Brighton Lives

How To Make Your Office Space More Wonderful

The benefits of a harmonious office space are numerous: whether it’s natural light giving an 84% drop in eyestrains, headaches and blurred vision, or 65% of UK workers believing a better designed office would improve their productivity. PLATF9RM build our spaces to inspire connections, community and a healthy working culture. (We also like pretty design, natch.) But how can other offices do the same? We called two local specialists to find out current office and workspace trends, and get some simple tips for making yours look wonderful.


Blurred Lines

“The biggest change in the marketplace is awareness,” says Dave Blood, of Love Your Workspace and Posture People. “Wellbeing is very much the recent buzzword – whether it’s physical or mental health.” This is due to increased societal discourse around these issues, but also down to working practices evolving and updating quicker than your Mac’s operating system.

“A lot of people aren’t stationary at their desk anymore – they’ll be floating around in different places and working how they want. It’s called activity-based working,” says Chris Sparham of Rap Interiors. This is helping to blur the lines between work and play, with breakout areas, sofas, televisions and beer fridges often part of the mise-en-scene in the modern office. “It’s about making the space a little more homely,” says Chris.

Dave Blood,  Love Your Workspace

Dave Blood, Love Your Workspace

Chris Sparham,  Rap Interiors

Chris Sparham, Rap Interiors

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Work This Space

Higher demands for space mixed with a difficult financial climate have created a unique set of challenges for those in the business of making offices wonderful. “Clients want their spaces to work harder,’ says Dave Blood. “One thing we’re often seeing is companies reducing desk sizes to avoid a move. So a company might fit 30 people into an area previously for 20, but they also want to free up space for soft-seating breakout areas or high table with stalls for people to eat lunch.

What about building a mini pool table – will this classic tech company trope erect a mighty spike in employee wellbeing? “2009 to 2010 was when we saw the start of a shift in what people wanted from their workspace,” says Dave Blood. “Employers were chucking in table tennis tables and suddenly they were apparently a forward-thinking employee with this funky office. Now it’s about allocating space that’s going to be used for the different ways people want to work.

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Feeling Ergonomic

According to 2016 research by the Work Foundation, musculoskeletal problems accounted for 9.5millon UK sick days in 2015/14 – approximately 40% of all work-related ill health. Increased knowledge is leading us to a new trend of investment in ergonomic furniture.

“Employers have developed an understanding of the benefits of people being set up correctly and comfortable in the workplace,” says Dave Blood. “It’s now seen as an investment in staff rather than pure expense. You get a return because the employee takes less time off due to back problems, or they stay for longer so there’s less recruitment costs. Or maybe they’re just more productive because they’re not experiencing discomfort at their workstation.”


Plants, Wonderful Plants

Plants can dial-up the atmosphere of a dreary office and, according to this 2014 study, can increase productivity by 15%. They’ll also purify the air and make sure we’re all sucking in more oxygen, thus helping our alertness.

“It’s bringing the outside in,” says Chris Sparham. The idea has its roots in the biophilia which, broadly, is a hypothesis that humans have an innate connection with nature. So an office with some blooming aglaonemas or philodendrons will make us all feel content and more motivated to make that cold call at 4pm on Friday afternoon. “In general, plants will help clear the air and make employees feel happier,” says Chris.

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Play It Soft

When it comes to the colour and furnishings, the chrome and black leather of offices past seems as dated as the gender pay gap. “We’re very much seeing a softening of colours,” says Dave Blood. “There’s a much stronger blurring between the lines of the furniture you have in your home or your office. “

Dave says wood is coming back – for sustainability reasons but also to enhance the biophilic and homely appeal of spaces. “It’s partly bringing the outside in, but those old classic chrome sofa legs create a harsh, corporate look. It’s something that’s just designed to sit in an office, rather than somewhere you’d choose to spend your time.”

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Acoustic-tic-tic-tic Boom

2011 study in the British Journal of Psychology said that “speech and office noise can disrupt performance on memory for prose and mental arithmetic tasks”.

“Acoustics is our biggest growth area in the last 12 months,” says Dave Blood. “It’s a by-product of the recent workplace trends.” Dave says that he’s going into a lot of spaces to literally “suck out” the sound of that nice-but-noisey recruitment guy at the end of your table.

