New trends from Worktech17: Living Office, co-design and IoT.

A self-learning space, open-designed for the future needs, based on the individual experience and wellbeing. This is the way of designing that was debated at the forum Worktech 2017, among leader companies as Herman Miller and Interface and architecture firms like Carlo Ratti Associati, Zaha Hadid Architects and Studio Banana.

The office must follow the life that takes place in it. That’s the core of the Herman Miller’s seven provocations, seven statements thought to guide the discussion between designers and companies, and based on the last company’s research “Living Office”, presented at Worktech17, one of the worldwide most important forum dedicated to real estate, technology and innovation. The study has involved anthropologists, psychologists and designers in a new holistic approach to the workplace, aiming to define the facts we need to understand when we think about today’s ways of working.


One of these provocations states: “we feel before we think”. The environment has a great impact on us, therefore it is the main feature we have to take care of. It must be a living environment, where communication takes constantly place (quoting a provocation, “you + me = 3”) in a “wonderful mess” that facilitate creativity and innovation.


Ulrich Blum, from Zaha Hadid Architects, has given a really good insight during his speech “The self-learning workplace”, describing a way of designing that starts from the use of IoT and sensors to collect data about the habits of every employee. “We have to think about the office as a “living network” Blum said. The data are divided in different parameters as distance, visibility and lighting, in order to give to designers the right knowledges to create a space that fits with the needs of every single person living in the workplace, optimizing the desk arrangement, the communication, the use of working time and the disposition of different environments. Furthermore, datas give the opportunity, using the generated algorithms, for creating more effective team works and arrange them in an ideal workplace. “The idea is to enhance the hierarchy of the office as it really is, and not as it is in the boss’s mind. We have to join furniture and artificial intelligence in order to increase the flexibility the furniture can give us”, Blum concludes.

As we can already see, technology is crucial in nowadays office, even though, quoting another provocation, “we have to forget about it”, meaning it has to be like a comfortable shoe: we have to perfectly walk in it, without feeling anything. As Marco Maria Pedrazzo, by Carlo Ratti Associates, said, exposing the firm’s research about the “technological management of the workplace”, “technology has to create a resilient environment. We have to change our perspective: it is the environment that has to adapt to us, not us to the environment. We have to design as we are designing 20 years ahead, and the only way to do that is making experiments, trying prototypes and see how people react to them“.

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Even though it seems in contrast with Herman Miller’s provocation “The next thing isn’t for you”, it isn’t, because innovation must be based on the company’s culture, and design must fit with the actual ways of working and corporate policy of each situation, but at the same time it has to be open-designed, giving the chance of being reinvented in the future, following the evolution of the company itself and of the times.
Something too ahead, in fact, can scare people, while innovation has to generate engagement, fulfilment and happiness.


Key Portilla, from Studio Banana, suggested some interesting approach, like co-design sessions, where managers and employee are an active part in the workplace’s construction or restyling, or university-campus-like offices, based on a different environment that supports different states of mind and activity.


Finally, even in a new tech-workspace, nature can be the secret of a happy and stress-free office. Oliver Heath, from Interface, has talked about “biophilic design“, meaning the need to recreate the “sense of nature“, enhancing the presence of real natural elements, like light, plants and water, or a reference to them, using colors, patterns and materials that help to recreate visually and emotionally the feeling of really being in a natural environment.
Report by Mario Colombo (Herman Miller), editing by Gabriele Masi.




Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.


There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.


If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:


 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.


 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.


4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.


5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The colorful future of the office.

Color can be several things in a workplace: food for our mind, an effective and immediate way of communication, a trigger of sensations and emotions and a powerful identity totem. That’s why color matters in every trend we can trace about the contemporary office, from agile and smart working to wellbeing and creativity, from flexible design to brand and corporate identity.

While the workplace has become a more stimulating, multifunctional, agile and communicative space, color is getting the attention of every interior designer and architect.

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“Colors are the food for our mind”, Christina Wiklund, CMF Manager in Kinnarps, said during the presentation of the Kinnarps Color Studio: a mind that has to remain creative, open and enough flexible to face the new and dynamic challenges of an ever-changing market.
Therefore color, as food, has to keep our mind healthy and “fully charged”, creating a landscape where the employee can find what he needs at every moment. It has to be also a simple and easy to digest kind of food, helping to orient yourself in a space shaped by nomadic and mobile ways of working, tracing a visible map.


Most of all, color shares with food the fact of giving a connotative and perceivable identity feeling: from the face and body painting of the ancestral populations to the medieval coats of arm, to the flag of the countries, till the nowadays expression of the corporate identity on the office walls.
Color is a very effective way to create a banner to follow, to communicate with people, to transmit through space sensations, rules, required behaviours, and messages, as it is shown by the AzkoNobel’s Heart Wood, Color Future 2018,  chosen to transmit a welcoming and reassuring feeling to the people living in the workplace.


So, what is the kind of color we need for the new architecture of communication (as it was defined by Birgit Gebhardt during the conference at the Dieffebi‘s Showroom in Milan at the last Fall Design Week)?
It’s a color that takes inspiration from reality: like the ones used in traffic lights, it it has to direct the constant flow of people, communication, and information; like an heraldic symbol it has to create a sense of corporate membership; finally has to be scenographic, capable of creating the perfect stage where a free and creative play can take place, evoking, at the same time, more intense and meaningful emotions.
Text by Gabriele Masi


Communication via architecture for a new WOW-effect office.

