What does the award-winning video arm of some of the world's biggest brands look like?
A lot like the offices of Visual Country.
Billed as a video production house, Visual Country accomplishes a great deal with a relative little, thanks to a talented team of designers, animators, art directors, editors and just about every other creative function you can think of.
You can see their work reflected in digital experiences for big names like Apple, Google and HBO.
And that work requires space well-suited for an array of tasks, from video and photo shoots to quiet edit bays. But perhaps most importantly, the space has to function as something of a home for a real, family-style unit operating at a high-level of quality and intensity.
Creative Director and Partner Meagan Cignoli tells us how she found 5,000 SQ FT of such space at 62 Allen St. and transformed it into a powerhouse production studio.
How would you describe the ambience of your office? How is it designed to make the team feel as they go about their work?
We built the new office to really give our employees and projects a lot of space so they didn’t feel on top of one another and allowing as much private areas and light in as possible.
Where the team works is open floor plan but is split through five spaces. Depending what stage their project is in they might see and work with different people each day.
In my life, I like my tasks and environment to have changes each day, even if they are small, so I hope this is one of the things our team enjoys about the space. The ambience is very quiet. It’s a big space for us since it’s built to create large sets, and everyone is very focused, but there is a lot of laughter too.
What does your space truly excel at?
Our space excels at transforming. For our last film we created 29 sets/different life size living environments in our studio space. The studio looks different every week depending what we’re working on.
What's your favorite feature of the office?
We have a wall of windows that spans 55 feet. Someone feeds the birds below us so there are birds flying in formation outside of the window all of the time. Getting to see flocks of birds diving in and out above the treetops in between the buildings of Manhattan is definitely my favorite part of the office.
What about some of the team’s favorite places in the office?
The craft closets or the wardrobe and prop closet are two favorites. It’s an artists heaven and if you’re feeling uninspired there is always something in there to inspire you.
How did you find this space? When did you realize that you’d found the right office for company? What was the "this is it" moment?
After looking at a lot of very corporate buildings we found a great broker who had all kinds of funky NYC loft/industrial space listings. We were finally seeing unique spaces that were more in line with our company. The "this is it moment" was when I realized the outside of the building was pastel pink, and my broker said, "I think this place was meant to be for you."
What’s the first thing someone stepping into your office for the first time would notice? What do you want the space to say about your company’s status and culture?
I decorated the office to look like a home, a lot of people walk in and ask if I live there. Since we are shooting a lot of lifestyle videos, we need spaces that look like homes and that can flexibly turn into different sets easily. The space really says we are a creative culture, ever-changing.
In the debate over the Open Office concept, a common complaint is that they don’t provide enough privacy or quiet for people to maintain their focus and be more productive. How does the space handle the issue of privacy, for those who need it at certain times?
We have a quiet living room that those wishing to work alone can use. We use V Flats to create pods and separate shooting spaces, when our employees are in their own pods they have their own music going, their own vibe in there. I wish we had more closed private spaces but each room is pretty quiet with only a few people in it at a time so I think they get the privacy they need.
We also built a large chefs kitchen, so we’re often cooking for our videos or our own lunches.
What’s the best part of the surrounding neighborhood?
Art galléries, the metrograph, and good nightlife when you leave work.
What was the biggest lesson you learned during the process of getting the new space? Any advice you’d offer to a company starting their search now?
This was the largest commercial space I had ever rented, and we needed to gut and build it to our specs. I didn’t realize how long a deal like this would take and that a few would fall through before we found this one.
My advice is start early, because our first deal fell through after 4 months, they decided to sell the building and not rent any more spaces. The second fell through as well. So all in all it took us 1 year to move when we were actually hoping to move within 3 months!
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