The S800 by ICF is a desk chair with a strong mid-century vibe. Its not really a dedicated task chair, but has a great look for a conference room, or a private office. It comes with a fixed or wheeled base, low back or high back. There is also a lounge version and stool which just looks great - channeling a smaller Eames lounge. More photos and links below the fold.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
An interesting prototype of a collapsable table designed by Nicola Enrico Stäubli. The table consists of a wood top with heavy steel wire legs. The legs are secured by ratched straps - the kind you can get at any hardware store. The shape of the legs locks onto the corner of the table top.
I think this is interesting becasue it collapses so completely, and you could in fact have several different size tops that all worked with the same legs - need a bigger table for a presentation meeting, swap out the top. And face it, this just looks cool!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Traffic on workalicious has been on a steady creep upwards. Every day I discover some new blogger that has added us to their blog roll, and for this I am tremendously grateful. Grateful that you come to read this each day, and grateful that you want others to see it as well. We are confident that nobody else on the web is covering the office in quite the way we've set out to do, to get you to think about how you work, and not just cool products or cool pictures.
So here's what you can do for me today - email one of your contacts, somebody you know who you figure would be interested in this. Send them a link. Lets see if we can't just step up the traffic a little more. The more we all bring to the table the even better it will be. Thanks.
Update: Fantastic response everybody! Thank you! You doubled the site's peak traffic today and a whole lot of new people checked it out. I hope you all keep coming back. Now back to the office!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
In our last post in our series summarizing Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool he spoke about how their research found that there were limited numbers of activities that went on at work, and they could be accommodated by even fewer workstation types. Similarly there are a limited number of different types of work groups.
Next he went on to describe several surprises that they found in their research. These are very enlightening so lets look at each of them.
They found that enclosure not only promotes privacy, but it promotes communication as well. Where as the opposite - a wide open "bull-pen" office discourages communication. Counterintuitive? I can see it. In a big room, no privacy for anybody, you can feel as if there are always some eyes on you, and it can certainly inhibit your behavior. Are you talking to your neighbor? Are others listening? What will they think? Am I wasting time? Is my idea stupid? Perhaps I'll just keep my head down.. Where as stepping into somebody else's space, and sharing a conversation with only them, may allow a less inhibited conversation to happen. The lesson is that communication is more than line of sight - it involves the setting and the comfort level of the workers. The environment is more than proximity and barriers are just as often the emotional ones as the physical ones.
A related idea they found was that enclosure is more important than supervision. The manager that believes he will get better work from his people by having them all in sight does more harm than good. Again supervision is more than line of sight. Furthermore they found that in order for a manager to oversee in this manner their own workstation had to be out in the open as well, and that their work suffered in the same way as their staff.
In some ways this should be no surprise at all that enclosure and control of your privacy would be beneficial for your work. Most people would find a days work spent out in the "public" a tiring experience. No opportunity to retreat from presenting yourself to others, the effort of productive work thrown on top of that as well. Yet we see many examples of open desking in progressive workplaces? Perhaps as we continue the book may shed some light on this contradiction.
Next time we'll continue with more surprises.
An interesting article in the New York Times today about a trial of stool height desks in an elementary school which give students the option to stand or sit while doing their work. In some ways this is not so unusual. When I was a student several of my classrooms were set up this way - science labs and art studios come to mind. But this has also been a slow trend in office work and it would be interesting to see if it became much more common if our children grew up working with this kind of desk.
When you read the article you can see that for the kids its all about being able to stand when its more comfortable, or sit if thats better or they are tired. This is the same issues we talk about relative to a flexible workspace. The kids are able to adapt their workplace to allow them to be as productive as possible at any given moment. You don't need any training to do this - its something workers are naturally going to seek. We just need or workplaces to provide the suitable options.
the swinging foot rest is a nice detail!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Swedish designer Monica Förster has designed the worlds first office chair for women. The chair is a result of a lengthy study on female sitting posture. This is the first time I've seen a chair described as such. But this makes perfect sense. In bicycling seats on serious racing bicycles are always configured differently for men and women. Anatomically the pressure points in the hips are in different locations and the support points must reflect that. Its only natural for that same principal to apply to a task chair.
