The glass chinking, leather-backed, armchair kind. The all glass clean lines of cutting edge Scandinavian architecture kind. The ping pong tabled. The astro-turfed. The ones with a snack station around every corner.
Everyone has their own idea of what the perfect office space looks like, so with an office move on the Stranger Collective cards, the potential of what ours could be was up for debate. As it happened the Stranger clan seemed to have a similar idea of what ours would one day be – and there wasn’t a micro scooter or bean bag in sight, phew.
Our vision was to be an agency that would one day have a ruddy good shop space.
This would be the kind of joint that held a finely curated selection of words and works that we loved and others like us would love too. Things that would inspire thoughts to fly, that showcased brilliance and looked really darn good at the same time. This would be the type of place you could grab a beer, have a bloody interesting chat and just so happen to find something special you could own and admire forever.
While this vision of neatly stacked shelves and the ringing of an old-fashioned till is a long way off (we’ve just about put our desks together), it didn’t stop me setting off on a very soggy Summer day to Feed on how some inspiring creative agencies have pulled of their hybrid office shops to perfection.
First stop KK Outlet.
With a beer thrust into my hand, I knew this was the type of place I was going to like. Self-professed advertisers ‘that hate the ad industry’ KesselsKramer have nailed the look of their London office front of house shop. AKA the KK Outlet. It’s the kind of dual usage space that would confuse our parents; a hybrid gallery and shop, where you can see creative folk beavering away over a brainstorm out the back.
With a series of punchy exhibitions, shelves luring me closer to paw and ponder over independent magazines and a lively community feel, the KK Outlet was a perfect, well, outlet, for showing who KesselsKramer are. By curating other people’s creative successes they made me understand and admire them even more.
Then onwards to YCN (You Can Now), where I found a thoughtful blend of beautiful books and plucky prints, mixed with finely crafted furniture and artists’ wild creations. Think wooden watermelons and giant neon slingshots. It was a place where I could have easily parted with all my money, but restrain led me instead to pick up a couple of the ‘Do’ Book series for our Stranger collection.
So how do you make a space like this work with the practicalities of well, doing your job? The lovely Beatrice, Editorial Assistant at YCN, told me that members of the team take it in turns to watch the space. They can be working away on a client project, while making sure the shop space is running smoothly. Seems like a welcome distraction to me. Plus, the people you meet will often lead to new connections – which are like gold dust in our industry.
Lastly, I headed to the base of Impossible. A glass roofed space in Bermondsey, just underneath the Shard. Impossible is the brainchild of Lily Cole; an ‘in-kind’ gifting network, where people share their skills, time and knowledge with each other. Every Impossible user who contributes earns ‘Thanks’ when they give to one another, a social currency that can be used with each other as well as Imposible partners. It’s a great idea. And one that feels like an antidote to our ‘throw some money at it’ culture.
Found under a leafy shop frontage, less-is-more is key in the Impossible abode. Meg, the curator of goods talks me through each of their carefully, ethically minded products with enthusiastic detail. Every object has a story and a cultural significance. Whether it’s a bag made out of old London fireman’s hoses that still has a stirring scent of smoke, or chopping boards made out of bread that purposefully have a ‘use by’ date. This is a store that’s taken time to forge a distinctive sense of the company’s ethos, through meaningful products that make you pause, consider and appreciate their insightful existence. Now you don’t get that in Wilko’s.
For now, the Stranger office perched on Falmouth’s Killigrew street is home to the sound of tapping keys, rather than the dinging of a shop’s bell – and that’s just fine. But with passers by regularly pause at for a good ogle at our two large windows, perhaps mastering the shop window display could be the best place to start. Watch this space – quite literally.