One For All and All For One

by Maria Burnham
Published in The Commercial Appeal, November 17, 2004

In a building that was once on the cutting edge of apartment living in 1900 and 60 years later was reborn as a plastic surgeon’s office, a unique creative endeavor is brewing, merging advertising with art.

1460 Madison is not just the building’s address, it’s the name of the “communicators” that operate individually and collectively inside and out of its walls.

The physical tenants of the building range from Tactical Magic, a five-person branding and advertising agency, to Debbie Brown, a visual artist.

But the idea behind 1460 is an environment where small firms and individuals can enjoy the creative vibes of working with other creative minds without having to be tied down to the restrictions of a large firm.

“I like the freedom of this business model,” said Trace Hallowell, creative director of Tactical Magic, and founder of the 1460 idea. “It can be a one-stop shop or it can be a couple of people who are helping you with your project.”

The firms and individuals at 1460 operate individually or together, depending on what a project calls for. A company hires one of the firms but often gets the work of many inside the building. Most of the time the process is invisible to the client.

Michael Burnham, with the private equity group Plum Tree Ventures, has experienced a little of the place’s energy.

 

“You gather together a team of talented people and let them be brilliant,” Hallowell said. “I really like to have people surprise me.”

The collective is still a work in progress and may always be that way, but a firm mold from which to work is in place, said Jerry Redmond, head of the design agency Redmond Design, a 1460 tenant.

“The energy has just been great because it’s such a good mixture of creative, copy writing, design and photography -- all of the components of mega agencies being supported by individuals.”

There are no worries of the others trying to steal clients or undermine each other’s work, said Mickey Hodges, who runs his one-man firm, Adzooks!, out of 1460.

Everyone is a professional in that respect, he said.

“It’s nice being in a place where people understand the problems you are going through ... having others to share the joys and commiserate as well.”

The office space itself is part maze, part college dorm and part swanky art gallery, with a hodgepodge of high ceilings and low doorways, walls brushed with earthy colors and plain white sheet rock, a mix of hardwood floors and carpets.

The interior doors stand open and people free-flow into each other’s space coming with ideas, questions or just looking for a momentary distraction. The inhabitants share conference rooms, creative brainstorming space and even bathrooms.

There is still much of the building that remains unused and unrenovated, leaving plenty of room for future collaborators who want to move in permanently or temporarily.

“Creative is about some friction,” Hodges said. “It’s about bumping into each other and rubbing off on each other.”

And, Hallowell added, that’s exactly the idea behind 1460 Madison.

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"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind." - Walter Landor