AKUKO Studio: The Design Process

Using the example of how we designed our AKUKO studio, this article illustrates how to apply the principles introduced in the psychology lesson on proportion.

I recently published my second ‘Psychology Of Space’ lesson, in which I tried to explain why proportion is so important and how to get it right in your space. You can read the article for more in-depth insights, but just to briefly recap: to get the proportion of a room right you have to start by understanding the function of your space and dividing it accordingly. Secondly, the aesthetics within the room should not conflict with one another. When it came to setting up our studio as a workplace for Timothy and me, I used these two principles to guide my process.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here are some moods we collected prior to starting the design process. These moods are inspired by the meaning of Akuko, which is Igbo (Timothy's parent's language) and can be translated as "story".

Meccano vases by Matteo Zorzenoni
Neobio Family Park Hangzhou
'Cerebral' by Shani Crowe
La Commune Centre Dramatique National
Teatro Cordoba
Illustration by Velwyn Yossi
Fenton & Fenton
Oscar Niemeyer Tiles

Function: How did we intend to use the space?

The main functions that we decided on were: individual work, collaborative work, DIY and a casual space for lounging. We decided to separate the space into three sections.

On the far end of the room (from the door) we wanted a section for our individual work with two sit-stand desks.

The middle section of the room was going to be the communal space with a large table suitable for collaborative work, holding workshops for larger groups of people and my DIY activities.

We also wanted a space that could be used in a more casual way with comfortable seating. Whether as a place to take a break from working or to switch up the environment in the midst of a long workday, I believe a comfortable setting can be a game-changer when trying to stay motivated during long tasks. I decided to make this the first section upon entering the room because I liked the idea that people who came to visit would first come into a sort of transitional space, a waiting room if you like.

Taking the architectural features of the space into account we agreed to have a semi-wall installed. There was a large column at about ⅓ of the room’s space, which made it possible to build the wall without screwing into the concrete ceiling (which our landlord didn’t permit). A wall would also create a somewhat private space and cancel out the noise from the other sections, which we needed as we are often on calls at the same time.

Another important aspect of function is storage. Besides basic office supplies, a printer, our photography equipment and all of our DIY tools and materials, we wanted somewhere to keep things that make an office livable, such as snacks and kitchenware and decorative items.

Aesthetics

In terms of the aesthetic, we used the logo and brand aesthetic of our creative agency Akuko to inspire the design of the studio. I will go into more details in subsequent articles, but looking at the sketches you will see that the arch of the A in our logo features dominantly throughout the space, in the doorway and also for the storage solutions. We also used the shapes of the logo to create a custom pattern that we painted onto a tiled table (DIY coming soon). Furthermore, Yves Klein blue, black and beige are the colours of our brand and we planned to use them throughout the space.

Rachel Comey store in NYC
2LG Studio

The sketch also shows that I intended to use fabric curtains as wall coverings. This was for both aesthetic and functional reasons. Parts of the studio walls were covered in OSB installed by the owners of the studio to allow renters to install storage or decorative items onto the wall without damaging the concrete walls (they were expecting a high turn-around of renters). The OSB didn’t really work for the aesthetic we were going for and I also liked the idea of soft velvet against the rather stark concrete floors and ceilings. As you will see in my next article, these plans had to be adjusted.

Source unknown
Mauricio Coelho
Norm Architects
Ikea Creative Hub
Burberry Flagship Store on Regent Street

On that note: I can't wait till next week to show you how the finished space turned out. Stay tuned...

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