He uses noise cancelling software that gets tuned to the office’s unique sonics, and emits a sound compared to the barely audible hum of air-conditioning. “You might have a relatively quiet office and perhaps one or two loud people – you need to bring the background noise up so you can’t hear them, otherwise you will bring your own volume up as compensation,” Dave says.

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Finding Your Creative Space

For many of us, getting home from a long day’s work and settling into a burning passion project is verging on unthinkable. Who has the energy or headspace for that? Well, as a matter of fact, we know a few. PLATF9RM is full of creative souls whose passion and drive helps them juggle successful careers and side projects. We asked some of them to let us into the secrets of how, when and why they switch off business mode and slip into their creative space.


Benji Lamb – Pavilion

“By day I work for a Chinese digital marketing and e-commerce agency called GMA China, but on the side I’m part of a shameless indie pop band called Pavilion. We’re really excited to have recently launched our debut single, Between Days.

PLATF9RM is my main physical space for both my career and my passion project. It’s a creative space full of creative people, so it’s easy to switch between business and creative brains during a free hour in the day. Sometimes I find it helps to simply move seats when I’m changing my focus. I also use different browsers: Safari for business, Chrome for creative. That helps me to stay on track with what I’m doing.

Juggling work and creative projects is always a challenge, but ultimately I think they both have to be a labour of love to succeed. If you’re interested enough in both, switching between isn’t too much of a chore.

I can’t say I ever really relax into being creative – in fact, being creative is the opposite of relaxing! I care too much about my music, and like any creative, I’m anxious about how it’ll be perceived. There’s also the pressure to use our time well when we’re paying for a day in the studio.

Ultimately, I think you just have to be sincere and someone, somewhere will respond. We all feel like we're screaming into the void, right?”

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Becky Rui - Photographer


“I’m a personal branding photographer, but my personal projects are generally also photography based and inspired by my love of documenting things. I’m fascinated by how other people experience life! I want to share people’s stories to help them feel heard, be seen, and for everyone to feel less alone. I’m currently exploring our relationship with body hair as women.

When I’m not away on shoots I usually work on my business from PLATF9RM, because it’s where I feel most focussed, calm and business-minded. I usually edit my personal work at home or in cafes. For my personal projects I prefer not to have an outcome in my mind, allowing creativity to fully lead in the moment instead.

It can sometimes feel like there isn’t enough time to juggle everything, but I find it helps to schedule sessions in my diary for personal work and prioritise that – although if I’m not in the mood, that’s okay. It doesn’t feel right for me to be ‘making’ all the time.

I feel it’s important to allow our creative process to be what it wants to be, and be aware of how different environments, music and company can make a difference to how we feel. Space, people and sounds can all inspire us and support our flow.”

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Toni Finnimore – the Social Society

“I work with charities as a consultant, I coach women in business, I support vulnerable children going through the court system, I'm an advocate for the elderly… but my passion project is the Social Society, the UK's first social club for social good. We’re moving super fast and supporting some amazing local charities.

My workspaces vary hugely, from care homes to court rooms, but my creative space is PLATF9RM. I find I can get so much work done at Hove Town Hall. It's light and airy, friendly, the coffee is delish and I get to chit chat with lots of amazing creatives. Above all, I love its consistency.

Juggling work and the Social Society means 6am coffee shop starts, followed by lots of project work and travel followed by lots of evenings and weekends. Having said this, I love every minute. I find inspiration on seafront strolls, from social society members and my whacky friends – but most often when dancing around my flat at night with headphones on!

I find that when I'm getting creative and stuck into something I love I simply feel better. I feel excited, ideas flow and I bounce up and down with excitement about the possibilities.”

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Sofaya Hussein – Headblush Glitta

“While I don’t have a side project as such, there are two very different sides to running Headblush Glitta. It’s fun at the forefront, and business at the back! I run a Glitter Bar for public and private events and make products for personal use, as well as doing all of the back-office work, from graphic design and social media to book keeping and general admin.

