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Tag Archives: Herman Miller

WHY AUTHENTIC IS ALWAYS GOOD DESIGN

Primo Orpilla, FIIDA, Principal and Co-founder of Studio O+A

I’m often asked for my definition of “good design.” Like design itself, the answer to that question changes constantly. When I first started in this industry 30 years ago, good design was all about efficiency—getting function out of a space by arranging its occupants in tidy, reproducible patterns. When tech came along with its “question everything” culture, good design became more focused on meeting individual needs—the need for comfort, for self-expression, for really good coffee somewhere nearby.

GOOD DESIGN EQUALS COMMUNITY

Today, I think good design has evolved into a broader concept of community, an environment that functions as a healthy and meaningful ecosystem. Through all these definitions one thing has remained constant: good design is authentic. If that sounds like Dieter Rams’ 11th principle, it’s probably because it grows from the same roots that sprouted Dieter’s other 10—humility and integrity. Everyone recognizes and responds to quality. You don’t have to have a maker’s temperament to feel the value in something that was lovingly crafted and put together with pride.

As a designer of workplaces and, more recently, of workplace furniture, I have come to understand the impact subtle interactions with texture have on the way we feel about our day—the sound a knuckle rapped on solid wood makes, the depth of color in a true ceramic tile, the subtle message of reassurance we get from settling onto real leather. These are pleasures available only in the original.

More Community Design: Advocacy in Design

REPRODUCTIONS CAN’T REPRODUCE THEM.

For that reason, I always encourage clients to use authentic Herman Miller or Knoll products. These iconic designs are timeless because the tradition of quality they represent never expires. That quality should not be undermined with fakes. I am also on the lookout for new artisans and authentic manufacturers—the Charles and Ray Eames of the future. The design industry has created a highly receptive market for companies and individuals dedicated to creating and distributing original work.

O+A is always happy when we can specify products from MASH Studios or Dsegnare. Even happier when we can work with those fine craftsmen and women to make custom items for our custom interiors. When I was partnering with Kimball Office on the design for my multi-functional workstation, Canopy, I realized a truly successful product encompassed all of the definitions of good design—it was efficient, it met the user’s individual needs, it contributed to the healthy ecosystem of the workplace. To touch all those bases, to make something that will evolve alongside the changing values of accelerating times, it is necessary to slow down and do the careful, attentive work that only comes from original effort.

You can’t knock off quality. Knock your knuckles on a table to hear why.

 


Primo Orpilla is the co‐founder of Studio O+A, a multi-disciplinary San Francisco design firm that has changed the way we think about work and workplace. Recently named Global Chair for Student Experience at the International Interior Design Association, Primo’s new focus is empowering the next generation of designers. In 2016, O+A won the Cooper Hewitt Design Award for Interior Design. In 2017, FRAME Publishers released a comprehensive retrospective of the firm’s work: “Studio O+A: Twelve True Tales of Workplace Design.”

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‘RESIMERCIAL’: WHY WE NEED A BETTER TERM

Posted on 05/08/2018
By Kadie Yale

Ever since the ill-fated relationship between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie began in 2004, our society has been in the downward trend of mashing two words together and calling it a day. Case-in-point: “resimercial”, which is the trend of residential aesthetics in the commercial marketplace.

This insistence in mashing two words together to coin a phrase was started by the media in a lazy attempt to explain a more complex idea, but in my opinion, those of us in design media should nix this terrible trend. Resimercial is the best place to start.

NO ONE REACTS WELL TO RESIMERCIAL

The first and most significant reason to retire resimercial is the negative response that it gets. Most people don’t know what it means, which automatically negates the entire reasoning behind combining two words. One should be able to understand that the speaker is describing the relationship between the two things which make up the word. Of those who do know what resimercial means—or who have had the word defined for them for the first time—a majority of the response is sour.

The last thing anyone working in the commercial design industry wants is for someone to automatically react in revulsion to a word describing their product or design.

Never heard of Resimercial? We’ve got you covered.

RESIMERCIAL GIVES THE WRONG IMPRESSION OF COMMERCIAL

Second, in many ways the word resimercial cheapens designs. This isn’t to say that residential design is in any way secondary to commercial design, but for some it brings to mind less hearty products at best and companies such as IKEA at worst. It makes sense since residential products are not created with the same type of end user in mind. They need to accommodate at most a dozen or two people on special occasions such as holidays rather than the dozen a day or more that high-traffic commercial interiors deal with regularly. However, while the word resimercial may make commercial goods seem less hearty, the truth is that products from every sector are becoming closer in terms of what type of wear-and-tear they’re able to handle. Residential has benefitted from the blurred lines of commercial and home by providing more durable products at a lower price point far more than contract furniture has benefitted from taking on the aesthetic of residential.

