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Maya Levin

Maya Levin

Akendi Alumnus

Creating a Space for Experience Thinkers, Part Three

Nothing gets work done like a good, solid deadline. Menial tasks tend to get left aside, and sometimes, large projects get postponed due to their daunting and stressful nature. The Akendi Ottawa office move was no different.

We allocated time to figuring out plans, ordering some new furniture, and coordinating construction with the landlord. We even sacrificed some late nights mixed with sweat (and maybe some blood and tears) in order to piece together some of that furniture. It is safe to say we have all reawakened our aversion to Ikea.

Floor Plans: Many sketches were done, testing different configurations. A 3D mock-up was done in SketchUp to get a better sense of the space.

With the space semi-functional, we were confident we would be ready to host the Ottawa training courses in the new space. We only needed to do a few general labour tasks, purchase some tables, and hang pictures. January sped by, and before we new it, training was upon us. The general labour and picture hanging was done, but the tables were undetermined. We were still discussing how many tables we needed, what dimensions they should be, and from where to get them. At that point, it seemed as though we would have to have a UX picnic party sitting on the floor (although that does sound kind of fun).

The main hallway: a little scary looking at first but a great finished product.

Here are some problems we encountered:


Good project management can be overlooked on small projects or in smaller organizations. Since this project was irregular for us, we were not as effective treating the move as a project with deadlines and objectives. Tasks were completed in an ad hoc manner, which was great for working around client projects but did not offer a timeframe for completion.


Although our team culture is a primary reason for our success in accomplishing high quality work, diverse personalities have equally diverse opinions. Without clear roles and responsibilities, progress stalled on more complex problems and purchase decisions. The table dilemma is an example: What size should our table be? What material should it be? Should it be custom? These questions went unanswered until our VP stepped up and took responsibility of contacting vendors/woodworkers, and reaching a consensus on size and materialsDefining

The new office, being larger than the previous space, needed a few new pieces of furniture. We made a list of what those items were, and then set out to find the best solution for cost and style. Without a defined budget or strict style, a lot of time was spent sifting through all the available options – from Ikea to boutique furniture shops to DIY solutions. The result was a lengthy process with a lot of differing opinions and discussions with no conclusions. Ultimately, with some prompting and clear, yes or no questions (e.g. I am going to buy this cabinet, ok?) the furniture was slowly purchased.

Although we stumbled through some aspects of the move, we gained the experience of the process. We learned about the importance of managing any kind of project; we experienced the frustrations of coming to an agreement with contradictory opinions, and we noted the benefit of creative briefs even in an internal project. This is a living space and we recognise that it will change over time as we use, think, and iterate.

Here are more pictures of the finished space (I know you’re dying to see the table):

The lobby /waiting area filled with lots of natural light and plants.

Looking towards the front door from our open workspace, you’ll see the doors to the private offices down the hall. We love working and hanging out in the open space.

The usability lab: set up for desktop, laptop and mobile testing

Our UX training room complete with our beautiful, locally made reclaimed wood table.

…stay tuned for more photos the space from our recent open house!

Maya Levin

Maya Levin

Akendi Alumnus


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.