The Urban by Ikea has to be the ultimate $100 plastic chair. First of all it only costs $40 so in theory you can get 2.5 chairs for $100. Second it stacks which is handy since now you can afford to get a couple of extra chairs in case you have a big meeting. And third, they are pretty comfortable, and they feel sturdy when you sit in them. A win win chair.
Monday, February 23, 2009
This is another interesting LED desk lamp from Finelite, who primarily makes architectural lighting products, not desk lamps.
It comes in 3 sizes, 3 watt, 6 watt, and 9 watt with each fixture slightly larger as well as brighter.
Expandable tables are more typical for residential furniture than business furniture. I suppose this is because companies that have dedicated conference rooms don't need their table size to be changeable. Not so for the small office. When you have a small office your space has to be flexible, changeable, and so a table that follows suite is a big asset. Problem is that most tables like this look like dining tables. Not so with the expandable console table by Ozzio. It has a minimalist modern appearance. And boy does it expand.
The small size of the collapsed table is deceiving as it can expand even further to seat 10.
This story linked at the BoingBoing blog about the gas charged lift cylinder of a task chair exploding, and the subsequent injuries killing the chair's user. There are some doubts expressed in the comments, and I have to admit I've never heard of such a thing.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Focal point is a commercial lighting manufacturer that makes a nice selection of direct/indirect fixtures. We've discussed this type of fixture before, and we believe it really is the best way to light a workplace if you have sufficient ceiling height. The idea is you bounce the majority of the light off your ceiling from a hanging fixture. The ceiling diffuses and spreads the light evenly around your space. The fixtures typically can also direct a smaller percentage of the light down in the conventional manner. This is actually helpful as it gives you a sense of where the light is coming from, and creates a balance of direct and indirect light. The best part of this strategy is it gives you a bright ceiling surface. Conventional recessed ceiling fixtures can deliver the same amount of light, but they leave the ceiling surface dark. The result can be a gloomy environment even if it is well lit.
Focal Point has several different designs, but this one is quite handsome. The Verve.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Yes, I know, we just looked at a Herman Miller desk lamp a few days ago. Well I apologize, but this lamp is so interesting you'll just have to bear with me. Its called the Leaf and the form quite obviously follows that of a leaf with a center stem and a flat surface extending out from the stem. I imagine this lends stiffness to the structure of the lamp, but it also makes it look remarkably graceful.
The lamp uses LEDs which is pretty cool in of itself - this is looking increasingly like the light source of the future. But more interesting is that they are mixing cool white and warm white LEDs in the fixture to produce a more balanced light spectrum. We have a few LED task lamps at home, and all of the LEDs are cool white. Its fine, but I'm definitely envious of the better spectrum from the Leaf. Ours have a definite blue cast to the light they give off.
Do you work with project binders, or keep a collection of product catalogs or reference books on hand for active projects? Do you have a small bookshelf, but find yourself getting up to go to it every five minutes. How about a small mobile bookshelf that you can roll over next to your workstation when you need it, and then park back in its place when you don't. A bookshelf on wheels - nobody makes that?
Of course they do. They are called book trucks, or more simply library book carts. They are used to travel books from the return back to the circulation shelves, or any other time librarians need to move books. And luckily for you they come in endless configurations, because I suppose librarians can't make up their mind which they like best! In any case you are the beneficiary of all that indecision. There are many manufacturers too, as a book cart is a bit of a commodity. We like Bretford, owned by Herman Miller, they are on the better side of the quality equation, but you can find dozens of vendors with your friend Mr. Google.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I like the organization of this design studio space in Sydney, Australia. They have a continuous thin work surface around the perimeter of the office with bookshelves interspersed, and an enormous common work surface in the center.
There is quite a bit of space around the center table as well. I think the open space really contribute so the space feeling uncrowded, and I image it would allow for dynamic activity around the center table.
This is a great looking task lamp by Herman Miller, yet more expensive than I'd expect. Granted you can get very inexpensive task lamps, they do often break quickly when the quality is not good. I'd expect this one to perform for many years. Its a 13w compact florescent lamp which means it will be energy thrifty, and won't throw too much heat on you during the summer months.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
An article in the Baltimore Sun today about a new CoWorking office: Beehive.