HOME AND CONTRACT HAVE ALWAYS EXISTED TOGETHER

Third, it ignores the historic ways in which commercial and residential design have always been intertwined. The idea of products specifically for the contract market is still relatively new. To be precise, one could pinpoint the invention of the cubicle in 1964 by Robert Propst for Herman Miller as the dawn of office design. Even the hospitality market only began to flourish as the middle class did in the post-war period, hitting its peak within the last few decades. Not to mention, the impact of the previously-sterile and uncomfortable interiors of institutions such as hospitals, schools, and government buildings is something those in the industry are just beginning to research.

Many products have always had one foot in residential and one in commercial.

All this being said, it’s understandable that one would want to easily explain the more laid-back aesthetic that is finding its way into the commercial market, particularly as we transition from the more rigid impression of offices—meaning board rooms and desks—towards the reality that space is fluid according to the needs of the individual.

Next, More: The Resimercial Takeover

AMBIDEXTROUS DESIGN: A PROPOSED CHANGE

Teknion, for example, calls its resimercial products “soft contract”. It’s a solution that, in my opinion, works better than resimercial because it is the antithesis of the rigid office space. However, I don’t think it’s quite right, Aas it sounds as if all soft contract products need to be cushioned and upholstered.

Instead, I would say a more appropriate term for describing the ways in which the more laid-back aesthetic of residential is penetrating into the commercial market is “ambidextrous design”. The term highlights the ways in which design from all markets are overlapping. Healthcare is taking from hospitality, retail is taking from restaurant design, and commercial and residential are swapping design ideas left and right.

The word ambidextrous gives the product described more strength in that it doesn’t diminish any characteristic of the design. Being ambidextrous is seen as a strength and describes the ability to use both sides of the brain; the combination of feeling and creativity with logic and precision.

This perfectly defines the way in which design is headed. It understands that beauty and comfort can be matched to the scientific perfection technology allows and can be blended into the characteristics that a space requires, whether it be a strong and sparse conference room or a comforting hospital lobby.

COVERINGS: FOUR HIGHLIGHTS IN HOSPITALITY AND RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS

Continue reading ‘RESIMERCIAL’: WHY WE NEED A BETTER TERM

Milan Design Week’s Most Impactful Installations

As Milan Design Week 2018 draws to a close, we revisit the installations that made an impact.

“Beyond the Deep” by Lindsey Adelman x Calico Wallpaper

Beyond the Deep by Lindsey Adelman x Calico Wallpaper. Photography by Lauren Coleman.

Lighting doyenne Lindsey Adelman joined forces with Calico Wallpaper to present “Beyond the Deep,” an immersive undersea installation at Via Pietro Maroncelli 7. It marks the launch of Adelman’s Drop System, a De Stijl–inspired lighting series that features hand-blown mini globes affixed to verdigris-finished brass tubes. Backdropping Adelman’s fixtures are Calico Wallpaper’s brand-new Oceania collection in three shades and fluid-like Sumi collection in a custom colorway.

“ACT III” by Apparatus

“ACT III” by Apparatus. Photography by Paola Pansini.

After creative director Gabriel Hendifar mined his personal cultural history as a first-generation Iranian-American to conceive Apparatus’s latest product introductions, he transformed the studio’s Milan showroom (Via Santa Marta 14) into a snapshot of bygone memories that simultaneously looks to the future. Hendifar infused each piece with Persian history—the brass-tubed Talisman sconce replicates details found on statues in Persepolis, while the gently curved Drum table evokes the Tombak, a foundational instrument in Persian music.

“Le Roi” by Marc Ange

“Le Roi” by Marc Ange. Photography by Éclat Public Relations.

After his installation Le Refuge took home top honors as the most Instagrammed piece of Milan Design Week 2017, Marc Ange returns both bigger and bolder. His signature leaf lamps, this time in a shimmering gold, beckon visitors inside a throne-like room where a giant bear lounge chair—illuminated by two Refuge lamps—presides over a duo of Les Araignées chairs, each upholstered in royal blue Sunbrella® fabric. Le Roi displays at Wallpaper*’s Mediateca di Brera space (Via Moscova 28) until April 22.

