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The office moves towards a clubhouse

by | Apr 14, 2016 | Business, Design, Real Estate | 0 comments

The office moves towards a ‘clubhouse’, a space which acts as a hub for soaking up the company DNA”, Chris van Houdt, PROOFF Design

When we imagine the future of work a lot of things come to mind: Smart cities, co-living spaces, even “officeless” workspaces”. Adopting similar ideas that came from movements like Bauhaus, architecture in the workplace aims to gain a deeper understanding of society and technology’s relationship to design.

To find out more about those designers that are influencing the way we imagine the future workplace, we reached out to PROOFF, a Dutch agency that “provides solutions for the new paradigm of work”. We spoke to Chris van Houdt about the exploration of activity based working by developing furniture concepts.

Hi, Chris. Why is it important for design to incorporate variety into its practice, and what does it bring to the overall result?

Working with different design studios means that we can really focus each designer’s own unique qualities and skills, as well as their specific field of research. Having one designer to create the whole collection wouldn’t generate the same outcome, as each one brings something else to the table. Together, we have created a collection of 10 furniture solutions, each product representing specific needs of the workspace.

Your designs are “intimate” but made for “public space” can you tell us a bit more about how that works? 

It’s important to carefully research the current and future needs of the workspace, translating these into furniture concepts, carefully creating prototypes, fine-tuning and finally getting the products ready for production by our selection of highly skilled craftsmen. In our case, the products are each designed with a specific solution in mind. Making life and work easier whilst boosting productivity, wellbeing and innovation in the office.

As we are looking to explore the role of design in the workplace, how do you see this playing out?

When you look at the shift towards open plan offices, started some years ago, the ambition that companies and interior designers once had (having the workforce all in one big open space will make them collaborate more and have the company be more productive, plus reducing furniture costs because of sharing workspaces) is, in most cases, not being achieved.

Staff often experience the open plan office as chaotic, not being able to focus or have a private conversation. In short, workspace design, doesn’t accommodate different styles of working and the needs of staff. Carefully designed furniture and workspaces can combat that and also play a big role in workspace wellbeing.

What is your take on the contemporary design often found in office space today? 

Today, the role of architects and (furniture) designers is really about gathering information about the workspace they are designing for. Transforming these details into a workspace and furniture that gets the best out of its users. Amplifying the productive, innovative and collaborative atmosphere at the office. Architects and designers are continuously trying to find a balance between what they envision and their client needs.

In your opinion, what types of design works best with the needs of contemporary workers? 

We see the office moving more towards a ‘’clubhouse’’, a space which acts as a hub for soaking up the company DNA. A home-base like structure, where staff can come in and out like a beehive. Today’s workers are looking for a workspace that lets them choose how they can work best, mentally and physically. They want to pick and choose their favorite spot to do focused work, make a phone call, have a private chat and collaborate with their team. This flexibility and ‘’keep moving’’ strategy enables staff and thus businesses grow.

Workspace design needs to facilitate this and the design of the workspace needs to strengthen the company DNA, think colour, material, structure based. This is where architects, interior designers, and workspace consultants play a pivotal role, as they are able to research, strategize and envision a workspace that works best for each client and their staff. And this is where furniture design comes into play. Their furniture solutions chosen need to amplify the strategy the workspace creator has in mind.

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