Saturday, January 31, 2009

interactive office shed tour

interactive office shed tour

A great link today from the Shedworking blog, an interactive tour of the writing hut of UK author Roald Dahl (you might know from Charlie and the Chocalate Factory, James and the Giant Peach). I like the little writing surface he had rigged up to span across the arms of his lounge chair. This reminds me of the Levenger Lap Desk we showed a little while ago.

Ok, it looks like a run down dive, but face it - the man did great work here. The desks flanking his chair, the task lamp at his side, cup of pencils, power sharpener at hand. This place worked for him, and it shows. All you need at hand, less to distract, good work flows. Can we all say we have our place nailed like this?

Roald Dahl Museum Writing Hut Tour

old field desk

old field desk

1944 RICE-STIX DRY GOODS COMPANY U.S. FIELD DESK

old field desk

Reference Library

via John Commoner

modern desk auction

modern desk auction

WOLFGANG HOFFMANN / HOWELL Single-pedestal desk with matching typing stand, in black enameled wood on tubular metal frames. Sweet modern desk.

Rago Arts auction

Thanks Bill

vintage herman miller ad

vintage herman miller ad

I love the modern desk featured in the ad, particularly the side cabinet at the lower height. They show the phone over to the side, which is nice for establishing some hierarchy for your desk clutter.  In someways its a shame that the demise of the typewriter has eliminated the low surface height of a typing returns that used to be common on secretaries' desks. I think the multi levels of these old desks is very interesting. Of course you can capture some of that with a vertical desk arrangement.

Herman Miller ad by MidCentArc at Flickr

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the office as a tool 1.4

The next section of Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool is a little bit harder to simply summarize. If you recall the last installment established why and how the office could be considered as a tool for doing your work. Next Brill examines that at a range of scales. Its not just about your office, or your desk, but all the scales of your office. Your office building has a job to do, all the parts of the building have a job to do, and we evaluate these elements by how well they do their job.

He goes on to postulate that each of these elements, at different scales, each act independently to facilitate or impede your work. Things are interconnected yes, but act independently. This is meant as an empowering idea. You don't have to get the entire office right to enjoy the benefits of trying to improve your workspace. If the way your task chair serves you improves, then so will your productivity. If your office layout is reorganized to facilitate a work team, then their teamwork will improve. You will get those benefits even if other aspects of the workplace are not optimal.

The conclusion here is that there is no reason to wait in order to seek to improve your workplace. You do not need a clean sheet, you don't need to start over from scratch. You will in fact accrue benefits from improving facets of your workplace even while others remain sub-optimal or unresolved.

cool home desk

cool home desk

Flickr user kilgore's home desk set up. Very nice, very neat, and very cool. I wish I had my act together like this.

moved my desk at flickr

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

flat panel support - bretford

flat panel support - bretford

Bretford also makes what looks to be a decent monitor arm. Two models, both have vertical adjustment on the fly, and one adds an extension arm. Wall or panel mounts are available, as well as multiple monitor supports.

flat panel support - bretford

Flat Panel Mounts by Bretford

Monday, January 26, 2009

word cloud to date

word cloud to date

created with wordle

knoll monitor supports

knoll monitor supports

Knoll makes three great monitor support arms. We'll look at all three of them starting with their best, shown above: The Knoll Rotation. The elbow jointed arm allows for instant vertical adjustment, side to side, and forward and back as the elbow is jointed on both axis. The vertical post also allows the arm mounting height to be adjusted, just not on the fly. Astute observers will recognize this jointed vertical post is very similar to the adjustment mechanism used for Metro Shelves (the adjustable chrome shelves you see appropriated from food service for a number of uses.)

The rest below the fold.

knoll monitor supports

The Knoll Wishbone monitor arm steps back from the Rotation as it does not offer the instant vertical adjustment, but this is their work horse available in several different configurations including multiple monitors, fixed depth, and accessory rail mounting. I love the wire squiggle that manages the monitor cords and keeps them from flopping on your desk.

knoll monitor supports

The last is the Knoll Zorro. The angular profile of the arm is hinged in the middle allowing it to provide forward/back adjustability as well as side to side. When extended fully it makes an attractive diagonal form.

