The other day, on my way home from a client, I took a detour. All of a sudden, and without intention, I stood in front of an office building from a big animation-game studio.
By chance, I had contacted them some weeks back and inquired if my knowledge in movement dynamics, spatiality, audio-visual production and creative processes could bring value to their projects. They had never replied and standing there, I thought: “Why not just inquire directly inside.”
There were two staff members outside having a break. I asked them for directions. They told me to use the buzzer and inquire at the front desk.
I buzzed, the motorised door swung open and I stood inside an empty revamped industrial building with doors and corridors going into different directions. No obvious sign-posts, no markings on the floor. Interesting, I thought… or rather “why”?
The two staff members had caught up with me and helped me find my way down an asymmetrical serpent-like path way leading towards a glass cube.
I entered and found the receptionist half hidden behind three computer screens. I thought to myself: where is the visual focus point for the visitor? What a shame that there is so much stuff like monitors, telephones and equipment obstructing our exchange. Why is the desk placed at such an awkward position in the room, anyways?
I told the receptionist about my inquiry and ask if he could help me identify the best department or person to contact.
Seeing my way out, I felt a bit stupid and disappointment. I felt that I had not achieved my goal. But then it occurred to me: Did I really just come in to ask for a contact? In reality, I wanted to get an “inside feel” about the people and the enterprise.
The visual cues and the interactions were telling me something and it was contradicting my hopes and expectations. As a visitor I didn’t feel welcome, nor taking care of. The layout of the building didn’t offer clear focus nor structural transparency. Their “real world” brand experience lacked empathy. I hadn’t experienced any added value from my interactions.
Once I could be honest about my intention, I understood the information that I had been given.
Photo by Philip Strong