How We Got Started — The UX of Instrument Headquarters

Three years ago, we began dreaming up our ideal work space. At the time, we were working out of a WWII hangar that was designed for a much different purpose than our own. We made that loud, lovable place work for a few years, but it was never the plan to stay. We needed something we could completely own, from the ground up.

I (JD) started by building a pinboard of inspiration, but that led to me drowning in visuals and ideas. So I decided to log out of Pinterest and look inward, in search of some guiding principles to shape the design process. Like any good UX designer, I started asking questions: What would our ideal work environment feel like? Sound like? How could it improve our work? Our lives?

I enlisted the help of fellow designer, Tina Snow Le, and we made lists of pain points, problem areas, specific use cases and functional requirements. We asked people whether they preferred to sit or stand at their desks. What would make collaborating with clients easier? How many times do they go to the kitchen for coffee? Where do they hang their raincoat? Like any user interface, we wanted to know what users needed.

Architects call this “programming.” In UX, we call it the feature set.

All this work resulted in a lot of great insights and observations. Over the next year and a half, we collaborated with architecture firm Holst and interior design firm Osmose. We explored everything from user flows and lighting plans to the advantages of magnets vs. pushpins. We built prototypes and tore them down. We argued about finishes and materials. Holst and Osmose were great collaborators. They let me bombard them with notes, lists, concepts, snapshots and countless one-line email thought starters.

The process was one of the most difficult and most incredible design experiences I've ever had. This series will explore that process and how it relates to what we do at Instrument. In the next post, I'll discuss perceived creative spaces vs. actual creative spaces.


Written by JD Hooge, Partner & CCO