“The design of the office space has to focus on the structure of the human collaboration and communication”. The idea of workplace presented by the trend expert Birgit Gebhardt at the showroom Dieffebi is based on a “landscape of learning”, where networks and data will allow every individual to find his own way of expressing himself, through constant development and self-organization.

Will the office loose its WOW effect in the future, replaced by different spaces more suitable for a more creative, convenient and flexible kind of job? It is a pretty ongoing question that Birgit Gebhardt has studied for the last years, focusing on how we have to rethink the office space in order to let it have an important role still to play.

That was the topic of the lecture “The evolution of Smart Working: Rethink human work, redesign your office”, held by the German trend expert during the Brera Design Days at the Dieffebi Showroom, that celebrates for the occasion the first year of opening. Our society, as long as the economic world, is going through a radical structural change: from an industry-focused system, based on concepts like massification and standardization, we are moving toward the digital era where network and data produce a massive layer of information that help us to focus and produce at an individual scale.
If once the motto was “bigger, faster, further, cheaper”, nowadays is more like “unique, on the spot, feasible by anybody, as many as needed”.


Communication and collaboration are becoming the core of this new structure and therefore they are changing also the way of designing and living the workplace.
The office can’t be anymore the stiff and hierarchical environment, where the inside is hidden from the outside, but it has to be a transparent, intelligent and malleable space, a stage where competences and performance can happen freely.
A communication via architecture is therefore fundamental, enhancing the different structure and social and psychological features of the collaboration and communication processes, offering a variety of codes and sensual stimulations, that allow the people to build a profitable learning culture.


“Learning” is another keyword of the future office. In fact, communication and collaboration are not sterile events, but their main focus has to be the developing of personal and group competences and creativity.
The workplace has to become a blended learning space, where like in gaming, everyone is free to try and experiment, where, as Gebhardt suggested no one should be afraid of thinking in a totally different direction”. We need to create, therefore, a “landscape of learning”, based on a free and constant process, and on a good self-organization.


At the same time, it is necessary to create an environment where design and people are strictly connected, entangled, and capable of freely modifying one another. “A space that can’t be too designed: you need to touch it, to change it. If it is too designed, people won’t touch it”. So it is not just the human being to adapt to the situation, but it also the other way around. A stimulating space, finally, is a workplace where people are allowed also “not to focus”. As neuroscience shows, to be creative we need alpha waves that our brain produces when we are not too concentrated on one particular task. That’s why another catchphrase of the future office might be “Let it happen”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures from New Work Order by Birgit Gebhardt
1. The School of Athen, Raphael: a model for the nowadays office space
2. The metaphorical pictograms used by Rosan Bosch
3. Ørestad Gymnasium, Denmark, picture by Adam Mørk.



Real Estate and the Human Experience in the office.

The workplace is more than a property, is a living ecosystem, where numerous experiences take place. The study by JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle’s brand name)Workplace powered by Human Experience” underlines three most important drivers: Engagement, Fulfilment and Empowerment. Real Estate is confirmed to be a powerful changing factor, leading a company through the present and future challenges.

“As workplace strategy moves from practical, design-based decision making to a more experience-led approach, expect an overlap with functions that have traditionally been the domain of HR teams. This will impact workspace design and decision-making”, with these words Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research di JLL Corporate Solutions, comments on their report “Workplace powered by Human Experience”.

The research was run over 40 client companies and 7.300 people (age 18-65), in 12 different countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, italy, Japan, India, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, U.S.A. and Great Britain.

The study has found that there are three priorities to drive the change: Engagement, Empowerment and Fulfilment. Engagement means fostering a sense of commitment and creating mutual trust and kindness. Empowerment, instead, is about giving people a sense of control in their working environment and the opportunity to take the initiative, while fulfilment can be achieved making sure work feels comfortable “beyond the surface level of happiness”, giving the chance to grow professionally in a challenging environment.


Some key findings of the research are that spaces dedicated to collaboration and teamwork have the strongest impact on productivity, that agility improve performance, and that effectiveness is linked to a low density in the workplace.
The innovative offices are the ones that offer a mixture of collaborative and community spaces, support services and creative environments. Additionally, 28% of the companies provide an incubator, a dedicated space enabling colleagues and external talent to develop personal projects while making use of the company infrastructure, support and advice.


70% of the interviewed people agree that happiness at work is the key ingredient for a good human experience, while the 54% see positively Chief Happiness Officer should be fully devoted to employee wellbeing. While large corporations are still attractive, employees crave an entrepreneurial culture: 46% of employees aspire to work in a start-up environment.
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes beyond a work-life balance” Marie Puybaraud concludes. “It drives how people feel about their place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human experiences”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.




A Joyful Work in a Liquid Society: A Joyful Sense at Work (Workplace 3.0, hall 24)

Our attention is focused on the relationship between Work and Happiness. We are living in a liquid society, where social relationships and the individual experience are constantly composing and recomposing, and there is an individual who manages to achieve his aims in a nourishing and fecund work environment will be Joyful. “We have to ask ourselves the Workplace’s Sense, prior to redefining the shape” quoted Cristiana Cutrona, curator of “A Joyful Sense at Work”, the cultural installation we can enjoy at Salone del Mobile – Workplace 3.0, hall 24.

