When you're an international design agency, then design matters. Specifically, office design.

So when LPK opened its newest corporate suite in March, little surprise that everything"”the sculptures, the lighting, the walls, even the cubicles"”is simply stunning.

"Being creative people, the expectation is that we'd create cool space, more so than other industries," observes LPK's president and CEO, Jerome C. "Jerry" Kathman. "What I would think is this is the largest concentration of brand designers in the world. We create the stuff that the world buys."

Located on the eighth floor of the Cincinnati Club Building, directly across the street from the design agency's headquarters at Presidential Plaza on Garfield Place, the annex visually represents the incredible growth curve the firm has seen since first moving in. Starting a few years ago with a single floor, the company's 400 employees now occupy the LPK eight-floor highrise and will soon open a conference retreat in the historic Fechheimer Mansion and a former city recreation complex, the Butterfield Center, located next to the Cincinnati Club.

In short, LPK will own or lease just about the entire block of Piatt Park near the main public library, except for the Garfield Suites Hotel.
As executive vice president and chief creative officer Howard McIlvain puts it, "There are emotional messages sent by physical space." Ubiquitous cubicles just wouldn't do.

"We created a series of themes around clusters of expertise," says Kathman, noting"”in the main building"”there's a food floor, a health care floor, a beauty floor and, now, an LPK-Kids area on the eighth floor of the annex. The satellite office is themed to a celebration of all things of childhood: toys, games and other brands. "It's not about the choice of materials. It's how you create the theme of a clubhouse."
In fact, a tour through LPK"”which stands for Libby Perszyk Kathman"”is a bit like entering a department store, with a surprise on every floor. As McIlvain observes of the floor plans: "Externally, you showcase the work you do. Internally, it's a place of pride, a reflection of LPK beauty."

All along the walls, the brands are showcased: Zest, Fruit Loops, Evenflo, Hershey's, Jolly Rancher. A special lighting room can mimic the harsh halo thrown by a chain grocery's fluorescents or the diffuse lighting of a Home Depot, all in an effort to know exactly how the finished package will appear to the consumer on the store shelves.

The world's largest employee-owned brand design agency, LPK's clients range from Valvoline and Quicken all the way to Hallmark and Heinz. Founded in 1919 as an art studio, the company still has the same phone number today as it did then. In 1983, the five partners"”Kathman, McIlvain, Mort Libby, Ray Perszyk and Jim Gabel"”purchased the company from the advertising firm Young & Rubicam. Annual billings have grown from $1.4 million at that time to $60 million today. The agency maintains offices in Geneva, Switzerland, Frankfurt, Germany, and Guangzhou, China.

And while the workflow space creates energy for the employees, or "kindred spirits" as Kathman describes them, there's win benefits for the customers, as well. The environment helps stimulate ideas and, not the least, is a terrific sell for the people that LPK is trying to recruit.
The ultimate perk of employment: Cool space.