Furniture Design: A Sixth Sense

Furniture has been part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Longer in fact. And particularly for those of us who have pursued careers in interior design and the furniture industry, our tastes and opinions on furniture design continue to grow and evolve. Similar to the way our tastebuds develop. Some foods that we couldn’t stomach as children, we now devour with pleasure and frequency.

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I’d like to put it to you that furniture design is akin to food for us interior geeks. Let me delve deeper with my comparison. Classic dishes adorn menus worldwide such as fillet steak and pommes frites, spaghetti bolognese, even traditional fish n chips. As we grow, travel and explore, our taste buds develop. We discover Paella, Sushi and (maybe if you’re lucky) even Bibim Bab. It doesn’t mean you fall out of love with the classics (I’d kill for a decent chippy in Zürich), but your culinary knowledge becomes wider and your horizons expand. In the same way that good design is subjective, good food is a matter of opinion. You can’t always explain why something works, sometimes you just know.

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There will always be a strong appetite (ahem) for the classics and rightly so. But our thirst (or hunger) for new designs keeps the furniture world turning. We want to experience new colours and trends to excite our design tastebuds. At each design fair we are overloaded with new visual information, which often pushes other perfectly good (even great) designs to the back of our minds. We can be fickle in this regard. In response designers and makers spruce up their classic ‘a la carte’ menu to regain our attention; restyling classics in new colours, finishes and upholstery.

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Bertoia side chair (outdoor)

At the same time, when taking in at a new piece of furniture, we are often reminded of designs we have seen previously: consciously or sub-consciously. In the way smells and tastes conjure memories of earlier food experiences, furniture can stir memories or feelings, which can be positive or negative. I love the shape and silhouette of the Bertoia chairs for example, but I am always reminded of having cold legs whilst sitting on them as a nipper in my shorts. Funnily enough, at the dinner table.

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Bouroullec’s Alcove Sofa (2006) for Vitra

The Bouroullecs might have been eating Goulash around the time they designed the frame for their Alcove sofa. The French design duo managed to subtly capture a classic feel; doffing their Berets to one of the greats – Hungarian born Marcel Breuer – whilst presenting a completely new design concept that would revolutionise modern office breakout space and send competitors rushing to their drawing boards.

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Marcel Breuer: Wassily chair and Laccio tables

In the same way food can provide warmth and comfort, certain materials and furniture styles can make a scene feel cosy and relaxed. Scandinavian style handcrafted wooden frames can be as homely as cottage pie. Add a fine quality leather upholstery and you have the perfect petit-fours. Anyone seen my slippers?

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Finn Juhl 45 chair (1945)

So where I am headed with this? Bear with me…

Furniture design, alongside music and other art forms, is constantly evolving. It will never reach ‘the end’, but some ideas are remixed, remastered and re-interpreted. Fusion cuisine. Using our senses, we consider the look (vision) and feel (touch) of new furniture – and use our ‘design senses’ to decide if we like it. Often this decision is made in nanoseconds, but as with music and food, opinions can be formed and changed over time. We educate and expand our design senses and are capable of appreciating several styles simultaneously. Deal with that AI.

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MVS LC95 by Maarten Van Severen (1993)

MVS LC95 by Maarten Van Severen (1993)

In the same way professional chefs dine out at other restaurants, musicians attend concerts and fashionistas swan around at fashion shows; in order to further develop our design senses we must expose ourselves to as much quality furniture design as possible. Experiencing new design ideas is essential to our continuing personal development and in turn the progression of the industry. We need to encourage and support the current and next generation of designers in order to continue our collective growth. But let’s not forget the classics either: always relevant, always modern. And who’s legacy lives on, re-interpreted in today’s new furniture designs by the celebrity chefs of the future.

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Marcel Wanders Charles chair (coming soon)

All this food talk has made me hungry… As with my cooking, it is recommended you take a pinch of salt when reading my blog…

Thanks for reading, please share if you enjoyed this article!

 

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No working like Co-working?

Over recent weeks I’ve enjoyed remote working on the move. A borrowed desk in Zürich, a cafe in Chamonix, a hotel in Stockholm as I visited the furniture and light fair and this blog is coming to you from a creaky old wooden hotel near St Moritz. Ben, you’ve changed I hear you say. Maybe so. I’ve also developed an expensive croissant and caffeine addiction, but that’s just how I roll. Ahem.