“Liquid organisations correspond to a way of working that pushes us to be more and more fast, efficient, flexible, nomadic, ubiquitous, synchronous, connected: a new era in which the technological evolution is no longer merely a scientific issue, but one that also impinges on the realms of biology, psychology and cognition. This change has altered our relationship with technology, space and time: 4-dimensional chronotopical reality is the stage for the unforeseeable phenomena of the universe, all of them.
It’s time to compose the dialectic between the inherent stiffness of form and the temporary nature of needs, which you define in its particular declination of adaptability.


Let us define the spatial model of the new WorkPlace “Adaptive”, as in adaptability to the creative possibility of managing unexpected and unforeseeable situations (serendipity) both in the long term and at a moment’s notice and to the intrinsic ability to evolve and devolve, to adapt to the need to recreate a space that can at once be open, fostering coworking, and a place for concentration and individual working.
The building needs to free itself from constraints, meshes and grids, office products need to go back to their essential and archetypal forms, simple and modular, capable of offering innumerable options for aggregation and reconfiguration, part Lego, part the cardboard box that every child looks at and imagines a world, which he builds in the space/time of the imagination.
The office shakes off its static image and enters the era of the stage, of creativity and imagination.” Cristiana Cutrona explains.


(The upper sketchs of A Joyful Sense at Work are by Consuline Architetti Associati lighting designer of the installation).

The installation is a poetic representation of the new WorkPlace: a landscape ready to change, simple to understand and use, the backdrop for theatre of improvisation, a stage set ripe for appropriation.
A luminous sculpture, suspended like a ribbon of clouds, represents the man-technology-space-time relationship and serves as a metaphor for a particular new sphere bound up with well-being: we need to take stock of the meteorology of the emotions (as Francesco Schianchi says).
The areas devoted to needs (Concentration, Sharing, Creativity) converge in a large central piazza, four closed structures contain projects by the 4 international architectural firms invited to interpret “A Joyful Sense at Work”.
From sotto the Italian firm 5+1AA founded by Alfonso Femia and Gianluca Peluffo; from east Ahmadi Studio by the Iranian architect Arash Ahmadi; from north the Dutch UnStudio and Scape founded by Ben van Berkel and Jeff Povlo; from west the American studio O+A baed in San Francisco and founded by f Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander.


Chronotopic System, design by 5+1AA (Italy)
One spends a great deal of his lifetime at work. That is why our commitment and duty should be to transform working time into lifetime.
When we think of the definition “A Joyful Sense at Work”, we immediately think of life and the desire to live our lives to the fullest and sincerely.
We can do this by making the workspace into a chronotopic place, a space that changes according to time and location, a lively place, that is created and modified according to its use and according to the needs and the desires of the people that “live” there.
The workplace of the future will reverse the percentage of static spaces that are fixed and don’t change, towards a majority of changing, dynamic spaces. It is the radicalization of a complex and ever-changing place, that leans or declines on one or more basic elements that are anchoring at the site.


Ham-Dasti, design by Ahmadi Studio (Iran)
This symbolic space enriched with fabrics, carpets, ceramics, paintings and calligraphy want to enclose the essence of different cultures and traditions of this vast geographic area through emotional and symbolic references.
Ahmadi Studio sees the Workplace3.0 as an area in which everyone can find themselves in harmony with nature. The vortex which dynamically surrounds the tree and rises high recall both the movement of the arcades of bazaars and the waterways of Persian gardens. An open space, easily editable according to the needs of those who work. The walls are made of traditional oriental fabrics. The Iranian word that gave the title to the project is Ham-dasti, complicity.
Architect Arash AhmadiI gave through this word, which literally means “Hand in Hand”, a message of harmony, belonging and sharing for the work space of the future.

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Reset, design by UNstudio and Scape (The Nederlands)
Reset is a fully immersive, modular structure that features six scientifically proven stress reduction methods in a playful and interactive way. It is designed to empower people to deal with stress more effectively—especially aimed at the workplace. Two protoypes, housing the stress reduction methods ‘Intimacy’ and ‘Sound’, are featured in this exhibition.
The ‘Sound’ pod is built on sound therapy principles, while the ‘Intimacy’ pod is all about inspiring calm. Prior to experiencing the active versus passive experience, visitors register their names and are fitted for both an EMOTIV Insight EEG brain sensor and an ECG heart monitor watch. Once the sensors are reading, they are ready to go.
RESET serves dual goals. In line with the quantified self (self-tracking with technology for self-knowledge), the sensors inform the pod which in turn adapts its physical environment to the user’s state. And using a special algorithm, it generates a Reset Index, personalised feedback that recommends the most appropriate stress relief methods for the visitor.


The Water Cooler, design by O+A (USA)
For over 25 years O+A has been at the forefront of a revolution in workplace design. Drawing on a West Coast culture that makes core values of experimentation and innovation, O+A dives into the aesthetics of space design with a playfulness and irreverence that has changed the way we think about work. The future of workplace is now.
This exhibit posits a radical re-thinking of the work environment, an entryway to space, both physical and mental, that releases us to think creatively and provides a respite from the stresses of the day.
Like water changing properties according to its form, the new office will change to meet a user’s need. O+A envisions that need in four postures, four ways to interact with space, four ways to interact with work.