Rotation

Wishbone

Zorro

Sunday, January 25, 2009

scooter keyboard/laptop tray - herman miller

scooter keyboard/laptop tray - herman miller

The Scooter has been around for a long time, by Herman Miller, it is a small mobile table with a keyboard size top which has evolved to also be an ideal laptop stand. They have been making it for years, and more recently began offering a range of wood tops that allow the Scooter to live more comfortably in home settings too.

scooter keyboard/laptop tray - herman miller  scooter keyboard/laptop tray - herman miller

Scooter by Herman Miller and with a wood top

plywood desk shelf, or shelf desk, or...?

plywood desk shelf, or shelf desk, or...?

This clever desk/shelf unit has been all over the internet lately but in case any of our readers have missed it I thought I should post it. It really is very cool - just don't stand up all of a sudden when you get that call that you won that big job. Headroom is not the strong suit. I'll send you over to Unplggd for their great coverage.

MisoSoup Design's K Workstation

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the office as a tool 1.3

When we last visited our continuing scan of Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool, we had looked at the idea that the office matters, and helps influence the way your office works. In the next section Brill throws down the challenge to change the way we think about the office. Its not just a place to keep our work tools, the office itself can be a tool to do work, hence the name of the booklet.

  • The office does matter, and it can be shaped by how we do our work, by the way we see our workers doing their work, and by the way we see our organization.
  • By shaping the office to our purpose we regard it as a tool, treat it as a tool, use it as a tool, benefit from it as a tool.
  • The office as tool does more than provide a place for work - if facilitates work so we can get the most, the best of ourselves when we work there, it helps the organization of workers facilitating the interactions that benefit the mission, it can clarify the mission and keep it before the workers, and project the image of the organizations culture which both reinforces the work and promotes the organization.

Designers seem to understand this more readily than others, and hence you see more often a unique office arrangement in the office of a creative venture. But all forms of work can benefit from using the office as a tool.

office sharing site - this ain't no disco

office sharing site - this ain't no disco

This is more than a desk sharing site, but an office sharing site: this ain't no disco (it's where we work). Not simply an office sharing site, its limited to creative agency offices, on the theory that they often invest in making a creative workplace. This does happen to be true and its a great place to browse through lots of interesting workplaces.

this ain't no disco (it's where we work)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

desk sharing web site - wherewedowhatwedo

desk sharing web site - wherewedowhatwedo

Another great desk sharing web site, wherewedowhatwedo.com. We have linked to this a few times, but since our last post on about a similar desk sharing site I thought we could post a series of office and desk sharing sites.

wherewedowhatwedo

desk sharing website - deskography

desk sharing website - deskography

A great social networking site built around photos of your desk: Deskography. Upload photos of your desk, browse the desks of others for inspiration. They allow you to filter the desks by the occupation of the desk owner, so you can see how other writers or other web developers are working.

Deskography

minimal desks - arco

minimal desks - arco

An interesting and minimal desk system from Arco was posted to Unplggd. Jump over there and check it out.

Arco at Unplggd

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

flat panel monitor support - Mockett

flat panel monitor support - Mockett

Mockett, one of my favorite office accessory makers, also has flat panel monitor arms in their line-up. The come in single as well as multiple configurations, and all appear to be dynamically height adjustable. Also check out the version with a laptop tray!

flat panel monitor support - Mockett

flat panel support by mocket

the office as a tool 1.2

Continuing with the scan of Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool, in installment 1.1 we listed factors that were causing change in the workplace. He explains that faced with change, and uncertain of where the change will lead them, businesses will adopt a strategy to remain flexible. If a direction proves incorrect, they are in a better position to change direction. Obviously the workplace can participate in, and reinforce the ability to be flexible.

At the core of this is the idea that the workplace does matter in the organization. Imagine that your manager announces that the way your company produces its work was going to be changed to respond to changes in your market. Teams would be formed, and would work intensively to deliver your product. You receive training, teams are organized, and each day you return to work in the same cubical, the same space, with the same neighbors, the teams don't communicate well, project goals are not infusing the work effort. Old work habits can be hard to break when the context is the same. But say you return to a new workspace organization, in the same space, teams are co-located, and share a common project space, project priorities and developments spread quickly among the work group and synergy emerges from peer to peer interactions on the project. New behaviors are easier to foster in a new context.

