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“.

04-Fondazione Agnelli-termobolla-Carlo Ratti Associati-wow-webmagazine

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.




Will technology create happy workplaces?

Augmented reality, cloud services, wearable devices, IoT: these are the four technologies that are changing our ways of working and living, and these are the tools we can use to start to build a happy office: they increase our ability to manage our time, our relationships, the environment we live in, our professional growth. These are the main findings of the research i-Enjoy by Sedus, presented with the app se:connects for agile and smart working spaces.

Technology can give a crucial support in the office, either it is “passive”, meaning as a tool for a better environmental comfort, either “active”, for an implementation of the working activities. Technology really has several advantages like a better organization of the working time and space and a better “ergonomics” of the intellectual work, leaving all the repetitive stuff to the machines and leaving to the humans the creative part”, Daniele Andriolo of Plantronics says in the main interview of the Sedus’ s study i-Enjoy. “But we have to be careful that the massive data we continuously collect, won’t let us lose the sight of what really counts”, he concludes.


The fast development of technology in the working spaces is rapidly changing our working culture, making employees a more active part in the organizations that, on the other hand, has increasingly focused on the individual wellbeing.
If talking about happiness at work means also talking about engagement, fulfilment and empowerment, therefore technology can have a key role to turn the office in a place where a big part of our happiness can be pursued.
Already nowadays we can see augmented reality tools or cloud servers creating a faster and more transparent communication, while dedicated apps and software as Happify Health or Awesome Boss take care of the people, giving to employees tools to motivate themselves or to effectively manage the teamwork.

Space and time are very much affected by the technology and most of all architecture and design. New concepts like “environmental happiness” leads to build spaces that are easy to control in every aspect: heating, lighting, planning, scheduling,… On the other hand, IoT and wearable devices are perfect to collect useful data, intercepting and elaborating people’s preferences, and helping to design offices that are capable of satisfying employees’ needs.

A good example is the Sedus’s app se:connects, especially designed for helping to solve some of the main problems of the changing towards agile and smart ways of working: using their smartphone, employees can easily find a free workstation, register their position and be able to find their colleagues. These data are collected in a complete and updated report that gives all the information to optimize the usage of the space, making the company and the workers both happier.
Text by Gabriele Masi.



Body, Mind and Environment: a 3D wellness in the office.

If anyone has to pick up a concept to sum up the nowadays evolution of the workplace, he would choose “feeling good”. As the biopsychosocial model has become used to defined wellness and health, the environment has been understood to have a fundamental role in shaping the different dimensions of employees’ well-being: physical, psychological and social.

Do you want to improve the level of well-being of the employees working in your company? Start from the environment they live in. The environment, infact, as also the OMS has recognized, highly affects the physical, mental and social state of humans. In the office design, as well, this concept has become essential to build the scaffold of a healthy and productive working ecosystem.


Today’s office design is taking a step forward, in order to keep the workers healthy and therefore more productive. Problems and diseases of the musculoskeletal system due to wrong, long-lasting sitting positions, for example, are prevented by dynamic ways of working, agile workstations, sit-stand working desks, or unusual seats like the Technogym’s wellness ball or the ones that Kinnarps has presented at the last Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.

Also, the arrival of the IoT has played a fundamental role, helping to improve the quality of the air, the lighting and heating system, allowing also to personalize them through personal smartphones.
Moreover, other services in the office are thought to encourage the employee to take care of themselves: company restaurants with healthy menus and fully equipped gyms come along with wellness rooms and dedicated doctor’s appointment.


If you’ve never heard about happiness at work at work, probably you have been in another planet for the last years. The working environment and HR management get inspiration from the marketing and advertising industries as “creator of experiences”, while it resembles more and more to a theme park, where anyone can try fun and different things. The keyword is “human experience”, a mix of engagement, fulfillment, and empowerment, capable of successfully leading the company through the future challenges.