Starpool at Workplace 3.0: neuroscience and wellbeing in the office.

Creating wellness in the working environment through new technologies and neuroscience is gonna be one of the main topics at the Salone Ufficio 2017. Starpool will so present his project “Zero-gravity mindfulness”, focusing on two products that create a new way of the office space to take care of the people working in: the dry floating experience of Zerobody and the meditation tracks of Nu Relax.

As it is shown by their claim Wellness Concept @Work, Starpool has always been a company focused on designing services and environment to support the wellbeing in the office. Lately, neuroscience’s findings have changed the way of approaching to this goal. “Mindfulness and inner balance are more and more required at work”, Riccardo Turri, Ceo Starpool. “Zerobody and Nu Relax are conceived like a bridge between the office environment and the scientific research. Knowing how our brain actually works is going to be important to improve our lifestyle in the next future”.
The project “Zero-gravity Mindfulness” (Mindfulness a gravità zero) at Salone del Mobile 2017 aims to create a connection between the new technologies and the last findings of neuroempowerment.

The table Zerobody, designed by Cristiano Mino and realized in collaboration with Neocogita, brings in the office the dry floating experience, a stress relief method, based on the sensation of feeling light like “being on a cloud”. Enveloping softly the body, the water heated mattress of Zerobody creates an ideal physical condition to concentrate and to improve the mental performances.
“Brain is flexible, it gets better or worst depending on how much and how we use it”, says Nicola de Pisapia, Neocogita’s founder. “The dry floating experience takes the person to a meditative condition that activates and thickens important cerebral areas”.
The Nu Relax’s six audio-guided meditation tracks, instead, are all based on scientific protocols and traditional practices like yoga. Nu Relax has being developed to help to face the different challenges and situations we have to deal with during a normal working day: relax, balance, creativity, calm, clarity of mind and brilliance.
Text by Gabriele Masi.


The office way to wellbeing: PwC Switzerland by Evolution Design.

The PwC Switzerland offices in Basel by Evolution Design offer a new horizon for the working environment design, taking the concept of work-life balance further: can a workplace teach how to stay healthy through the space?Working healthy is about far more then ergonomics” explains Stefan Camenzind, executive director. Creating health and energy is about keeping yourself active without forgetting rest and relaxation, building a positive attitude and eating healthy.

Concentrating on the connection between wellbeing and productivity is on of the most interesting trends of the working environment design. The PwC offices in Basel follows the Evolution Design’s recipe, a subtle blend of creativity, planning and humanity, providing variety and choice of workspaces, with a particular attention to the role of informal environments and networks, focusing on individual needs such as relaxation, nutrition and empowerment.

“Since they already offer pilates and yoga classes, we focused on how the workplace design can support more movement. Keeping active is crucial for energy and health”, Camenzind says. The project has three main kinds of environment: a desk area where everyone can work on his own projects, feeling still part of a team environment,  called “The Focus Space”; a “Quiet Zone”, with private spaces where it’s possible to concentrate without interruption or noise; and a “Team Space” with large shared desks, whiteboards and walls on which it’s possible to pin project work, ideal for group projects and tasks. The different furniture of each spaces, from sofas to cafe tables and stools allows everyone to find his own favorite setting. All the workers are also free to choose and use the room they need and like, following the feelings and mood.

But energy it is not just about movement, sometimes it requires rest. A peculiar feature of the PwC offices is the “Relaxation Room”, with natural motifs, with low-level lighting and music, massage chairs and the MetroNap Energy Pod, especially designed for taking power naps.  “I know it sounds strange to take a nap at work, but in the future people who don’t take time out to relax will be seen as irresponsible”, Stefan Camenzind comments.
Another peculiarity is the attention given to the food as a symbol of a correct lifestyle: a series of graphics are drawn throughout the office space to remind and motivate people to eat well, while healthy snacks, fruit and water are also on offer.

An healthy lunch is also served at the 7th floor rooftop restaurant, while different coffee areas and social hub are spread throughout the space, encouraging informal meetings where ideas can be shared and improve the creativity.
The Evolution Desing’s creative director Tanya Ruegg concludes: “Empowering people. The design here is all about making it easy and enjoyable for workers, in oder to do a task in the best way possible. It’s functional, but also emotional.”
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Peter Wurmli.

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Buxkin: creative recycle design.

Sustainability and recycling: the dutch company Buxkin turns wastes into a WOW! material for design, as Marco Iannicelli has shown with his chair made of the ribbed minced leather collection and presented at the Live Work Design by Archiproducts at FuoriSalone 2016.

Recycling and sustainability are the keywords of new attention that goes beyond the mere object, claiming a new wider vision of the creativity and industrial process and their impact over the environment and the society.
“Our products are made of recycled, waste or natural material. It’s our mission to contribute to solving the waste problem in the world”, Jan Veldhoen e Wilma Dijkgraaf, Buskin founders, says. “We prefer natural materials because they are the most comfortable. What makes them unique too is the special look & feel: they look tough, but feel soft”.
Buxkin’s material, mainly made of felt and leather, also combined together, can be used for walls, floors and objects, coming in three different patterns: flat, ribbed and lines.