In order for this to happen there has to be a belief that the design of the workplace matters. That if you want to foster a new way to work, that a new place to do the work can reinforce that goal.

naked chair

naked chair

A very interesting chair that comes flat, and goes together with bolts and wingnuts. I like the way the frame is exposed on the seat and back. From MocoLoco:

Outofstock describes their latest project as the Naked Chair because no attempt has been made to dress up the connection between the steel sheets and the wooden frame that make up the chair. The structure is the aesthetic. The Naked Chair requires no tools for assembly, as the pieces are held in place by wingnuts.

Outofstock

Monday, January 19, 2009

classic steelcase ad images

classic steelcase ad images

One of my favorite blogs, the Mid-Century Modernist has posted a series of images taken from Steelcase ads, showing layouts of open and private offices using their wares. I always love the optimistic view of our modern future from these classic images. Not even the slightest attempt to recreate the chaos and milieu of a working office, just our ideal future, sigh...

classic steelcase ad images

extra points to the finder of the firearms

Steelcase office ads at the Mid-Century Modernist

garden office build

garden office build

The construction of a nice garden office linked from Shedworking

Sunday, January 18, 2009

the bookshelf blog

the bookshelf blog

Yes, a blog all about bookshelves - come on, why would that even surprise you these day. You're the one reading a blog about office space.

Anyway, this is published by the same brain as Shedworking, so in my mind you know its going to be good, thoughtful, rich, and a never ending font of sources. Dig in, bookmark it. Seriously there is great stuff to be found here and if you like workalicious you will like this too.

Bookshelf

Saturday, January 17, 2009

wogg table desk

wogg table desk

Wogg is a Swiss manufacturer, and they make this adjustable height table desk. The base is a stretch fabric that adjusts with the height of the desk top. Seems like a great match for the Vitra Worknest chair which has a similar treatment on the arms.

wogg table desk

Wogg table desk at the Contemporist

Friday, January 16, 2009

xbein table desk

xbein table desk

A handsome geometric wood desk by German designer Florian Kallus. I like the way the supporting beam is hidden under the surface, and the folding surface makes these little cubbies - I'd stash rechargers and camera cables and the like in there. It looks downright cozy with that lamp to me!

xbein table desk

Xbein Table at the Contemporist

saw horse desking over at unplggd

saw horse desking over at unplggd

A great find of a saw horse desk set up on Flickr by Soniaz at Unplggd. Once again proving you don't have to spend on fancy furniture to make a workplace that works for you.

Sawhorse desk at Flickr at Unplggd

the office as a tool 1.1

Continuing with the scan of Michael Brill's short booklet The Office as a Tool he starts to look at what is driving the current climate of change. The office has historically gone through time when the idea of the workplace has changed. So what does he see as driving change now?

  • Globalization driving long or eratic work hours and the environment to support that.
  • Increased concern with worker productivity, and the measurement of the same.
  • The emergence of effectiveness as a sort of better measure of success than productivity.
  • Competition driving innovation.
  • The effort to exploit market niches, or opportunities, requiring organizations to be more nimble, typically through the ability to rapidly respond using quickly organized teams or groups.
  • Downsizing and decentralized organizations of businesses.
  • The mixing of product workers and office workers in an effort to make administrative and production mindsets aware of one another.
  • Flattening of hierarchy, and hence the hierarchy of the kinds of spaces in the workplace.
  • Value of workers shifting to knowledge and away from tasks, and along with it the emphasis on the importance of the top performers.
  • Along with increase in value of employee, comes value of out of work life of employees, and the effort to accommodate or included it in the workplace.
  • Everything becoming faster, more info rich, technology changing rapidly - he actually refers to cabling here. You know recabling an office could be a nightmare, so much so wireless really sounded like a pipe dream!
  • New office construction, old office renovation, moving out of the city to the suburbs, moving out of the suburbs to the city..!
  • Pressure for facilities to perform better as tools - hey, where have we read that line..
  • Erosion of middle sized companies, dominance of big companies, and proliferation of small ones.
  • More self awareness and examination of how the workplace is working.
  • More awareness of the office as a tool for the factors discussed in the last post - enhancing performance, projecting image, retaining valuable employees.
  • Shift from offices composed of open+private workstations to ones with a greater mix of situations ranging from public to private.

