Amidst the constant movement and noise of a busy city, coated in the sheen of urban regeneration, lies Ouma HQ. As the nation argues over political hypocrisy, mask etiquette and the availability of toilet roll, we have been quietly engineering our very first creative space.
Having first spied Suite E in the Urban Village in early 2020, the space waited a long 12 months for our inevitable arrival. Situated in the recently redefined High Street area of Swansea, the Urban Village sits proudly aside an array of galleries, coffee shops, bakeries and boutiques. For us, this was just part of its allure; the ability to work, play and create in the heart of the city we are so passionate about.
There was a heady month of mood-boarding, sketching, planning and online ordering before we finally felt the weight of keys in our hands. The plethora of codes, key fobs and alarms that protect the Urban Village was also something that we were resolutely drawn to - the security for our team, our work and clients.
It was from here that we truly became the architects of our own working experience and Ouma HQ was born. The design of the space was a coming together of several minds to bring a unique approach to interior styling. An approach based around forging an environment for the sole purpose of creative endeavour and the wellbeing of our team.
Below are some of the elements we felt were a top priority in engineering an inclusive, nurturing and healthy place to work.
Light is a huge influencer on our brains, from our circadian rhythms to our mood and hormone secretions. This has a significant effect on our ability to concentrate and get creative! In the planning of our work environment, we spent a lot of time and budget on our iconic 'OUMA' lights. These, however, were far more than just a design choice or indicator to our clients that they are in the right place; the 51 LED soft glow lights are for the far more carnal purpose of ensuring our cave-man brains feel safe, comfortable and therefore in the right place to generate those award-winning ideas. Creativity takes a considerable amount of vulnerability and courage, and by allowing our brains to feel like our ancestors story-telling in the warm glow of a fire, our brains are ready to spark just the right synapses. With the floor to ceiling windows and door to our very own balcony, we also make the most of the natural daylight during those busy days in front of a laptop. Daylight and access to the outside world has been proven, time and time again, to play another very important part in maintaining positive mental health and the production of Vitamin D. With wellbeing at the heart of our working experience... natural sunlight and the outside world are paramount.
Colour is another vital contributor to the resilience of our moods, mental health, daily wellbeing and ability to manage stress levels. The colour palette we chose to decorate with reflects a spectrum of complimentary tones designed to leave you feeling uplifted, focused and calm. From the deep forest greens of the many plants and foliage wall to the mustard chairs and turquoise paints; there is method to the madness! Gentle pops of bright, fun colours elevate the spirits, whilst the deeper mutli-tonals provide a peace and calm to settle the senses.
When you first walk into Ouma HQ you may initially think it is one large open plan space. On a closer look, and if you spend the day with us, you start to realise the space has been deceptively zoned using partitioning, plants, colour and glass. Being a member of Team Ouma takes great versatility and collaboration, and ensuring our team has the right kind of space within their immediate environment was a critical part of planning the layout. Natural foliage dividers and shelving units form partial privacy offering the ability to work privately or together on a project. Bean bags and hanging egg-chairs, televisions and blankets offer a far more relaxed style of working day. Desks, whiteboards for mind mapping, a community working table and soundproof glass spaces offer a more formal, yet still progressive, working style.
Scent and Air Quality
Our team's health and safety has been at the centre of our thoughts, and the transition to time spent working together. With the weight of Covid-19 fresh in our minds, air quality and purity was at the very top of our priority list. Ouma HQ boasts multiple air purifiers, windows and doors that open wide onto the outside world. The entire office is littered with plants and succulents chosen solely for their oxygenating abilities. With oxygen rich, quality air floating throughout our environment we have a unique opportunity to use aromatherapy scents to encourage clarity of mind, relaxation and mood elevation. Our signature blend is lemon, tea tree and bergamot, which we mist throughout the rooms. Aromatherapy and essential oils may seem an unusual budget choice for a workplace environment, but the power of these scents on the olfactory systems is just another of the many ways that optimise the very first of our creative spaces.
Spend a few moments at Ouma HQ and you'll start to notice the finer nuances, such as the careful use of texture to enhance the experience. From crushed velvet, cork, wool and thick cotton; our haven is full of tactile materials from wall to wall! A myriad of textures only adds to the visual pleasure of the space whilst assisting with zoning the areas successfully.
Park yourself on a leather stall, wrap up in a thick cotton blanket or curl into a squashy bean bag - the choice is yours.
As a company of majority dog lovers, this was an easy decision to make from the outset. Our choice to go pet friendly was supported by the many research reports proving the benefits of having dogs in the workplace. Research institutes across the world have collated both anecdotal and cold, hard data as evidence that dogs improve mental health, self-esteem, and social support in the workplace. In many instances this has indirectly improved productivity, reduced sick leave and just generally filled the working day with endorphins! So next time you visit and notice the seemingly out of place water bowl and fluffy dog bed, just know that it's there for some very special companions. Anyone who believes diamonds are a girl’s best friend, clearly never owned a dog.
The full spectrum of the human experience takes place in a working environment, we endeavour to forge a space that allows for a blending of professional passion, happiness and personal connection. We engineered a creative space that continues to change and evolve, but in its essence offers an atmosphere of equals to work alongside each other doing what they love.
We filled the air with excitement, plastered our values across the walls (literally) and flooded the space with a very special kind of magic.
Welcome to Ouma HQ, you're going to love it here.