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RANT - Workplace Environments

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BulgarBlogger

I keep on seeing images in magazines and the websites of big corporate firms that do commercial interiors and it is EXTREMELY easy for the less knowledgeable people out there to look outside in and say, "wow- the work environments are amazing; they truly appear to foster a creative environment."

Well, the truth is they don't. Workplace environments create an illusion that isn't always true. A top-down organization can invest in offices like that, but all that kind of organization's management is doing is "manicuring its front lawn while being slobs in the bedroom." 

Does having an exciting interior inspire? Sure- but true inspiration only comes when one is part of an organization that fosters a culture that inspires freedom of thought rather than conformism. An interior environment can create the Illusion that an organization operates in a certain way, but it cannot CHANGE the way it ACTUALLY operates. 

So I really dislike how all the authors in these so-called "design magazines" talk about these interior environments as "inspirational" or "innovative". Many times, they simply showcase an aspiration that a company has than really solve the solve the real problem: corporate conformist culture.  


 
Jan 9, 18 8:07 pm

2 Featured Comments

All 46 Comments

BulgarBlogger

I forgot to mention- there is something so much more creative about a messy, less formal environment, than a super manicured and organized (clean-cut) office. I can’t put my finger on what- it just feela that way...

Jan 9, 18 8:14 pm
jamesaleisterbarcelona

It's like those restaurants or food courts with fancy, overly curated interiors ("I want a food truck park meets hipster coffee shop kind of feel") but the food is shit and expensive.

Jan 9, 18 8:45 pm
BulgarBlogger

The modern work environment that aims to promote "collaboration" is in fact a stage where the soloist is the manager and the team is the chorus echoing his voice. It is hard to be collaborative when there are politics at play. It is hard to be creative and innovative when you have to worry about whether or not your "out of the box thinking" will be shot down. Again- these "innovative work environments" are only as effective as the true culture of the firm that sponsor their construction. Otherwise they only symbolize an aspiration and do not translate into any kind of reinvention of company culture. 

The below images are hardly environments that speak "creativity" to me:


This, on the other hand, YELLS creative:


The question is why one, but not the other?

Jan 9, 18 9:25 pm
3tk

The desk in two of them creates a line, which to me, indicates singular 'genius'. Potentially creative, but not necessarily collaborative.

curtkram

Seems to me you like bookshelves

bowling_ball

I think you're presenting only one aspect of work space.  Another aspect is that your work environment is a symbol of how you work - messy, chaotic, efficient, calm, etc.  Your office makes a big first impression. 


Not only that, but some of us are easily overstimulated and just want a 'calm' place to sit down and work - including collaboratively.

Jan 9, 18 10:44 pm
BulgarBlogger

yes- but that is not how either the critics or the designers market the finished product. Therefore it reads as phony.

Jan 9, 18 10:54 pm
jla-x

I agree with you on this one.  It's like the programming phase is completely being either ignored by the designers, or more likely being tightly constrained by the clients.  Real typological innovation is almost completely absent in contemporary architecture practice. 

Jan 9, 18 11:13 pm

architecture cannot save you. 

some good reading though:


Jan 9, 18 11:14 pm
JonathanLivingston

I hate the open office trend. Give me door, a decent desktop with two big monitors, unfettered internet access, a small printer w/ 11x17 paper, a big table, a roll of trace, a box drafting dots, five pens, five markers, an open window and some cigarettes and I can achieve peak creativity.

Jan 9, 18 11:37 pm
Non Sequitur

where's the scotch?

JonathanLivingston

Yes that would be a good add. Also throw in some coffee, weed and a bed I could probably live out my days producing some mind blowing creative works.

JonathanLivingston

College

bowling_ball

So each person in your office gets a 200sf workstation. Good luck with that, though I do agree.

randomised

But who's able to pay for all that? Five pens AND five markers? You overplayed your hand there.

JCArchi

And here I was thinking I was doing well with red & black pens, a legal pad, and trace!

JonathanLivingston

I'm convinced privacy and creativity have a strong linknone of bulggers creative spaces above are shared. The architecture studio in my experience is a unique collaborative creative space. but creativity requires a certain freedom that generally is not conducive to shared spaces. 