“Open Sky” by COS x Phillip K. Smith III

“Open Sky” by COS x Phillip K. Smith III. Photography courtesy of COS.

Phillip K. Smith III’s work challenges perceptions of light and space, particularly in California’s Palm Desert, where he’s based. So when Swedish fashion brand COS approached him to devise a site-specific installation during Salone del Mobile, he took on a new medium: 16th-century Italian architecture. Nestled inside Palazzo Isimbardi, Open Sky’s faceted mirrors reconfigure the surrounding colonnade into a geometric abstraction. The buildings dramatically pull away as one moves toward the center, until fully encircled by vast sky’s languorous drift and color changes. “Each participant is in control of how the sky and architecture merge across the nearly 14-meter-diameter surface,” Smith notes, making each experience unique.

“For You Everyone” by Herman Miller

“For You Everyone” by Herman Miller. Photography by Ben Anders.

To celebrate the launch of Cosm, Herman Miller’s first auto-tilt chair designed by Studio 7.5, the storied office furniture company transformed their Brera Design District digs into a veritable high-design automobile showroom called “For You Everyone.” Neon signage invites visitors inside, where Cosm’s size and color variations preside on clusters of pedestals. Visitors can then test drive the task chair’s Auto-Harmonic Tilt, experiencing how adaptable the workplace of the future is—and how Herman Miller is responding to the ever-changing office landscape.

“Into Marble” by Nendo and Marsotto edizioni

“Into Marble” by Nendo and Marsotto edizioni. Photography by Takumi Ota.

Prolific design firm Nendo teamed with Marsotto edizioni to devise “Into Marble,” a poetic exhibition where clean-lined marble furniture melts into liquid. Each piece sits askew on puddle-like pedestals, to which Nendo manually surfaced with gentle ripples. Pieces by Claesson Koivisto Rune, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Malouin, and Konstantin Grcic all make an appearance. “Into Marble” runs until April 22 at Spazio Bigli (Via Bigli 11/A).

“My Dream Home” by Piero Lissoni, Elisabetta Illy, and Stefano Guindani

“My Dream Home” by Piero Lissoni, Elisabetta Illy, and Stefano Guindani. Photography by Saverio Lombardi Vallauri.

Photographers Elisabetta Illy and Stefano Guindani present “My Dream Home,” an exhibit that juxtaposes photographs of Haitian children alongside drawings of their “dream homes.” Interior Design Hall of Fame member Piero Lissoni collaborated with Dmeco Engineering to design the venue: twelve stacked shipping containers in the colors of Haitian houses. All proceeds from the show, open until April 28 at the Cortile d’Onore of Universita Statale, will be donated to Fondazione Francesca Rava to construct homes in Cite du Solei, Haiti.

“Swarovski Palazzo” by Swarovski

“Swarovski Palazzo” by Swarovski. Photography by Mark Cocksedge.

To mark the third phase of its home decor collection, Swarovski reveals four new product collaborations inside a grand greenhouse set within a hidden courtyard of a neoclassical Milanese palazzo (Corso Venezia 16). Objects by John Pawson, Nendo, Patricia Urquiola, and Peter Pilotto—who all push boundaries of crystal artistry—are featured, as are new lighting collections from Swarovski Crystal Palace by Tord Boontje and Marjan van Aubel.

Observatory by Lee Broom

“Observatory” by Lee Broom. Photography courtesy of Lee Broom.

Lee Broom’s stellar-inspired lighting fixtures, two years in the making, take center stage at “Observatory,” a traveling installation in a Grade II–listed building (Via Lovanio 6) in the heart of the Brera Design District. Eclipse, Orion, Aurora, and Tidal all glisten amid gallery-like environs, which Broom will show during NYCxDESIGN and the London Design Festival. “I wanted to create a celestial collection of sculptural lighting which is progressive and experimental using the latest LED technology,” says Broom.

“Altered States” by Snarkitecture x Caesarstone

“Altered States” by Snarkitecture x Caesarstone. Photography by David Zanardi.

To kick off Eurocucina, quartz manufacturer Caesarstonetapped Snarkitecture to explore the kitchen island at Fuorisalone. The New York–based collaborative practice then examined liquid as the kitchen’s most crucial element, channeling ice, water, and steam to create Altered States at Palazzo dell’Ufficio Elettorale di Porta Romana. Anchoring the amphitheatrical installation is a circular kitchen island surfaced in layers of Caesarstone White Attica, a nod to natural topography. Over 250 metal mesh pedestals in monochromatic gradients—emblematic of Snarkitecture’s oeuvre—gather around. 

