February 20, 2013

Wichita Business Journal

Emily Behlmann

Walk into the Greteman Group offices and it’s obvious creative people are at work. The walls are brightly colored in deep reds and golds, the layout is open, and there is artwork everywhere — much of it local, some from around the world.

Greteman Group’s wellness plan includes yoga and hula hoops. Here, Sonia Greteman is hula-hooping in front of “Moon Gate,” a sculpture by her husband, Chris Brunner, that separates the lobby from the staff workspace.

It feels global. And Zen.

President Sonia Greteman designed the space with her artist husband, Chris Brunner, whose sculptures are all over the office.

Too often, Greteman says, offices are spartan. She wanted the office for her branding agency to reflect her company’s creativity and the creativity of the community.

Greteman Group is on the second floor of the former Domestic Laundry Building in the Douglas Design District, at 1425 E. Douglas. Greteman says the 1915 space, all steel and glass, was modern for its time. For Greteman, which has been there 12 years, the space offers high ceilings and plenty of natural light.

“Natural light streaming thorough our glorious big windows brings in the big blue sky,” she says. Most of Greteman’s staffers work in an open environment, which she says encourages brainstorming, interaction and fun. The agency’s work hangs everywhere — particularly projects that are in the works. Greteman says her firm tries to avoid shipping work off to clients before it’s been allowed to breathe for a couple days. Staff hang it up or, more often lately, display it on digital screens, and “live with it” to make sure they still like it. Greteman says every time she walks by a new logo or advertisement, she’s likely to notice something new.

Cue the sketchpad.

In Greteman’s own personal office, on the other side of impressive wood-and-steel doors created by Brunner, she says she tries to never be without a black Uniball pen and something to draw on. She says it’s sometimes easier for her to sketch out an idea than to describe it.

“I draw when I think, draw to express myself, draw to get a point across, and steal everybody’s pen in sight, so watch out,” she says. Greteman works for most of the day from her standing desk. She’s health-conscious — the office also has jasmine tea, a fitness area and twice-weekly yoga sessions — and she says standing encourages her to go talk to colleagues instead of just emailing them. Ultimately, the in-person collaboration can help with idea development, she says.

What else helps get ideas flowing? Sometimes the creativity of others can help inspire.

One of the most prominent works of art in the Greteman Group office is Brunner’s “Moon Gate,” an Asian-inspired gateway that divides Greteman’s public lobby from its staff workspace (the “inner sanctum,” as Greteman says). There’s a photo of it on his website.

Then there are artifacts from Greteman’s many travels abroad. She went to Egypt last year and is taking a rail trip through India this year. A previous project Greteman Group did for Bombardier took her around the world for interviews and photos with jet users. African masks and Day of the Dead Mexican motifs adorn the walls.

Also decorating the office is work by Greteman’s local artist friends.

“I feel their presence when I look at the work,” she says.

© Wichita Business Journal, 2013