As you can imagine, my physical workspaces differ all the time! My admin workspace is PLATF9RM, a place where I can get my head down with my laptop and focus on the back office bits. My creative space is at home. I have a desk for playing with and applying my own makeup, where I make content for the makeup side of Headblush, and another desk for making, creating, packaging and photographing products for Headblush Glitta. The Glitter Bar is mobile, so I put my creative hat on with bold makeup and an outfit full of sequins and take the creativity with me to wherever the Glitter Bar is going that evening.

How do I get into a creative headspace? Well, after a day of admin-based work, I'm often itching to get some creativity in! A good cup of tea, a well chosen playlist and a scour for inspo on Instagram and Pinterest usually sets me up to create a bold makeup look or product shot. I find a lot of my inspiration from makeup artists, drag queens, influencers and fashonistas on Instagram and Pinterest, as well as all of the amazing, interesting people I see in Brighton and Hove on a daily basis. I love colour, so all I need is to see an interesting colour combo and my mind starts whirring!”

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Lana Burgess – Digital Solace

“By day I'm a freelance writer & content strategist, and for the last four years my creative side project has been organising inclusive events for Brighton Digital Women and commissioning and editing articles for our blog. I've gained masses from growing this community and am so delighted with all the positive feedback we've had from women who have managed to advance their careers through our events. However, after an amazing journey, I recently came to the difficult decision to step away from my role with Brighton Digital Women to make room for a brand new creative project.

Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2012, I’ve been using creative journalling as a way to manage my mood. I have kept diaries since I was nine. But since my diagnosis, I've started to use journalling as a more creative and therapeutic outlet. I write most days either first thing in the morning, during the day when the mood strikes me when working from home, or in the evening if I've been at PLATF9RM.

My writing takes whatever form I need it to that day. Sometimes I write as if I were my best friend counselling myself. Sometimes as if writing a letter. Sometimes my writing is just a stream of consciousness. Sometimes it comes out as poetry. When I hit upon a topic or theme that I want to explore further, I write a post about it on my blog, Digital Solace.

A hot bath with lots of bubbles, candles, and ambient music normally helps me relax into a creative space after a long day’s work. Or if I have anxious energy to release, then a good dance around the living room to something visceral like Venetian Snares is good. My creative space involves candles. I like to journal at home with scented candles lit, main lights off, ambient music on. Your creative space is about recreating a feeling. I find once you've felt being utterly lost in flow, you know what space you need to be in to reconnect to the neural pathways that got you there.”

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Launching a creative side project can feel daunting, but there are so many ways to make it work around your career. The Corcovado Project is an amazing organisation providing spaces for people to connect and create in nature, away from the pressures of everyday. This month they’re running a day long workshop which will see us learning and making both indoors and out, and exploring how to make the best of digital and analogue in nature. The fun will start at 10am, and we’ll wrap up with a hearty veggie bowl food dinner. Day tickets are limited to 40, but an additional 60 tickets are available for the evening. See you there!

An Insider's Guide To Brighton Fringe

Brighton Fringe is a unique time, as the city becomes a stage with pop-up venues in back-rooms, basement bars, and on seemingly every blade of grass. With over 4,500 performances happening across town and everything on show from absurdist comedy to imaginary porn charades (a thing...apparently), it’s a feast of performing arts.

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The festival’s director is Julian Caddy and we caught up with him to discuss the realities of organizing the UK’s biggest arts festival, the infamously doorstep-like programme, and his piping hot tips for 2019.


Hey Julian! The Fringe is a such a huge, sprawling event. How do you possibly go about organizing it?

The best way to describe Brighton Fringe is as a ‘super festival of festivals’. This is why our programme is so big. The Warren and the Spiegeltent are the biggest and most well-known but there are 155 venues taking part overall, which is effectively 155 festivals. Each one is running their own infrastructure and marketing.

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How did you get involved?

I was involved with Edinburgh Fringe initially, producing and programming shows as Artistic Director, designing and running venues. Over that time I ran 23 performance spaces, produced and programmed about 700 shows and roughly a quarter of a million people came through my doors. Being based in London at the time though it was a lot of traveling, so when the Brighton job came up it was very appealing. That was 2011 and I’ve now lived in Brighton for nearly 3 years.


Why has such a relatively small city spawned such a large festival?

