How Charles Eames came to have mixed feelings for his most famous chair

How Charles Eames came to have mixed feelings for his most famous chair

As any smartphone user could attest, the things we own sometimes end up owning us. Equally, the things we create can end up owning us. The most famous item designed by Charles Eames is a moulded plywood, leather upholstered lounge chair and matching ottoman that are timelessly iconic, have spawned thousands of rip-off versions, invariably […]

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How do we reach consensus about what constitutes good design?

How do we reach consensus about what constitutes good design?

In shows and the media, we are often invited to pass judgement on products and ideas that have been created by other people. The reviews that follow often cement some form of accepted view, even if we often outsource the decision making to people who are better placed to decide, or at least better enabled […]

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What A Bug’s Life can teach us about building and workplace design

What A Bug’s Life can teach us about building and workplace design

There is a typically telling and intelligent Pixar moment in the film A Bug’s Life in which an already well lubricated mosquito goes up to a bar and orders a ‘Bloody Mary, O Positive’. The barman plonks a droplet of blood down on the bar. The mosquito sinks his proboscis into it, sucks it down […]

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Future Shock: a message from the past that defines the present

Future Shock: a message from the past that defines the present

We are all futurologists now. We all have our 2020 visions. But there was a time, not so long ago, when the title was reserved for a few people who would be able to shake and shape the world with a single idea and a book. Yes, a book. Nowadays a book has to go […]

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The human mind and body are not really machines for living in

The human mind and body are not really machines for living in

It is ironic that while we live in a world in which we are witnessing the automation of more and more human skills and capabilities, we are often best able to understand the way people function with symbols of mechanisation. That is the underlying conceit of what turned out to be one of the animated film […]

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Just for Monday morning; the top five songs about office life and office furniture

Just for Monday morning; the top five songs about office life and office furniture

Not enough musicians draw inspiration from the office or office furniture, and for very good reasons. Nevertheless, it’s worth saying that the office is routinely used as both a setting and a symbol in movies even if workplaces are generally seen as mundane or dehumanising in stark contrast to whatever troubled romance / disaster is […]

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What Aldous Huxley can teach us about acoustics at work

What Aldous Huxley can teach us about acoustics at work

Over the last few years there has been something of a widespread backlash to the idea that we need to have constant access to information and our colleagues to work effectively. The touchstone for this movement is of course the open plan office but it has become something of a scapegoat given the universality of […]

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Is this the missing piece of the facilities management puzzle?

Is this the missing piece of the facilities management puzzle?

The IFMA Foundation Workplace Summit of summer 2014 felt like an optimistic time for facilities management and the workspace industry. Heavyweights from the sector were asking searching questions about our organisational contribution, with thankfully less of the internally focused, debate-free hubris typical of much of the industry narrative. The newly announced (and now evidently historical) […]

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A new age of reason for workplace design and management

A new age of reason for workplace design and management

The enduring struggle to improve the working conditions and performance of people through the design and management of their workplaces has more than a whiff of the Enlightenment of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries about it. The Enlightenment marked a new era in which the old superstitions and dogmas were to be overthrown by pure reason. This […]

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How adversity and chaos can often help to foster personal creativity

How adversity and chaos can often help to foster personal creativity

We may live in a knowledge economy in a world, where the most highly prized people as far as employers are concerned are knowledge workers, but the thing that sets us apart from the machines is not knowledge at all, but creativity. Acquiring managing and sharing knowledge is essential, but it’s what we do with […]

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Putting the responsibility into personal and corporate social responsibility

Putting the responsibility into personal and corporate social responsibility

You’re probably aware of the experiment performed by Stanley Milgram in which volunteers were asked by men in white coats to administer what they believed were electric shocks to another person, who they could not see, but could hear, from behind a screen. Around two-thirds of the volunteers agreed to deliver what they were told […]

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The Internet and a pile of turtles that goes all the way down

The Internet and a pile of turtles that goes all the way down

In his 1998 book A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking relates the following: “A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars […]

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