I find it easy to work almost anywhere whilst on the go, but I also recognise the attraction of dedicated coworking spaces for those without a permanent office. Co-working is undoubtedly the buzzword of 2015/6 and has become staple diet for mobile workers and start ups.

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Factory, Berlin.

But it isn’t new, it just got itself a name. People have been strewn throughout Starbucks and Costa for years with their heads in MacBooks. Others shared offices, leased premises in startup incubators or rented desks from local businesses. What’s new with today’s cool co-working is dressed down start-up style has reached the high street. Try saying that 5 times in a row. Add edgy utilitarian furniture, fast reliable wifi, flexible membership and multiple locations. When compared to high street coffee shops, the carrot cake-eating Grannies and the screaming toddlers have been quietly disposed of. Nothing sinister mind, but these places are for work. Co-work.

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wework, London.

The co-world keeps turning

And so the trend spreads through our cities.  We are now witnessing the battle for market share as the big guns pump out their hip schemes, similar to the battle for prime coffee shop sites in the noughties. Landlords rip out false ceilings, expose brickwork, make plywood coffee counters and hire tattooed baristas quicker than you can say ‘Yo, where the bike-rack at homie?’. Co-working even has a Wiki definition now – it’s a household name like Simon Cowell or Gok Wan. And soon the term itself may be just as irritating as they are.

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Central Working, Manchester.

People want the productive Google-esque working environment with trendy colleagues. The quality of the coffee, connectivity and building locations are all potential deal breakers. Co-workers like the routine of ‘going to the office’. For solo professionals used to working at home, this environment provides a focused and positive place to get things done amidst the buzz of the city, with the added option to meet and collaborate with like-minded ‘CEO & Founder’ type dudes.

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betahaus, Berlin-Kreuzberg, August 2013

And many co-working spaces offer additional facilities, member database info, help desks, IT troubleshooting and concierge services. Some host events and seminars. Communities and networks are formed; new companies too. These workplaces are shaping a new generation of caffeine-fuelled businesses. Bigger businesses are paying attention too with banks opening branches in co-working spaces to support (capture) new start ups. Your local branch manager is now called ‘Dee’, wears shorts and always has one earphone in. He’s down with the kids.

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Impacthub Zürich

It doesn’t stop there. Some high street banks are now offering free co-working facilities to account holders in next-gen premises.

“Will we see Starbucks own brand co-working soon?”

So the ageing coffee shop has to respond right? They need to fight to keep Colin, the grey suited Dell laptop carrying area manager, who’s peckish and low on battery. I’ve read some co-working spaces have partnered locally with coffee chains, but will we see Starbucks ‘own brand’ co-working spaces soon? Or Costa Co-work? Surely they’ll respond as the trend snowballs, taking an ever larger slurp out of their coffee takings.

On the other hand, many large commercial landlords are still peddling the traditional ‘serviced office’ model, complete with bookable meeting rooms, generic suites, grey carpet tiles and black leather executive chairs. Seriously?

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Traditional serviced office model: shoot me now…

“…but that’s the cost of being cautious: you miss the edge.”

Two or three years back I pitched a co-working style scheme to a large commercial landlord. I suggested they lose their partition walls, strip out and open up their ground floor space to increase ceiling height whilst making it more visible from street level. Ditch the bookable (aka empty) 16 seater meeting rooms in favour of informal open spaces that are flexible, multi-purpose and IT supportive. Build a coffee bar with stools, soft seating and coffee tables. Soften the lighting. Add focus study spaces and an open meeting area. The PM loved the idea, but his Director stalled. They delayed and deferred making a decision and ultimately the project didn’t go ahead. Now they are trying to catch up with the co-working invasion. But that’s the cost of being cautious: you miss the edge.

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Neuehouse NYC

So I’m waiting with anticipation, wondering who will make the first big (global) move. Will a big coffee house buy out a co-working company, or strike a partnership deal? Has it happened already and I just haven’t heard? What about other food and drink chains like Pret in the UK or (currently under pressure) Mcdonalds – do they fancy a bit of the action? Will a big serviced office landlord dust off the cobwebs and unveil a cutting edge co-working scheme? Either way a few businesses need to wake up and smell the co-coffee.

*if you enjoyed my blog, please share it. Thanks!

 

From Stockholm with love (sequel)

From Stockholm with love (sequel)

Welcome back!