Brighton Fringe is England’s largest arts festival, the UK’s second largest [after Edinburgh Fringe] and one of the largest in the world. It works here because it’s a city built around a visitor economy, with a culture of alternative lifestyle and entertainment. There are over 50 festivals here and more than 11 million people visit the city every year. It’s also near London and the confluence of these reasons makes it an ideal place for an event like the Fringe to flourish.

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You are part of an international Fringe network. How many international artists do you attract?

This year we have 134 shows from 33 countries and 43 international collaborations. Some of these shows are one-person and some are ten, so it’s a huge amount of performers.

It is! How does Brighton Fringe support artists?

We do a huge programme of education throughout the year, which is free. We provide £25,000 in bursary support for artists. We have 23-or-so different awards that we give out at the end of Brighton Fringe, which artists use to get out across the country and abroad. I have been on the jury for a number of other international Fringes over the years and I also go and meet artists there, discuss the funding channels available and plot a course for them to come over. There are also dozens and dozens of artists from Brighton that have travelled to other Fringes too– Adelaide, San Diego, Cape Town, Edinburgh – and we provide assistance with this. It’s a well-trodden path and all part of our commitment to the artists.


That’s so great, now – let’s talk about that programme. It’s famously vast [this year it’s 160 pages] What would you say to someone who feels a bit overwhelmed opening it?

Start with the beginning! Up to page 18 contains a selection of shows that are award-winning or feature as part of our International Seasons which is a great stamp of quality. I would book them earlier because they are more likely to sell out, but after that I would always suggest taking a punt.


How can people keep abreast of those smaller shows that are really doing something special?

Keeping an eye on the #BrightonFringe hashtag on Twitter is the best way. It’s very busy and I will be talking about things I enjoy there. You need to be quick once you see a recommendation though because a lot of the venues are small and get booked up quickly.

I’d also suggest downloading the Fringe app. It has geolocation – so you could enter that you want to watch some comedy in the next ten minutes. It will show you something 100 yards away, which you can pay for through the app. I’m biased, but it’s very clever (and useful!).

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Most people know of the bigger venues like The Warren, Spiegeltent and The Old Market, but what smaller venues do you like?

The Spire is a great venue in Kemp Town. It’s a deconsecrated church near Sussex Square that’s got some really interesting things going on and next to a lovely cafe called Marmalade. The bigger venues are great and the focal points of the Fringe but I love the smaller venues in unusual places: a beach hut or someone’s front room.


So, come on. Give us your tips for this year...

There’s one called My Home At The Intersection, which was a winner at Amsterdam Fringe. It’s a young man from the Punjab telling a story of his childhood: the audience sits on the floor covered in wheat and you taste a bit of his grandfather’s 30-year-old pickle from India. It’s got videos, interviews with his parents, and is a very touching story about intergenerational differences and life in a hugely different world to ours.

Harry Clayton Wright is doing Fortnight: an installation piece that lasts all day long for two weeks. Every day is different to the previous and it’s a marathon piece from a very well known cabaret performer and online provocateur. People will think it’s crazy…and maybe it is...

Check out everything Fringe-related here


Read these other interviews on PLATF9RM Press

Olympian Leon Taylor: Combating Business Stress With Regular Physical Movement

Balance Is Better: How Small Companies Can Close Their Gender Pay Gap

The Highs And Lows Of Remote Working

Technology has given humanity many wonderful things: rockets that fly to other planets; machines that scan bodies for illnesses; Jonny 5 from Short Circuit.

It’s thanks to technology and the advent of the internet that more employees and workers are working remotely. This YouGov poll suggests 30% UK workers were more productive working remotely, whilst the TUC said the number of people working remotely increased 19% in the ten years to 2016. To the naysayers, remote working remains a cheat’s charter and a license to clock in wearing in your PJs and knock off at 3pm. And, well, for some people it is. But for millions of others it’s an effective way of taking control of your working day and, by extension, your life.

On Wednesday 24 April, PLATF9RM is staging an event called The Magic Of Remote Working, where some fantastic guests will take us through their (remote) working lives. In advance, we asked them to give us a quick primer on the highs and lows of remote working. Read these before deciding if the office life ain’t for you...


