What makes a workplace in the 21st century?
Focusing on experience, and designing from the individual outwards, this studio will learn in detail from existing workspace models (including home work spaces, incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, artist studios, maker spaces, and mean-while spaces); and turn this research into interventions at a variety of scales, ranging from products and furniture to entire systems and environments dedicated to supporting the needs, wants and desires of a variety of 21st century workers. These interventions will not only aim to tell stories about the lives of a variety of 21st century workers, but will also aim to question future live/work scenarios for both our urban and rural environments.
For many individuals, work no longer necessarily entails a routine contained in a dedicated box called 'the office', but may comprise a new system adapted to everyday life, within the larger structure of a working community. The advantages of an unmitigated nomadic work life can be many: aside from the more obvious economic benefits for both employer and employee, such as reduced overheads and travel costs, this more flexible work style is also said to increase productivity, save the planet, and give us all the opportunity to work in our underpants from time to time.
21st century workers range from travelling salesmen and consultants to entrepreneurs and executives of multinational companies. They conduct their work in many different places – from their home, cars and vans, coffee shops, pubs, hotel rooms, poolside tables, seats in business or coach class on air planes and trains, airport lounges, strangers offices or the park bench. They tend to use similar equipment – laptops, mobile phones, organizers – and are always looking for the right plug to recharge their batteries, make their presentations available locally, and connect via internet to the mothership and other like-minded satellites.
However, there are less appealing consequences for the 21st century worker that should not be overlooked. These include: a sense of isolation, bred from a loss of friendship and a lack of face to face interaction; numerous distractions, including Facebook and online pornography; a less fertile environment in which to gain status and promotion within a workforce, not to mention a potential lack of direction and support from the absent employer.
A trend analysis carried out by the British Design Council effectively delineates what design can do for nomadic workers:
“Developing work equipment that is portable and use-able; developing and placing internet kiosks in public spaces; addressing the car interiors and on-board information systems to support people working from the road; rethinking transport nodes, such as airports, train stations, motorway service stations to allow nomadic workers to log on and carry out work; redesigning high street, roadside and transport terminal leisure facilities to create opportunities for work; developing software and communication systems to support virtual teams.”
Much has been achieved recently, especially with the design of mobile technology, but can design also offer more conducive and better organised shared working environments that prioritise environment, community and a longer-term commitment over economy, predicated on a high churn of users?
Studio Trip: Venice Biennale
|Course||Interior Design BA (Hons)
Interior Architecture and Design BA (Hons)
|Where||Studio 5, 5th Floor, Commercial Road|