Sunday, May 19, 2013

What is an Ideal Work Space?

On today's CBS Sunday Morning, Richard Schlesinger did a segment on the Herman Miller Company, where the office cubicle was created decades ago. Today, they're at it again, with a new design for the workspace; a large open space with no division among the ranks.

This may be a swell idea in certain companies, where constant communication among workers is more productive.  But what about in, say, an animation studio, a place where films are made one frame at a time by a crew of artists while another crew of non-artists concurrently keeps track of schedules, budgets, and work flow? How does that big open space work there?  FLIP asked some veteran animation folks about their ideal work environment.

Leticia Lichtwardt's work space.  Some TCM for the thick and thin.
Leticia Lichtwardt has been an animation assistant on films such as Heavy Metal, Cool World, Hercules,  and Fantasia 2000.  What works best for her? "Well I like my space to be quiet , listening to cool music, or watching a good movie and low lights because its where I spend most of my day."

Tom Sito career has spanned from  Raggedy Ann & Andy, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? to Beauty and the Beast  and  Osmosis Jones.  "I love joyous clutter, shelves up to the ceiling filled with books, notes and knick-knacks. I find large empty spaces depressing."

Nancy Beiman's career has spanned from Gnomes and An American Tail: Feivel Goes West to A Goofy Movie and Treasure Planet: "I will use my old friend William Hoest's definition: 'Everything (supplies, materials) must be within arms length. I took his advice and it works for me.'  He designed a lovely house with an entire attic to work in, but his desk was the same old one he had when he was not well off and he only used about six feet of space.  As for me, I never minded being stared at but I do not like loud noise when I am working, so I guess I would go for either a reasonably quiet bullpen or something with a door on it."

I have worked in cubicles, in bullpens, and in private offices.  In a bullpen, you're thrown in with six to eight other artists and develop a camaraderie, though it can get distracting.  In a private office, there's not much camaraderie, but I can focus better.  The cubicle is the worst of both worlds: all the distractions of a bullpen with the lack of camaraderie of an office.  And this is the standard of our generation.

In the CBS piece, Richard Schlesinger calls cubicles "...squared off, soul killing monuments to monotony."  The creator of the cubicle,  Robert Propst,  said "Not all organizations are intelligent or progressive.  They make little bitty cubicles and stuff people into them; barren, rathole places."

You're picturing that studio right now, aren't you?

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