“What also makes our products special is the great acoustic value”, they underline.“Echos are reduced, because of the ribbed structure and by making perforations and working in combination with felt, offering the best, natural, acoustic product someone you could ever want”.
An example of the use of Buxkin material is the chair by Marco Ianicelli, a chair designed in two different ways: “The material is flexible but not really applicable as a three-dimensional material, which I accepted as a challenge”, the designer said. “I made several models and made two prototypes for different purposes. The wooden oak chair has a hexagonal framework and is designed as a lounge/arm chair. The steel chair presented at Archiproducts is a ‘freischwinger’ that is very springily and purposed for more official environments. The back strut reminds of a rudimentary backrest”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Art at the milanese Chapman Taylor’s offices.

An efficient and flexible space, a place with a strong identity: for their milanese office Chapman Taylor have chosen an old oil and distillery warehouses, restructured into a functional environment capable to promote the new WOW and to integrate different professional competences. The symbol of the creativity and the mutual exchange, fundamental principle of the company’s  history.

When the Chapman Taylor offices in Pietrasanta st. in Milan was inaugurated, more than 150 people attended the event in which the company told its story, through videos, installations and live performance. The inauguration involved directly the public in an interactive game/exhibition where the attendants were invited to show themselves establishing a relationship of mutual exchange.

“Mutual exchange” is the idea that stands behind the project that involves 350 sqm space with more than 40 workstations, some of which are dedicated to coworking for professionals, freelancers an collaborators.
An exchange also with the history of the building, a location that has already gone through many adaptations over the years from warehouse as well as a creative centre for theaters, photography studios, and a design school. That why the approach applied to the reinvention of the buildings is soft and conservative, as it is shown by the retention of original window frames and and the use of steel to realise them, the curvature of the vaulted arches in the roof is retained, the restoration of walls to bring out the red bricks, and the reopening of two previous closed windows.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Glamour cardboard, outdoor too.

Creativity, sustainability and a high quality design: the eco-friendly collection Anime di Carta (Paper soul) by Staygreen, presented at the FuoriSalone 2016, gives a new perspective on cardboard as a WOW! materials to create different kind of objects from chairs, tables to lamps and bookcases.

Light, ductile and recyclable: these characteristic, as we have already talked about, make Cardboard one of the most interesting materials we have seen at FuoriSalone 2016.
The innovative vision by Staygreen and its collection Anime di Carta is to turn a poor material with a raw look reputation, into a high design material, showing its glamour side.
Developed in collaboration with different designers as Robertopamio+partners and Setsu & Shinobu Ito, the collection take the eco-friendly theme to another level, not only for the materials (cardboard and natural glues extract from pea starch), but also in the process, managing the energy consumption and reducing waste.
The collection is based on different kind of object as chairs, bookcases, lamps or other furnishing accessory, thought for different environment, office and home, outdoor and indoor, thanks to the covering Solid Green, suitable for all the elements of the collection.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

1. Jvett, Omm, Stone.
Jvett is Staygreen’s symbol: made by a multilayer poplar and steel legs, it can come in different covering as eco-leather, cotton or leather. The shape of table Stone is inspired by a rock smoothed by the water, while the bookcase Omm (150 cm height; 32 cm thickness; 38 kg)  recalls to the perfection of the circle: both of them present the typical Staygreen’s double-cardboard-wave structure.
2. BOTTO sofà. Designed by the japanese Setsu & Shinobu Ito, along with STAY Chair, BOTTO sofà is a complete couch with pouffe and a compartment for glasses and bottles, that makes it ideal for welcoming spaces and lounges.
3. @Luce shape. Staygreen’s collection present a rich line of lamps and table lamps. @Luce Shape, with the elegant curve of its stem, is made, as well, by a double kraft cardboard wave structure.
4.. Jarres.  Jarres is one of the totemic vase with Amphora, presented at FuoriSalone 2016. The innovative audio system they are equipped with, make them original loudspeakers with a strong visual impact.

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Can music increase the productivity?

Music can be really an help in a working environment, lowering the stress, improving concentration, giving energy and, as it was shown by different academical studies and by the experience of Plantonics and Spotify, increasing the productivity. Anyway not all the musics are suitable for the office and not all the jobs are “music-friendly”. In general the findings say that a free and personal listening should be encourage.

Since school, music in a working environment has made always turn up someone’s nose. Today, though, thanks to different studies carried out by different academic institutions, as the british University of Sheffield and the Canadian University of Windsor from the 70s, this idea has made way to different considerations.
“The effects of the music over the mood and the motivan are indisputable”, Philip Vanhoutte, EMEA Managing Director di Plantronics, recently affirmed. “That is because music shares with life the concept of a ripetitive rhythm and has the same language of the thought”, the pianist Giulio Cassano, that will open the WOW! Concert of the 21st May, added.

