The olive oil club
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An office design blog

23.1.17 Office design thoughts


So, it is with thanks to our Marketing Manager and his very neat way of getting content out of his colleagues for our website that I officially start a blog.


Admittedly, for the past few weeks I have been reflecting on the way we design offices and what everyone expects.


Interestingly though, we never really seem to match expectations with what technology actually allows us to do in todays connected environments.


Likewise, we seem to put a lot of emphasis on ways of working that can not really be said to be hugely relevant any more.


So over the next few days, I will add my reflections and thoughts as they come up and then review them after a week to see what direction we could move in and completely revolutionise or disrupt established work behaviours and break through the glass ceiling that we work under.




24.1.17 Outdoor street furniture


My thinking today has been along the lines of outdoor street furniture that acts as a magnet for people in given situations – bus stops, lamp posts, letter boxes, all these things have a function and people are drawn to them. Then we have the buses and taxis, don’t forget Uber either. In the summer, the shade of a tree and the cooling flow of a river all have their place too. As well as this I have been reflecting on kids play areas at school and in parks. Whilst people in the age of 20 to 60 design these, the kids use them and there may be some design cues to take from these spaces too.


None of this seems to necessarily point to any one given idea for office furniture but the important thing here is to keep an open mind and allow ideas a little space to develop.




25.1.17 Rhythm and music in collaboration spaces


Had some good dialogue with various colleagues today on my musings from yesterday and have been reflecting on the idea of including Cajon beat boxes and acoustic guitars in collaboration space. The idea is that creating rhythm and music whilst collaborating may improve idea development and make the whole concept feel more inviting and natural. What we are looking to create is spaces that don’t need to be explained or trained in their use. We want workers to be drawn to these spaces rather than told to use them and why.


Also talked about how something as fundamental as ploughing a field has developed over the centuries. What was done by hand became a horse/ox then a tractor with all the development of the actual plough. Why then is a desk still just a desk. What else could it be?


In discussion about this, Garry our CAD technician suggested that a bass guitar was less intimidating to use than a standard one as it is more about single string notes that rhythm and chords. As this is all about engagement and inspiration this is a great steer.




26.1.17 Interactive collaboration space


Exploring the ideas surrounding rhythm a little more and reflecting on the fact that some people like to doodle whilst they listen – we’ve already included talking walls in space but have we let workers be free to just be creative in their expression rather than write about the specific subject being discussed? And this leads on to 3D construction, Lego might be for kids but there is a big kid in every grow- up. We are letting the kids out to express themselves in rhythm and doodles, why not have a Lego or Meccano construction set too.


All this flies in the face of our learning experience – when at school, none of these were encouraged and we were told to concentrate, what we actually know now is that all of these things actually help us to concentrate.


Today I am thinking about a new type of office interior design which for the moment we will call ‘interactive collaboration space’


Where this leads me through some brief googling is to Howard Gardners theory of multiple intelligences defined as follows – Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and natural. He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion. (Wikipedia)


If we can define ways of introducing physical representation of these intelligences and learning types into the world of work, how much faster could collaborative work create outcomes and how much more natural will it feel to anyone using the space?







27.1.17 Office refurbishment


So a fairly indistinct outcome so far, but definitely some progress on the road to making workplaces more accessible and inspirational. The other major shift is in how managers deal with this change, letting go for long enough and allowing the outcomes to emerge without stifling the enthusiasm and a more natural approach to work with performance targets and the Victorian thinking that assumes because you are not at your desk you are not working. The new way of working also needs a totally new way of interior space planning and will often be the start of office refurbishment.





 Image credits: Photographer Stirling




Please join the debate and get a conversation going that moves this forward. Crowdfunding has helped may projects to progress where traditional investment streams haven’t. Academics have been writing books on new ways of working but the reality falls some way short. There is a disconnect and maybe a crowdfunding type concept to canvas opinion and debate ideas could rapidly move us to some rational conclusion that we can then trial in the projects we are delivering.




30.1.17 Signposting


Transient spaces such as supermarkets, train stations and airports are used daily by all walks of life each in their own unique way. Something they all have in common is great signposting which of course includes both pictorial and language. This is another important factor to remember when designing spaces that we hope people will use intuitively