Following part one‘s review of Form Us With Love, Barber Osgerby and my personal struggles with the colour burgundy, what have I got for you in part two I hear you ask?

Are you sitting comfortably. Then let’s begin…

Trend: pastels and zing!

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The HAY stand was packed – their growth continues at pace. They went with another colour trend at #2016sff: pastel colours, muted greys and salmon pinks, with sharp accents of day-glow reds and luminous yellows. The kind of bright colours that when worn in Manchester people say ‘well you won’t get knocked down wearing that, love.’ It creates a nice fresh feel and I would have taken more photos if some women in ponchos hadn’t gotten in my way. Pfft.

BAUX – fantastic acoustix

Those clever chaps at Form Us With Love are at it again. They discovered a manufacturer called Traullit producing a simple yet sophisticated material they describe as ‘Wood Wool’ – made from wood, water and cement. Inspired by an old ceiling tile system and a belief that functional design can also be beautiful, FUWL formed a joint venture to develop a modular wall mounted acoustic tile system. Baux was born. There are a number of size, shape and colour options allowing architects and designers to create pixellated, textured 3D murals individual to each scheme. I absolutely love it; the possibilities are endless.

They recently commissioned Swedish electronic music artist Smutskatt to play around with the Acoustic 3D pixel. Check out the cool vid below:

 

Designer DIY

Form Us With Love are part of a growing movement of designers taking products to market themselves. Pioneers like Tom Dixon have done this for years (he just sold his business by the way). Increasingly, today’s designers are unleashing entrepreneurial talent in a bid to retain complete control over how products are designed, developed, manufactured and distributed.

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Form Us With Love even have their own watch collection

The financial risks of going it alone are high – so are the potential rewards – as many larger manufacturers look to acquire successful new brands in order to expand collections (e.g. Fritz Hansen and Lightyears). Meanwhile 3D printing and open source designs mean manufacturing is more widely accessible than ever.

Back to the fair…

Bla Station

The Swedes best known for wacky design, Oppo cement chairs and the Innovation C swivel whatsit had a great stand that hummed with visitors. I almost got into a tussle with a Swedish bloke equally eager to try out the new Honken chair. He backed away from the Honken when I threatened to bonk him on de conken. I’m kidding (love the name though).

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Honken Chair

A great design with mesh backrest, removable upholstery and the option for a work table and ottoman. The sustainably minded Swedes designed the chair with longevity in mind. Metalwork can be repainted and cushions replaced if you wish to spruce up your tatty old Honken after years of faithful service. Ok I’ll stop now.

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chilling on his Honken

Bla Station also celebrated 30 years (wow already?!) with the launch of the Ahus chair. I like the continuous line of the metal frame on this chair – lovely touch with the perfectly proportioned marble side table too. Nicely done.

(((Acoustic overload)))

I attended a talk chaired by Dezeen editor Marcus Fairs, who drew attention to the sheer volume of acoustic products on display throughout the fair. And the sound quality in there was so good I heard him perfectly, without any reverberations whatsoever.

Seriously though. There are so many hard surfaces being specified in modern interior schemes that noise reduction has become an industry of its own. We know it takes 15 minutes to regain full concentration after an interruption in the office. We know noise equals stress. We know stress equals time off work. So good acoustics makes us happy right? Don’t believe me? Ask the guy with his head in the Darth Vader style acoustic pod above. He can’t hear you but he’s smiling.

And for dessert: Menu

Last but not least is Menu. This cool young Danish company showed a really tasteful range of typically Scandinavian style furniture, lighting and beautiful objects. Very delicate curved black metal frames, with lovely upholstery, side tables and lighting. Timeless and elegant.

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Menu

Their first chair collection, designed by (and named after) another Stockholm design studio: Afteroom, has echoes of Jacobsen and Le Corbusier. Other pieces in Menu’s collection such as the easy chair and day bed nod towards Thonet and Carl Hansen respectively. And that’s quite a compliment.

Well that’s all that’s on the menu for today (sorry). I hope you enjoyed my little tour of Stockholm Design Week. If you did, all I ask is that you share my blog. You can also sign up to get the blog straight to your inbox. Cool eh?

See you Monday!

PS. and they say sequels are disappointing… pah!

 

From Stockholm with Love (part one)

Hej!

