Inside R/GA: Shop, Studio, and The Can-Am Spyder

By Matt Van Hoven 

As promised, we headed over to R/GA today for a tour and brief run-down of the agency. We walked out of there understanding more about why this shop does it’s thing so well, an appreciation for in-house digital studios and a complete set of The One Show books (sweet!).

Immediately upon entering the fashion district-based shop (39th b/n 8th n 9th) it’s evident that there’s a theme. After shaking hands with SVP Managing Director Corp. Comm. Karen Spiegel (our tour guide for the day), we learned that the whole place is Bauhaus themed. White walls smattered with artwork provide a blank canvas for thought and pondering &#151 simple ideas (eh hem, Nike+) are prodded by caffeine courtesy the fancy coffee bar. We had water.


What was once a production shop for movies like Alien (oddly enough, Spiegel is a dead ringer for that film’s star, Sigourney Weaver) is today a digital agency that’s still rooted in gettin’ shit done, in 360 degrees.

Here’s how it’s not a traditional shop. Technology plays a greater role here than we realized, typified by “technical creatives” who sit in the same space as the writers, artists and whatnot. Ideas come from everywhere, including the people who know how gadgets work. No writer/art director silos here.

After checking out the main digs, we sauntered across the street to the newly remodeled digital studio. This 40-person office is equipped to the balls with all the digital production equipment one could need. In fact, head of production Vin Farrell told us they’re capable of doing much more than what R/GA was made famous for back in the day. From shooting to rendering to tracking sound (the sound booth was amazingly quiet…if we worked there, we’d surely sneak in for a moment of zen now and then) it’s all right there.

Our favorite part of the afternoon was the natural vibe of the place, which was typified in my conversation with Spiegel. We’ve been inside shops that aim to “wow” with their colorful walls and kitschy “creative spaces,” but as David Ogilvy said his entire life, creativity isn’t comprehensible. Extrapolating from that idea, we argue that it’s near-impossible to create a space for it to flourish (at least, not by painting puke in technicolor). R/GA favors dimly lit, monstrously open spaces, which to us felt calming and detoxifying. Plain, simple, effective.

Upon exiting the building, we shot the video you see above. In it, we show you what some R/GAer uses to get to work. It’s called a Can-Am BRP. Check it out, here, or see a video of one in action, after the jump. Our crappy long-board doesn’t hold a flame.

More: “Today, We Break Into R/GA