Building a multi-creative space – why and how!
About a year ago I decided to go freelance again after ﬁve fantastic years as a ux Lead and Creative Director at Making Waves (former Nansen) … and with freelancing comes the possibility to set up my own shop ♥.
Here’s how I went from nothing to what has become «The Bunker» – my ﬁnished shop in Linköping, Sweden.
This ofﬁce had to be different from the ofﬁces I’ve worked in previously. It had to be a multi-creative space where I could run multiple type of projects, because, to me, ideas multiplies in the company of other ideas.
The clean, the minimal and the dead.
Today’s corporate culture strives for less clutter and more order. Functional workplaces, ﬂexible seating and open spaces. This results in ofﬁces that are über clean, minimal, designer furniture, clean walls and shelves.
I have a hard time ﬁnding inspiration in those spaces. Don’t get me wrong, they look amazing, but they feel more like a showroom for the agency rather than a creative space for the people working there. My issue is that there is nothing there to react to, there are no imprefections, nothing hidden to discover.
I feel like I’m not allowed to spread out my stuff, take space, invade.
It’s like those spaces don’t respond to my need for exploration and ﬁnding new ideas. To me they feel dead.
The one thing that inﬂuences my temperament, wellbeing and ideas above all else it is the stuff I surround myself with!
The need for a space to explore and ideate
So, when setting up my own shop I wanted something more inspired by craft spaces and workshops. You know, grittier, messier and full of nooks and crannies ﬁlled with stuff. A place where I can feel welcome to make a mess, to drag things out from shelves and drawers. Where I can leave my stuff out for days until I’m done testing, exploring, sketching and prototyping. Places like this …
Spaces like these are full of personality, life and creativity. Once you enter the room you feel that you can spend a million years creating, testing and exploring without feeling like you are going to mess things up. That was my goal. That was my why ♥.
Finding the perfect space
When picking a location for my new ofﬁce I had a few will-not-tolerate-anything-less-than-this demands:
- It had to be
400+ square feet.
- It had to be sound proof so that I would disturb no one.
- Rent had to be fairly cheap.
I asked around to see if someone knew if there were some basement spaces up for rent in Linköping … I got exactly zero answers.
So I called my friend Fredrik and he said «Hmm, yes, I might have something, can you come and look right now?»
An hour later I met up with Fredrik and he showed me one of the storage spaces next to a bomb shelter in one of their buildings. The place was a concrete box, messy, rough, dirty, two ﬂoors below ground, under an abandoned staricase, no windows and … absolutely perfect! :-) I decided to take it. A few weeks later the space was cleaned out, walls and ceiling painted, the lease was signed and I moved in.
A ﬂoor plan for multi-creative work
My idea was to split it up into three main areas:
3D printing, product design and crafting (left).
- Design – the mid area.
- Music – the far back (right).
That way I could have a system on what went where and hopefully the things I have can feed my ideas and projects as much as I feed the Bunker with stuff. Simply put – create, explore, laborate and ideate as freely as possible.
Interiors and furniture – reusables and leftovers
I’d rather reuse and repair than throw away. I wanted to do the same with the interiors of the Bunker. So instead of getting everything brand new, I tried to reuse stuff that we had stored and asked for leftovers from friends agencies.
… I also wanted to keep the initial budget under $
- Desks - I got two standing desks from a friends agency.
- Shelves and consoles - reused retail shelvings from back when we ran a clothing store.
- Lounge area furniture - Leftovers from home and our summer house.
- Lighting - Leftover spotlights and circuit tracks from our old clothing store.
- Cables and dimmers - stuff that has been laying around in our summerhouse.
Building the Bunker
I spent evenings and weekends during July and August
The music area
The music section was quite hard to get right, I wanted angled shelves for the synths and modules. Here I used the retail shelving we had saved from our clothing store and I could modify these to ﬁt my needs.
The most difﬁcult parts was audio treatment and taming the electrical surge from the building itself.
The room literally is a large concrete box so every sound wave bounces between the walls creating an awful experience. Playing music in there was a nightmare.
The building is quite old as well so there were electrical spikes that travelled from the power supply into the audio equipment creating loud snaps and cracks … but more on both audio treatment and power ﬁxes in an upcoming post.
The design area
This was the easy parts, just get the desk in place and mound the plexi-shelves where I store all my ﬁgurines. Linus wanted to get the ﬁgurines in place, I was glad for that since I have about
If there is one thing that inﬂuences my temperament, wellbeing and ideas it is the stuff I surround myself with, and books are one of the most important sources of inspiration. The last couple of years I have lost my connection to visual design and I think that has a lot to do with me not reading, feeling or just beeing around my design and typography books. To ﬁx that I concentrated the books at the entrance so they are the ﬁrst thing I see every morning.
Do I read more? No, but it sure feels great :-)
I’m a sucker for this! Lighting is such an important part of the overall experience and mood of a space. Unfortunately, the ceiling is a bit lower than a regular ofﬁce space so I couldn’t hang anything there except just next to the walls.
Instead of tubes with ﬂood lights I went for spotlights with dimmers to be able to point light and emphasize areas, objects and the roughness of the concrete walls.
I completed those with a few additional lights – a black chandlier, a huge ‘light buld’ and some smaller ‘local’ light sources.
I still have some work to do to get the lighting right.
This part of the ofﬁce hasn’t really formed itself until the last couple of weeks. So I cannot say that much about it yet. I’ve got a
So, how did it go in the end?
Did it turn out the way I wanted and planned? Yes, I really think it have :-)
Here is a short clip from the Bunker. Music «Leave» by my alter ego Nighly.
Oh, here is one thing that has changed drastically. I efﬁn love working from this place, it has become my happy place and I can spend forever here. Besides productivity I feel really calm and at peace every time I shut the door behind me in the morning when I come to work.
When I write a novel I establish a universe where I feel secure. I freely wonder around and explore that universe and no one else is allowed in. At those times I’m very happy. Jonas Gardell, author
That is exactly how I feel.
Yes, I’ve been blessed with a lot of requests the past year. Somehow new opportunities seems to come your way when you are in a good place … I am convinced that people can feel it and therefore reaches out to you.
But I’m practicing saying no :-) so I’ve only taken on three clients.
I’ve also started my own ﬁgurine project; Sleeper Toys, which introduced me to e-commerce and
Thank you Jaan Orvet, Justin Dauer, Flo Kat and Ellie Garcia for feedback and improving this article!