The co-working concept, relatively new to Baltimore, allows independent workers to network, share ideas and build camaraderie. Groups are typically small and based in welcoming coffee shops; some, like Beehive, have a more formal structure.
via Geoff DiMasi
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Pick Up and Caravan mobile storage units by Vitra are like a mobile version of everything you would typically have in a fixed desk or cubical based workstation. They provide some limited local filing for your active work, and they provide a small desktop/pencil drawer environment where you can stow personal implements. They are of two sizes: the two drawer Pick Up and the 4 drawer Caravan. More detail continues below the link.
The Pick up offers two file drawers for your day to day work. Mind you these are not central files - just a place to keep your active jobs given you would use this with a table desk or some other arrangement that does not include file cabinets or built in storage. The top of the Pick Up flips up revealing a small surface for personal effects, be it an in/out box, or family photo, your favorite pens, the tablets you have going. The inside of the cover being metal lends itself to magnets and post its - a small surface to post notes. When the lid is closed there is a lock to secure these personal items, and it also can lock your file drawer closed as well. The Pick Up has a large handle on the side which allows you to tow it around, just like the red wagon you had when your were a kid.
For those with more paperwork and more filing needs the Caravan offers 4 file drawers. BTW these drawers are interchangeable with the Pick Up, and in fact are interchangeable with Filing systems offered by Vitra. So in theory when the project is done your drawer can move to the central filing location and a new empty one take its place. Above the file drawers the Caravan has a small flipper door that opens to reveal a small compartment for personal items similar to the top of the Pick Up. In this case the additional height is taken advantage of by making a top surface instead of the lift top on the Pick Up. This creates a useful standing work surface, a place to have a quick exchange over papers with a co-worker, or an ad hoc presentation podium. The Caravan has the same pull handle as the Pick Up making it easy to tow to where you are needed.
I think these pieces were originally conceived to be part of a hoteling system of work. Your desk remains in the mobile unit, and for days when you are in the office you bring it to the desk you've gotten for the day, and all your work implements are there. But it also makes sense in the day to day workplace. A simple table desk is often more affordable than a complex work station, and a mobile unit like this is a great way to recreate all the storage space a worker would have in a more traditional desk. The fact that it is mobile is a plus for supporting a flexible and actively reconfigured workspace.
Over at the blog A Continuous Lean they regularly feature images of the offices of various entities they interview. This week they interviewed Mr. Frank Muytjens of J.Crew and showed a number of images of the J.Crew workplace. Mr. Muytjens is a VP of Mens Design at J.Crew so these are the offices of some of the companies creative minds that put together their product collections. As a result these are truly the workspace of creative types.
The first thing I notice is what I call a controlled creative clutter. This cuts no ice with neat types - they see this as nothing but a mess. But I see the kind of actively organized dynamic workplace that productive work comes from, creative or otherwise. Reference material is stacked on hand, samples and reference images hung or shelved nearby, and inspiring work pinned up or on display to motivate more and better work. Just teetering on being completely out of control.
Several more images and an insightful interview revealing much about their creative process at A Continuous Lean:
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Boby Cart, or taboret, is an iconic mobile storage unit. Designed by Joe Colombo in 1969, it was the idealized designer's storage cart. It has that pop-art sensibility, always available in bright primary colors. Functionally they were very usefull, with three pivoting drawers, and a range of shelf and cubby storage on the rest of the base. Special holes on the top surface were there for storing rolls of drawings. I believe they are still made, but old examples are somewhat collectors items as well, with it being in the permanent collection of MOMA.
Their modular construction made the shelf and drawer layers interchangable, but this was more to facilitate the offering of different configurations - one, two, or three layers of drawers, as well as two unit high versions.
Humanscale makes this very handsome desk light designed by Niels Diffrient as the name suggests. Available with two different heads (parabolic reflector head shown above - also available with a cone head shown below). And there are numerous mounting options as well, from desktop base to furniture system panel mounts.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
This interesting multi-function chair concept was spotted today on Unplggd. This two seater has arms that fold over to make small lap desks for your laptop or netbook computer. Or the whole thing can be folded down into a big ottoman or the cushions stored in which case its a large low table.
