Our Worst Client Ever (and We Couldn’t Fire Them)

It finally happened here at DxDempsey. We came up against our worst client ever. They were demanding and indecisive. They wanted it fast, but dragged their feet. They wanted revision…after revision…after revision. They had eyes bigger than their wallets. They changed their minds mid-design over and over again. In short, we would have fired them except for one insurmountable obstacle: It was us!

We spent the better part of 2021 designing our new workplace. In truth, all those things were true, but for good reasons. We were demanding because we knew this was going to be our home for a long time. We were indecisive in a fun way–we would all bring ideas to the table and loved each other’s ideas so much it was hard to pick! We had time to make revisions so we did until we got it right. We would change our minds in order to save money or make the project better. We definitely had eyes bigger than our wallet, but we were careful about where we spent money in order to make the most impact, especially if we felt it would truly benefit our culture and our future. The design of our office was a classic case of the shoemaker’s son not having any shoes. We stayed committed to delivering for our clients before ourselves, but in the end we practiced what we preach and we are thrilled with the results!

It was exciting to get to apply our Strategic Branded Experience Framework to ourselves. We finally had our canvas. Then it was time to follow our proprietary system that results in eye-catching, sustainable, research-based projects that communicate a purpose, tell a story and produce a Return on Design Investment (RODI). Also, we know from working with our clients and measuring results that it works.

Here’s how our new workplace responds to each factor of the Strategic Branded Experience Framework:

  1. Aesthetics–Our space is beautiful and induces a feeling of enjoyment and delight.
  2. Sustainability–Our space was designed to improve health and well-being. It includes natural light to balance our circadian rhythms; plants that bring in the outdoors and have been proven to increase productivity; fresh air from the operable windows and filtered HVAC system; sit-stand desks because sitting is the new smoking; and environmentally friendly materials and methods (starting with renovating an existing building and keeping as much as possible in tact).
  3. Research-based Design–We study environmental psychology and stay right up to date on methods such as activity-based design in order to ensure that what we do produces the desired results. This includes creating different types of areas for people to work based on the task they are performing, as well as understanding the impact of color, light, ergonomics, noise, etc., on the function of the space and performance of staff. We applied all of this research to our own space and it offers different experiences for us during the day–from places to focus or refresh and recharge to a Town Center for collaboration and a phone room for private conversations and small meetings (that doubles as a pod cast studio).
  4. Branded Environment–Our space highlights our vision, mission and values and inspires a sense of purpose. Custom-designed frames hold photos of landmarks in Scranton, but from angles that show we look at things from a different perspective. Our X is abstracted and layered on the glass walls. The biophilic plant wall highlights our commitment to the environment and the space itself is uplifting, refreshing and expresses our commitment to quality and attention to detail. If you walked through our office and didn’t talk to anyone, you would understand who we are and what we are up to in the world.
  5. Personal Relationships–We are an extremely collaborative boutique firm. Every person here touched this design and has a hand in why it feels so good and works so well for us. In addition, we reached out to local contractors, vendors and banks to help us build, furnish and finance the space. We are all about building relationships with clients and other partners that nurture trust.


So far we love spending time in our new workplace! The Town Center is perfect for design charettes (brainstorming sessions) and client presentations. An added bonus is that we can use our new space for events. It has already hosted a high school reunion, a birthday party and will soon host a private dinner for an executive women’s group. We are also located above a popular restaurant that is a local institution, Mansour’s Market. Just grabbing lunch or a cup of coffee leads to impromptu networking.

Our new workplace felt like a new beginning. We will eventually report the positive impacts, but already we are having a great year all around. If you also want to be inspired to love what you do and where you do it, then contact us for a free consultation!


Special thanks to the project team:

The DxDempsey Team: Michele Dempsey, Corey Tilburg, Anthony Matsell, Tanner Kachurka, Ben Gravel, Kim Szezorak
DW Perrotta Construction Group
And thanks to all our other vendors, suppliers and partners for always being there for us! We love working with you!

Play Your Own Kind of Music: Lessons From Renzo Piano & Tadao Ando

Play Your Own Kind of Music: Lessons From Renzo Piano & Tadao Ando

Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers: Centre Pompidou The first time I heard of architect Renzo Piano, it was in connection with his building-turned-inside out, the Center Pompidou in Paris (designed in collaboration with this year’s AIA Gold Medalist, Richard Rogers)....

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