So I’m back from Stockholm Design Week (#2016sdw) and Furniture Fair (#2016sff). Worth it? Definitely. Whenever I attend an exhibition I’m looking for four things: cool new companies, new products, emerging industry trends and inspiration. I can definitely put a tick in each box. Due to the volume of information, I’ve split this into two blogs, with the second one out Wednesday. Here’s my round up – part one.

Form Us With Love

These guys stole the show for me. I came across them via their clever Unfold Lamp a few years back, but hadn’t quite realised the depth of their design collection. At #2016sff not satisfied with designing ‘the Greenhouse’ space at the Fair (dedicated to new designers) and having their presence scattered throughout exhibition stands including Mitab and Muuto, they also ran their ‘I-X Exhibition’ at the National Museum in the city, marking 10 years of design accomplishments.

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I had the pleasure of a private view as the exhibition was closing. Cleaners were mopping up after a party the night before and my trainers squeaked as I shuffled through the wet patches apologetically. The (very modest) CEO and Co-Founder Jonas Pettersson explained they had gone through the laborious yet rewarding process of producing a book to document the studio’s 10 years of design. Pages of the book were pinned to the wall in chronological order, aside the real life products – an overall result they should be extremely proud of.

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There are simply too many fascinating and varied designs to mention, from watches to lighting to innovative acoustic products – you need to view the narrated fly through of the exhibition for more. Trust me you’ll love it.

OFFECCT

Offecct never disappoint at furniture fairs and #2016sff was no exception. With Offecct Lab pushing the boundaries of design and manufacturing since its inception in 2013, you’re guaranteed a talking point.

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Offecct Montparnasse – inspired by camping equipment

My favourites were the interestingly named ‘Wind’ acoustic panels by Jin Kuramoto (if you break wind near ‘Wind’, does anyone hear you?), Cecile Manz’s playful ‘Souffle’ low seating, ‘On Point’ meeting tables with a tree centre-stage (biophilic box tick ) by Mattias Stenberg and the beautiful Montparnasse easy chair by Christophe Pillet – inspired by camping equipment, but providing the comfort and finish of high end domestic furniture. A great presentation.

Offecct stand #2016sff

GUBI

Another company known to carve their own niche in the marketplace. The GUBI stand had a kind of opulent retrospective theme to it. Velvet upholstery, copper, brass and marble finishes sat alongside thick woolly rugs and burgundy accents. The feel of the stand reminded me of a luxurious 1960’s hotel – retro with a modern twist. Like it.

Inspiration: Barber & Osgerby

I managed to squeeze into a packed auditorium to see Barber & Osgerby‘s headline lecture. The Brit duo join the elite guest of honour list – an accolade previously accepted by Patricia Urquoila, Paul Smith, the Bouroullecs and Konstantin Grcic – by accepting an invitation to design a communal space in the main entrance hall: a Triptych installation comprised of new work.

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In their lecture: Thinking and Making, Jay and Edward walked us through their approach to designing the Tipton chair for Vitra (yes that’s Rolf Fehlbaum in the photo). They emphasised the importance of understanding the manufacturing process and the skills and expertise of ‘the makers’ in order to design truly great products. They moved on to their amazing ‘Double Space‘ museum installation project at the V&A, ending with a funny and insightful recollection of their famous London 2012 Olympic Torch design process, complete with screenshots of eBay sellers flogging torches post-event. Brilliant and inspirational – hats off to them.

Trend spotting

The colour burgundy cropped up time and again on textiles and upholstery. At first it bothered me as I had flashbacks of an old school jumper, but once I had overcome that issue; viewed in the right context and with autumnal browns and yellows (see abstracta pic below), I thought it looked great.

In the city…

I love exploring when visiting international design fairs. I tracked down a second hand furniture warehouse in an industrial side of the city after cutting through a snow covered park and finding myself lost in some allotments, in a 3G blackspot. After recounting several Bear Grylls survival techniques, I found my way out of the park without having to hunt and eat any local wildlife. Shortly afterwards I discovered the graffiti filled doorway I was looking for…

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Dusty Deco does what it says on the tin. Excluding the dust bit. Preloved Eames chairs sit underneath Louis Poulsen pendant lamps, aside vintage 50’s sideboards and Jacobsen plywood chairs. Some great art and photography for sale. And it was warm after the whole park thing. Shame I was hand luggage only or I may have been tempted.

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Well that’s it for part one.

Lookout for my Stockholm blog: part two on Wednesday: cool acoustics, pioneering techniques, old friends, new chairs and designers DIY. See you then – Tack!

