A place you want to be

A special guest blog by Marsali Miller – a Freelance Designer based in the city and a recent Graduate of the Interior & Environmental Design course at DJCAD. 

For the past month I’ve taken part in an internship with the nice people at Creative Dundee. I’d been following Creative Dundee throughout my time at DJCAD and having attended many of their events (if you haven’t done so already, check out Pecha Kucha or Make/Share), I was keen to get involved and further my experience by immersing myself in the city’s creative community. After visiting the co-working office in which they are based (Unit 5 in The Vision Building – located near DCA and the Science Centre, one of Dundee’s up and coming creative districts), I was inspired to put my knowledge and experience to the test and explore how the working environment could be improved for all of the users of the space. For those who haven’t been there, there are some exciting things going on in the space and I was keen to play a part in injecting some creativity into the layout, flow and experience for those who call Unit 5 of Dundee’s Vision Building their working home.

I met with Claire, Creative Dundee’s Programmes Producer, who challenged me to re-imagine their creative co-working office. The self-named ’Super Group’ of the office comprises of some of the best creative organisations in Dundee; Creative Dundee, NEoN Digital Arts, Biome Collective, Dundee Makerspace and Red Pepper Events – as well as individuals who hot-desk on a day-to-day basis. It is a place where creative organisations are encouraged to get together to work, play and collaborate; however the office space was not living up to the Super Group’s dreams and it needed to be redesigned as ‘a place you want to be’.

I kick started the process by defining the problem. I chatted to the main users of the space and discovered their needs, desires and problems with the shared office. Not surprisingly, there was a range of different opinions as well as some common issues. I spent time learning about the behaviour of each individual and how they used the space by asking them to plot out how they interact with the unit on ‘experience maps’ with some trusty post-it notes.

Several post-it notes later, I had collected enough insight to produce profiles for each user which outlined their issues, needs and aspirations for the space. The common problem spaces included the ‘wasteland dumping ground’, ‘dark mysterious corner’ and ‘big piles of stuff’.

After a visit to the Super Group’s friends at Fleet Collective – another creative co-working office which sits right above Brewdog – I started to develop ideas on how I could reinvent Unit 5. I developed some of the design proposals and prototyped them using 3D and visualising programmes such as Sketchup and Photoshop before feeding back to some of the group. This allowed for users to share their thoughts and helped me to improve my ideas further. The final step of my design process was to share the idea with the Unit 5 Super Group and make it happen.

The re-imaged creative co-working office has spaces for the users to work collaboratively, chill out (or take a nap), show off their work and much more. Being a part of the Unit 5 ‘Super Group’ and working with the creative minds in the group was a really exciting and valuable experience.

It was a big task to take on as there is so much happening in Unit 5, however all the users helped me throughout the process with their time and thoughts as well as supporting each other when it came to making the changes. I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity by Creative Dundee to be a part of re-inventing Unit 5. I’m also pleased that I could help make their co-working office a place that better fits theirs needs and showcases the creative happenings in the space.

If you would like to discover more of Marsali’s work, visit cargocollective.com/marsalimiller

Creative Dundee says: Marsali’s approach was really collaborative – the questions she posed and the way that she posed them, made us all think about the space in a totally different way. When Marsali presented her proposals, we all agreed that they were really good and that to make sure we actually changed for the better, then we needed to change there and then! We all moved our desk spaces around immediately after her presentation, a lot of stuff was thrown out, and most importantly the layout and function of the space flows much better. Thanks Marsali.