A new interesting trend comes from the new findings from neuroscience that have brought in the office a new concept of equipped relax areas, music, and spaces capable of reducing stress and facilitate concentration, even in noisy and dynamic open spaces.

Hoofddorp, 19th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

Casual meeting as the occasion of new and original ideas. The office design aims to increase the chance of encounter among employees (in-between, break and informal meeting areas) and between the inside and the outside of the company (co-working spaces attracts external professionals while more frequently curious customers visit the exhibition spaces, attend classes or use the services offered by the company’s environment).

The symbol of the social experience of the workplace is the ever-present foosball table and the Dutch Plantronics office’s rehearsal room, while couches, armchairs and kitchen spaces enhance the home-feeling that a working space nowadays has to give. A good work-life balance, at last, helps to live more easily the working environment experience: company’s kindergartens, pets in the office, agile and smart working strategies are just some examples of the more and more blurred boundaries between office and private life.
Text by Gabriele Masi.





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.



Cassina-Plaza-cbre-wow-webmagazine V2

“Be”, being well: a human-centred redevelopment.

Being well, productive, connected, innovative: the verb “to Be” is the centre of the contemporary workplace. The requalification of the business district in Cassina De’ Pecchi, next to Milan, by InvestiRE, design a modern vital village, thought to promote a productive interaction and wealthy working environment, through different services and integrating the outdoor and indoor space in the same concept. CBRE is the exclusive agent.

Nowadays revitalizing a working environment can’t be just about re-designing spaces and furniture. Evening if the “packaging” still plays a fundamental role, the core of the Real Estate project must be the “human experience” created by integrating internal and external spaces and services given by the company.


That’s the concept that has driven the project of the requalification of the 40.000 sqm of the business district in Via Roma 108 in Cassina de’ Pecchi, few kilometers from Milano: productivity, engagement, and collaboration, good health and well-being practices for the people, all these key concepts of the modern workspace are expressed in the simple name that has been chosen: “Be”.


The main building, re-designed by Park Associati, is created to promote socialization and collaboration, balancing private spaces with different environment to share among the companies and external professionals: co-working, meeting rooms, temporary offices and event rooms (up to 110 people).


The peculiarity of the project, however, is the focus on the wellbeing and on the work-life balance of the workers. Along with dedicated space and services such as an healthy restaurant, a full-equipped gym and a nursery school, outiside pedestrian walkways pass through a private green park, with movable and fixed facilities, that aims to create a “continuum” between the space indoor and outdoor, recalling the idea of “The Walk by De Lucchi of a “peripatetic office”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.






Plantronics- livestream tour-wow-webmagazine

The potential of live streaming.

Can the evolution of social media have an impact on the strategy of a company? Plantronics has launched an innovative campaign with the writer Rossella Canevari, one of the most popular italian Periscoper, showing the potential of live streaming in reaching new consumers.

“Since few years ago, people used to find the cutting edge technology on the office place. Nowadays the innovation starts from the consumers. The private experience needs to be shared and turn into an instrument for the company”. With these words Ilaria Santambrogio, italian country manager of Plantronics, introduced the live streaming campaign launched by the american company with Rossella Canevari as testimonial.
The italian writer and Periscope influencer has used the latest Plantronics’s technology to promote her new book “Life Refound” in a live streaming tour of significant cultural event.
Which are the most significant benefits of this new technology?
“Live streaming is something different from other form of communication. It gives an idea of authenticity and spontaneity, while it allows an immediate interaction with the public”, Rossella Canevari said. ”The choice of the testimonial needs to be based not only on the number of the followers of his community, but on their responsiveness and engagement.”
“Our products can be an instrument for this new ways of communicating”, Ilaria Santambrogio concluded. “This campaign is a test: using social media technology to advertise our technology”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Featured image by Franco Covi.


#MilanoDesignWeek: the best 10 installations.