Music, of course, has a wide spectrum of different kinds, and not all of these are suitable for working: classical and ambient electronica music, for its constant rhythmic patterns, along with video game music and natural soundscape are perfect for repetitive kind of jobs.
Music helps to lower the stress, evoking positive sensations and, as Teresa Lesiuk of the University of Windsor demonstrates, if the employees are free to listen to it “when they want as they want”, it helps to promote the happiness in the workplace.
The jobs the music have a better impact on are the ones where a good capacity of focusing is required, as computer designer, or creative or ripetitive ones, while it can have a negative effects on roles which have to deal with people, as directors, making managers or secretaries.
Lastly it is worths to underline that lyrics, high volume and excessive guitar riffs are detrimental, but a medium volume helps also to isolate himself from a noisy working environment.
Text by Gabriele Masi.



Spotify: when the music shapes the space.

Energy and creativity: these are the key concepts of the Spotify’s offices in Milan, designed by Adolfsson&Partner. Two ideas connecting design and music, as a source of inspiration, freedom, collaboration and wellbeing. A colourful working environment where everyone can freely express himself.

660 workstations, 75 meeting rooms over 5 floors and more than 8 thousands sqm, designed to satisfy the modern equation of the working environment design: happiness = more productivity. Spotify, the famous swedish commercial music streaming service, has put into in all its offices around Europe, including Milan, its mission and corporate philosophy through the space, making its employees experience it everyday.

The color is the main peculiarity that first strikes you entering the space, especially in the furniture and on the walls, where graffitis are a leitmotif that characterise most of the rooms. Other features makes the Spotify’s offices an example of the new ways of working concepts: the attention paid for the the break and in between areas, the informality of the space, the kitchen and all the space allowing to cook and eat directly in the office, the use of design elements as working tools, as the 700 meters wall paper that can be utilised by everyone as a blackboard.
An office inspired by the music, core business of Spotify, where music beats the time of the working day, emphasise the home feeling sensation and team working. “In our office we listen to collaborative playlist to be motivated”, Angela Watts, Spotify’s VP of Global Communication, says. “Everyone can contribute with his own taste and no one feels left apart”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.





Chaos at FuoriSalone 2016.

Chaos is the rule of the universe and the way to interpretate our time. From this point of view the School of Design PoliMi’s exhibition “Caos” was born. During the Milano Design Week 2016, 14 scale models of suggestive residential setting brought at Palazzo Litta a reflection over the contemporary society and the way we are living in it.

Chaos is a powerful energy, not only a negative and destructive one, but also something capable to unchain our creativity. The MA students of School of Design PoliMi of Milan designed an installation of 14 scale models that reflects the way of organising the domestic space and the life of who lives in it, driven by creativity, music, fashion and human relationships.
After the last year exhibition about the aesthetics of the extreme poverty, Caos was one of the most interesting reflection over our contemporaneity at FuoriSalone 2016.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

1. Assillo, di Alice Borroni, Martina Cornaggia, Minghong Ou, Eleonora Trombi.
Chaos needs new point of views over the world to be tamed. The window is the symbol of this new gaze, capable of fixing the images in the memory.
2. Elogio alla follia, di Flavia De Meo, Ambra Seliziato, Serena Caponetti, Matteo Bracelli.
A mountain of packaging in messy atelier and an ever changing graphic installation: this is the madness of the contemporary collector in a consumerist economy, following the aesthetic of the chaos.
3. Animi Quaestio, by Fabiana Rodenas, Marina Spini, Giovanni Taglialatela, Valentina Teruzzi.
The chaos produced by religious wars is here represented by books, which stand for our personal and spiritual culture. We have a choice: the rationally of the attic or the irrationalily of the basement.
4. Di sola apparenza, by Olivia Mastrapasqua, Chiara Molene, Carlotta Montagna, Elena Sofia Nascimbeni.
In a messy society, an irrational order based on colours replaces a logical one. This solution creates a fake order, where it is impossible to find what you are looking for.

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Cardboard and Wood: #din2016.

150 designers, more than 100 thousands visitors and different workshops and events: Din-Design In 2016 by Promotedesign.it has hosted successfully the best of self-made produced design and industrial at FuoriSalone 2016, where two antithetical materials like cardboard and wood stimulated creativity, versatility, experiments and innovation.

“This edition had very good results: very positive is the feedback I received from the exhibitors telling me that they met different buyers coming from different countries”. With these words Vincenzo Carbone, founder of Din-design In, has shown his satisfaction about the fourth edition of the exposition dedicated to the best of self-made produced design.
An exhibition that expresses the will of investigate the potential of a flexible, light and poor material like cardboard, of which all the set-up is made, and in particular the temporary shop by Carton Factory and the Conference Area and the InfoPoint by A4Adesign.
The company has also presented different products like the bookshelf Bookstack, the dish Plato, the chair and the couch Heaverest. Cardboard finds his way also in the office, where helloStandy has designed a practical and easy-to-use “extension” to turn every normal desk in a standing one.
While this material needs to be still fully experimented, wood is the classic, but still always open to new solutions and capable to stimulate the designer’s imagination.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

 Opening. Area Conference, A4Adesign. A Conference area made entirely by cardboard.
Havearest armchair, A4Adesign. The Havearest collection includes also a two-seats  sofa and a three seats one. All the objects were realised using recycling cardboard.
2. Standy +, helloStandy. The first standing desk made by cardboard, easy to open, close and place.
3. Playwood, Stefano Guerrieri. A wooden easy-to-use and practical modular furniture system.
Bookstack, A4Adesign. A Bookshelf made in cardboard, allowing a free configuration over four different levels.

No space for boring offices at #VL16.

