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The Artefact User Experience: Designing the Perfect Studio

If we hadn’t mentioned it enough already, we love our new office! The open spaces, bright and natural elements, the way it balances our city’s history and culture with modern times, and some of the best views Seattle has to offer. We’re lucky, we know, but all of this didn’t just happen. Designing the Artefact “user experience” is actually a case study of how user-centered design (UCD) leads to preferable outcomes, a belief that is infused not only in our work ethic but everything we do.

At Artefact, we know user-centered design. We live and breathe it, understanding and creating user experiences for our clients every day; but these days it’s rare that we get to flex our UCD muscles in a non-tech related capacity. In fact, most people forget that user experiences are not strictly related to computer software and mobile apps. From the service you experience at a bar to building you new Ikea bookcases, user experiences make up the everyday interactions of our lives.

The most important lesson of UCD is that even if even the most sophisticated product in the world overlooks the needs of the user, it will most likely fail. With that in mind, when we set out to design our new office, we made sure the practice what we preach and put our UCD chops to the test.

In fact, most people forget that user experiences are not strictly related to computer software and mobile apps. From the service you experience at a bar to building your new Ikea bookcases, user experiences make up the everyday interactions of our lives.

The most important lesson of UCD is that even if even the most sophisticated product in the world overlooks the needs of the user, it will most likely fail. With that in mind, when we set out to design our new studio with our friends at Graham Baba Architects, we made sure to practice what we preach and put our UCD chops to the test.

Understanding grounded in research

The user experience process always starts with some solid research. We looked into factors like neighborhood and culture, environment, proximity to downtown (proximity away from Amazon) and a host of other details. Our investigation led us to four key priorities: we wanted a great location, a place to collaborate, a place to have fun and a place that would allow us to be the magnet for others to enrich themselves by interacting with us.

We finally landed on a building that once served as artist lofts in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square district. As the oldest neighborhood in Seattle, Pioneer Square’s history, culture, and charm are a constant source of inspiration. The cobblestone streets and ivy-covered brick buildings serve as the perfect setting for our new home away from home.

The ultimate user flow

Once we had settled on a location we were eager to think about the inside – if we’re going to spend the majority of our working days in this building, we wanted it to be perfect for everyone. Understanding the typical user flows we see every day at work helped us envision the different ways we wanted to use the new space.

What if you need to take a private phone call and no conference rooms are open? What if you just can’t focus at your desk? What if you need a space to get a group together for a quick brainstorm? We took questions like these (plus hundreds more) into account when designing the new space.

Preserving history with a modern touch

Throughout our new studio, you’ll notice gorgeous steel and wooden beams, framed by floor-to-ceiling glass conference rooms. The overall feeling is one of light and warmth, even on the gloomiest of rainy Seattle days. Inspiration is everywhere around us: with Puget Sound and the mountains to the West and Smith Tower to the East, a gorgeous rooftop deck with a 360 degree panoramic view of Seattle, we’re surrounded by some of the very best things our city has to offer.

Bringing us together

Collaboration is essential to our daily lives at Artefact and our new studio facilitates that in the best ways. Our project rooms are semi-private rooms with floor-to-ceiling white boards where teams can post up for a few days or a few months while working on a project together. These spaces are blank slates that our teams take full advantage of: writing on the walls, posting photos, brainstorming, and conducting research to solve the complex problems our clients throw at us.

The devil is in the details

We’ve always been a close-knit studio, so the thought of occupying two floors of the new studio was a challenge. To keep us together, we added a beautiful industrial staircase to connect us and keep our office a cohesive space.

 

Space to hang

We like to hang out. A lot. Our café is the perfect spot to sit and work on sunny afternoons when your desk just isn’t doing it, and large enough to host large workshops and the occasional party.

Space to build

Industrial designers come with a lot of baggage tools, so we gave them two shops: a ‘clean shop’ to keep things like our 3D printer, laser cutter, and soldering tools, and a ‘dirty’ one to do what they do best: build, test, repeat.

Space to play

For those of you who had visited our old studio, don’t worry, we kept the shuffleboard table (how else would Gavin and Karl heckle each other?). And you better believe we’re still gathering around our keg every Thursday at 4:30 for happy hour.

Space to raid

Along with the old standards, Nerf guns are a new addition to the office shenanigans. You know your job is awesome when you start using your office chair as a shield from an onslaught of tiny foam bullets. #workhardplayhard