“Perfettamente Imperfetto” by Dimorestudio

“Perfettamente Imperfetto” by Dimorestudio. Photography by Andrea Ferrari.

One of three installations by Dimorestudio, Perfettamente Imperfetto (Via Solferino 11) showcases the studio’s Progetto Non Finito and Oggetti collections. Decidedly neutral backdrops, such as a corridor lined with white parachute silk, highlight precious materials and artistic expression, as seen in spider-like floor lamps that nod to Louise Bourgeoise.

Continue reading Milan Design Week’s Most Impactful Installations

William McDonough Champions Sustainable Design With the Circular Economy

Poetic visionary and tireless evangelist for the closed-loop industrial cycle known as Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough is the prototypical TED Talks rock star of sustainable design. Approximately 8,000 products bear the C2C imprimatur, a certification created by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. The former dean of the architecture school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, he now serves as a visiting executive lecturer, while William McDonough + Partnersoperates nearby, working on such projects as environmentally forward manufacturing plants for Herman Miller and the Ford Motor Company.

McDonough grew up in Tokyo after World War II, so the globetrotting lifestyle comes second-nature to him. He’s as agile at strategizing ways to reuse consumer and industrial waste as he is when discussing ancient philosophy. After his latest trip to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland—where he designed the ICEhouse, short for Innovation for the Circular Economy—he paused to remind us how designers can save the planet.

Interior Design: The ICEhouse has become the cool hangout for the Davos cognoscenti.

William McDonough: It’s been a quiet place to meet outside the conference center, without badges—a small pavilion full of emptiness. Someone who didn’t know my personal background said it must have been designed by someone who was born in a Japanese paper house. And that is true.

The walls are only 1 inch thick, but they are fitted with Aerogel translucent R-15 nanotechnology insulation. Really space-age. You think you’re going to freeze, and actually you’re warm. The light is perfect, too. It’s slightly magical—and also a way for people to physically be inside the circular economy.

The ICEhouse’s Aerogel R-15 nanotechnology insulation. Photography by William McDonough + Partners.

ID: What is the circular economy?

WM: Instead of simply taking, making, and discarding, we can remake things— and start designing for that. The ICEhouse is constructed from a few simple materials, with nylon carpet from my C2C collection for Shaw Industries. Everything can be reused or recycled, ad infinitum.

ID: How have people reacted to the ICEhouse?

WM: Two CEOs told me that the best meeting of their life occurred there. When they had an idea, it became light, beauty, perfection.

William McDonough in front of the ICEhouse in Davos, Switzerland. Photography by Nick Maxted.

ID: What sort of ideas?

WM: SABIC announced a plan to take back plastic trash from “bottom of barrel,” all the stuff you can’t normally recycle. It’s going to upcycle it using pyrolysis, or non-oxygen combustion, at a specially designed plant. Essentially, the process leaves behind a sludge that contains all the inks, glues, and other contaminants that can’t be recycled while pulling out the hydrocarbon. We get back the oil that makes recyclable plastics and stop putting fugitive carbon into the world.

ID: What’s fugitive carbon?

WM: Carbon is innocent. Carbon is a tool in the hands of humans. The user gives it a value, positive or negative. Fugitive carbon is released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, deforestation, food scraps in landfills, and so on. Carbon can be toxic. But there’s “living” carbon, which is organic, flowing in biological cycles, providing fresh food, healthy forests, and fertile soil. That’s also different from “durable” carbon, which is locked in stable solids such as coal and limestone or recyclable polymers that can be reused.

It’s important, at this moment of the fourth industrial revolution, to learn a new language. Being less bad is not being good. We have to be more good. That’s what we have to tell children.

Plantronics headquarters in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. Photography courtesy of William McDonough + Partners.

ID: How many kids do you have?

WM: Two. And I consider myself an honorary child. The world needs adults operating under child supervision. Children think Cradle to Cradle is obvious.

ID: What’s on the C2C horizon?

WM: International Flavors & Fragrances has launched a C2C scent—and such companies don’t typically give out a formulation to review against C2C standards. Also, new C2C plastics are coming out. We even have C2C-certified T-shirts. Every single molecule of those shirts has been designed for human health, made by people who are properly rewarded, using 100 percent renewable energy and water that is so clean that they reuse it. So we can do this. We can live like this.

Fashion chain C&A’s recyclable cotton T-shirt, C2C-certified Gold. Photography courtesy of C&A.

