.

We won’t show up with a list of services. We show up with open eyes, ears, and hearts.

We want to know your ideas. You may think you have none or don’t feel like opening up. That’s okay. We have ways to make you talk. It will be fun. We guarantee that.

Journal Communications, Inc.

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For Journal Communications, Inc., a progressive custom magazine publisher, design is discovering the hidden culture of the company and conveying this image throughout the facility, while changing the atmosphere for every employee and making a difference in their business.  To quote the client:  “The space is absolutely perfect — I know of no other offices as bright and welcoming.  They perfectly communicate what JCI is, and how the company operates.  As such, it’s a great, great sales tool.  Visiting Chamber of Commerce execs are blown away, and usually buy.”

How is design best illustrated through the project?

The design solution incorporates displays depicting the JCI brand and culture throughout all areas.  Examples of their product: magazines, photography, and website design are illustrated in the lobby area and on monitors in the walking gallery leading to the presentation conference room.  Personalized photographs of award-winning employees hang in the sales area; portrait and text from founding owner Alex Haley is prominently displayed at the end of the gallery; employee photography work is displayed like a filmstrip on the walls of the production area.  The employees and clients of Journal Communications, Inc. are always aware of the company’s mission and values.

What was the biggest design challenge and how was it solved?

During the initial design phase of the project, it became evident that there were definitely two distinct groups in the organization with different personalities.  The sales group was very professional and needed a more structured environment, while the production staff was more creative and wanted collaborative space.  The design addresses these distinctions while creating a cohesive aesthetic.  The sales team is located on one side of the gallery with a more conventional office arrangement, while the production team is on the other side in an open office teaming layout.  Community space is located between the groups to join them together.

What was innovative or unique about the design process?

Since Journal Communications, Inc. was moving from a disjointed, run-down, old office space to a new office environment, it was critical to determine the true needs and not dwell on the extremes of what they did not have in the old space.  By interacting early in the progress with a cross section of the organization, we were able to encourage them to think about the new space in an abstract context, which allowed for new ideas to surface.   The result was a space designed to truly meet their functional needs.

How did the design make a difference and what are the measurable impacts of your work?

The new offices for Journal Communications, Inc, in Franklin, Tennessee have changed the way that the employees interact with each other to improve their productivity and enjoy work.  Additionally, the space has become a sales tool, helping them win new business.

Do you do Churches?

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That question came from the contractor. A nondenominational church in Franklin, Tenn., known as The Gate, wanted a space that suited their music-centered, heartfelt worship services, as well as room to gather, fellowship, and relax. Collaborative Studio had never done a church before, but in 2009, with no end in sight to the sagging economy, the answer was yes.

We paid a visit to the pastor, Steve Fry, and had our first look at the space. We found a former bridal store at grade, with a wedding chapel below, 9-foot ceilings throughout. Not promising.

Fry said they needed someone to help them choose carpet, paint, and tile. We asked him questions about how he was intending to use the space, and what he described was not a traditional church service.

He wanted to foster social interaction. He envisioned places for laughter and conversation. And a main assembly area where heartfelt worship and song would take center stage. These ideas sounded familiar to us.

“We had experience creating vibrant gathering spaces. Our corporate clients typically want spaces where employees enjoy gathering and talking, such as the HCA Cafe,” says Jenny Campbell, founder and lead architect at Collaborative Studio.

We showed the staff at the Gate photos of the HCA Cafe and other corporate spaces. They resonated. We dug deeper, and soon the project had evolved from a paint job to a full-fledged interior architecture project.

Now the problem was how to create the kind of place they wanted in a low-slung, hollowed-out retail store.

Just as we would do with a corporate floor plan, we divided the space up into areas and began to experiment with the space available. Curved forms divided common areas from the worship center, also to manage the stucco as the new wall material we were working on, If you need quality stucco repair then contact professional local stucco contractors, we work with them in every project and definitely recommend them.

In the worship center, the stage was placed along a wall, shattering expectations about how this rectangular space should be utilized. The result was a semicircle seating arrangement that focused the attention of the worshippers on the program as well as on each other. Out of an old bridal store, several hundred worshippers would find a sanctuary.

The ceiling was another challenge. The bottom of the roof joists were right at 9 feet, so there was no leeway there. The solution in the worship center was to actually lower the ceiling by hanging acoustic baffles, or “clouds,” and paint the ceiling black, thereby tricking the eye into thinking the ceiling rose high. The illusion worked.

“Divine intervention,” is how Jenny describes the solution.

By listening well, and by refusing to be limited by a challenging space, Collaborative Studio achieved something way beyond the client’s expectations.