I think the internet is an example of a creative collaborative space (loosely). And I would agree that creativity is fueled by a large extent through anonymous communication, like this forum. 


But open offices make for better pictures, and first impressions. The thing is companies don't actually want you to be creative. They want you to be a cog, in a well oiled machine. It's easier to oil the machine without the protective casing. 



Jan 9, 18 11:48 pm
jamesaleisterbarcelona

"creativity requires a certain freedom that generally is not conducive to shared spaces" THIS. I co-managed a co-working space a few years back and I couldn't get anything done so I end up going home and working there instead (especially when they're lurking from behind observing what you're doing) or work late at night when everyone's already left.

randomised

Maybe it's a generational thing, plenty of millennials can write their blogs in shared, open spaces though...

The open office is a trend but it is not always the best way for all people to work. The open office can be cheap and trendy and is imposed on situations where it may not be the best option for the task or the people needing a space for work.

RickB-Astoria

My preference would be both a private space as well as collaborative spaces inside the office. There is a time and need for both. A space to individually work and think is good to have as well as time working in group. We need to foster both individual creativity as well as group creativity. This is how I kind of approached things with some collaborative work. How do we do this effectively is really not a bad thing to think about.

randomised

The same goes for the cubicle or closed office. Works for some, not for others. The examples shown above are none of a really open office by the way, I don't see lots of people sharing one open space together. I especially love the stock photo of that top view of the wooden table, talking about a phony projection of a fake reality, the iMacs aren't even plugged in!

RickB-Astoria

In general response about millenials but not a direct reply: Most millenials prefer working in office spaces similar to how they learned and worked when in school. The school teaches them to work a certain way and that is the way they like to work. Most millenials are taught in an environment of doing everything in group. They aren't really taught to be independent thinkers but group thinkers and group working not independent working. In some instances, they are taught that independent thinking and independent working is sort of "evil" and "wrong". (Not always the case but it is kind of viewed down.... the "Frank Lloyd Wright" / "Howard Roarke" persona is seen with disdain and negativity when you are grown up in a group culture. I began in an environment where it was acceptable and then the culture shifted at some point and I personally found that sometimes group working works but there is times when what is produced lacks that personal touch character (the artist touch of the architect as architectural artist) because it gets filtered out and what you sometimes get is a banal version of the ideas that puts its that extra mile from mediocrity to that of the exceptionally great. I have seen that by experience but it isn't always the case.

randomised

So, maybe those open plan offices are designed by architects who work and were educated in open plan spaces and work in flocks.

tintt

Its about time we think of work as a verb instead of a place. I, too, can't work in a regular open office, it is too restricting. I prefer to move and make noise. Open offices are one of the reasons everyone takes medicines (drugs?) in order to just get through the day. It's a conspiracy.

Jan 10, 18 12:24 am
JonathanLivingston

It's medicine when used to aid work, otherwise it's just drugs.

tintt

Interesting definition.

randomised

So messy, less formal environments ARE innovative or inventive? So, now all those companies with their manicured front lawns will simply do that ;)


There is always going to be this divide between people who are after a certain image and people for whom the image is a result of other more important things in life.



(.gif from the brilliant show Happyish)

Jan 10, 18 1:41 am
geezertect

If you're trying to "look" creative" then you're not.

Jan 10, 18 7:30 am
BulgarBlogger

so there was someone wanting to work for a firm like HLW or TPg or CallisonRTKL and what’s funny is that those places tell you at an interview- “or we’ve been featured in. X Y Z magazine,” Or “published in.” Or “won an award for” and they will say - workplace environments or retail or blah blah. So if the concensus is that, that is all BS- why work there? Why contribute to the phoniness? 

Jan 10, 18 8:25 am
spiketwig

We usually begin with good intentions. The clients aren't interested..

Non Sequitur

I don't understand this discussion.


Jan 10, 18 8:27 am
bowling_ball

Me either

BulgarBlogger

the discussion is about how design firms market their work environmwnts as these creative and functional spaces, yet they are just manicured interiors with color etc that promote anything BUT creativity. As you can see in the images above, many people don’t need that kind of space to do their worm. So why are those spaces “designed that way,” and why do potential hires of forms that make those work environments buy into that type of design direction? It is all phony.

