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The Ideal Studio
With Associates

With Associates was set up in 2005 and works to deliver a range of creative digital solutions to a wide range of clients. It employs seven staff in its east London studio, which is situated on the top floor of an old factory which is also home to illustrators, designers and a host of other creatives.

Mathew Wilson, co-director of With Associates, on... 

The interaction between physical space and culture...

“The studio itself, even if it were filled with soulless pen pushers, would certainly encourage creativity. It's an old red brick, wooden floor, tall ceiling, open plan space. It’s the sort that they used in advertising shoots for that 'unconventional bohemian creative space warehouse' look.”

“But it’s the incredibly inspiring artists and designers that maximise the creativity. As for managing that atmosphere, that's possible, but without the people I'm not sure there's anything you could do to genuinely create creativity. One bad egg, or even just a few quiet and unsocial types and it can become a bit isolated and soulless.”

An unusual idea to stimulate creativity...

“I've often day dreamt about employing a muse – a modern day version where their role is just to bring ideas to the space and work on internal projects. Like a living blog, in the space, posting ideas for comment and instigation. The advertising agency St Luke's had an in-house artist who sort of carried out this role in the late 1990s. She was amazing, she turned the reception into a practically operational hospital once which was ace.”

The the idea of hierarchy...

“We are all mixed up and everybody can ask anyone else a question so there is a lot of learning that happens passively and vicariously. But we have recently started thinking that maybe we need to introduce a distinction between bosses and staff. This is a profitable company with a bottom line not a commune, and sometimes we may have to take decisions that people don’t like.”

Boosting concentration...

“Two of us are trialling having bike lights on our monitors at the moment that if switched on, we’re effectively not here, we will not respond. We like the idea that you could have a system that you switch on for an hour and it starts blinking after 55 minutes to alert you, so you don’t forget and just leave it on. I know some people use things like flags for the same purpose but there’s something about the fact you switch it on, and also something about the fact it’s red.”

Broadening digital creatives horizons...

“It's simply essential to mix with folk that make tangible things and that work outside the digital industry. I can make tea with an architect, lunch with a photographer and then have afternoon birthday cake with an illustrator. The challenge for me is making sure I never lose those opportunities. It’s about making haphazard social interactions very natural – we don’t want to force everyone to have a group outing.”

The joy of having a blackboard table...

“It’s been here four years now and features in an awful lot of what we do. Everybody is able to stand around it and you can make gesticulations and ideas manifest. The language here is “Let’s do a table” and not a single day goes by when the table is not used at least once. The analogue factor of it as well is great.

The ideal studio...

“Good people. Great people. Sharing ideas, space, time and copious amounts of tea, coffee and cake.”

withassociates.com

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