I love working at The Dispensary. It’s a building with desks in it, but please don’t call it an office. I see it as a friend, art gallery, source of inspiration, incubator, place of collaboration. It’s a place of work that I really love going into each day.
Next to me is a science journalist, over there a songwriter then a photographer, across the way a product designer, downstairs an animator, there a graphic designer. It’s all the brainchild of Julie Rands and Peter Whitehead, who Julie calls a “strategic genius” who runs one of Bath’s most successful branding agencies, Radio. They set out to create, in one of Bath’s riverside Georgian properties, an open-plan working space available exclusively to creative companies.
Rooms drift into one another, as do conversations, ideas and inspiration. There are people on their first start-up drawing on advice from people on their fifth. Collaboration has already moved into business incubation. Simon Spilsbury, Simon Deshon and Mark Humphries got talking when they were each working independently at The Dispensary. Out of that conversation came The Creative Federation, an animation studio that makes branded content for online, internal comms, live events and broadcast. They produce some simply sublime work that I adore – work that has already been recognised for awards even though the company is less than a year old.
What makes The Dispensary a success is, at its most fundamental, what makes for successful innovation. It’s about putting together interesting creative people from different disciplines with different perspectives. Then stir and stand back to see what happens. It’s a recipe that keeps producing new ideas, fresh thinking and challenge. And it’s a model for the workplace of the future that presents a reason to congregate beyond a diary full of meetings.