Inside Design Army CCO Pum Lefebure's Home and Work Offices

Paths to inspiration, calm and chaotic

My most inspired thinking happens in my lady cave. Everyone should have a cave. That place where you can sit alone with your thoughts, dwell and dream. After a 40-minute workout in my basement and three cups of English tea with milk (no sugar), I go up to my home office to conjure up big ideas for a project I'm working on, or for my own businesses. It's hard to convey just how good that first sip of tea feels every morning. 

Besides being filled with natural light, something I need everywhere, my lady cave at home is everything that my office at work is not: calm, organized, and without interruptions. It's the place where I can go offline for a little while and jot down my thoughts, or sketch, or just sit and think about crazy moonshot ideas. Sometimes it's creative direction, sometimes it's business strategy, and sometimes it's about the next place I want to visit. 

The serenity I enjoy here goes a long way in letting me take a step back and think about big-picture things. My view is of endless neighborhood greenery, and I always have a scented candle lit. Most everything I have in this office is black or white. I'm surrounded by art that inspires me. Stuff I've collected over the years, mostly from Europe, mostly from Paris, mostly antique pieces from a Parisian flea market. It all creates an ambience of solitude, like I've been transported to a church from the Renaissance. 

Then I make my way to work…

If Design Army (my agency) is work, then my office here is the battlefield and command center, both figuratively and quite literally. Stacks of paper in the form of briefs, pitches, presentation decks and contracts form mountains that can take hours to sort. It's impossible to keep clean, but I like to think of it as organized chaos. Sometimes (too often), my French bulldog Luna barges in and steps all over everything! 

My team has a running joke that delivering stuff to my office is like losing socks in the dryer. You'll never know if it's coming back!

It's fair to say my desk, and my mind-set, both change while at work. Here I feel like I need to be a coach, a cheerleader and a plumber. The first two roles help guide, direct and motivate my team. The latter role is for fixing shit! There are plenty of times when something goes awry, either in the creative process or with a client, and my job is to step in and clean it up. 

When it comes to my actual job, I'm old-fashioned in the sense that I like to work with things actually in my hands. I think as a designer you need to see things in three dimensions, at full scale, and as close to the final form as possible. I want to see things as the consumer will experience them. I also want to give my feedback exactly where I see something. I write on things, circle, cut, paste and move stuff around all the time. I still feel like a designer at heart and am excited to see things in real life! But this habit also tends to lead to the aforementioned mountains of paper. 

Not to say I don't work on a computer. In fact, sometimes I feel like my computer is the digital version of my workdesk. I am, right at this moment, sitting on 11,526 unread emails that piled up while I was on a recent vacation, and I would love nothing more than to just select all and delete. 

Besides the chaos, the view of my world from my desk includes a photo of my daughter when she was a baby, a drawing she made me, an antique sculpture from another Parisian flea market, a vintage painting of an unknown army general I got while I was in Kyoto, a box bearing a creed I love—"You Can't Do Epic Shit with Basic People"—a calendar by the designer Massimo Vignelli, and two still-life images of flower arrangements. I have sticky notes everywhere and use them for everything. I think they are the greatest invention. 

I also always have some kind of moodboard and random eclectic accessory or object that inspires me. For instance, the colorful necklace sitting on my desk right now is a unique piece I picked up in Bangkok. I love the colors, the texture and the repetition of the ball.

I have moodboards for everything, from trips I take to hotels I visit to food I eat. Recently, I took a trip to Japan and came back with over 8,000 photos (yes, I have a problem), mostly of things that inspired me. Architecture, fashion, art, food, streets and people all inspire me. I always want to bring inspiration back and reference it with my team. I really believe a moodboard can show who you are and what vision you have. It's a very good habit as a creative director to see and experience new things as much as possible. I think to never cease seeing and practicing new things is key to being successful in life. 

Profile picture for user Pum Lefebure
Pum Lefebure
Pum Lefebure is co-founder and chief creative officer of Design Army in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Instagram @pumlefebure and @designarmy.