Portland ad agency Swift invites you to tour its new home in a renovated warehouse

One of the fastest growing ad agencies in Portland, Swift recently invited Creative Boom to visit its new workspace, based in a huge renovated warehouse. Flooded with light, dotted with greenery and full of flexible workspaces that inspire its army of producers, designers, thinkers and innovators – Swift's new home is located in the heart of Portland’s Slabtown neighbourhood, part of the city’s thriving creative sector.

Designed with a minimalist aesthetic, it's a space that specifically caters to the creativity and adaptability that you might find at any ad agency. It ​also ​provides areas for good old fashioned collaboration as well as privacy, and the comfort, airflow and light sparks a positive energy that makes Swift an inspiring and delightful place to work. We posed a few questions to Swift's co-founder and CCO Alicia McVey to find out more...

Can you describe your workplace?

It is function-forward: very open but with defined spaces, with built-in flexibility to accommodate a range of purposes and different ways of working. There are public collaborative areas and private meeting rooms of varying size. There are comfortable lounges where you can sit and work, and high white board tables and bars for those who want to stand.

The natural light is awesome. We added skylights to the sawtooth dormers and huge swaths of windows in every part of the building, allowing light to cascade in and reach interior conference rooms and work zones. Many meeting rooms are glassed-in on one or more sides, echoing a company ethos of transparency.

Swift Main Entrance: A glass accordion door folds flat to join the reception area  and covered courtyard entryway.

Swift Main Entrance: A glass accordion door folds flat to join the reception area and covered courtyard entryway.

Swift Colony: Seen from the mezzanine, the Colony is a space to gather for  staff-wide meetings, events and conversation.

Swift Colony: Seen from the mezzanine, the Colony is a space to gather for staff-wide meetings, events and conversation.

Swift Media Wall: The Colony group gathering space sits alongside a 9-screen  media wall for large group presentations, events and all-staff meetings.

Swift Media Wall: The Colony group gathering space sits alongside a 9-screen media wall for large group presentations, events and all-staff meetings.

Swift Kitchen Sign: Sunlight and slab marble shine in the central kitchen,  a popular gathering spot throughout the day.

Swift Kitchen Sign: Sunlight and slab marble shine in the central kitchen, a popular gathering spot throughout the day.

What do you love most about your space?

The light and the greenery. One of the best things about living in Portland is the natural beauty all around the city. We wanted to bring the outside in with sizeable built-in planters and potted plants spread throughout the building. Plants create a tranquil vibe and are known to restore mental energy and reduce stress... and they’re really pretty, too.

Are there any particular features that stand out and make agency life easier?

The centre of the building is anchored by a sunken gathering space we call the Colony. With a spiralling built-in bench and modular tables and stools, it's easily adaptable for agency-wide meetings, public events or just sitting and working. It's a few steps down so you can look out over it and see into every quadrant—creating a cohesive environment.

The main entrance is a covered outdoor atrium that has an accordion glass door, which can be folded flat and let fresh air in when it’s warm. It creates a really relaxed, casual feeling that connects Swift with the neighbourhood.

Swift Kitchen/Creative Quad: The north entrance opens onto the kitchen and  creative team workspace. A crisscross staircase leads to meeting rooms on  the mezzanine.

Swift Kitchen/Creative Quad: The north entrance opens onto the kitchen and creative team workspace. A crisscross staircase leads to meeting rooms on the mezzanine.

Swift Central Kitchen: All pathways lead to the centrally located kitchen — the  heartbeat of any agency — equipped with kombucha on tap and a pair of  marble-topped bars for spontaneous meet-ups.

Swift Central Kitchen: All pathways lead to the centrally located kitchen — the heartbeat of any agency — equipped with kombucha on tap and a pair of marble-topped bars for spontaneous meet-ups.

Swift Southwest Lounge: Swifties and their four-legged comrades gather in one  of several open lounges.

Swift Southwest Lounge: Swifties and their four-legged comrades gather in one of several open lounges.

Swift Studio Main Space: The south-facing studio is flooded with natural light  and multiple flexible areas for construction, prep and shooting. It includes a large  production kitchen.

Swift Studio Main Space: The south-facing studio is flooded with natural light and multiple flexible areas for construction, prep and shooting. It includes a large production kitchen.

Any favourite bits of furniture, accessories or areas that you love? Can you tell us a story behind them?

Yes! We installed neon minimalist overhead lights in the shape of an X, grouped in pairs near the entrance. The clean design syncs with the space and it's a nod to the fact that Swift was founded by two women, CEO Liz Valentine and CCO Alicia McVey.

Another favourite piece is a massive black resin picnic table in the atrium. It’s a very bold custom design by local artisans Good Mod that incorporates diagonal lines used in the architecture. We love it because it is one piece solely dedicated to gathering together. We have community lunch out there every Friday in the summer.

Swift Studio Mezzanine: A second level adds additional shoot space and a  light-filled area to meet and work overlooking the main studio.

Swift Studio Mezzanine: A second level adds additional shoot space and a light-filled area to meet and work overlooking the main studio.

Describe the local creative scene.

Portland is still one of those cities people love so much that they will move here without having a job. Like most creative communities, it includes many disciplines: art, design, music, writing, making, etc. And there is a very independent, DIY spirit, an energy that is at once renegade and entrepreneurial.

Have you got an inspiring workspace?

Our popular Studio Tours give our audience a sneak peek inside creative workspaces across the globe. From tiny home studios and co-working spaces to some of the world's leading agencies and creative brands – we love to find out what your office looks like.

Think you've got something great to show us? Email the details and a few sample photographs of your workspace to [email protected].

Main image: Agency co-founders Liz Valentine (CEO) and Alicia McVey (CCO) keep the mood light with built-in planters, resident dogs and rosé on tap.