Inside Iris Chicago's Reimagined Space for Reimagined Work

One aspect, 'In Residence,' supports local artists

The global pandemic has dramatically altered our relationship to work, and no aspect more dramatically than how we think about the office. Once defined simply as a place to go to work, most businesses have now accepted that for getting work done, it's rarely essential to be in the same room as everyone else in a business.

But over the course of the last two years, many of us have also longed to be back with our colleagues, whether it's an informal chat over a coffee to break up a stressful day, or enabling new or junior staff to observe and learn from their colleagues in meetings and conversations.

Despite that, we had no desire to turn back the clock and return to an office environment as defined "before," we knew we had to consider and question how we could make our workplace smarter and focused on facilitating and enhancing the kinds of interactions that make people want to go into as shared space in the first place.

In 2022, we believe that an office should be less about providing meeting rooms and desks; it should be a space to connect, collaborate, create, support, inspire and celebrate. It must be less rigid, more organic and able to adapt to multiple use cases. This organic, cellular concept was key to creative strategy consultant Liz Hay's vision for the space:

"Adaptability and flexibility are a key to the way Iris works," she says. "They have a huge range of specialists to draw on and every project is treated as a unique opportunity to take that talent and create something new. I wanted to capture this organic, evolutionary approach and create an interior design and flow of the office that encouraged and supported it, pushing as many boundaries as possible but not losing the core functionality of the space." 

A key consideration was how to use each area within the office so that every space has a clear and meaningful purpose. Liz reimagined a tiny meeting room as a wellness space called "Moment," to offer staff a space to take a moment to reset. She took a large area that was full of desks and converted it into an open exhibition space called "In Residence," a space to reflect, inspire and support local up-and-coming artists.

Taking a nod from the work we do as a creative, strategic and innovation agency we spend a lot of time solving problems for clients. We think it's essential to create small, seated nooks to create a cozier and less formal space—where creativity and thought are sparked even in what were awkward office alcoves. To create spaces that are comfortable, have texture and interest are key for opening up our minds and our ability to tackle the challenges we solve every day. It's our ambition that this space is for all of us—employees, clients, prospects, partners, freelancers and eventually the broader community.

In Residence

The free and open exchange of creative ideas is core to Iris. Our intention for this space is to support local creators and invite inspiration from all parts of our city. We are currently showcasing Lillian Veley's work, "Good Shape," a vibrant geometric series that explores color and symmetry with glowing seams.

Lillian is a strategist (at Iris) and artist in Humboldt Park. She began painting as a break from working with words. Her art is inspired by the language of colors, the way they communicate and their ability to surprise and soothe.

Our ultimate goal is to help inspire and give back to our staff, rewarding the efforts they make to come into the office with opportunities to connect and collaborate in an inspiring space. 

And like any adaptable organism, we'll never be "fully evolved." We will continue to change and improve as we learn more about how and why we are gathering in real life again, always looking to the future—For the Forward.

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