Jan 10, 18 8:32 am
Non Sequitur

Not sure I get why creativity needs to be actively promoted... work ethic and quality standards ought to take precedence over catering to fragile millennial self-esteem and creative snowflake illusions.

randomised

I don't get why you're so upset to be honest. It is not phony per se, I think at least some of those companies really believe they are nurturing and stimulating creativity by having their spaces designed like that and putting a ping-pong table in their newly built industrial looking loft. How do we know those designed spaces don't stimulate creativity? Has it been measured, and how is that measured? By increased productivity, more sales, more patents etc...it's just not clear, at least not to me. Maybe they don't work for us so-called creative people because we see the visual and spatial tricks they deploy, but it could trigger or stimulate your regular office clerk at any boring 9-5 job, who knows? I think it depends on the company and what those companies are doing, for all we know you're showing examples of an insignificant insurance company versus Steve Jobs private office...

BulgarBlogger

randomised - the fact that you actually would make a distinction between "Steve Job's Private Office" and some "insignificant insurance company" means that you aren't focused on the space's function, but are catering to the client image. In other words, a space should perform differently based on how high-profile the client is regardless of whether the "insignificant company" would like its office to function like Steve Job's private office. Such a shame designers function that way... they care more about some subjective emulation than truly responding to a client request.

JonathanLivingston

I don't think any companies want a room full of people like Steve Jobs. That sounds horrible.

randomised

You are comparing apples and oranges, not everybody in every line of work needs or even should be stimulated to be creative. If those overdesigned spaces do nothing more than to show a certain image to the outside world (because the "real" creativity happens elsewhere behind closed doors and among heaps of books and papers) what is the big deal with that? Why do you care about that? I don't give a damn about that personally, it's like people who prefer to wear a suit 'n tie to portray a certain image, is that fake? It can be a very well tailored suit, designed by a very talented and gifted fashion designer. Just let them if it makes them happy and feel more important than they truly are, big deal if it's not Avant Garde all the time.

JonathanLivingston

Yeah screw all these designers, designing fancy suits for people to wear just so they can be fancy when clearly they are just ordinary people.

randomised

fyi my comment was directed at Bulgar, but yeah screw 'em screw 'em all!

BulgarBlogger

I agree- but only if the original concept has merit; otherwise I will fall in line into follwing somethinng phony. The reason most people do that is because they don’t care- as long as they make their salary., it doesn’t matter weather the concept is brilliant, shit, or phony. 

Jan 10, 18 8:56 am
randomised

Isn't any concept phony?, trying to come up with something to s(t)imulate creativity among people can be considered phony. If a pile of books is supposed to s(t)imulate creativity, is designing the table to put those books on to be considered phony? I think you're overthinking it all too much.

bowling_ball

I agree with randomized. Unless you're willing to show the studies that compare these type of environment, you're just tilting at windmills. At my office we use evidence-based design for our medical and care work - I'd blow my brains out of every project had to go through such a process.

Non Sequitur

Bowling, you mean you don't organise the operating rooms in semi-circular rings aligned with the sagitarius constellation? Weird...

bowling_ball

Someday they'll let me do it. I just know it.

Non Sequitur

Bowling, I kid you not, I have colleagues who've worked on hospital projects where such nonsense supersede rational and effective (such as ease of access to emergency operating rooms) planning.

BulgarBlogger

There's a difference between a concept and a gimmick. The difference is that one is a representation, the other is an emulation or imitation.

Jan 10, 18 9:51 am
randomised

What would be a concept to stimulate or enable creativity among the workforce and how do you as an architect know it actually works? Would Steve Jobs be able to invent anything in the new Apple Donut or would he be able to invent no matter the conditions, didn't he start in a small and dark garage or something?

BulgarBlogger

You just proved my point. You don't need a fancy office space that is marketed to be a "creative environment" if you can be creative without it. What is truly being marketed is something else, and that disjuncture between the marketing of the design and the needs of the company is what is phony.

randomised

You and me might not need a creative environment to be creative, just like Steve Jobs didn't, but Tina from accounting might enjoy a splash of colour here and there and look at people playing ping pong just to make it through the day after staring at spreadsheets all day every day. Why take that away from Tina? What did Tina do to deserve such harsh treatment and monastic conditions? Let Tina be!

tintt

Bulgar, I get you. For once.