Office as inspiration and innovation but also as a stimulating, young and dynamic habitat for creative talents. Ventura Lambrate, the FuoriSalone 2016’s area dedicated to new designers, offered some interesting ideas about the way the new generations see the working environment. From the innovative cardboard standing desk helloStandy, to the furniture of the In Our Office project by MA Lund University’s students, to Space Encounters’s Boring Collection, Milano Design Award’s Best Concept prize.

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Ergonomics and Wellbeing
are a priority for the Millennials, but often the offices of young designers or companies seem to be too small to become a productive a enjoyable working environment. To solve this problem the MA students from Lund University (Sweden), School of Industrial Design, has developed In Our Office, a concept of 12 pieces of furniture designed for young creative talents’ offices.

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The furniture itself create a cooperative and funny way of living the working environment: bunk or roll-away workstations, pop-up furniture landscapes, innovative solutions to increase either acoustic insulation and the need of privacy and concentration, blurring the line between informal and working environment and at the same time allowing to maximise the space.

Healthy and capable of promoting dynamic ways of working: standing desks are a new trend in the office. Sometimes, however, it is impossible to change all the furniture or the interior design of a working environment to make space for them. That’s why Matteo Cracco and Federico De Megni created helloStandy, a simple and easy-to-open 50x50cm foldable cardboard square, 5mm thick, that allows to turn a normal workstation into a standing desk in few seconds.The synthesis of these projects lays in the concept behind the installation-happening Boring Collection, designed by Space Encounters for Lensvelt: sometimes it is not only about furniture, but about the vital energy that a workspace can emanate.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Opening Zip it, Rae Bei-Han Kuo. A workplace always have distracting noise or annoying colleagues that don’t allow to concentrate properly on work. Zip It! is a sound insulator chair that can assume different configuration, allowing to live freely the interaction with the working environment.
1. Umbrella, Malin Yngvesson. A lamp created to facilitate privacy and concentration in the workspace, a shield from distraction.
2. Bunk Desk, André Gunnarsson. A smart solution for small offices with chatting problems: a “bunk desk” for new perspectives.
3. Workaround, Sofie Aschan Eriksson. A plastic and wood system, pop-up furniture landscape transforming along with the different activities and needs within a small scale office: a tool for creating trust and relations within a space.
4. helloStandy, Federico De Megni and Matteo Cracco. Presented at FuoriSalone 2016 the “desk extension” was designed to promote a new, healthier and more dynamic way of working”.

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A joyful sense at work at Salone del Mobile 2016.

One year to go before the next Salone Ufficio 2017 (Worplace 3.0, April 4/9th 2017), but Assufficio’s project will already reveal its guide themes at Salone del Mobile 2016.
A fascinating installation designed by Cristiana Cutrona inspires you to find the sense of work (the meaning as well as the direction) to approach the design of a workplace in a new way.

Artistic videos and site-specific scultures, sounds and synaesthesia, references to classic architecture to reflect upon the identity of work according to human needs, which is the real cornerstone of the design of a new, flexible and smART structure for the workplace.
The installation “A joyful sense at work” refers to the quality of life, the anthropocentric approach to a new Humanism, to a cultural revolution that aims at giving happiness to mankind.

We are at the ending of the Cartesian culture where everything is pre-arranged and also the workplace must be a vibrating and changing web of data and actions, the result of the user-environment interaction. The key words are porosity, transversality, resilience and now the designer’s role is to mediate all needs” quotes architect Cristiana Cutrona, founder of ReValue.
Inside three big “cupolas” – Byzantine, Gothic and of the Renaissance – three symbolic areas represent the basic requirements of the new ways of working.
Concentration (the Latin  Domus), Sharing (the Italian Piazza), Creativity (the harbour from where every journey begins).
The installation has been realized with the collaboration of Filippo Riniolo (multimedia installation), Roberta Maddalena and Tommaso Melideo of Studio Quantica (site-specific usable sculptures) curated by Francesco Cascino.



Immuro: facades and urban skins to hang and to wear.

Immuro is a perfect example of Italian creativity and entrepreneurship. It is a hybrid of photography, art, interior design and fashion. This project captures facades in metamorphosis from Beijing to Venice. These textures, printed on silk or other fabrics, are transformed into elegant scarfs, soft blankets or large pictures to hang: good ideas for a unique and luxury Christmas present.

City walls in metamorphosis, as living entities in stained transformation that in time give form to unique textures: to a reborn skin. With their colours, staines, fractures and insinuated shadows they are testimonial masks to the fortuitous meandering of life as experienced by a portion of surface where day after day, new strata give testimony to our ephemeral reality evidenced by structured chromatic matter of infinite variety and beauty.

Ri.Co, photographer, interior designer and creator of the Immuro project, captures these urban fragments and their recondite history photographically and gives silken expression to their calling through the creation of fantastic and emotional Urban skins.This project has already enjoyed great success in fashion and in several exhibitions in the best hotels and in collateral art events on the occasion of the Biennale Art in Venice. Prices range from 90 euros for the silk scarf, to 900 euros for the huge pictures to hang. You can buy directly on the e-commerce site Immuro.



Now We Work.

