When Not Dressing Up on Fridays, This Agency Works on Clinique and Aveda

The Barbarian Group aims for a balance of work and play


Who Kevin Chan, associate creative director and Formal Friday creator (far left); Benjamin Palmer, chairman (second from left); CEO Sophie Kelly (seated, center), surrounded by Formal Friday participants

What Digitally focused creative agency

Where New York office<

Most weeks, the 125 employees of The Barbarian Group have been subverting the norm and classing up the joint by dressing up on Formal Friday. Since its 2001 founding, the New York-based agency has strived to celebrate a balance of work and play, explains CEO Sophie Kelly, and that spirit led Kevin Chan to start the now decade-old tradition. Who knows? Maybe staffers dressed to the nines helped the shop nab chic clients like Clinique and Aveda. The agency, which Cheil purchased in 2009, moved into a new office in Chelsea in January. Designed by Clive Wilkinson, the space features a much-ballyhooed “superdesk” that undulates throughout the office so that the whole team essentially shares the same work surface.

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