Jan 10, 18 9:55 am
tintt

One of the big things I notice in these hip creative spaces is how small they are. Creativity needs space, big tables (IMO) and that is what I see in the other pics even though they are cluttered. The woman sitting in the yellow booth is of a small stature but even she seems to be crowded by it. The pedestal tables block leg room, the yellow is too in your face, the size of the booths are the bare minimum. How would a guy who was 6'-4" sit there? Even a person who was 5'-9" would feel crowded. And then you write on that board by being where? Sitting in the booths? Climbing up on the table? (oh never mind, I see that there is a walkway behind the booth and that is where the white board is.) Do people use those white boards and if they do, is it annoying to others? Do people even know what you mean and integrate it into their work output (if that is supposed to be how it goes)? We used to have fridge poetry at one of my work spaces, I was the only one who ever used it. Also used to have a large empty table surrounded by massive open space and a large open room and I used to both and was the only one. Everyone else needed the computer or something I don't know. 

Jan 10, 18 10:06 am
spiketwig

Because the real purpose of these types of spaces is window dressing to disguise that the real reason for the office renovation is to save money. Surely if we make enough hip, cool looking spaces people can save to their Pintrest boards, our employees won't notice that we shrunk their workstations and took away their offices.

curtkram

I would love fridge poetry. I bet I could come up with some pretty despondent stuff

BulgarBlogger

The saddest part is that we have people from all the "best" architecture schools who perpetuate this shit at a senior level. 

Jan 10, 18 10:16 am
bowling_ball

Why are you so bitter? Again, I ask you to cite sources that confirm that your ideal creative environment is any better than any other. Different people might benefit from different environments. I see the mess and clutter from your preferred spaces and I imagine that you've never worked in such a place.

bowling_ball

TL;DR - opinions are like assholes.

BulgarBlogger

Bitter? I'm not bitter - I just see a lot of hypocrisy...

Non Sequitur

The best creative space is sitting outside in my backyard patio with a sketch book, a good cigar, a burning hooka, a single malt, and several craft brews.  That's my go to, you can't design that for a glossy magazine cover. 1 hour is that setting is worth a month elsewhere.

Jan 10, 18 10:43 am
curtkram

isn't your backyard about -40°

Fahrenheit.  that's how we measure stuff here.

Non Sequitur

-40F is the same as -40C... and yes, yes it was that cold last week. This week end will be closer to 0 Celsius. The way the real world measures stuff.

JLC-1

Is that wall sconce trying to tell me something? that door knob inspires me! I think it's all mktg B.S. just like the "green" movement was. The trend of today is the coworking space, AKA internet cafes in a warehouse.

Jan 10, 18 10:49 am
tintt

A space that truly inspired creativity would need a pool or at least a hot tub. Or a babbling brook. At least a shower. And a campfire ring. Or really any place where you could build a fire. Not gas either, you need to be gathering kindling and nurturing a flame like a boy scout. Not going to happen. That's why the entire idea of a work "space" can die in my opinion. 

Jan 10, 18 10:52 am
Non Sequitur

There needs to be a sense of danger... like, yeah, that axe is rusty, but if I get a running start, I can really split that log for my inspiration camp fire type danger.

tintt

Funny you see the danger. I focus on the building and transforming. Staring at a charred burning chunk of wood and watching it become smoke and ashes is inspiring to me.

I think the issue I see with both the clean, carefully manicured "creative" spaces, and the cluttered, unkempt "creative" spaces is that they can both be equally creative and equally stifling depending on the person using the space. 

Unless you are all aware of some sort of study that has identified the ideal creative space that will work for the majority of the population that needs to be creative ... this all just sounds like a lot of opinion. 

As for me, the type of space that I find creative might not work for you or anyone else. As for my clients, I'll give them what they want because they are paying the bills. If it works for their employees, great. If not, they'll come back to me for the redesign (unless they didn't think I listened to them in the first place and I forced them into some type of space they didn't want). YMMV

Jan 10, 18 11:13 am
bowling_ball

Exactly what I'm trying to say. I would go crazy in the cluttered spaces, and I'm far from a tidy person. There's something calming to me about a clean space, but others may find that uninspiring.

