An Office Less Ordinary

Walk into the headquarters of the Spencer Foundation today and you’re greeted by open spaces that tell its story – from its early beginnings in supporting education research, to its current role as a leader in awarding grants and influencing education policy. It hints at an organisation that is open and transparent, with a collaborative culture that champions an interchange of ideas.

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But just a year ago, the head office in Chicago felt like a relic of the past.

The building was designed for a traditional 9 to 5 working life, employing a large community of researchers. The central part of the office, however, was largely dead space with no real sense of community or purpose. The result: people were cut off from each other, and opportunities to collaborate and debate ideas were missed.

When the pandemic hit, office life changed beyond recognition. No longer did everyone show up to work at the same time, or use the building in the same way. There needed to be an acknowledgment that modern working lives demand flexibility, inclusivity and purpose. Spencer Foundation’s headquarters no longer reflected its ethos and the building failed to be practical.

Wondersphere came on board to re-imagine the everyday

We’re used to taking the lead on a wide range of creative projects including interior design. We rose to the challenge of creating a new office space for Spencer, a long-standing client that had previously trusted us to redesign their website and knew we understood their organisational needs.

Wondersphere brought Spencer’s mission to life by using moveable walls that talk of its history, legacy and impact. While one wall looked to the Foundation’s renowned past, the others celebrated the present: current research fellows and research investments. What’s more, we wanted Spencer staff to reconfigure the walls in the ways that most suited them, in recognition that priorities change and office life isn’t always predictable.

Our overall goal was to create flexible office spaces, so that different areas could be used for events, workshops or meetings. Office floors were decentralised, making it possible for smaller gatherings and discussions to take place spontaneously. To make everyone feel more connected and visible, we created a new virtual office system for partners and grantees looking to more easily book meetings with Spencer staff.

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What was once traditional and closed off became generous, welcoming and open.

Spencer’s office today is an inviting place with a strong sense of culture and community. It reflects the past but also looks to the future.

What we say

The world changed fundamentally over the Covid-19 pandemic and we welcomed the opportunity to support our client in responding to that change, with an office space that reflects and facilitates the amazing work they do.

What they say

“Wondersphere have always been quick to understand our organisational needs; and the chance to renovate the Spencer office was no different. The team were able to reimagine the floor-plan so that all areas had real function and purpose to match our requirements. The space was completely transformed and revitalised. Our new office reflects the mission and values of Spencer and serves us well in the new era of hybrid working.”

Liz Carrick - Chief of Staff, Vice President Administration 

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We are Wondersphere, a strategic brand and communications agency.

We work without borders across graphics and identity, exhibitions and interiors, products and packaging, websites and digital experiences, communications and much more.

Our work is about elegant design and craft; but its success and impact is based on our ability to align to the needs of our clients’ organisations in order to add measurable value to the bottom line.

To find out how Wondersphere would be able to add value to your organisation, please get in touch.

+44 (0) 7515 353916 

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