Free Desk Here

By Gemma

Nick from Open Studio Club got in touch with us ages ago to take part in Free Desk Here. I didn’t really know what he was going on about but it sounded like a massive laugh and we got a free print. Score. 

If you haven’t already worked it out, Free Desk Here is a free desk, here. Anyone looking for a nice working environment, including broadband, a desk and chair and endless cups of tea is welcome to apply. In return, you get to sit through endless replays of Dance Hits ‘94 and mine and Joe’s simmering sexual tension.

Aside from a few rules to stop things getting weird it’s a simple set up based on a brilliant idea. We get to meet new and interesting people without having to worry about paying them. You get to (hopefully) make new friends without wondering if your facial tics and obsessive compulsions will get you fired. 

We had a chat with Nick the other day and he told us a bit more about Free Desk Here. 

Hello Nick! Why are you even bothering trying to convince a load of agencies to hand over space in their office for free? 

“Basically 3 reasons! I think there’s a change in the way creative people are working which agencies need to connect with more. I’ve work agency side for over 15 years and was MD of the brand consultancy, Figtree. I started to see a shift a few years ago where the best talent were happy to stay working independently and not join agencies full time. They were more interested in the project than the agency. Years ago I think people wanted to work at the big agencies, now I think it’s about filling your portfolio with interesting work you can talk about. This shift has been aided by sites like Linkedin, Behance, Cargo Collective, etc. In the past (I sound like an old fogey) you relied on the agency for your network, now it’s down to the individual to build their connections. 

I also felt that the economic situation was having an effect on studio culture for a lot of agencies. Getting new talent in the studio is important to keeping spirits high and staff engaged. But many studios are cutting back their freelance spend and not hiring full time. Over prolonged periods the studio culture can start to stagnate if this happens. 

And the last reason and probably the best is hearing what new people are up. It’s really inspiring. If a print based design agency gets to work alongside animators, digital creative, product designers, it can open new horizons. I’m more excited about hearing about the collaborations that came from ‘Free Desk Here’ than any other aspect of the initiative.

Why did you ask us to take part? *fishes for compliments*

It’s simple. I wanted agencies that are doing interesting work to take part. I hoped this would inspire other agencies to get involved. Selfishly, I’m listing studios that I’d be happy to work in. It also sounds like the culture at Well Made Studio is really positive. It’s been interesting judging the response from agencies. The ones involved in ‘Free Desk Here’ just get the idea immediately. They understand that good work comes from a good culture, which is impart created by having interesting, fertile minds around.

You run open studio club in your spare time- how do you juggle it with your day job? 

When I set up I knew it had to be self-running. It’s a very simple platform. It’s made interesting by the content other people provide. I think very carefully about adding new sections. I was going to do a series called ‘The Independents’ which profiled interesting independent creatives, but on reflection I don’t want the site or me to get into editorial things. That starts to require people and time!

4. If you could share a studio with anybody in the universe- who would it be? 

I’m working on another initiative for at the moment. You’re the first I’ve told. I’m looking to create a pop up studio in interesting architectural spaces. Wouldn’t it be amazing to go and work for a week inside a gallery in the V&A or the top of the Shard! I’m thinking more about inspiring spaces to work at the moment than studios. It might be a roof top garden/studio in Shoreditch for a week in the summer. Working in the sun outdoors!