Sa­man­tha Draeger, com­mu­ni­ca­tions spe­cial­ist, takes us through the UX and de­sign agency’s per­son­al­ity-filled of­fices

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Sa­man­tha Draeger takes us through the per­son­al­ity-filled of­fices of Can­dorem

In ru­ral Lake Mills Wis­con­sin, lo­cated be­tween Madi­son and Mil­wau­kee, rests the of­fice of our 45-time award-win­ning [1] user ex­pe­ri­ence, web de­sign and strate­gic mar­ket­ing com­pany, Can­dorem. On the out­side, the for­mer city hall could be mis­taken for yet an­other an­tique store but upon en­try the lit­eral writ­ing on the wall tells a dif­fer­ent story.

The 2,500 square-foot space is a re­flec­tion of the col­lec­tive per­son­al­ity of our six-per­son team. The bright lights, tall ceil­ings and over­sized white­boards in­vite our team mem­bers to ex­plore their ideas with­out lim­its. Or, for pri­vacy, they can cosy up in front of wall-to-wall win­dows next to a clas­sic brick fire­place. The kitchen, a for­mer vault [2] is my favourite space. Not only be­cause that’s where the cof­fee is but also be­cause many of our best ex­pe­ri­ences as a group have been over the meals we’ve made there. Not to men­tion the oc­ca­sional homemade pan­cake buf­fet for our clients. On the fridge is a col­lec­tion of Po­laroids and news­pa­per clip­pings from times we were fea­tured in the paper, a gen­tle way to both cel­e­brate our roots and keep us grounded.

The walls in our main workspace are draped in mem­o­ries of the achieve­ments that our small team has made. Wire­frames, tem­plates and sketches are proudly dis­played as if they be­long in a mu­seum of his­tor­i­cal arte­facts – a re­minder of how far we’ve come and how much work there is left to do. The Bull­shit Free Zone sign [3] that hangs de­fi­antly in our con­fer­ence room is a value by which we con­duct our op­er­a­tions. Our goal is to leave the of­fice be­ing proud of the work we do daily but we also take time to play, get cre­ative and revel in our progress. We never go a month with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing our ac­com­plish­ments over lunch and a (mostly) friendly game of Mario Kart [4]. Dis­played on the con­fer­ence room ta­ble are the faces of six dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters cut out, glued to card­board and at­tached to a paint stick from the lo­cal hard­ware store. Each em­ployee gets their own avatar [5] with a char­ac­ter as­signed to them, all orig­i­nat­ing from an in­side joke or in­ci­dent that we won’t let each other for­get. Be­lieve it or not, these avatars are part of our work­flow. It’s just one more way in which we in­ject flavour into each day. The words ‘bor­ing’ and ‘mun­dane’ are not in our vo­cab­u­lary here. Draeger has been part of Can­dorem since June 2018. Can­dorem is an award-win­ning user ex­pe­ri­ence, web de­sign and strate­gic mar­ket­ing com­pany.

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