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Tag Archives: Workplaces

How Technology is Humanizing Office, Retail and Healthcare Design

05.20.2019

By Cheryl S. Durst
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In the past 20 years, commercial interiors, workplaces and even our own homes have been enhanced and augmented by a variety of technologies. Whether it’s charging stations in your organization’s conference room or a robot in your living room that tells you the weather (and maybe listens to all of your conversations), there’s no question that the fully integrated tech realm we fantasized for the future has become a reality.

But despite a growing fear that technology is making us less empathetic, more impatient, less polite and, overall, less human, technology in our interior spaces can actually help us instead enhance our humanity in surprising ways.

THE OFFICE OF THE FUTURE, TODAY

By assisting with our needs, wants and work patterns, successful tech integration within workplace interiors means happier, healthier and more productive employees. These interventions can be as small as including accessibility-configured outlets at every workstation, or as big-picture as virtual meetings or artificial intelligence (AI)  automated lighting, temperature and window-tinting systems.

Smart workplace technology means customization, whether through equipping offices with reliable video conferencing and real-time communication platforms for remote employees or adding adjustable furniture or nutrition-sensitive kitchen models to offices.

PUTTING AI IN RETAIL

Today’s consumers are uninspired by traditional brick-and-mortar storefront models. With online shopping abundant and convenient, retailers have to come up with inventive solutions to get customers back inside a physical space. Creating memorable in-store experiences ultimately has more to do with understanding a shopper’s humanity — his or her needs, concerns and desires — and smart technology plays a critical role in that process.

HARVESTING NATURAL LIGHT FOR INTERIORS

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Tech-driven store models allow consumers the power to create personalized shopping experiences and make their lives a little easier. Take for example Nike’s latest location in West L.A., which links its interior to the new Nike app. Using a shopper’s browsing and purchase history, the app designs the shopping experience, with personalized suggestions, on-the-spot checkout and product scanning features.

Last year, U.S. grocery chain Kroger unveiled the “Kroger Edge” digital price tag technology displaying pricing and nutrition information for products, making it easy for customers to select and understand the food they are buying. This digitization of price tags also uses renewable energy and allows for Kroger to use less in-store electricity, making it a green solution to an age-old retail feature.

TOUCH SCREEN HEALTHCARE

Hospitals and clinics can be intimidating places, but technology is helping us create more intuitive, empathetic and dynamic healthcare environments. Rather than diminish the human touch, technology within healthcare design may actually help improve patient and provider experience. 

The Cedars-Sinai, Playa Vista Physician Office and Urgent Care in Playa Vista, CA, for example, was designed by ZGF Architects to provide high-quality, patient-centered services to the community in Silicon Valley by seamlessly integrating smart technology, planning and aesthetics. The location offers patients and staff advanced audiovisual systems, digital signage, kiosks and nurse call systems, all within one three-story interior whose design allows for adaption to future tech upgrades without putting the architecture in jeopardy.

Other healthcare providers have begun utilizing tech advancements like smartphone apps and virtual visits to enhance patient experience and access to appointments. Telemedicine services like evisit let patients contact their doctors remotely on smartphones or other devices to discuss health concerns, making it easier and less stressful to schedule one-off appointments or conversations.

Technology continues to change the way we shop, work, play and live. When effectively and thoughtfully used, it allows us to inventively integrate the human touch back into systems and networks dictating daily life.


Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, is the executive vice president and CEO of IIDA. She’s committed to achieving broad recognition for the value of design and its
significant role in our society.

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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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