What gives value to an installation? Irony, poetry, engagement, interaction. Among the projects of the Milano Design Week 2016 WOW! has selected the best 10 which unite these aspects with the sense of sustainability and social responsability that has to lead the work of an artist nowadays, like in Shit Evolution by Luca Cipelletti, first prize Milano Design Award @midesignaward.

1. Opening picture: Shit Evolution, Luca Cipelletti.
The international panel lead by Antonio Murras of sixth edition of the Milano Design Award (organised by elita – enjoy living Italy, in collaboration with Fuorisalone.it, IED Istituto Europeo di Design, with the Municipality of Milan and the Milano Fuori Salone committee) selected Shit Evolution as the winner of this edition. “an instructive itinerary that promotes a completely different culture of the design”. The exhibition, curated by the Museo Della Merda, brought different products, such as flooring, stools, tables, dishes and also a toilette, made by a recycle material made by mixing clay and the cow’s poo. A reflection over the responsibility of the designers to promote the use of organic materials.


2. Boring Collection, Lensvelt Contract.
“A project that imagines a new way to tell the office’s products, in a playful and engaging experience”. Boring Collection has won the prize Best Concept.

3. Data Orchestra, ­Jelle Mastenbroek.
A link between technology and poetry, a surreal and unique experience, built with an everyday technology. Dat orchestra was awarded with the Best Technology Prize.
4. The Nature of Motion, Nike.
Telling the brand in a complex but understandable and emotional way. The Nature of Motion won the Best Storytelling prize.
5. KUKAN, Panasonic.
Shuichi Furumi, Masao Ochiai won the people’s chiocce award. 140 55inches screens over 7 pillars invent a new space capable to build a different experience of the japanese world.

6. Imagine new days, Aisin.
The Best Engagement award 2016 is Imagine new days by Masaru Suzuki/Hideki Yoshimoto/Setsu&Shinobu Ito. an installation capable of “mixing in a simple way anagogic and digital, envolving the public in a meaningful and funny journey”.

7. A joyful sense of work, Assufficio. (video)
What makes a #‎ajoifulsenseatwork? Anticipating the Workplace 3.0 2017, Cristina Cutrona designed an installation that invite the public to give their own opinion, an invite to look for the meaning of working.
8. A trip to Sicility, Paola Lenti.
The set up is the Umanitaria’s cloisters, is the result of the meeting between Paolo Lenti and Marella Ferrara. An exposition inspired by the colours and the artisan tradition of Sicily.
9. 50 Manga Chairs, Nendo.
The line, the structure and the concept of the japanese Manga tradition is transfered to 50 chairs exposed and designed by Nendo in an installation commissioned by the new yorker gallery Friedman Benda.
10. The Red Torre Velasca (Tower Velasca), by Ingo Maurer.
The red colour invades the city and becomes the symbol of the Design. Enlightening the Torre Velasca, location of the Audi City Lab, Ingo Maurer made the structure of the most peculiar skyscraper of Milan stand out in the night of Milan, in a suggestive and spectacular way.
Text by Gabriele Masi.


felicità-in azienda-wow-webmagazine

From B2B to H2H. New outlooks for successful companies.

March 20th celebrates the International Day of Happiness resolved by United Nations General Assembly since 2012 to promote this fundamental human need and to define a new Economic Paradigm ,because economic, social and environmental well-being are not divisible.
The International Day of Happiness is also an opportunity to think upon the concept of Happiness at work: an invaluable lever for success, as proved by those companies following policies that take into consideration the employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.