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Joanne Munro – The VA Handbook

I have a location-independent business model and I go away for five days to one-month stretches, with 2.5 weeks the sweet spot. I’m a curious person and it gives me freedom to meet new people in fascinating places. (The chance to avoid those brutal Brighton winters is obviously a huge bonus too!) Despite this somewhat peripatetic lifestyle, I wouldn’t classify myself as a digital nomad: I’m still settled in Brighton (I have a flat here) and use AirBnB and homeexchange.com to get cheap accommodation.

Anything with a high must have a low, right? Technical problems are very much all “on you”. Recently my laptop cable just decided to stop working in Trieste – a simple situation to amend when you’re in an office and can borrow a colleague’s, but tricky when you’re alone in a country where you don’t speak the lingo! Solitude can be a problem – you’re having these experiences but if you’re not with someone they can stay in your head. Fortunately, coworking spaces are opening everywhere and are good for meeting like-minded people. Big tip from me? Get a Priority Pass for airports. I never used to get any work done on travel days but now I can settle into airport lounges and get stuck in.


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Laura Turner – Director of Altitude Camps

I decided to get out of the bubble that is the Alps, but wanted to continue running Altitude Camps – we organise summer camps in Verbier. I chose to work from the UK with catch-up trips back to Switzerland. This is essential to making it work for both sides – with technology we can still communicate really well, look at the same screen and everyone gets my support, but you can’t beat some (occasional!) facetime.

A major bonus? I now find that the team use their initiative more, trying to problem solve as I am not just the other side of the office. This develops their own understanding, skill set and allows them to take on more responsibility (as well as saving me time which is a benefit for everyone!).

There are some downsides: during peak weeks like New Year and half-term, I am not there to just jump in when things get busy with walk-in clients. I do also miss the social side of being in the office but that’s where PLATF9RM has been really nice*: it gives me the perfect combination of social chat and time to really focus on my own work.

*Laura wrote this of her own volition... pinky swear…


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Cliff Ettridge – The Team

I want to tell you a story about cheese.

I love it.

So much.

In fact, pretty much anything dairy, and my will evaporates.

And so, working at home – close to my fridge – it’s a nightmare.

It’s cheese temptation gone mad, because there is nobody there to stop me. There’s nobody there to check my behaviour; to suggest a different approach; to bounce my ‘cheese problem’ about with.

And there you have it. For me, working alone, is an unhealthy diet.

As a London-based worker, working at home one day a week is a godsend from the commute. Time and again I used to tell colleagues that ‘working from home I get so much more done.’ Now, I can’t cite any research to support the claim I’m about to make, but in my reality, this is a load of baloney. I never used to get more done.

Why? Because I see work as a social activity.

As human beings we do mimic the behaviour of others. When we’re surrounded by people hard at work; people thinking; sharing ideas; getting excited on the phone, then we like to copy that. And when we’re with other people we can bounce ideas about, enjoy some laughter and, avoid the cheese. That’s my view.

As remote working increases – and Chief Financial Officers see the opportunity to drive down costs by pushing more workers into coworking spaces – then remote working is going to increase.

This means that the worker who is more aux fait with collaborative technologies – the early adopter – that will be the person that will thrive.

That’s why I am throwing myself into coworking and remote working – it’s the work of the future.


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Tom Bailey – Brighton SEO

I've been a self-employed freelancer for the past 14 years. So self-directed remote / mobile working is the only real model I know now, and to be honest, I'm not sure how well I'd function in a more conventional office environment.

The Rough Agenda and the BrightonSEO team is built on this way of working, partly as it began as a sideline project itself, partly because it's fairly common in an event industry context, and also very much as a conscious decision by the MD about the way he wanted things to run.

There are loads of benefits; the team all balance the job with other work commitments, activities and/or childcare. It enables commitment from a skilled and experienced core team who might not be able to attach themselves to a more conventionally structured project. When people are empowered to take responsibility, it also creates a real sense of shared endeavour in it all - which is really what we're all after at the end of the day.

There are some challenges of course. Ambiguity of responsibility can be a problem, and everyone needs to accept that the odd thing is going to fall between the cracks. Also, some people find it an easier model to work with than others and you can feel isolated from time to time if you've not spoken out loud to another grown-up all day!