August 14, 2023
It’s a banality to point out that futurism is nowism plus either a robot butler or blasted landscape. So, I was taken with a press release we had last week from Studio Alliance which shows an AI’s depiction of the office of the future at various points over the next quarter of a century. What is most striking to me, if you set aside the Jetson-y outside views, is how much like the office of the present each is.
There are desks, tasks chairs, modernist designs, books, computers and plants. Each could be an office from the present day, even that most distant from the present day.
It would be easy to pull this apart, except it strikes me to be a far more likely outcome than some of what we hear. There are a couple of likely explanations for this. The first is that the AI is building on the current depictions of offices it has scraped from the Internet. PIPO. Present In, Present Out.
The second is that the workplace will still be populated by humans. We are not blank slates, but evolved apes. The design of chairs is constrained by our forms. We still value daylight, fresh air and the natural world. We enjoy each other’s company (more or less) and seek the validation of others. Allowing for shifts in taste, it’s just the kind of thing we like. Maybe the firm and its AI will be proved right.
The one thing these images lack is people, which is a shame but not unusual for depictions of offices. There are some people in these AI generated visions of future buildings from Dezeen but I’m not sure how feasible the projects are, whether that’s missing the point of creating such idea and why anybody would want to be in or near a couple of them.
Expect loads more of this kind of thing.
Mark is the publisher of Workplace Insight, IN magazine, Works magazine and is the European Director of Work&Place journal. He has worked in the office design and management sector for over thirty years as a journalist, marketing professional, editor and consultant.