Office Location - affect on business?

Maybe been covered before, but:

Any thoughts on how an office location affects your business? I’m thinking primarily consulting firms. West Coast vs. East Coast? Coast vs. Midwest or South? What about subtler variables? Such as, Downtown Big City, USA, vs a suburb of that same city? Or, Suburb A vs. Suburb B?

Affect on prospective clientele? Employees? Does it have a different affect on Design Staff vs. Engineering, Prototyping, Sales or Marketing employees?

I think it definitely effects all of those things.

Finding good design talent is a challenge as it is, going somewhere that talent already resides is half the battle. And then there is the perception of your company. Few suburbs feel cool, even though the rent is probably way cheaper, and the parking more abundant…

do design firms go to geographic areas b/c that’s where designers are, or do designers go to geographic areas b/c that’s where jobs are? I suspect it is more common for a person to move to a job, than to select a location and then find a job.

Do you need to be a superstar to buck the urban trend? Frank Lloyd Wright (granted he’s an architect) located Taliesen in Spring Green WI. Although, this may have been later in his career?

Artists and Artisans of various types (glass blowers, sculptors, blacksmiths) often seem to do well locating in more rural settings.

Herman Miller - a corporate entity - is located in Zeeland MI - exaclty - where’s that?!

What design consultancies are located in out-of-the way areas?

RKS Design isn’t exactly in a central location. I was suprised by its location as being about as “off the beaten path” as you get in the L.A. area.

My company isn’t located in central Vancouver. Its in a more industrial area about 30 mins outside Vancouver. Its actually a good location geographically as we can get to virtually any client in 30 or so minutes…whether its downtown or out in the sticks. The location isn’t…um…“cool”.

I can’t see an ID company being particularly successful unless its NEAR a central hub of activity. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule.

Aside from the recruiting issues, these days you go see the customer - they don’t come see you (generalization).

You can locate your business wherever you want, but be prepared to spend some quality time stuck in a middle seat on a cattle car flight to metropolis. Be sure to build the travel expenses into your quotes.

I’ve started consulting for corporations in China - with no immediate plans to move there. They don’t care where I live, as long as I go visit them. For me the “cool factor” is that I live somewhere in the US and not Dong Guan.

You can’t underestimate how important location is in recruiting designers. It can make the process 5-10x harder if you aren’t in a major city. (or within driving distance)

i’d think that being in a hub or downtown area helps with perception, but also keeps you grounded to trends, and whats going on.

sure there’s the internet, but its always nice to walk out the door for inspiration and quick shopping trips. not to mention easy access for supplies.


With the obvious big exception of finding easily available talent, it doesn’t matter where you are.

Check this place out. They are pretty large for Bozeman, Montana:

I do not think that it makes a difference.
In my experience commnicating to a prospective employee that they are your first choice and then backing it with substance and perks is pretty hard to beat. We are in a fairly nuetral location and have only ever had one offer turned down using this approach.

Clients are another story, generally speaking if you are not close to them you better have some other good reason to offset that.

The best example I can think of is Motorola. Their design studios used to be located in Libertyville, IL a long and congested drive from Chicago. Young designers they recruited from places like IDEO & HLB & who lived in the city tended to quit in a very short amount of time as a result of the maddening commute. A few years later, Motorola opened up a design studio downtown on Michigan Avenue and have a MUCH higher retention rate.

Of course everyone still has to go out to Libertyville about a day a week or so, but it’s better than it was.

Same company, but with a location closer to where the designers want to live. Smart move on their part…

After rebuking them for years, I finally joined Motorola upon hearing about the new studio downtown. I lived and worked downtown at the time. Ironnically they moved into the same building complex I was already working in, so my commute changed by about 50 feet. Awesome!

Nokia picked up on this idea of attracting designers and recently opened a London studio.

Nissan Design International was famously placed in La Jolla California when Nissan gave (then GM designer) Jerry Hirschberg carte-blanche. He put it there to attract talent and to be close to the “car culture” of so-cal. That studio continues to kick ass 30 years later.

Time was that design firms went where the manufacturing industry was. That’s why Milwaukee has an IDSA chapter and San Diego doesn’t.

I expect this to change as firms feel less obligated to be “where the work is” and can function with telecommuting etc. So designers, where do you REALLY want to live??

Manhattan, but I want it to cost what Austin does, and have Santa Cruz’s weather…

ditto + surfing!
i think designers are the type of people who prefer to stay connected with whats going on… usually that menas being in an urban environment.