BulgarBlogger

Everyday Architect - isn't part of your job as an architect to tease out the underlying reasons for why your client wants something so you can better serve them? Do you get to know your clients or are you just a BOT that executes and doesn't think about what you do?

Jan 10, 18 11:26 am

Architecture is a service industry. I think the office I work for does a decent job teasing out what our clients want and why they want it without forcing them into some preconceived notion of what we think they want. They way you are presenting your argument would indicate that you are advocating for a one-size fits all approach regardless of what the client wants because you know better ... and I'm somehow the bot?

BulgarBlogger

Absolutely not. I do not advocate in a one-size fits all approach AT ALL. On the contrary - I feel that every place has its own UNIQUE requirements. That said, I believe so much of what we consider "corporate work environments" come from our experience designing and working in places that we are told, or tell others, foster "create thinking and collaboration." I have seen details and design trends copied and regurgitated over and over again. I think the design industry in general, in an effort to either abide or set a "trend" develops the "one size fits all" approach, and this is something I am vehemently opposed to. Just google "creative offices" and you'll see common tropes among all of them. Again- I can't put my finger on what it is, but somehow they all feel the same...

I'm not sure that I'm understanding the target of the ranting then. Are you ranting about the design industry, or Google's search algorithms? I don't think there's some sort of conspiracy here. I think generally, designers are trying to please their clients.

tintt

If there was actual research into this it would say plenty of opposing subjective things. A blank slate leads to creativity. A bunch of tools or a pile of books leads to creativity. So what does that mean for design?

Jan 10, 18 11:27 am
randomised

Some people find blank slates paralyzing :)

tintt

I like to put stuff in my brain, then empty it out. So I need both. Crazy, right?

Is this office space design meant to help retain/recruit employees not so much affect the work going on? I had a lot of offers for jobs talk about how attractive their office space is. The culture we work in has a changing idea of creativity and what that looks like. In the built environment this looks like wide open spaces where one can have collaboration over the cubicle walls, informal meetings, time away form work for brief mental breaks (game tables and other distractions) Natural light, an urban location, and trendy design focusing on comfort and amenities that may make it comfortable for you to remain at work for longer hours. Most people want to work in and be considered part of a creative environment/team projecting the culturally accepted image of a creative space is a tool for HR and marketing.

Jan 10, 18 12:10 pm
BulgarBlogger

"Projecting the culturally accepted image of a creative space" -

This is EXACTLY -what I'm talking about... projecting anything but reality is PHONY. 

3tk

A lot of business is marketing, and there is something to be said for showing what you want to be (dress for success), no?

BulgarBlogger

But let's get back to what I said above - there's nothing wrong with showing what you want to be as long as you actually become it... You don't put the wheel before the horse; i.e. change your company culture and THEN change your office, not the other way around. I've seen so many companies invest in fancy office spaces but they still lead a very corporate work environment. And regardless, equating a clean manicured office with loads of colors and textiles to the ideas of creativity and collaboration is totally useless and false.

bowling_ball

I'll keep beating this dead horse, but you really need to cite sources if you're going to throw out absolutes like that. Otherwise your opinion is about as real as a fart in the wind.

BulgarBlogger

Take your pick of any corporate architecture firm (TPG, SOM, Callison RTKL, HLW, etc. etc.) And I have experience working at some of these firms and they have really nice offices, but shit corporate cultures. Now compare that to smaller boutique firms - Olson Kundig (for example).

randomised

"This is EXACTLY -what I'm talking about... projecting anything but reality is PHONY. "

It is still just a projection, a projection of reality is as fake or phony, like a projection of exposed brick on a roll of wallpaper :)

bowling_ball

Olson Kundig has about 170 people. Hardly what I'd call a boutique firm. And I still don't get your point.

3tk

Most times I've been involved in office interiors conversations, it's about the image the firm wants to project (to clients, consultants, potential employees, and partially to its own employees) and function (comfort, efficiency).  Open studios seem to have come from a time when work in the studio was anything but flat, but was hierarchical.  While working around a common work space bouncing ideas around can be effective, it has more to do with individual's comfort in both the setting and in the team.  Newer software companies often have private spaces and common spaces to separate out the physical space with the work. 

