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The Ideal Studio

Dan Germain is Head of Creative at innocent and was one of the original staff when the juice company was established in 1999. innocent now employs 230 staff across offices in London, Salzburg, Copenhagen, Dublin and Paris, and Dan is based at the company’s modernist waterside offices in west London. Currently Dan is also the visiting creative director at Wolff Olins.

Dan Germain on..

Ways to boost creative thinking...

“A very clear tea-making rota. A medium amount of noise (not too quiet, not too loud – some background hubbub is good). A decent communal space where you can forget you're at work for a bit. People who speak to each other like friends. Lots of natural light. Fresh air. I also like working in a business where people are doing lots of other interesting jobs – not just designers or creatives.”

Why a break from technology could be a great thing...

“It’s about remembering what technology is there for. I’d love to have regular device-free days – no laptops, phones, tablets. Just pencils, paper and brains.”

“Having important discussions via email seems like a really weird thing. A debate or discussion should take into account body language, feelings and emotions, and you lose that in an email exchange. Also there are a million and one ways to sell an idea but it becomes slightly dispiriting when a decision is made based on a Powerpoint slide.”

Creating innocent’s first studio...

“We didn't always have the money to realise our dreams, so we made do with what we had from the start – old office chairs from skips, second hand IKEA furniture and lots of Astroturf instead of fancy reclaimed floorboards. It means that I really appreciate how our environment is today, and we still have the Astroturf, which has become an accidental innocent emblem.”

The work/fun balance...

“We want it to be as relaxed and informal as possible, but you have to have a balance – you can’t just have rooms full of bean bags and free sweets – there is a transaction occurring, people are being paid to come here, not lounge around and ‘be cool’.”

“We create areas where people will bump into each other, where accidents happen, so that people meet and talk about other things that might turn into interesting stuff. It’s the old thing of Steve Jobs putting the toilets at Pixar in an awkward space so people had to bump into each other.”

Exporting and adapting in overseas offices...

“People spend time with us in London to see how we do things, but then they make their environments their own. I’m glad to say that most of the offices have the signature Astroturf,  but we also have to adapt to the actual buildings: the Salzburg office is in an old bank, whilst Paris is in a townhouse.” 

“The spaces might be different but the culture is the same – the way we treat people and the kind of people we hire. It all starts with that – we are always looking for entrepreneurial, generous, natural individuals who are not wedded to one way of doing business.”

How best to communicate your values...

“The best place to put them is on the walls of the toilets. If you put them on a big golden plaque in reception nobody reads them. There is no better place to capture people’s attention than when they are whiling away a few minutes in the loo.”

“It’s also about reinforcing the values every time you sit down with people to talk about their work. If it was just about shifting drinks then I’d sit down and ask people how many sales they’ve created, but we don’t reduce our work to that.” 

Keeping a creative team who work for just one brand fresh...

“We have to get outside the studio so that we’re looking at how other people do things. We talk to other in-house teams about their successes and failures. And I’m pretty relaxed about what people do outside the business, whether they illustrate, write, design or help out with friends’ businesses – it’s all a good brain workout.”

“Ultimately, our business is still growing, so there are always new challenges, whether it’s a new product or a new country or trying to figure out how to launch innocent on a new continent.” 

The Ideal Studio...

“Smart, happy people who've had a good night's sleep working on projects that make them think and learn.”


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