ID: Do you have time for architecture these days?

WM: We always like to have a house in progress—we’re finishing an exquisite one in Santa Cruz, California. In Luxembourg, we’ve been commissioned to design a hotel based on principles of the circular economy. With various clients around the world, we’re working on solar arrays that also help grow food. Our solutions don’t do only one thing at a time. We can do solar plus food plus water. Plus, plus, plus.

ID: What was your first product conceived as Cradle to Cradle?

WM: It was Eco Intelligent polyester for Victor Innovatex, almost 20 years ago, when I was first thinking about indoor air quality. We surround ourselves with things that we breathe, see, and touch. Why shouldn’t they be healthy and beautiful? When you’re working with a matter of principle like this, you just keep going. Sure, it’s tough, but it’s great work, so get on with it.

The aerobics studio at Nike’s European headquarters in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Photography by William McDonough + Partners.
Also certified Gold, Method cucumber gel hand wash. Photography courtesy of Method.
For Shaw Industries, his nylon carpet Essay of Clues, Cradle to Cradle–certified Silver by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. Photography courtesy of Shaw Contract Group.
Steelcase’s C2C-certified Think chair, disassembled. Photography courtesy of Steelcase.

> See more from the February 2018 issue of Interior Design

Continue reading William McDonough Champions Sustainable Design With the Circular Economy

HOUSE TOUR: Bunny Williams Transforms A Homely A-Frame Into An Inspiring Studio Space

With 22 bucolic acres, Bunny Williams was only missing one thing at her legendary Connecticut retreat: an inspiring work studio where she could be her fiercely creative self. No longer.

 

Continue reading HOUSE TOUR: Bunny Williams Transforms A Homely A-Frame Into An Inspiring Studio Space

Brian Walker Caps 29-Year Career at Herman Miller, New CEO Search Underway

After 29 years at Herman Miller including 14 years at the helm, president and chief executive officer Brian Walker has announced his retirement from the Zeeland, Michigan-based industry giant.

“Now is the right time to transition the company to its next generation of leadership,” says Walker. “We developed the building blocks necessary to navigate the changes we predicted would impact the core office furniture marketplace, and we remain committed to these priorities as we focus on maintaining our momentum.”

Continue reading Brian Walker Caps 29-Year Career at Herman Miller, New CEO Search Underway

The Big Ideas Behind Microsoft’s New “Design Language”

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Microsoft is undertaking an ambitious overhaul of its 800 offices around the world and uncovering great insights about the intersections of technology and workplace design in the process. The technology giant’s global director of workplace strategies, Riku Pentikäinen, speaks to Metropolis’s Avinash Rajagopal about the company’s new workplaces, collaborating with designers and furniture manufacturers, and how his team takes a data-driven approach to office design.

Avinash Rajagopal: You recently opened a number of new workplaces, and there’s a broader strategy around workplace design in place at Microsoft. What drove that?

Riku Pentikäinen: Going back a couple of years, I saw Microsoft doing a lot of cool spaces from a design perspective, but they didn’t have a whole lot in common. Two years ago, we started a project to establish a design language for Microsoft. It’s very tricky to do—everybody will have a view, and most times it’s not aligned, so how do you  establish that for a company? What should Microsoft look and feel like?

As a result of a ton of work, we established what is now the Microsoft design language. Today, many of our new offices are reflective of the design language. We use that as guidance to architects on our aspirational direction, design-wise. But that’s what it is—a direction. We did not want to be prescriptive in terms of color, carpet. It’s about setting a direction that is welcoming, warm, homely, residential.

Quite honestly, I’ve been blown away by the reception we’ve gotten for our design language. You would think that architects would feel that we’re taking something away from them, but they’ve been really appreciative that we’re clear on what we’re expecting. Therefore, we’re seeing less iteration and it does increase speed. I’ll take Milan, for example. Italians are known for their design, and I was certain that they wouldn’t align with our design language, because they’d want to do their own thing. But they loved it and they embraced it, and that site [Microsoft House in Milan] is one of the best examples of our design language.

AR: You bring up a very interesting point about your relationship with architects and designers who design your spaces. Can you talk a little bit more about that? What does a typical process look like?

RP: First and foremost, we want to attract architects who want to work with us. If I think about our workplace programs, where we get into trouble, time and again, is when the architects’ view is not aligned with ours in terms of program. While we welcome the challenge, we know our end users best. I have a team of people working together, whether it’s our sales or our engineering side, purely understanding how they work.