I find open spaces nice when you have great collaborative and respectful colleagues.  Given senior managers who belittle and micromanage staff or sheer incompetence directing people rather than engaging in open dialogue, an open studio can become very toxic very quickly.

As for style of the interior design, it is often a decent indication of a firm's own self-image, which can be useful in assessing one's fit to the culture.  How much further a prospective candidate will need to dig in to find the day-to-day workings is another matter entirely.

Jan 10, 18 12:33 pm
kjdt

There is research into office spaces and creativity.  See Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister, and "the coding games" (which found that working in isolation resulted in higher productivity and better quality work - for computer programmers - which is not to say the results would be the same for all industries.)  Also 1950s Solomon Asch experiments on the dangers of group think, and recent ones by neuroscientist Gregory Berns about the areas of the brain triggered by collaboration vs. isolated creativity.  These all found that creativity and both quantity and accuracy of output were usually hampered by in-person collaboration.

Jan 10, 18 1:25 pm
BulgarBlogger

What I'm getting at is that somehow management thinks they can make their staff submit to their direction by marketing their offices as collaborative environments, when in-fact they want no such thing.

kjdt

I know. What I'm getting at is that even if they could make their staff collaborative/cooperative by arranging the furniture in today's office-furniture-marketing image of collaborative workplace, those environments aren't usually good for creativity or quality anyway.

Xenakis

whats wrong with this

Jan 10, 18 2:06 pm
Featured Comment
sameolddoctor

The (architecture) office where I work is exactly what you describe. The atmosphere is ultra cool in terms of the interior. Exposed brick walls, check. Large communal table, check. Hip location, check. 

The work, however is extremely corporate, dry and soul-sucking. On the other hand Ive worked at a very "corporate" looking office with cubicles etc. that was doing some extremely cool, fun work.

Lesson being, dont get fooled by outward expressions.

Jan 10, 18 2:12 pm

Imagining that you're going to rise to the top of the corporate structure is pretty much the same as wanting to join the space program so you can walk on the moon.

Jan 10, 18 3:24 pm
Featured Comment
tintt

This thread has a higher density of creative expression and collaboration than any office.

Jan 10, 18 3:48 pm

Cubicles are places to hide where nobody can see what you are doing.

In an open office everybody knows what everyone else is doing and the pecking order is clear. Kind of like a construction site - where everybody knows everyone else's strengths and weaknesses, and the speed and quality of execution are readily apparent.

That's how it used to be, anyway. This changed somewhat as the work became virtual instead of physical.

Jan 10, 18 10:59 pm
bowling_ball

I think I mentioned this before but we're moving offices soonish. I haven't been impressed with the open plan currently on the table. Today a principal came upstairs and told me he was going to assume that I'll be making my own office in the basement, away from the chaos upstairs.


I have to say, he's not incorrect. I'll be doing exactly that. The current open office trend, as far as I can tell, is a way for owners to reduce capital costs and nothing else.

Jan 11, 18 12:36 am
spiketwig

bingo!

tintt

Reduce capital, yes. Then also reduce productivity and the top line. Then throw blame. So bowling ball didn't get it about half a page up. Changed your mind? 

Jan 11, 18 6:23 am
bowling_ball

No, haven't changed my mind at all. My point, more or less, is that different people find different spaces "stimulating" or conducive to the work at hand. And way too much emphasis is being put on the 'creative' side of things, as if that's all we do. I'd say being creative is about 5 to 10% of my job. The rest is looking up code, checking drawings, attending client meetings, and calling city officials.

sameolddoctor
Miles, maybe cubicles are better for cool work, as opposed to an open office where everyone is in your shit all the time? Who knows...
Jan 12, 18 12:11 pm

Scale and tasking are critical factors to consider when building project-based work environments as well as the differences between variousconceptual environments and management styles, i.e. atelier vs. factory and the shades in between.

Jan 12, 18 12:34 pm

I had a private office for five miserable, lonely, mental- and physical-health destroying years. I never want that again. I work in an open office now, as I have in every architecture firm I've ever worked in, and it's wonderful. This one happens to be especially well-designed.

http://www.rowlanddesign.com/s...

