The first time I set foot at Mother offices for a job interview, some 12 years ago, I wondered how anyone could work in a place like that. It was noisy, it was busy, there was loud music coming out of speakers in every corner. There were people having meetings on sofas, people lying down on sofas, people having meetings lying down on sofas. And, to my complete shock at the time, there were scamps all over the place, strewn on desks, tables, on sofas (of course), and on the floor, in full view of anyone who cared to peek at them.
The interview didn’t go to plan so I didn’t have to think about any of this until 18 months later, when we were finally offered a placement at the agency and I was forced to review my strong(ish) opinion about the space. Thankfully, one of the first things creatives learn is to be adaptable, and by the end of the first month I was starting to feel at ease with strangers peering at my computer screen, meetings at the kitchen table and, obviously, I loved the sofas.
There wasn’t, and there still isn’t, any place to hide at Mother, but the good side of being constantly on display is that you are forced to talk to people. Even on days when you don’t really feel like it, there are just so many hours of isolation a big headphone or a fixed gaze can buy you. And ideas get better, bigger, and more exciting when they are talked about. Not necessarily in the formal settings of review sessions, but in unplanned chats over tea or impromptu meetings at the top of the stairs.
Of course, it’s not just down to layout. The most welcoming and well-considered space in the world won’t induce the sharing of ideas if there isn’t a welcoming and nurturing culture in place for people to do so.
Creative types can be very territorial and protective of their ideas, especially when they are at a budding stage. But the more comfortable we become with putting ideas out there, allowing them to be discussed, built upon or, god forbid, even changed by people who don’t have the word creative in their job title, the better we get at having new ones.
Ana Balarin is executive creative director at Mother.