That covered a lot of ground. At some level this seems to be addressing large corporate organizations, but the lessons and ideas here are relevant to the smallest offices. Can you add any changes putting pressures on the workplace to this list?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

lord task chair by biplex

lord task chair by biplex

An interesting task chair by Biplex of Spain. They claim 79% recyclable and good ergonomics. I think the chair has an interesting aesthetic that departs from typical two pad chairs making it, perhaps, suitable for situations where looks may be as important as function.

Lord chair by Biplex at Interiors from Spain

thanks to Pat Anthony, the eyes on the back of my head!

flat panel monitor arms - humanscale

flat panel monitor arms - humanscale

Humanscale makes two types of arms - a static height arm with an articulated elbow, and a second model that adds vertical adjustment. If you spread things out when you work and jump back and forth between reference material and your screen you could benefit from a monitor support. In the same way that accessory rails that we have looked at before clear your desk of clutter and allow you to spread your work, a monitor stand gets the footprint of the monitor out the way clearing your desk. We'll look at these from several manufacturers for the next few days.

flat panel monitor arms - humanscale

monitor support by Humanscale

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the office as a tool

I'm going to be reading The Office as a Tool by Michael Brill over the next couple of weeks. Its a thin book, but I'm going to just read it a little bit at a time, and lay down some of the bigger ideas it covers in the blog as I go along. I think it can really open your eyes to how you look at your workplace so I think its worth this effort. I'm going to keep each installment brief so you can read it at blog speed!

At the outset of the book Brill poses some attitudes towards the workplace:

  • Some are indifferent towards the workplace, although they may realize it matters the feel other priorities are more important and yield better return.
  • Some believe the office can facilitate the work of the employees, make them more productive, and more satisfied with their jobs.
  • Some think the office can offer an image that will help them attract and keep the best workers, and project the company values not only to customers but to their own workers.
  • Some see their office in transition, or a constantly changing organization, which would quickly obsolete any changes to the office, so why undertake them.

These attitudes don't necessarily contradict each other, and in fact they could coexist. How do you regard your workplace? What thoughts would you add to that list?


feltron workspace

feltron workspace

Designer, web developer Nic Felton shares his workspace on his about page. We see a nice classroom like tack rail above his desk, possibly a task chair we have reviewed but can't id from this photo, some nice metal legged tables, some 2 drawer files doubling as a printer stand, and cubic shelf system - seen this before either Ikea or DWR..? And most of all very good light.

Feltron

Monday, January 12, 2009

coop - coworking site in chicago

coop - coworking site in chicago

I don't have a lot of info on this CoWorking site, but its called COOP, and its located in the Fulton Market neighborhood of Chicago. From its brief but nice looking web site they say:

T-1 Internet Connection, Kitchen & Bathroom, Furnished with Desk, Security Camera, Office Dog (included), Close to CTA & Downtown, Flexible Lease, and Most Importantly Good People.

coop - coworking site in chicago

A street scene from Google street views.

Coop

Sunday, January 11, 2009

fantastic study outbuilding

Via Shedworking this morning comes this short video about a writing study, a freestanding building on the edge of a meadow and a forest. Could you imagine having this workplace to go to each day.


Private Library from A Space In Time on Vimeo.

Friday, January 9, 2009

steel flooring in office or elsewhere

steel flooring in office or elsewhere

A few weeks back we posted an image showing a Vitra Joyn workstation installation in an office space. The space included a steel flooring tile which is very unusual. The tile is manufactured by a company called Panium and it is indeed made of plate steel.

steel flooring in office or elsewhere

The tiles are available in two textures, and they can be mixed if you wish. One has a bumpy texture, the other looks like the surface of steel straight from the mill.

steel flooring in office or elsewheresteel flooring in office or elsewhere

Planium steel flooring

Thanks to Pat Anthony!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

stendig wall calendar, happy new year

stendig wall calendar

A design classic by Stendig, designed by Massimo Vignelli, a big sheet with big numbers. I think every design office I ever worked at had one of these displayed prominently somewhere in the studio. European style, the week starts with monday and ends with sunday.

stendig wall calendar

Best place to get one? I'm not sure..

new york times reviews desks

Blu Dot desk 51

Penelope Green writing for the New York Times has gone on a search for a perfect home office desk for under $1,000. Her report includes several nice examples of desks, but clearly she could have benefitted by following workalicious! (Desk 51 by Blu Dot pictured)

In Search of Just the Right Desk, New York Times

Slide Show

Jane Jacobs on the workplace via malcolm gladwell

I'm a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's writing. It never fails to make me think, and I value that reaction to his writing. Back in 2000 he wrote a column for his gig at the New Yorker about Jane Jacobs and the nature of workplace design. Its interesting and touches on many issues that reinforce the notion that cubicles are not the best work environment to bring out the best work of your people, and yourself.

