Don’t read this in one sitting…it’s too long.
October 28, 2009
Until we went to Barkley we had decided that if an ad firm had 100+ people — the firm would be lame. We wont mention any names that would have given us this impression, but, okay…it was the Richards Group in Dallas. Cubicle farm, corporate and stale are a few things that come to mind, granted the job security and monetary perks of working there may out-weigh the previously mentioned observations, for some.
Anyways, then we went to Barkley. This place was huge, but they still had that “human” feel that you would find in a ten person design firm. There was serious attention to details in the architecture of their building. Beautiful lighting fixtures, incredible art everywhere, rooftop gardens, amazing furniture, and the list just keeps going. Oh! And they had a huge TWA rocket on their rooftop. Craig Neuman gave us the tour of the place and it was easy to see that he enjoyed where he worked.
Sonic is a one of Barkley’s clients and something Craig mentioned that we had never thought of was how much money Sonic has to spend on menus. Think about McDonalds and their one menu at the drive-thru…Sonic has a million at every location. So every time they change the menu…bam! They have to spend some cash. Sonic is rad, they have delicious tater-tots.
This was a really sweet design firm. There was definitely a feminine touch to the place, something we hadn’t experienced at any other design firm. Ann Willoughby started the firm and has since done some absolutely amazing work. Zack Shubkagel, one of the few guys at the firm, gave us the tour and then we ran into him at the Make/Think conference which was pretty cool.
Most design firms we’ve come across have been fairly dominated by guys. Although, shortly after our visit at Willoughby we went to Hallmark — which I believe also had a higher percentage of women. So after serious analysis, Kansas City, MO is the epicenter for female designers. The next AIGA national conference should be in KC. Check out the sweet little tote-bag Ann gave us.
Clifton Alexander and Chase Wilson are some awesome guys. We spent most of our time hanging out with them. Working in their sweet office and eating some delicious food. Clifton knows his food. He does some serious research. KC has some delightful barbeque and their tacos aren’t too shabby for a Northern state (“Northern state” meaning anything north of Texas).
You’ve most likely seen their business cards because they tend to be featured everywhere you see one of those “50 most radical business card designs ever!” blog posts. They really are epic cards so check em out.
Another exception to our big-firm-equals-stale-and-boring theory because Hallmark was able to pull off the corporate feel but still have a pretty sweet work environment. It obviously had the farm of cubicles but then it had these magical gems scattered about the campus. Walking through the cubicles, we saw some of the most beautiful hand drawn typography. It also felt like being back in school. The place was big enough to be a university campus. Pretty rad dining services, cafeteria, library, art galleries and awesome people.
We only met a couple people there but our lovely tour guides, Bess Baumgarten and Erin Mills, were incredible hosts. Then we met Tom, a paper specialist. He gets to fold and create paper sculptures all day. His work was incredible but the most inspiring thing about him was how much he loved his work. It was so cool to see how excited he was to show us his little amazing paper creations.
Thanks to everyone in KC that let us stop by and hang out.
We really appreciate it.