The Razorfish Doodle Wall

Razorfish employs the kinds of people Forrester Research describes as “creators,” or individuals who actively contribute to social media communities through their own blogs or other uploaded content.  You can find many creators in the Razorfish Chicago office (where I work), home of the Doodle Wall.

The Doodle Wall, adjacent to the 4th Floor break room, is a community mural where employees can express themselves with free-form doodles.  Val Carlson, a Razorfish Creative executive based in Chicago, explains that the wall lets employees “express themselves, blow off steam, take a break to clear your mind, meet people, and get inspired.”

The wall has inspired some rather striking art (my favorite is the apocalyptic looking “choose or not” image that looks like something right out of the book of Revelation).

Val explains that the Doodle Wall has its origins among a Chicago-office client team with a “very 80’s style corporate looking table in their area that they started doodling on about six or eight months ago.  It evolved into a work of art.  They took a piece of heavy, stodgy, dated furniture and turned it into a reflection of their team and our culture.  They ran out of space, and we decided that it would be great to have a wall similar to the table so that everyone can participate.”

She tells me she is pleased with the results — and surprised at how many people outside the creative or design teams have contributed their doodles.

The artwork currently adorning the Doodle Wall is being painted over now.  The next version of the Doodle Wall will be dog-themed.  Razorfish recently won some work with a pet industry company that will soon come to the office for a collaborative session.  We can’t wait to show the client our dog-related doodles.

The Doodle Wall impresses me because of its usefulness as a collaborative tool among employees.  And although my Razorfish colleagues operate in a largely digital world, they’ve capitalized on a simple social format in an offline environment.

In 2009, I believe we’ll see more Doodle Walls take hold in the digital realm thanks to the uptake of multi-touch technologies and formats like Surface (developed, of course, by Razorfish owner Microsoft).  Digital spaces like Surface make it possible for people to create content together in offline environments like retail stores, bars, and museums.  (The 2008 Razorfish Client Summit featured a Surface application where event attendees could swap information and bid for a guitar signed by Sir George Martin.)  We’ve barely tapped into the potential social applications of multi-touch.

Will something like the Doodle Wall flourish in the digital world?  You can bank on it.  Razorfish is.

Thank you to Dan McBride for the lead image of the Doodle Wall pictured in this blog.