I haven't read every single response above but what I didn't see as I skimmed the thread was the notion of not giving people "ownership" of a specific space or cubicle. The proliferation of various kinds of workspaces - the yellow cubes above being one - is based in part on offering a variety of spaces that people can choose to work in given their task and needs at the moment.  Open offices should *always* have lots of other options: huddle spaces, private phone booths, lounge furniture, etc. That way people can choose a space that is conducive to the work they are doing and not feel tied to an "assigned" desk.

For me, if I'm hand sketching, I can sit at our central reception area bar where I'll be surrounded by lots of activity and noise and the music is louder. If I'm hard-core CADing for a deadline I can put on my headphones and hide behind my rolling partition dividers at my desk computer for hours of isolated work.  For podcast recording I sit in one of the private phone enclaves.


And, we all know that staged photographs never reveal the quotidian appearance of a space, right? Rememebr how Dwell started out saying they were going to show "real life" in their photos? Real work is messier.


Jan 17, 18 1:17 pm
BulgarBlogger

Donna - are you familiar with the concept of "informal space"? The minute you formalize something that is informal to begin with, it taints it with a formality you can never get away from. Sometimes one's best work is done in an informal environment where you can be as messy or neat as you want to be. Once you start marketing a space as being meant for something specific, it becomes formal and that is how I believe people lose their "ownership" of that space.

Have you ever roamed the streets of Europe or some American city and said to yourself (or your friends)- "Hey- I found this amazing little cafe, and no one else knows about it?" Well that's how I think creative minds work... they want to take ownership by not having their environment exposed. Hence, they turn to already formal places like cafes, lounges, etc where they can get lost in their minds. However, designers have formalized that concept by trying to replicate it in work environments, but I just don't think it feels the same or has the same effect. 


Jan 17, 18 1:35 pm

You wander the streets of Europe and find lots of different kinds of options. Choice. That's the entire point. It's not about a prescribed space in which one is creative on demand, but having lots of options gives people different kinds of opportunities to be creative in different ways.

BulgarBlogger

As a European, I can attest to this firsthand: yes, there's choice, but there's also the element of mystery and charm.

BulgarBlogger

And it is precisely that commandeering of one's most intimate work habits, through the formalization of what would otherwise be his/her self-prescribed temporary or permanent "creative space", that is so disingenuous and deplorable. Designers and Clients may think they are actually doing good for their employees, but in fact they just  exposed their employees' work habits so they can have control over them while creating the illusion of freedom and openness. After all, as a boss, wouldn't it be nice to keep an eye on how your employees spend their time during work...? (that last bit really is the "creative" panopticon I'm talking about)

Jan 17, 18 1:46 pm
Volunteer

Here is an architect firm's office in Copenhagen repurposed from a boat shed. Plenty of light and views for everyone. Seems anything but corporate anal.

Jan 17, 18 2:42 pm
randomised

Judging from the models that's 3XN's office, lucky bastards to be working there, interesting projects, great location, but that endless line of workstations gives me the creeps, nice catwalk though.

sameolddoctor

Thats IS corporate anal

curtkram

you couldn't roll out a set of drawings on those desks

archietechie

Further to kjdt's point:

https://www.archdaily.com/8841...

https://www.archdaily.com/5950...

Jan 17, 18 11:29 pm

I mean, yes, the forced creativity *can* go too far.

More of these examples here: https://twitter.com/chappelltr...

Jan 18, 18 8:51 am
BulgarBlogger

But see- even that image looks "staged". People don't actually work that way...

randomised

Nope, just like that stock photo of that table top view.

BulgarBlogger

Defined by a decidedly ‘disingenuous set of cultural imperatives’ (Ferrell, 2003)1 it is posited that these spaces, described by Chatterton (2002)2 as ‘corporate play spaces’ prioritise object over subject, exchange over use value, and ignore other social and aesthetic qualities, lead to the creation of spaces that are increasingly scripted and homogeneous. 

http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/__d...

While this paper addresses public space in the city, I think some of the ideas are also applicable to the workplace.

Jan 18, 18 9:16 am
nabru

This all comes down to culture. 

It could be inclusive, or exclusive, or rely on internment. 

Or be none of these factors but doing the best in terms of the brief and the context.

Mar 2, 19 8:19 pm

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