What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work

What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work

In 1959, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified the personality traits which go hand in hand with disproportionate levels of heart disease. These include an overblown sense of time urgency, a desire to fit as much into each second as possible, excessive competitiveness and aggressiveness and frustration when other people are doing things more slowly […]

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Heisenberg, Jabberwocky and the medicalisation of dissatisfaction

Heisenberg, Jabberwocky and the medicalisation of dissatisfaction

A survey was published a couple of years ago to coincide with ‘National Stress Awareness Day’. Conducted by Robertson Cooper, the consultancy co-founded by media friendly academic Cary Cooper, the report made some fairly modest and believable claims about the impacts of stress. Especially if you compare them to the more startling findings of other […]

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What Richard Dawkins can teach us about ergonomics and the value of pain

What Richard Dawkins can teach us about ergonomics and the value of pain

In his book The Greatest Show on Earth, the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins devotes a section to the biological rationale for pain. Although this is an ethical issue as far as humans are concerned, and most of us might think it’s one thing we could easily do without thank you very much, Nature is […]

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Is work important to us because we need it to be important?

Is work important to us because we need it to be important?

The ethical, practical and philosophical implications of how we live alongside robots is something we will have to address very soon. It is a point well made in this conversation between Kate Darling of MIT and the neuroscientist Sam Harris. But we’ve had parts of this conversation before. For example, while most people will not […]

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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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