Office design goes to the movies. Part 7 – The Apartment

Office design goes to the movies. Part 7 – The Apartment

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In which Jack Lemmon exchanges the crushing uniformity of the open plan for a corner office as a reward for allowing senior managers to use his apartment as a venue for their infidelity. This is from 1960, the pre-cubicle, pre-VDU world of large ranks of serried workers in an open plan office with only the privileged few allowed any degree of privacy or the wherewithal to display status. many ways, the layout has much in common with the way many offices are designed now. Office design may have moved on in the past half century but some things are always with us.

Public sector property initiatives have proved successful but work still needed

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Gorilla-in-a-hat1There was a time, not so long ago, when nobody worried too much about the shape of the rooms that led off the corridors of power. But the pressure on UK finances has politicised the design of the UK’s public buildings. The latest example of this was the recent  announcement  in Parliament of a report that, amongst other things, called for a new approach in the way facilities are designed to deliver better services in a more cost effective way. The report Restarting Britain 2: Design and Public Services was the result of an eight-month investigation led by the Design Commission along with politicians, designers and civil servants.

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Project awarded for design and build of new Kuwaiti Ministry

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 Kuwait General Department of the Information System.

The competition to design and build the future General Department of the Information System (GDIS), in Kuwait has been won by AGi architects, in collaboration with Bonyan Design. The aesthetics of the building, which will encompass a total gross area of 135,482 sqm is shaped by the superposition of two contrasting layers: a massive stone plinth at the lower level, and lighter glass structures on the upper floors. At ground floor level there will be a plaza conceived as an inner urban space that will be the core of flows and circulations and will provide access to all four departments included in the building More →

Office design goes to the movies. Part 6 – Playtime

Office design goes to the movies. Part 6 – Playtime

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One of the few films to address office design as something worth commenting on per se. A film in which M. Hulot stumbles around a modernist dream of Paris, all glass, steel and cold straight lines. People inhabit box like apartments and box like office cubicles which separate them from each other and, by implication, life. The film was produced in 1967, shortly before the cubicle was popularised in real offices. In the sequence in which M. Hulot visits an office building, he gets lost, gatecrashing meetings and ending up in a gadget trade show which is furnished in a virtually identical way to the office.

SBID International Design Awards 2013 open for entries

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Entries are now open for the SBID (Society of British Interior Design) third International Design Awards, which recognises design excellence across the built environment, ranging from super luxury projects, to innovative design and new talent on limited budgets. The fourteen categories include residential and contract sectors, entertainment space, transport, product and public space, visualisation (3d renderings) and interior design project under £50,000. Previous finalists and winners have included: Candy & Candy’s Candyscape II and Number One Hyde Park; Bentley Motors Head Office in Crewe by FutureBrand [pictured]; Mercedes Showroom in Washington by Studio Lux; The Hyundai Business Centre in Korea by Hyundai Construction and Engineering; Viking Cruises by Integration.

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Five things the Wall Street Journal inadvertently told us yesterday about office design

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Some inadvertent truths

Some inadvertent truths

If I were to show you a headline from the Wall Street Journal announcing ‘Say Goodbye to the Office Cubicle’, you might date it at any time between the mid 1980s and 1990s. Maybe earlier. But it was actually in yesterday’s issue, dated 2 April 2013. Now, we could be amused by this or act all aghast at the sight of those dinosaurs yet to adopt a norm of open, collaborative and shared spaces never mind the ‘digital workplace’; or we could conclude that this tells us several important things about how those people and organisations who don’t keep a daily eye on workplace trends view the buildings they inhabit.

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Office design goes to the movies. Part 5 – Minority Report

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Minority ReportWe obviously like films like this. High concept noir sci-fi, based on a book by Philip K Dick of course; dystopian, chock full of ideas and technology that seemed cool and subversive in 2002 and is mundane in 2013. I mean, the screens are still cool but who wouldn’t rather have a file stored in the Cloud or on a USB stick than inside a perspex panel the size of a brick? Deskheads may recognise the furniture as the totally of-a-piece Resolve from Herman Miller designed by Ayse Birsel. They can use this fact to bore whoever they are watching with who would presumably rather be watching Tom Cruise doing his Blue Steel face in the foreground. Or is it Magnum?

New research from China highlights benefits of working from home

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CTripA new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Guanghua Management School at Beijing University looking into the experience of working from home at one large Chinese firm has found that the practice led to a 13 per cent increase in productivity. The research also found that workers reported increased levels of job satisfaction and half elected to continue working from home when the choice was given to them at the end of the study period even though it was evident that their chances of promotion on the basis of performance had reduced as a result of the experiment.

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Will an upturn spark a revival of interest in the idea of employer branding?

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Employer brandingYou may recall that a few years ago there was a voguish interest in the idea of employer branding. This is the kind of thing that has always gone on but can always be defined and popularised,  in this case following the publication of a book on the subject in 2005. By 2008 Jackie Orme, the head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, was calling it ‘an integral part of business strategy’. Still, it appears to have dropped off the radar a bit over the last few years, a fact we might put down to the effect of the recession. Firms certainly seem to have their mind on other things. Research published last year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed that  in 2009, 54 per cent of businesses said they placed a special focus on retaining talent. By 2012 that had dropped to 36 per cent.

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Video: one of the keys to a productive workplace: micro-organisms?

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The quest for the answer to what makes us productive at work is an endless one, of course. Partly this is due to misleading research claims from suppliers that the provision of a specific product will increase productivity by x per cent. But mostly it’s because the answers shift from case to case and over time because while we can identify the factors that make people more productive, it’s harder to pin down the effects of their interrelationships. Plant walls and better seating won’t by themselves improve the performance of somebody who hates their job. Nevertheless, it’s important to design all the productivity factors into a building, including at a bacterial level according to Jessica Green who here explores the impact of microbes in different areas of an office building.

Facebook hits like button for low-key Gehry campus building

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FAcebook campus 2Normally it would strike you as a bit odd that a company would appoint one of the world’s most high profile architects to design its new headquarters, a man with an immediately recognisable and frequently stunning visual style, only to then ask him to rein it all in and produce something pretty sober and unobtrusive. But that is precisely what Facebook has done with the appointment of Frank Gehry who has been tasked with producing a low key design for its new headquarters building  and campus in California which gained approval at the end of last week.

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Office design goes to the movies. Part 4 – Ikiru

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IkiruAkira Kurosawa’s film typifies the way that office life is usually portrayed in movies. The crushing bureaucracy that the protagonist Kanji Watanabe is part of – and ultimately rebels against – is symbolised by the towering piles of paper that surround him and his colleagues. Even when he’s walking around, he seems to be carrying them with him, stooped and distant. Many offices may have freed themselves of the sheer bulk of paper these days, but we can still find ourselves weighed down by hierarchy, rules, customs and information. Ultimately we also have freedom to decide for ourselves what is truly important.

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