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The Ideal Studio
Wolff Olins

Wolff Olins, founded in 1965, is one of the best known brand agencies in the world, working in technology, media and culture. It employs 150 people in its London, New York and Dubai offices and their London base is a former 19th Century grain warehouse next to Regent’s Canal in King’s Cross.

Ellen O’Connor, head of people and development in London, on... 

The set-up at Wolff Olins....

“We all work together in one large open-plan studio and have the option of going to a different space in the building to work and play. We’ve got a ping pong table and lots of white wall space to help switch the mood from desk-based activities. We like to make things with our hands whether that’s in our “Learnshop’ sessions on 3D printing or at our Cookery Club (where we raise money for a local homeless charity).”

“Our kitchen is something that really is at the heart of our business home! We’re really lucky to have a fabulous team who give us free breakfast and wonderful lunches.” 

“We’ve also built a garden on our roof where we keep bees and a wormery, grow our own veg and have a gur (like a yurt) that we use for meetings.”

Extra-curricular activities... 

“We all work hard and have busy lives so we want to give people the opportunity to do things here if they wish. It’s woven into our DNA – myself and the experience manager sit down every week to talk about how we’d like people to experience our building and our culture.”

“WOW is our Wolff Olins Wellbeing programme that is designed to keep everyone fit, healthy and happy – we have sessions on posture, meditation, maximising energy, nutrition, a financial clinic, and healthy snacks at 3pm every day. Every night, there’s yoga, pilates, fight club or something else going on – all free. They’re a great leveller as it doesn’t matter if you head up the creative team or work on reception, everyone can go along. Also the parties are legendary.”

“The offices are quite different – we have a gorgeous old building with lots of pillars and exposed brick while New York and Dubai both have white, modern-looking spaces but we talk about one Wolff Olins and the culture is similar across the three.”

Driving a culture of constant improvement...

“We pride ourselves on being optimistic, curious, ambitious and entrepreneurial people and this manifests itself in our lively, open and playful atmosphere. And yet under the surface, we’re also restless, self-critical, always pushing to do more and do it better, constantly believing that there’s more to do.”

“We have regular get-togethers for our communities and external talent visiting and sharing – we try to be boundary-less and work in partnership with experts and specialists who can help us learn and grow. We place huge value on sharing our knowledge and celebrating people and projects.”

The value of leaving the studio...

“We love being here but sometimes nothing beats getting out and about for a change of perspective and to get inspiration from all sorts of other people, places, sounds, smells and well, everything! It’s very grounding to have so much nature on our doorstep with the flow of water past the office and the wildlife.”

The role recruitment plays in maintaining a creative workplace...

“To maintain our creativity, we actively look for people from the broadest variety of backgrounds and with diverse passions and interests. We think these different perspectives spark creativity in one another. Designers’ talents here extend into sonic, gesture, service and information. In terms of creativity, it's just as important that people have passions outside of work – Wolff Olins has employed a cage fighter, TV presenter, carpenter, sculptor, stand-up comedian and several DJs!”


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