Now We Work is a study by Il Prisma carried out together with Politecnico, Laboratorio di Neuroscienze Applicate GTechnology and Università Cattolica di Milano. The research edited by McGraw Hill has involved architects, psychologists and neurologists, in order to define the office of the future, a place stimulating greater productivity, creativity and well-balanced interactions. Perhaps, as Carlo Galimberti pointed out, we’ll find some “manifest truths”, but no doubt it’s an interesting method to design the offices of innovation.

The goal wasn’t to find The solution, but rather to suggest a planning taking into considerations also the five senses on defining materials, lights and smells.
The text points out a multisensory path as a resource to carry out non-neutral offices.
The methodology Redefine your Habits created and applied by Il Prisma gives up the concept  “design with”, replaced with the “design for” approach and renders Smart Working and the social requirement to live one’s relation with work at best, through places which are really on a human scale and for the benefit of the community.
Now We Work concerns the design problems of the contemporary office.
The goal is not to offer ready solutions and standards, but give scientific foundation to the process of defining the needs of society in the process of transformation of spaces, in order to carry out a project on her sewing aspirations.
Workplaces, in the Western world, are being transformed into places that are more used for discussion than production. Mobility, made possible by technological innovations, and the need, to produce new ideas in order to be able to play a role on the scene of global capitalism, has generated dynamics which, for the sake of brevity we will simply list here: home office, remote working and co-working. Today, workers are defined knowledge workers, in search of places that make their creative activity easier. These places are no longer traditional offices but spaces that are effective for discussion, communication and training. Smart working is talked of, understood as letting people work where and when they want, insofar as they produce results, cutting costs and respecting the planet. We believe that reaching the shape of the spaces, their architectural design, requires knowledge and understanding of these dynamics. The client is a complex subject. A company often has a lengthy approval process, it has several souls coexisting in it and it does not necessarily have a clear idea of the type of transformation.
The architect needs to discuss with experts
in other fields in the phase of defining the requirements of the client, often a multinational corporation. Often normal information acquisition for a project is delivered as a list of work groups, each with their own place in the environment. The information is deduced to an observation of what is already present and not an in-depth reality of the company’s needs. This vision is partial and only provided by one interpretation, that of who has been assigned to manage the process.
The analysis process and participatory design of Redefine Your Habits offered by Il Prisma originates from the same motivations and needs that are pushing companies and architecture studios towards more conscious and multidisciplinary design. It is not only a spatial change; beyond the physical and architectural sphere there is the involvement of the behavioural and technological ones. Introducing innovative solutions, such as the possibility of working in part of the office environment by simply bringing one’s own technology, can work if the physical creation of space is joined with the contextual education of the company’s population on how to properly use the environments, for example, to work towards objectives that go beyond the technical ability to design and structure them. The objective of our process is therefore to gather information that will be used as a design tool in office space design. It is a process that includes a series of cognitive moments, both qualitative and quantitative.
The architect needs, also, to verify some intuitions aimed at transforming the standards defined by legislation and regulations on comfort inside the offices (for example, the use of lights, materials, soundproofing systems). For example, the standards laid down by legislation in Italy for the lighting of work stations are no longer adequate for the use of PCs and iPads. We consulted neurologists and psychologists, seeking conformation for certain intuitions.
We related two experiments in the text published and entitled Now we work. Progettare gli uffici dell’innovazione (Now we work. Planning the offices of innovation), written together with the Università Cattolica of Milan, the Politecnico of Milan and the Laboratory of Applied Neurosciences of the GTechnology.


Safilo: activity based office and dynamic layout. 

A dynamic active based layout office can be the first step towards the smart working. The Safilo’s HQ and logistical centre in Padova begins its revolution with an innovative space: waving and coloured workspace’s layouts, movable partitions, informal furniture, and a great attention paid to the worker’s comfort.

Safilo, the world famous italian glassware company, is starting a dynamic transformation, embracing the new ways of working’s paradigms. A delicate transition that the internal team, leaded by the CEO Luisa Delgado, have decided to begin from a space transformation, from individual offices to an open space.
The redeveloping of the workplace was curated by the project team composed by: Roberto Lazzaroni -Facility Manager, Caterina Cedrone -Interior Design manager, Sofia Silvestrelli -Design Facility Specialist, Veronica Tamiazzo -Graphic Designer. The new layout fits the evolution of the company towards a more international approach. A change still in progress, with more than 1300 sqm already completed and capable to host up till 900 people, based on precise drivers.

First of all “invite and surprise” with a curvy layout of desks (Tecno), a coloured space that encourages creativity and encounters, informal furniture, as pouf or free-standing meeting room, to create a more relaxing and collaborative atmosphere.
Than a space that encourage the workers to look for their own most comfortable way of working, with ergonomic and flexible seats, and with a desk layout to optimise the angle of incidence of the solar light on the monitors.
That’s also why the Safilo’s internal team decided to design a multifunctional area for breaks and informal gatherings.
In addition there are meeting areas closed by glass partition walls (Universal Selecta) to provide  privacy and concentration. At last an “efficient space” easy to reconfigure and thought to give the best acoustic and climatic comfort, characterized by an engaging color design.
A big effort was also made to create a safe environment, controlling the access to the most “delicate” areas of the company, as the R&D’s area where all the products of Safilo’s brands, as Carrera or Polaroid, are designed.
Text by Gabriele Masi.