Stockholm calling…

Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair is almost upon us. Ahead of my visit to one of Europe’s most loved design shows, I’ve put together a short preview of what to expect in the Swedish capital this week. And I won’t mention Ikea once.

After Milan Furniture Fair 2015 I wrote a review for Mix Interiors Magazine noting ‘the Brits are back’. Tom Dixon had his own nightclub, whilst Lee Broom created an art deco-themed department store and ferried guests around in a Black Cab. Great to see Mr Dixon along with fellow British design duo Barber Osgerby – this year’s Guests of Honour – on the top table as the UK continues to make design headlines.

Aside from around 700 (predominantly Scandinavian) furniture, lighting and textile exhibitors, there are numerous design talks and panel discussions throughout the week. The fair generally attracts around 40,000 visitors from over 60 countries. Here are a few highlights to look out for…

Barber Osgerby’s Triptych installation: Guests of Honourbarber-osgerby-skiss

‘Triptych’ will consist of giant felt hanging screens dividing the space into three separate areas. Animal hides and sheepskins are draped over chairs and oak benches and the floor is a typically Scandinavian white wooden finish. This look and feel reflects Barber & Osgerby’s impression of winters in Stockholm. The installation uses felt from Nordifa, renowned for engineered textiles, furniture by Vitra, Knoll and B&B Italia -and the Hotaru lantern collection by Ozeki.

“We have arranged the space into three areas divided by giant felt screens. Each space offers the visitor an environment for relaxation, meeting and working under a canopy of paper lanterns” say Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby.

Design Talk: Life in the age of Cyborgs

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My name…. is….. Neo.         I mean… Neil.

Ok so this is unexpected.

Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British born contemporary artist, living in New York. Did I mention he is a cyborg activist? Well he is. He was born with colour blindness and responded by developing an antenna which he had implanted in his skull. He was officially recognised as a cyborg by the government. If you don’t believe me check Wikipedia. I just hope I’m not behind him at airport security.

The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves. The antenna’s internet connection allows him to receive colours from space as well as images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via external devices such as mobile phones or satellites. If you see him talking to himself in the supermarket, you can relax, he’s probably on the phone to his cyborg mates. I just hope he gets PAT tested regularly. Maybe he’ll like last week’s blog on Office 2030 …?

Michael Pawlyn: Designing with Nature

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Michael Pawlyn will outline what biomimicry is as a design discipline and then describe a number of projects that illustrate what can be achieved by using biological adaptations as a source of inspiration – design inspired by nature. He will present a new concept for an office building, a radical design for a data centre that uses a fraction of the energy of conventional approaches and the ambitious Sahara Forest Project.

Tom Dixon: Design and how not to do it

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The increasingly popular Tom Dixon will be giving a talk discussing his many influences and experiences. He will also discuss his approach to design alongside practised and successful techniques. There will be a Q&A session afterwards and you never know he might even play his guitar…

Greenhouse: Form us with Love

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Muuto collaborators and Stockholm residents Form us with Love have created the Greenhouse: a hall for young and unestablished designers. Greenhouse is a springboard for new talent. I always enjoy seeing raw and unpolished designers at exhibitions and look forward to this side of the show. This hall is co-sponsored by IKEA (sorry!) – Well I suppose it had to happen at some point really…

In addition there are a number of leading Manufacturers, Designers and Architects providing lectures on trends, challenges, changes and projects – more details on the website links below.

Stockholm Design Week

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Running parallel to the fair is Stockholm Design Week which sees over 70 furniture, lighting, textile, interior, design and architecture studios across the city open their doors to the wider international design community, with events, parties, launches and more. Get involved!

I’m expecting lots of wooden framed furniture, animal hides and sheepskins, alongside copper, brass and black frame finishes. Also marble tops and subtle hints of art-deco design following on from Milan. Let me know if you are heading the fair yourself – if you are, make time to check out the trendy SoFo district (‘South of Folkungagatan’) to see what the cool (bearded and pierced) kids in town are up to.

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For more info on the fair and design week events, check out the links: http://www.stockholmfurniturelightfair.se   and http://stockholmdesignweek.com – there are free visitor guide Apps also available, although I’m sure any Cyborgs reading this have already downloaded and checked them out.

Vi ses senare!

 

 

Destination: workplace 2030.

Destination: workplace 2030.

