Decoding Design

Three designs to work around the open plan office

Posting in Architecture

Three designs offer ways for office workers to find a little peace and quiet.

In a recent "Workplace of the Future Survey" conducted by office systems company Teknion, 77 percent of respondents said they are employing, or plan to employ, open plan workspaces. Open office plans are seen as more collaborative, and therefore, more creative.

But open plan offices are not a one size fits all solution.

Open plan offices often ignore the benefits of solitude, especially in the creative and technical fields that require extended times of working alone. And let's not forget the introverts who require more stretches of peace and quiet. Even in the quasi-open land of cubicles and pods, carving out a little space for privacy and a little time to think is difficult.

We know that design can streamline the typical office day, but how about improving the quality of that eight or more hour day? The three products below, in various stages of market availability, address the reality that the work day and work week are getting longer, and even open offices are getting more crowded.

Pop-up privacy

Designed by Madrid and Lausanne based architecture and design studio Kawamura-Ganjavian, DESKSHELL is an individual enclosure that provides just-in-time personal desk space within an open environment. The DESKSHELL is portable and stackable so that open offices can remain open. The shell is upholstered with acoustic fabric to keep phone calls and sensitive computer work private.

A place to lay your head

Also designed by Kawamura-Ganjavian, OSTRICH is a response to the need for periods of rest during longer work days. The designers say that OSTRICH "offers a micro environment in which to take a warm and comfortable power nap at ease. It is neither a pillow nor a cushion, nor a bed, nor a garment, but a bit of each at the same time. Its soothing cave-like interior shelters and isolates our head and hands for a few minutes, without needing to leave our desk." According to the designers, OSTRICH is close to being produced for the market.

Pop-down privacy

Designed by Seoul based designer Seung-Yong Song, Object-O is a chair with an integrated oversized lampshade and light that provides an instant private, but not entirely closed off, space. The materials, white birch and traditional Korean paper, are simple, light, and unobtrusive. The designer says he wanted people to "create [their] own space where [they] can feel the coziness [of] a bird's nest." The design is part of a series of multifunctional, space saving chairs.

Images: David Sim, Kawamura-Ganjavian and Seung-Yong Song

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure