Sunday, August 31, 2008

sei investments


The offices of SEI Investments in Oaks, PA, a short distance outside of Philadelphia, are housed in a series of large barn like structures. Within these office barns the workspace is completely open, without partitions and without hierarchy. Desks and local storage are mobile and a system of power distribution drops power and network down to the desks from over head. Its unlike any corporate office space that came before it and in fact has many of the characteristics of smaller businesses we've been looking at here on workalicious.


Around the periphery of the larger open office spaces are smaller spaces for meetings and other support functions. The desks used in the open offices are from the Metropol system by Vitra. Generally not sold as a mobile desk, these were specially modified with large castors to make a mobile version for SEI. We'll have to take a closer look at Metropol later as its an interesting desk with an off desk accessory rail like several systems we've already shown.

The resultant office environment is radical - a large field of open desks, coils of wires coming down from overhead, large ducts crossing steel trusses, and ample daylight everywhere. Some dislike it, but others find it invigorating. I know I do.

See more photos at the architect's site (flash, follow portfolio, work, SEI)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

eubiq electrical power strips


My friend in Australia, Scott, sends this link to a manufacturer of power strips. They look like nothing available here. They accept adaptors with sockets which you can insert anywhere along a linear slot in its surface. And they make a range of configurations besides the wall mount we see here.


desktop mount


baseboard mount, and that is a data raceway on the bottom half


recessed surface mount for a desk or conference table. Sure beats plug strips.


mark twain's writing hut

“It is the loveliest study you ever saw...octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window...perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lighting flashes behind the hills beyond and the rain beats upon the roof over my head—imagine the luxury of it.”Mark Twain, Letter to William Dean Howells, 1874

Although it has always been called Mark Twain's Study, all us shedworkers know it was his writing hut! Designed like a Victorian era gazebo the study was an octagon in plan with a massive stone fireplace on one side opposite the door. The windows in the intervening walls were relatively small leaving space above inside for picture frames and display - they were the perfect height for viewing out while sitting at your desk. I believe these short double hung sash would disappear into the wall space above allowing you to throw the room open to the elements.

It currently sits on the campus of Elmira College in upstate New York - its not far from Corning or Watkins Glen if you ever wanted to plan a road trip. Student volunteers man the study while it is open for visits.

You can't help coming away feeling "I want one of these..."

“On hot days I spread the study wide open, anchor my papers down with brickbats and write in the midst of the hurricanes, clothed in the same thin linen we make shirts of. The study is nearly on the peak of the hill; it is right in front of the little perpendicular wall of rock left where they used to quarry stones. On the peak of the hill is an old arbor roofed with bark and covered with the vine you call the “American Creeper”—its green is almost bloodied with red. The Study is 30 yards below the old arbor and 100 yards above the dwelling-house—it is remote from all noises...”Mark Twain, Letter to Dr. John Brown, 187

Images and quotes from various sites:

Eric Rotsinger's (in photo above) Mark Twain site

PBS's Mark Twain Scrapbook

Elmira College's Mark Twain Studies Center

Mark Twain's study at Shedworking

navigator's workstation, C130 Hercules


big job, tiny desk

refashioned metal office box

refashioned metal office box

Metal storage box made fresh and new.

thanks Christy

Friday, August 29, 2008

open office circa 1923


From a wonderful web site that posts high res scans of old pictures, including the occasional workplace as common for the times. Hmmm, open office, team building, things have come so far, and yet not at all..!

Have a nice Labor Day weekend everybody.


lamidesign offices - full disclosure


Reader Sara Krohn writes to Justin and I and says:

Why don't your offices have paper all over them?

Why does my office have paper all over it?

I'd be lucky to get to this state:

First of all Sara, we have not shown our offices. All the workplaces shown on the site to date belong to others. Second of all, my own office is much more cluttered than those images you linked to. I can't speak for Justin, because he runs a tight ship, but for me work and ideas flow better when the surfaces are, well, lets just call it "lubricated." Full disclosure - the LamiDesign office in Merchantville, NJ.


A couple of things to describe. We are working on Vitra Ad Hoc mobile tables, and we have created a monolithic DIY vertical desk with the help of an industrial cantilever shelf system. You can see we have a host of surface hogging equipment elevated to a deep shelf above the desk height surface. We have all our wired paraphernalia permanently docked on the shelves, and our desks loose to move about the cabin. Our shelves are packed with reference material and product literature, and yes Sara there is crap everywhere. Hope you're happy. We'll review all these products in more detail in the future.


I think in a coworking situation you have much more responsibility to others to keep your space presentable. Not so here and it shows I'm afraid. But that is what this site is about - reaching for a workplace that works for you. For some that space has got to be neat, and for others not so. Where do you fall? Let us know in comments.

the LamiDesign Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2008

new kimball office system - hum

Kimball Office - Hum

A new desk based office system from Kimball Office called Hum looks really great. Is it just my imagination or is it trying to look a bit like its sitting on saw-horses, like something us small office/home office workers would put together? I think there is a bit of a trend in play where by the styling of office systems are trying to capture the spontaneous nature of ad hoc office furniture - its an anti-cubical kind of thing. We'll have to watch for that and identify it when we see it!

