ALLURE OF AN ARCHITECT’S OFFICE
Design studio at Poon Design, Los Angeles, California
When we architects are being artistic, we call it the “studio.” When being professional, we call it the “office.” When wanting to sound prominent, we call it the “firm.”
We also call it the “practice.” Because no matter how long you practice at being an architect, you probably never get it right.
No matter the label for the architect’s work space, an apparent coolness and sexiness pervades. Even a heroic bravado.
The work of an architect unites art, science and business. Our workplace brims with creativity, doing so professionally. Ambitious yes, but our offices do not permeate with the obviousness displayed by the power office of a corporate attorney. Our design studios are for making art. Creative yes, but not the cliché of a starving artist’s workspace.
Whether a mom-pop-shop of a few architects, or a company of 500, our offices are modern and our work is noble. Never self-important like a wealthy developer with an over-wrought reception area and excessive conference rooms, architects just want to do exciting work in an inspiring space.
Even though it has been decades since computers replaced hand drafting, the architect’s studio is still thought of as containing those nifty drafting tables, lamps and stools. Even though it has been years since 3D printing has replaced the manual labor of a wood shop, the architect’s studio is still thought of as containing rolls of drawings and large-scale physical models.
Whether worn blueprints and color pencils vs. sleek computer monitors and a tablet, such items generate a stimulating backdrop. The visual impact of this architect’s studio exists in a hundred films, from Sleepless in Seattle, One Fine Day, to My Super Ex-Girlfriend.
The real estate industry coins the architect’s environment: “creative office space.” The features: 1) open floor plan allowing collaboration, 2) exposed structure and brick walls representing integrity, 3) concrete floors and industrial windows expressing an off-the-beaten-path personality, and 4) high ceilings with skylights inviting in heavenly inspiration.
Once a necessity of architects seeking affordable buildings in industrial neighborhoods, the warehouse-styled office has become standard. Take Culver City in Los Angeles or SOMA in San Francisco for example. The gritty tenant spaces are history. Now, everyone seeks creative studios—from tech companies to law firms, from accountants to real estate agents.
Upon visiting Poon Design’s quarters last year, PayPal and eBay witnessed an environment that supported solo flourishes of creative vigor as well as deep-diving teamwork. Shortly after, PayPal retained Poon Design to re-invent their corporate office culture.
Poon Design recently relocated to a unique area of west Los Angeles. On our block, we have a sheet metal fabricator, daycare, wine and cheese store, tire shop, and tattoo parlor. Alongside the vibe of a quaint family neighborhood, our back patio requires steel roll down doors and a chain link fence topped with barb wire.
As Eater LA proclaimed, “Poon Design has their own style: a little bit country, a little bit rock n’ roll.”