The regional workplace strategists are the first spoke, in terms of contact with the architects. They give design direction and support to the architects, and it’s a very strong dialogue with the architects on the direction that we want to take. But at the same time, I can’t stress enough the importance of challenging [every idea], and out of that I see us getting the best design outcomes.

Microsoft workplace design


AR: To get into the technology angle a little bit more, I know that the Milan and London offices had a data-driven approach to design. Can you talk about your space-utilization technology and how you used it for those projects?

RP: A couple years back, we changed the fundamentals of how we design space. We used to do the industry practice of square feet per head; however, we really wanted to go toward utilization-based planning. In the end, we connected with our data science team and we developed what we call our PAA, which is our peak average attendance. In essence, it takes the badge files in and, through machine learning, learns to associate those badge files with a wireless or wired connection that is activated. Which then, on the hind side, gives us exit times, which gives us actual utilization of space at any given point of time in any of our buildings.

That has then enabled us, on a global level, to reduce our footprint significantly. I think one of the biggest benefits in this area is that Microsoft is a super data-driven company. When you have the data—when you’re able to show that for the last six months, this is how much use, or lack of use, your site saw—we don’t need to use as much of our time and energy trying to convince customers. It has quite fundamentally changed the way we work with our end users.

AR: You’re talking about taking data and using it to inform, say, square footage or space allocation. But do you foresee a future where it might be able to inform design decisions?

RP: We have in a pilot phase the ability to use a wireless LAN to triangulate positioning and then create heat maps, which tell us what kinds of spaces are being used. That’s something we will launch in due course. We are bringing in the data feed on how space is being utilized.

We are also bringing in MyAnalytics, which is this whole host of data about how and with whom the individual collaborates. That then can be elevated to data sets on how business groups and units work with one another. As a very classic example, we can see how much engineering collaborates with sales. From a physical-environment perspective, we can support driving that collaboration. That’s another data feed that we’re bringing into our space programming.

Beyond that, we are looking at data feeds like HR data. We’re bringing in survey data, in terms of personal preferences of people. So on a broader trend, I see our space programming becoming more complex, because we’re bringing in more and more data feeds, but it will enable creating environments that will maximize productivity.

Microsoft workplace design


AR: Some of this data comes from people with experience providing input. Design has that experiential dimension as well.

RP: Getting input is not blindly looking at a data source. You need to have the subjective and the objective to form a holistic view of how space is performing. We’re looking to do it in a manner where we’re easily able to configure the space to bring in another team, and the space they’re given adjusts itself.

That’s an area where we work with the likes of Steelcase, Herman Miller, Knoll, and Haworth to push them to bring us more solutions that enable that adaptation. We also work with the likes of Orange Books and Framery to bring that flexibility into the space. Ultimately, we’re seeking a flexibility such that the end users themselves can do the changes, and the space transforms itself for a  new team, or for more concentration or collaboration. That’s something that we are super focused on: giving more flexibility to the end users.

AR: Could you talk about some of the pieces of the puzzle that you’re still figuring out in workplace design and technology?

RP: One of the questions I want to get to the bottom of is how the expectation of the future workforce will change, and how we can adjust our space to meet that. We’re getting insight into what that expectation might look like. We are not yet at the phase of translating that into a physical layout, so that is still an unknown for me. I’ve seen a lot of the input that we get from what I would call the future workforce on different levels, because we look further than university: kids starting elementary school, how they work, and how they will expect to work. That to me is still an unknown.

And another part of the research program is about understanding how some of the disruptions that we’re seeing today impact the workplace. What is the impact of 3D printing of furniture on the workplace? What is the impact of the gig economy, and what does that mean for the physical environment? The list of unknowns is very long, but what gives me confidence is that we’ve established a top-notch team, combining people from within and outside Microsoft.

AR: As technology and culture change, do you foresee the Microsoft language being a sort of living, flexible framework? Will it change over time?

RP: One of the first criteria for our design language was that it needs to be timeless with distinction. So our design language will remain. I’d say that a space we will build ten years from now will have some of the same feel to it as Milan. However, we will continue to evolve. It will continue to take the future workforce into account. We will not throw the design language out and go, “Now we need to start fresh.” That was one of the key criteria for the design language when we were creating it: that it needs to be timeless with distinction, and it needs to be founded on the new Microsoft culture. I think that will ensure that it will be relevant in the future.

The Top Interior Design Styles Based on Age

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