September 5, 2019
Coming up with a good creative idea is hard. We do not fully understand how this process works, but there are certain techniques that have proved successful in fostering creativity, such as mind-mapping, brainstorming or creating conditions for free experimentation. Many big companies (such as design agencies) embrace these practices in the way they work. More →
August 30, 2019
Let’s get the inevitable WeWork story out of the way first. A supposed news item in Crain’s New York Business has claimed that WeWork is ‘squeezing’ people into half the space recommended in the BCO’s Specification Guide; “roughly the size of two standard doors laying side by side”. You can see the editorial cogs at work here, combining a story about WeWork with one about how people are crammed into the workplace like cattle these days.
August 28, 2019
From shamanic ritual to horoscopes, humans have always tried to predict the future. Today, trusting predictions and prophecies has become part of daily life. From the weather forecast to the time the sat-nav says we will reach our destination, our lives are built around futuristic fictions. More →
August 23, 2019
A right leaning think tank’s suggestion that the UK should set a new retirement age of 75 and introduce a range of measures to extend people’s working lives to boost the economy and improve people’s wellbeing sparked an inevitable paroxysm of rage. Immediately followed by an equally inevitable and furious level of what passes for debate these days. A stramash the Scottish would call it. More →
August 13, 2019
You would not believe the number of firms that ask us to publish a list of workplace trends each week. Or maybe you would, given the number that have appeared elsewhere. Each firm perhaps convinced they are saying something original, unique or interesting, or maybe simply convinced they stand out in some way, while pushing the same timid, stale narratives about the workplace. It goes without saying that the commercialised messages often do little to shine a light on complex realities. In the words of the Scottish poet and anthropologist Andrew Lang, they use information ‘like a drunk uses lamp-posts—for support rather than illumination’.
August 6, 2019
On the surface, the wellbeing of the American worker seems rosy. Unemployment in the U.S. hovers near a 50-year low, and employers describe growing shortages of workers in a wide array of fields. But looking beyond the numbers tells a different story. My new book, “The Importance of Work in an Age of Uncertainty,” reveals that some Americans are experiencing an erosion in the world of increasingly uncertain work that is hurting their wellbeing, relationships and hopes for the future. More →
August 3, 2019
The latest issue of Insight Weekly is available to read online. If you don’t already subscribe, you can find a simple subscription form at the bottom of the page. In this week’s issue we look at how the behaviour of just one person in an organisation can have knock on effects for everybody; James Ransom looks at how smart cities are being pioneered in the unlikeliest of places; Anna King uncovers the psychological roots of workplace acoustics; James Geekie argues we’ve arrived at the tipping point for flexible working; and I consider the colour of magic and what it means for office design.
July 30, 2019
Following our recent attempts to create a rudimentary playlist of songs that tell us something or perhaps nothing about office design, office life and office furniture, here’s another look at how the parochial world of the workplace can brush up against popular culture. It does this unnoticed for most people, I suppose, but not for those of us bound up in this world. We can’t ignore the brief glimpse of an Aeron chair’s ubiquitous mesh without a synapse firing up. So, here is a brief rundown of nine movies that use office design to make a plot point or set up a character development.
July 22, 2019
An abandoned mine shaft beneath the town of Mansfield, England is an unlikely place to shape the future of smart cities. But here, researchers from the nearby University of Nottingham are planning to launch a “deep farm” that could produce ten times as much food as farms above ground. Deep farms are an example of what the latest wave of smart cities look like: putting people first by focusing on solving urban problems and improving existing infrastructure, rather than opening shiny new buildings. More →
July 19, 2019
First the good news. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has rejected the proposals for Foster+Partners’ godawful 300 metre tall ‘Tulip’ viewing tower in London. The reasons given for the refusal from the Mayor’s office include the fact that the thing didn’t represent the sort of “world class architecture that would be required to justify its prominence”. A nicely dressed up way of saying it’s a terrible idea, a terrible piece of architecture and has absolutely no place in London. More →
July 15, 2019
However much we know about the forces we expect to come into play in our time and however much we understand the various social, commercial, legislative, cultural and economic parameters we expect to direct them, most predictions of the future tend to come out as refractions or extrapolations of the present. This is a fact tacitly acknowledged by George Orwell’s title for 1984, written in 1948, and is always the pinch of salt we can apply to science fiction and most of the predictions we come across. More →
July 12, 2019
A new urban model is emerging worldwide – transforming the way cities design and use physical space, generate economic wealth, consume and dispose of resources, exploit and sustain the natural ecosystems they need, and prepare for the future. This emerging new urban paradigm has profound implications for players who care about and depend on the design of a city’s built infrastructure – including architects, engineers, builders, real estate developers, and office building tenants. More →