Kimball Office - Hum

Generally all the group worksations are based on this kind of organization - a spine with low partition and shelves, a convex shaped work top, and end caps that can be claimed by either side or used on a temporary basis by a visitor.

Kimball Office - Hum

They can do the three sided workstation groups which seem to be all the rage since Herman Miller's Resolve was based on this geometry.

Kimball Office - Hum

Visit their web site for many more photos, and several downloadable PDF brochures on the system. I must say their documents for Hum have a very Vitra vibe to them!

Kimball Office Hum

Hum presentation

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

primer microstudio


Primer is a design agency in Hatboro Pennsylvania (just outside of Philadelphia) who occupies a wonderful space, both a full time design office and a part time art gallery. The founders of Primer decided to extend their mission to include participating in their business district's First Fridays held by local galleries. This gave them the chance to contribute to the community and make themselves known, as well as create opportunity for artists that might not get to show in a local gallery. Great idea.


I'll let Lawrence O'Toole from Primer describe their space:

We call it a microstudio because of it's diminutive size – 10x40' – small, but mighty!

The storefront was built in 1950 and was originally a shoe repair shop. It has been an insurance office, state rep office and craft store before we took up shop. Now the space functions as half design studio and half art gallery, featuring monthly revolving artist shows in conjunction with First Friday Hatboro.

The space features a single counter-top-height 25' worktop along one side of the space, made from IKEA kitchen cabinets and countertops. We bumped the cabinets off the wall by an inch or so, while keeping the countertops flush, to run conduit and hide computer wiring. The cabinets provide tons of storage space, but their height required the use of tall chairs; we use Knoll Chadwick high task chairs and folding bar-height stools (when needed). This height also makes it comfortable to stand and work.

There is a small bathroom at the back, and we built a wall the same width a few feet off from it to hide the utilities and make a sort of storage closet for bigger items, cordoned off by floor-to-ceiling curtains. We've installed a hanging rail system around the perimeter of the main space, just below the ceiling, so as not to damage the plaster walls when hanging art (or in this case, lunchboxes!). Dimmed Juno spots and shovelheads illuminate the artwork, and a large IKEA fixture lights the entrance and conference area. Conference table and chairs are also from IKEA. Flooring is veneer with thick cork underlayment to cut down on the echo.


Primer Microstudio

levenger lap desk

Levenger lap deskLevenger lap desk

I've got one of these and I have to say the darn thing is pretty handy. I like to use it on an big arm chair rather than my lap. Then its like you have a little desk right there. Also keeps a hot laptop off your lap, at least in the summer time. Not too expensive, but I would not be surprised if you intrepid jig saw owners could zip out a satisfactory substitute.

Levenger Lap Desk

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

creative worker's coworking space, brooklyn


This is the coworking space of swissmiss studio, Anke Stohlmann, and Minor Details in Brooklyn. They are three complementary design firms that have joined together to share a loft office space overlooking the East River and Manhattan. swissmiss studio has posted photos of the office space coming together prior to their move in, so its a great chance to see how this creative group organizes their work space.


swissmiss studio flickr set, see the studio space here.

and their respective sites here: swissmiss studio, Anke Stohlmann, Minor Details

Monday, August 25, 2008

wire managers - umbilicals


Umbilicals are wire managers that help manage the gangs of wires that may travel from the floor to your desk. They are particularly useful if your desk is freestanding in the workspace and the otherwise unmanaged wires would form a tangly mess. Above is the Knoll wire manager.

They typically look like a series of vertebra usually divided into 2-4 sections, and wieghted at the floor to prevent them from moving around. If you have a floor outlet it usually would park right next to it, and you will notice that many of these have a ring shaped base meant to straddle an outlet. Now you can keep your power in one compartment, phone and fax line in another, and network (if you still have a wire for that one) in a third.


If this makes sense for you, and going to a big furniture company for one of these is not practical then Doug Mockett offers several configurations.




Knoll Wire Umbilical

Mocket WM14

Mocket WM16

Mocket WM20

Mocket WM26

knoll surfboard

knoll surfboard

Did you ever wish you could move your computer to the corner of your desk, but your desk lacks the curving or angled inside corner that is typical on a corner oriented workstation. Fear not, for Knoll has wrought the Surfboard work surface extension which turns your ordinary desk into a corner workstation. Not only that it gives you a large and durable mousing surface to boot.

Knoll Surfboard workspace of the week

Weblog unclutterer posts a weekly workspace on their site which is a fantastic resource for seeing how others arrange their workplaces. Many of the examples are small office/home office situations, but there are a sprinkling of cubicles in there too. And yes, they are all impossilby tidy. For those of you like me who revel in clutter, fear not and delve in anyway. Its worth it to see all the workplace examples.

unclutterer Workspace of the Week

unclutterer workplace flickr group where many of the posts are sourced.

lax series wall hung desk

LAX series by Viash studios

I love this desk, in fact the entire furniture series, but for workalicious lets consider the desk. Its wall hung which is a great thing for making a desk look custom and built in. It has small cubbies to stash your laptop to spread out other work. And its quite reasonable in the world of solid wood modern furniture.

