Any other business

From Don Draper to David Brent: The 6 most famous on-screen offices

5 min read

11 January 2016

Where do you get inspiration for your office design? With both the Oscars and BAFTAs on the horizon, we’ve taken a look at some of the most famous TV and movie offices and to analyse the best (and the worst) on-screen office design.

The office environment is incredibly important. Indeed, how clean (or messy) your desk is says a lot more about the sort of person you are than you might realise – is it a riot of ideas or safe and tidy?

And what about the view from your desk? Is there one? In September, we revealed the five best and five worst office views across Britain, which will either leave you envious or grateful for what you currently have.

Now, since awards season is upon us, with the Golden Globes already behind us and the Oscars and BAFTAs on the way, we’ve explored the most famous office spaces – from David Brent’s sad space to Don Draper’s sumptuous surroundings.

(1) The Office (David Brent)

David Brent’s soulless sanctuary reflects his hapless management style. The colours are drab, the furniture is unimaginative and there’s enough plug sockets to power a small country.

The lack of clear design influence and out of date décor would have us suggesting a full refurbishment with improved storage, more ergonomic furniture, brighter colours and, may we suggest, a brighter boss at the top.

(2) Mad Men (Don Draper)

This office has become as iconic as the series itself. Spacious, elegant and welcoming, with clean lines and plenty of dark wood to suggest affluence, it’s a workspace that is both functional and good to look at. 

The clean lines of the wooden furniture contrast with the carefully chosen lamps and lighting in just the right way. It might be a little too dark and conventional for some modern tastes, but sufficient light comes in to carry it and it’s exactly the right atmosphere to sit down and have a glass of whiskey with Don himself.

(3) The IT Crowd (Jen Barber)

The isolated basement office of Reynholm Industries’ very own group of IT support misfits is dark and dank, lacking sufficient storage space and natural light. 

Adding extra storage for all those loose parts and moving the team into a space above the ground would help reduce accidents and improve team communication, collaboration and overall morale.

Continue reading on the next page for the three remaining office backdrops from the film and TV worlds.

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(4) Big (Josh Baskin)

When Josh wishes to be big and ages drastically overnight, he finds himself working in a tiny cubicle as a Data Entry Clerk at MacMillan Toy Company in New York. His playful mind and knowledge of toys helps him get a toy testing job and he ends up with the dream office of any twelve year old boy.

Colourful and playful, it definitely contrasts to the drab and boring offices of his colleagues, perhaps they should take a leaf out of his book and add some fun to brighten up their day.

(5) The Sopranos (Tony Soprano)

The Sopranos office is a relaxed environment from which to run your totally legitimate waste disposal business; in fact, as it’s at the back of a strip club, it might be a little too relaxed for some people.

The pool table encourages interaction between co-workers and offers a respite during a busy workday. It’s hard to imagine that anyone working here would feel stressed or pressured….

(6) The Apprentice (Alan Sugar)

At first glance, this room seems to have been chosen to intimidate: impersonal, ruthless and dominated by that huge glass table that nothing can cross. Can it really be the place where Sir Alan does business?

Actually, no. The demands of shooting a reality show like The Apprentice means that, in order to get all the cameras and crew in the right places, the scenes are actually shot in a TV studio. It’s interesting that the one office on this list that is presented as real is, in some ways, the least realistic of them all.

Chris Jenkins is creative director at office design specialist Peldon Rose