I'm sure that we've all had 'that' feeling before. That feeling of anticipation that something exciting, inspiring even, is just around the corner. It's 'that' feeling we sense as we're about set foot in a new hotel lobby or restaurant – whether that space is large and open with decadent furniture, or small and cosy with luxury expressed more discreetly. While we tend to spend our lives trying to achieve this feeling in their home, an increasing number of A+D professionals are seeking to bring this sense of wonder, inspiration and capital-H Happiness to our offices, too!
As the boundary between design disciplines is becoming increasingly blurred and, while the hospitality industry revolutionises the commercial sector one chair and breakout zone at a time, more workplaces are taking on café-esque or hotel-like designs. Spaces for creative collisions are beginning to feel as ritzy as many a Ritz Hotel, and collaborative zones are nearly just one step away of being accompanied by menus and waitstaff!
Today, it's undeniable that offices are no longer just designed around X-many workstations, X-many cubicles, for X-many employees. Conversations within the A+D sector are all about creating a sense of wellbeing in the workplace; giving end-users as much comfort as possible to increase happiness and, as a result, augment overall corporate productivity. Never has the need for breaking monotony, infusing the pursuit for wellbeing into our design schemes, and empowering the end-user, all been so central to achieving the quest for talent attraction and retention for our clients in the commercial sector.
With corporate overheads continuing to rise and a new generation of tech-savvy and highly connected individuals who can work pretty much anywhere entering a newly multi-generational workforce, it's becoming more and more apparent that we're designing offices for an 'out of office' workforce. Everyday architects and designers are reporting that continual shifts in working modalities – changes to activity-based, agile, mobile and co-working behaviours – are radically reinterpreting the way in which we deploy design-thinking to reimagining The Workplace of today.
This is why we at P4 are so committed to authentic design that pushes the envelope for end-user empowerment. We continue to forge partnerships with global brands that celebrate the ongoing quest for health in the workplace, human-centred design principles, and the enduring belief that a happy and healthy worker is ultimately also a highly productive one too! Our almost 3 year relationship with the Italian-based design house, True, is one such perfect example. Founded only a handful of years ago by two young men who grew up wanting to shape the future, True's people-focused ethos is reflected in their innovative collections such as 'Pincettes': a range of acoustic space-dividers which isolate and control unwanted sounds without totally encasing the user and alienating them from their peers. Acoustic comfort? Tick! Community-mindedness? Tick! Happy and healthy individuals and teams? Double tick!
For the brains-trust behind True, the word ‘modern’ means stepping beyond what is considered as merely 'trend', 'fashion' or 'today's must'. After all, today's trend implicitly connotes tomorrow's waste. Instead of pandering to ephemeral fashions, True seek to delineate between what is an end-user's current and real 'need', from what is merely a manufactured 'want'. They invest, that is, in the quality of originality, stepping past crazes in the industrial design world which too quickly mutate from innovation into conventionality and eventually into mere useless kitsch and/or clutter.
Another young company, which aims to meet the modern needs of the contract sector, is Chairs&More. Every collection in their portfolio expresses a simple, linear but ultimately original and contemporary form. Their unique approach to materials is one of their defining features and can be seen in collections such as Jujube, with its use of hand-woven nautical rope, and the Churros Bench’s innovative use of PolyPlus polyurethane.
Exemplars of design houses that design with people in their minds and their eyes on the future, both True and Chairs&More will continue to make an important stance on the future direction of workplace design thinking.