Its a very interesting concept piece, no doubt. Something is unresolved with the arms however. They are shown folding up into the base, but they clearly are changing shape from a 90deg bend to a 180deg bend in the two positions. Thats going to take some kind of unknown material to pull off. I'm not sure of the reason for this discrepancy, but I believe with a design concept like this it takes a back seat to the other compelling functions it suggests.
Monday, February 9, 2009
The Freeloader by Bretford is literally a workstation on wheels - everything you might find in a workstation except for the desktop that is! This is a fairly substantial storage cabinet that includes places for files, desk odds and ends, personal effects, all in a lockable mobile unit. The top also serves nicely as a standing work counter. The internals are reconfigurable, and different features can be added and removed to suit the user. More images, and some thoughts on how to use a piece like this.
How do you use a cabinet like this? What's the point of putting your stuff on wheels if its always parked at your desk? I think there are a couple of different things going on here. This mobile element is big enough to create privacy for your workstation, but the fact that it is easily moved aside can make it part of a dynamic workstation. But more effectively I see it used in an office that utilizes hoteling for workers that are only in-house part time. This "road warrior" type of worker is able to have all their necessary workstation materials in one of these cabinets. On their days in the office they take their mobile home base to a temporary workstation and can immediately set to work for the day. I think that is when a cabinet like this really shines.
Workalicious reader and architect Jeremy Levine sends in the story of his home office for himself and his wife. Jeremy has suspended his desk and shelving from threaded rod hung from the roof rafters above. If he was using a mobile desk this would be ideal as their would be no obstructions to rolling the mobile surface under the computer desk. They call this the Mondrian Desk System. The surfaces can adjust up and down on the threaded rods.
Here's the home offices I designed for myself and my wife. Both offices feature variations on what I call the same Mondrian Desk System: constructed of veneer ply (clear, black, and red) all of the horizontal elements, desk and shelves, adjust up and down the support rods which are hung from the ceiling leaving the area under the desk clear. The keyboard tray and mouse pad slide out on hidden glider tracks. Secondary shelves rotate around the rods for mouse pads, speakers, etc. Both offices use a a concealed system hidden under the floor. Concealed trap doors in the floor are open by a foot pedal revealing a hidden storage room. The doors opens up in sections using the same pneumatic arms that hold open car hoods. The doors swing clear under the desk which hangs from the ceiling n threaded rods. Stairs descend 5 feet below to the storage area under the entire room.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Last summer I had the pleasure of visiting the historic home of author and humanitarian Pearl S. Buck in Pennsylvania. Her home is a meandering series of additions and expansions of a modest Pennsylvania farm house. The tour we took through the house included a stop in her office, or more accurately her writing and art studio. I was really taken with this space and it just seemed to me like a terrific place to work, in fact just a terrific place to spend your day. That seems to be one of the true tests of a good workplace.
Her work space had a mix of traditional desks for typing and desk work. But there was also a series of comfortable chairs and sofas where you could conduct more thoughtful activities or conduct a meeting in a less formal setting. Also present in the space was a small loft area that overlooked the rest of the work room. Pearl Buck used this loft for sculpture work. I thought that it was interesting that she brought this other activity right into her main work room. I'll bet that offered a wonderful opportunity to change gears so to speak and clear your head so you could return to tasks with a fresh mind.
I asked the Curator of the facility, Donna Rhodes, if she could offer us any insight as to how Pearl Buck used the work room and how she spent her days there. She was very kind to reply and I have her comments below the link.
Yes Miss Buck integrated her 1938 office writing space, and art space in this addition to her 1825 home. Her loft served as a sculpting area which has a low balcony wall and a small window facing south.
Her office had two desks pushed together where she often worked on two separate pieces of literature each morning. Her work day began at 8:00am after her children left for school, and ended at 1:00 for lunch and further demands of her day.
The large picture window with window seat below faces south and she writes of the scene in many books including My Several Worlds. At one time her namesake yellow rose bushes had a home under this window. In 1949 the two greenhouses are added. One with her original camellias the other for fresh cut flowers.
Thank you for your interest in Pearl S. Buck and her beautiful Green Hills Farm home.
Fantastic. We've looked at the spaces of several writers over the course of the past few months but I really like the workplace of Miss Buck the best!