Everyone wants to know the future. We accept change is constant. The goal is anticipating change before it arrives. Putting your shades on before the sun appears. Putting your brolly up before the first raindrops land on your freshly coiffured bonce (or beard). Success in design, business and life relies on intuition.

‘The 24 hour garage is dead’

I read an article this week on the death of parking, discussing driverless cars and their knock-on effects. Driverless cars are shared, vastly reducing traffic whilst optimising usage and efficiency. No time wasted searching for a parking space and less traffic means less time commuting. Obsolete car parks are demolished, freeing up valuable urban land for redevelopment. With parking spaces now redundant, the masterplans of urban sprawls across the globe change forever. Bus, truck and taxi drivers are out of a job (cue Union outcry). Where we go for bad coffee and a Rustlers burger at 3am is beyond me – the 24 hour garage is dead.

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No Parking: literally

I digress. You get the picture.

Apply this thinking to the office. By 2030, what office features become obsolete? What voids or opportunities are created by their absence and how does the office change? Consider these five themes; all currently trending in workplace design:

  1. Wellbeing 
  2. The Internet of Things (IOT)
  3. Automation, AI & Smart Technology
  4. Biophillic design 
  5. Collaboration, co-working, remote working

Now put your future goggles on and get in the driverless car. Destination: workplace 2030 (but where we’re going, we still need roads)

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Your driverless Merc collects you at 7.42am and logs you in to your virtual office. As you’re not driving, this is the new third space: a place to work. Your messages are displayed along with your meeting calendar as you are chauffeured to your office door, arriving promptly at 8.00am (no you can’t stop for a McDonald’s breakfast). You enter the office fresh, prepared and focused.

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This is where the Internet of Things (IOT) comes in. IOT refers to sensors and technology embedded in practically everything. Your office chair self-adjusts to your weight, size and height, then makes regular minor adjustments as you sit to ensure constant muscle movement and circulation. Your i-desk whirs into life and rises to standing height when it senses you’ve been sitting too long. The furniture is communicating with your wearable tech, which in turn gathers health metrics. The 2030 employer understands that good health optimises the workforce and in turn reduces sick days. It’s win-win.

The traditional desk is dead: replaced by the intelligent table.

In 2030 you have no monitor, keyboard or mouse. The latter were superseded by technology responding to speech recognition, as well as hand and eye movement. Your monitor was replaced by Apple idesk with touch screen adjustable height worktop. There are no wires or chargers required. The traditional desk is dead: replaced by the intelligent table.

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Vitra future office: interior walls shift to accommodate meetings

Office furniture in 2030 will be flexible and easy to reconfigure. And with cable management no longer necessary, it’s easier than ever. Suspended lightweight acoustic interior partitions shift and tilt; opening and closing to suit various layouts at the wave of a hand (or verbal command). The office is designed using a simple grid-like modular format creating interchangeable spaces. The virtual conference layout repositions walls to create a large meeting space, as 3D visual equipment connects remote workers in other locations. Ideas are shared and developed. As the meeting draws to a close, another wave of the hand and private focus spaces are created. Smart furniture responds accordingly and multiple needs are met.

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‘This office is about collaboration, free movement and flexibility.’

Office lighting, acoustic performance and temperature is optimised throughout the day. After the midday exercise class has finished and the team have taken time for lunch, task lighting gently fades in and the temperature adjusts, eliminating that early afternoon drowsy period. The air circulation is so good you don’t even smell the kippers Colin in Accounts had earlier. At 3.12pm, Sensing you are losing concentration, your smart-wristband prompts you to stretch your legs and grab a drink to rehydrate. Sitting still is for old geezers. 

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The IT server room is long gone. Instead there is an expanded comfortable business lounge with an abundance of plants and trees creating a healthy feel-good environment. Acoustic panels adjust their angle slightly to absorb noise during busy periods. The office lives and breathes.

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Employers in 2030 understand that working staff more than 8 hours a day leads to stress, decreased productivity – and risk of illness. They know their workforce struggle to resist the temptation of checking emails 24/7 so they take responsibility by limiting access to the company cloud to 40 hours per week per user.

It’s 5.30pm and your (driverless) Merc awaits. No remote working this time – you’ve been logged out. You’ve maxed out on hours today, so it’s off to the bar for a download with your mates. The car asks you if you’d like to order your usual. You’ll be there in 4 minutes…