While offices vary from company to company, something the six lighting design firms highlighted in this photo essay have in common is the desire for their design studios to foster communication and encourage collaboration. While one firm is housed in a row house painted purple on Manhattan's Upper West Side and another features exposed ceilings and open work areas with no partitions, all six of the offices profiled here seem to recognize the importance of communication when it comes to creating dynamic lighting designs. These spaces—some old, some new, some recently revamped—are all designed as open environments to bring out employees' creativity while making it easier to run ideas by colleagues and show designs and new products to clients. What follows is a peek into each of these six lighting design offices, with insight from firm principals and associates who discuss not only the inspiration behind the design of the space, but also how the space inspires them as they work to create their lighting designs.
HOK / St. Louis / www.hok.com
As one of numerous offices worldwide, HOK has been in the same building in downtown St. Louis for 15 years. A consolidation of spaceabout three years ago brought divisions housed on different floors of the building together all on one. Currently, the space is about 56,000square feet and very open, with impromptu meeting spaces throughout such as a common coffee bar and banquette seating. There are nocubicles in the studio space, but rather, square areas without partitions where designers work. Partitions discourage communication andcollaboration, says associate David Ziolkowski, and as a result there is not much privacy in the office. Lighting designer Kathleen Lauthexplains that to her, the office serves as a case study, helping to see what works and what could work better. "It also is helpful to walkaround to show lighting fixtures or techniques to others," she adds. Ziolkowski says having clients in the office is great because the spaceallows the designers to show them different lighting solutions. Overall, the St. Louis office "is raw, unforgiving, and totally original,"Ziolkowski says. "Watching people's faces when they walk in for the first time is thoroughly entertaining." While not a traditional corporateenvironment, the unique open setup with no partitions and exposed ceilings encourages creativity and communication among HOK staff.