Jane Jacobs wrote on urbanism and neighborhood design. Best known for her book "Death and Life of Great American Cities" it was a reaction against the urban renewal projects of the early sixties. She argued that the tall apartment buildings built to replace run down neighborhoods lacked the qualities that built successful urban neighborhoods. She advocated density, diversity, and the complexity that comes with city life. The front steps, front porch, become the eyes and hand shake of the neighborhood, social stimulus that builds the relationships between neighbors that make the neighborhoods strong.

She was right, but now so many years later we know how right she was. Enter Gladwell who interprets so much of her advice as being relevant to the workplace.

The office used to be imagined as a place where employees punch clocks and bosses roam the halls like high-school principals, looking for miscreants. But when employees sit chained to their desks, quietly and industriously going about their business, an office is not functioning as it should...

...The task of the office, then, is to invite a particular kind of social interaction--the casual, nonthreatening encounter that makes it easy for relative strangers to talk to each other. Offices need the sort of social milieu that Jane Jacobs found on the sidewalks of the West Village.

Its a worthwhile read if you are interested in the design of the workplace, or if you are thinking about what can be done to improve your own office. There is an interesting account of the experiments of the Chiat Day advertising agency who at one point tried a completely non territorial office in their NYC bureau. Nobody had a desk, all computer files kept on a central server, workers checked out a laptop and phone in the morning, and wandered the environment which provided a range of settings. There were cafe like table areas, living room like lounges, and even some completely precedent-less spaces. Widely published and admired, it eventually self destructed. Workers feeling placeless rebelled, staking out private areas, until finally a different organization had to be established. The office in LA described in more detail burned out as well sometime later, the agency relocating to a more conventional workplace, all this well after Gladwell's article. (the demise well documented in Wired Magazine: Lost in Space). Despite the promise Gladwell saw in this experiment back then it perhaps went too far for the times. Similar workplaces exist today, perhaps on not such a large scale. Chiat Day's failure broke many barriers for the new workplace models we see today.

Designs for Working by Malcolm Gladwell

via the Junto blog

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

reader seeks home office forums

Workalicious reader Jeff contacts us with a question:

Hey Greg,

Wondering if you know any good forums to discuss home office ideas etc. I work at home as an IT nerd for hire, and bought a house about 6 months ago. Having a room that I can put furniture besides an IKEA desk and a book shelf is quite a challenge :P

If you know any off hand, please let me know.

I have to admit that I don't. There are several good blogs, from Shed Working, to Unplggd that often cover home working situations, but I don't frequent any forums or messageboards on the subject. I would not mind learning if there were any out there, so we throw it out to the other readers - any help? Let us know in comments.

c-section offices, istanbul

c-section offices, istanbul

C-Section is a design consultancy in Istanbul, Turkey whose offices have a dark bunker like appearance. Its not clear if the photos have been doctored to look dark, or if the shots were taken at night, or if they are really underground!

c-section offices, istanbul

I think the wood floor is a give away that this is not really a converted parking garage. There are video games and plenty of light fixtures so I'm not sure why the dim lighting. If it was part of the design concept for the space I'd sure like to hear more about it and how it affects the work environment.

I see some big table desking going on there, but its too dark to id the tables or the task chairs for that matter.

C-Section at wherewedowhatwedo

C-Section web site

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

myto chair by icf

myto chair by icf

When I first saw this chair I thought this would be a great candidate for our $100 plastic chair series. Sadly it is not, but its such a neat looking chair I thought I'd post it anyway.

myto chair by icf

Unfortunately the chair comes in on the upper end of $400 at vendors online, so its definitely not in the $100 plastic chair class, but bought in quantity there may be much better pricing.

myto chair by icf

The manufacturer is ICF and they are making a big deal out of the new plastic the chair is made with. A BASF product, the plastic is called Ultradur and is supposed to have high flow characteristics during molding. This would be a property that allows them to mold the mesh like back and seat grid into the chair, where a "slower" plastic would begin to harden before it filled these narrow details.

myto chair by icf

Myto chair at ICF

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