Olde Landmark Building, 35 Barnard Street, #202, Savannah, Georgia
Like a 21st century logo mark, Savannah was designed upon a grid. Four squares, each surrounded by eight blocks, formed the original 18th century heart of the city. By the middle of the 19th century, the city comprised 24 squares. Instead of resulting in a repetitive dull-scape, Savannah’s layout adds creative rhythm to the city, offering its residents spaces to breathe, each with its own distinct character.
Ellis Square is at once the city’s newest square and one of its oldest. Part of the original four-square city plan back in 1733, Ellis was demolished in the 1950s to make way for a parking garage. Preservationists reclaimed the area a decade ago, and now a modern urban space with an interactive fountain offers yet another Savannah riff on the public square.
Design and development firm Focus Lab sits in the green-and-white, brick-and-steel Olde Landmark Building at one edge of Ellis Square. Like the square and like the city itself, Focus Lab’s office exemplifies a thoughtful approach to space, balancing aesthetics and practical concerns while allowing each of its “residents” space to interact and, at the same time, space to breathe.
Movin’ on Down
Bill Kenney and Erik Reagan, now Focus Lab's art and technical directors respectively, started the company four years ago in a 220-square-foot office at ThincSavannah. The cowork space, Savannah’s first, occupies the third floor of the Olde Landmark Building.
"We made friends, pot lucked, and earned a reputation for our joie de vivre,” Bill told Dribbble. The crew even led their startup coworkers in a competitive egg drop, which involved launching eggs from the ThincSavannah down three stories to the sidewalk. But when they grew from two to six, Focus Lab needed more. Last year, they headed down a level to the second floor. The move not only offered more room, but the opportunity to design new headquarters from scratch.
"Our main objectives were a clean, modern aesthetic, shared worskspaces to facilitate collaborative and individual creativity, and modular, adaptable vignettes," said Bill. In a word, flexibility.
Many a 21st century company recognizes the benefits of multi-use spaces, but Focus Lab has made extra effort to maximize functionality. A light palette — white and pale gray paint, natural wood, a glass partition — makes a single aesthetic statement while also providing a changeable background. Moodboards turn walls into work surfaces. A tucked-away call room with an “On Air” sign on the door offers escape, not only for private calls but also small meetings. A television is mounted on a dry-erase wall, which itself is mounted on wheels. A butcher roll table, perfect for group brainstorms, also rests on wheels.
"Everything folds up, rolls, or otherwise moves," said Bill. "We can reconfigure almost the entire office at the drop of a dime for visitors, events, Nerf gun wars, or the anticipated growth of the office."
Having expanded from a duo to fourteen in four years, growth is a given. Current projects include a brand refresh (including website redesign) for JibJab, an entertainment company previously best known for greeting cards and satirical political videos.
The Focus Lab crew are big fans of JibJab’s past work, and are excited about taking the company forward. “They’re a smart, fun and highly methodical team so working with them has been educational, challenging, and rewarding,” said Bill. “We can’t wait to see what the finish line holds.”
The Workers Speak
No one details an office’s particular merits better than the people who work in it.
I love the space in the office. I love how we have defined spaces, but it’s not cluttered. Everything has a meaning and a purpose, just like the team … . We weren’t picked without thought, and nothing, down to the books and scissors on the shelves have been placed without thought. I feel comfortable in the space, there’s not too much to distract me, but at the same time, enough to engage me, if necessary—Kellie Groover, office manager
I love the big windows that let in great natural light. The beanbag chairs are also awesome to take breaks and just lay back on.—Rocky Roark, illustrator and brand designer
The space that Focus Lab has created for us allows for better creativity. The kitchen that’s kept stocked with healthy alternatives (along with not so healthy alternatives) makes the office feel more homey. As well as the natural lighting coming from the large windows, all-around the space makes for an easy place to work and be creative.—Sam Stratton, brand and UI designer.
Our space is a perfect balance of work and play. The environment is open for casual conversation, professional meetings, and getting work done. And, more importantly, the locally-roasted coffee flows like milk and honey.—Matt Yow, brand designer.
Thank you Bill Kenney, Summer Teal Simpson, and ThincSavannah’s Tom Shimada. Sample Focus Lab's work above, then go visit their Dribbblers: Alicja Colon, Jonathan Howell, Myles Kedrowski, Bill Kenney, Rocky Roark, Summer Teal Simpson, Sam Stratton, Charlie Waite, and Matt Yow.
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