LAX series desk

via Future House Now

Sunday, August 24, 2008

werndl freewall - another vertical desk system

Werndl Freewall by  Vecta

Much to my surprise I discovered the Werndl Freewall desk system by Vecta (a Steelcase company) while browsing around looking at mobile desks. On the face it appears to be a complete and utter rip-off of Vitra's Ad Hoc Monowall which we posted earlier in the week. But on the other hand it does not have the same features as the Ad Hoc vertical desk, and hey, they are still offering this while Vitra has pulled Monowall from the US.

Werndl Freewall by  Vecta

They even have a photo series emphasizing the flexibility of the mobile tables which is very reminiscent of the similar series in the Vitra brochures.

Werndl Freewall by  Vecta

Werndl Freewall by  Vecta

The same praise for the utility of this vertical workstation configuration applies here and I'm glad to see the idea lives on.

Werndl Freewall by Vecta

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a brief history of the cubicle


If you have ever wondered exactly where the all too familiar office cubicle came from, this article will give you a good, but brief account. Also interesting is the mood of the article - it would seem the age of the cubicle is truly over.

Cubicles: The great mistake

new york times, 1993, on apple computer's offices

In this interesting article by John Markoff published on 25Apr93 he describes how Apple Computer rethought their research and development offices. They created a mix of private work spaces and common lounges for brainstorming among their researchers. Essentially they were injecting an element of cafe culture into their workplace as they found it made them more productive, and that they fed off each other's creativity.

Where the Cubicle Is Dead, NYT

orchestra off-desk rail system by knoll


There was so much interest in the Stoa Rail by Herman Miller that we've decided to show you another. Knoll's product is a spin off of the slotted panels and accessories they offer for their panel based cubical furniture systems. They have created a rail and supports that can clamp to any desk.


In this photo we see the furniture system version fitted with a range of accessories that you can also use with the freestanding version. Phone shelf, in/out boxes, pen and clip tray, even a bud vase. Enabling ordinary desks with systems furniture like capabilities will be a continuing theme of the products we post.

Orchestra Rail, KnollExtra

Orchestra accessories

Friday, August 22, 2008

mocoloco blog offices at unplggd blog

2008_02_22-mocoloco-above is a design blog focused on wireless gadgets and tech for the home and home office, but they also run a series of posts where they interview a blogger about their work place. Back in February they interviewed Harry Wakefield of MocoLoco and posted a bunch of great photos of their space.

Its a shared coworking like environment where several bloggers are all using this same office as home base. I love the large open tables they use for their main workstations. The openness allows them all to share the great big window out to the street side of the old industrial building they are in.

I'm just going to throw you over there to see the rest of the photos and read the interview.

MocoLoco offices at Unplggd

Thursday, August 21, 2008

vitra monowall - vertical desk concept

Vitra Ad Hoc MonoWall

Vitra's Monowall desk system is a unique workstation configuration whereby the computer, monitor, binders, files, phone, printer, task light, cell phone charger, and all the other wired equipment and other paraphernalia is taken off your desk and located it on a vertical workstation element. This frees your desk for task work and impromptu meetings.

A key element of this is the close relationship between the mobile desk top, and the deep desk height lower shelf of the monowall. The mobile desk can roll under the shelf allowing you to approach your computer just as you would at a normal desk. And the mobile table is at a keyboard tray height giving you a very large area to work with your keyboard and mouse.

Vitra Ad Hoc MonoWall

Your desk now freed of all those heavy wired boxes that chain it to a fixed location is now free to move about the office. Have you ever wanted to just turn your desk towards the window on a sunny day, or just reorient yourself for a few hours to write some notes? Just so you can feel like you are in a different place when you don't have to be staring at the computer? How about have a quick meeting at your desk without having to walk down the hall to a conference room? Monowall makes that possible. Look at these scenarios from Vitra's brochures:

Vitra Ad Hoc MonoWall

You get in to the office in the morning and check your email. Later in the day a few colleagues stop by to review a team project. In the afternoon you take a break from the computer screen to make some notes for tomorrow.

Viitra Monowall

Its also tremendously flexible in the home. Its great for somebody that works from home, say a small apartment, without a dedicated space for your office. The vertical desk takes little floor area, and the mobile desk doubles as your dining table. In the morning breakfast at your oval table. Start your workday checking email at your monowall. Later a sales rep comes by, you roll your desk out for an quick meeting. That evening a friend comes for dinner, candles and china take over the table.



Now the bad news. Vitra has stopped making this system. Their mobile tables are still made, part of the Ad Hoc system, but not the Mono Wall. The good news is its easy to recreate with widely available shelving systems and table desks equipped with casters. We'll look at some shelf systems and tables with that in mind in upcoming posts.

Since we have no Monowall link for you we'll send you to look at the rest of Vitra's very cool Ad Hoc System.

Viitra Monowall

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