ANTENNA’S NEW LINE FOR KNOLL IS PURPOSE-BUILT FOR THE SPONTANEOUS WORK ENCOUNTERS THAT OFTEN SPARK INNOVATION.
By now, the concept of “spontaneous collaboration space” in the office is starting to fray around the edges. Despite the proliferation of zany themed meeting rooms, sofas, and bars in the workplace, there’s still no recipe for engineering the random encounters and unplanned work that can lead to breakthroughs. Sigi Moeslinger, one half of Antenna Design, says.
“Architects will often specify residential furniture like coffee tables and couches. But spontaneous work still requires work space.”
Moeslinger and her partner, Masamichi Udagawa, have designed Bloomberg terminals, MTA New York City subway cars, and JetBlue check-in kiosks. But for their latest project, the Japanese-Austrian duo bypassed screens and addressed the people who use them.
Activity Spaces, a line of furniture Antenna designed for Knoll, is designed for mobile employees who are no longer tied to a desktop, relying on tablets or phones instead. Udagawa says.
“Many people don’t have a main computer anymore. But generally, we still need a place to sit and put something.”
Activity Spaces is built around a desk/chair hybrid named Toboggan. The steel tube and bent plywood contraption looks like a mutated public school desk--its legs wrap in a C from the desk to the ground up to the integrated stool, creating a lightweight structure that supports a variety of sitting positions plus a place to rest a tablet or notebook. Moeslinger says.
“It’s a kind of strange object, and we weren’t sure how people would interact with it.”
But an introduction at NeoCon last year left Antenna pleasantly surprised:
“People would just intuitively take breaks to check their phones.”
“They got into it right away.”
Knoll Activity Spaces include a number of casual workspaces, including semi-secluded seating for open office plans. This image shows other pieces from the collection, which weren’t designed by Antenna (Click Image To Enlarge)
The lightweight Toboggans are designed to be moved and rearranged throughout the office, which introduced another problem: the inevitable lack of power outlets. So they designed a stainless steel pole dotted with outlets that supplies a charge wherever it’s wheeled.
Other pieces, like a rolling whiteboard and small tables that also provide a charge for laptops, also promote mobility within the office. The idea is to create a spectrum of spaces within the office, rather than the conventional binary of being at your desk or in a meeting.
In an unexpected way, Antenna’s expertise in interaction design is what makes these plywood-and-plastic objects so intelligent. It’s not so much about the screen, but rather how and where it’s being used. Udagawa told me.
“We approach furniture as an interface. It can modify behavior, and help people make the transition into more open space.”
COMMENTARY: Office workers no longer lay claim to just a small square of real estate but share ownership of all the spaces that support the multiple tasks they are called upon to perform. In the emerging workplace the whole office is my office.
Today’s office contains individual assigned workspaces that Knoll calls primary workspaces, and non-assigned spaces that are held in common and occupied with others as needed, called activity spaces. Primary and activity spaces may be individual or shared, open or enclosed, depending on their intended function. Both primary and activity spaces require broad connectivity with ready access to power and data, and wifi capability.
Primary spaces, which are typically assigned open plan workstations or private offices, are
“home base” spaces. Often configured to support heads-down, focus work as well as short interactions with others, primary spaces may be designed explicitly to support shared work as in a two-person workstation with a table between; or to support team work, as in a large table configuration.
Activity spaces are “go to” spaces, that is, destinations for temporary group and individual work. They include:
- Refuge for focus work among one or two. dddddddddddddddddddd
- Enclave for small group interactions among three or four
- Team Meeting for teams of five to eight dddddddddddddddddd
- Assembly spaces for conferences, lectures or training
- Community areas for informal socializing, eating or collaborating.
While layout, furnishings and technology will differ depending on the intended function of a given space, the sizes of activity spaces by type are relatively constant. Whether spaces support individual work, collaboration or more structured group activities, all must have qualities that make them places where people want to go.
Successful activity spaces attract, adapt and engage. They are appealing and comfortable, offer appropriate furnishings and technology, and provide multiple communication tools. Activity spaces permit individuals and group members to shape their work experience by adjusting and reconfiguring elements in the space, and provide opportunities to express organizational culture.
If you would like to learn more about Knoll's Activity Spaces line of communual and collaborative furniture designed for today's mobile workforce, you can download Knoll's Activity Spaces whitepaper by clicking HERE.
Courtesy of an article dated April 1, 2013 appearing in Fast Company Design