The B2B view doesn’t meet the human beings’ requirements, so a H2H (Human to Human) approach should be chosen by those firms who to flourish, and everybody knows that requirements and human relations are the heart of any business.
Profit and productivity as only goals reveal the organization’s weekness, because people work better and more willingly when they are contented, because they work in a positive climate and feel wanted and respected as human beings.
We posted several case studies of Human Centered companies (Mattel, Sace, Technogym, Coca Cola, for instance).
Great Place to Work awarded every year the Best Companies that have found a new way of being entrepreneurs, not only focused on managerial and productive factors, but also on the relation with the employees, whom they look after like loving mums, offering them life quality, a peaceful ambience, friendly and sustainable surroundings, and great importance is attached to work-life balance, motivation and engagement.
These were the themes of the Jelly Session, “Ten rules for ergonomic design in smart working places” that gave rise to many hints and a lot of different meanings of ergonomics and health procurement.
Ergonomics has taken a holistic nature in the age of Agile Working and even the youngest people are very aware of this issue, as proved by the study carried out by Kinnarps: for Millennials wellbeing is as important as a high pay.
So H2H means that people and their wellbeing prevail over profit.

Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.


The Green Project by Mattel: HR and sustainability.

A sustainable natural environment starts from the office. From this insight Mattel Italy has developed the Green Team, a working group made by voluntary employees, to enforce a “Green” activity capable to engage all the company. All the initiatives were presented during the dedicated Earth Day.

The Mattel Italy’s HR Team initiative, activated & leaded by Paolo Davoglio, Office & Facilities Supervisor, has involved the 12% of the company, mostly women, from five different departments, to conceive some initiatives to engage the community over the role we play in the defence of our environment.
The Green Team has worked on three initiatives inspired by three different natural elements: earth, air and water.
Earth is an event to engage and educate the children, a playful activity to teach the importance of respecting and preserving the green spaces.
Air, instead, promotes the use of car sharing in the company, by a test drive of the Green Team branded electric car organised during the Green Office Day with the motto “Turn off the light, use the stairs and… print just the essential”.
Water is the initiative to promote the use of the tap water in the office in order to reduce the use of plastic glasses and bottles.
Testo di Gabriele Masi.




Space, People , Technology: the Smart Working’s values.

Space – People – Technology. This is the new smart working’s keywords outlined in the meeting Smart Working: Detto, Fatto, organized by DEGW and Lombardini22. Smart working is not something about trends or styles, but is a proper economic and management topic, strictly linked to the company’s goals: a breakthrough towards an innovative business culture based on people management and capable to release energy.

“Today we are going through a real metamorphosis. At this stage, old rules don’t work anymore, but at the same time we are not ready to write new ones. Someone says there will be very few of them in the future”, Matteo Barone, managing partner and Employee Engagement of Methodos, opened the conference with these words.
“Once the 3P rule was considered the base of the organization: people, place, performance. You have a person with a potential, you put him in a place, and you expect a performance. But nowadays everything is changing, since the position paradigm is called into question, while the potential is becoming more important.
It is a breakthrough: less constraints, less perimeters and the chance to give space to all the processes that allow the potential in a company to fully express itself”.

Space. Smart working has changed the conception of the workplace.
Designing a new space, the company has to consider new factors, as the time an employee actually spend in the office (50% of the working time average) or which kind of activities he mostly does (team-working or individual).
As Alessandro Adamo, consultant and DEGW’s director, says: “the most important step to take on the way that leads to smart working is the first, in which you talk about the company’s vision and the goals, when you can consider how and how much is worth to go towards this transition”.
Another main topic about the workspace is sharing. The office design has moved away from fixed workstations, and nowadays it is based on the functionality of the space: each environment is made to be used for particular activities.
Some companies has pushed this innovation forward, developing the “no territoriality” concept, where no one, even the HR, has its own dedicated office or workstation. A choice that implies several problems, as secrecy and privacy.
“There is not only the issue of the space, there is also the issue of the way of using the space”, Alessandro Adamo continues.  ”When you develop different concepts, you need to change your way of acting in the space as well”.
It is worth to underline also the “space-branding”, a fundamental element for representing the business of the company and to make the employees perceive its philosophy, and the break and in-between areas’ development, made for encourage informal meetings, in line with the new ways of working.

People. Smart working requires a mind changing, most of all in leaders, that have to change the base of their leadership from control to accountability.
One of the main changing we can observe nowadays is that top-down organizations are giving way to bottom-up organizations, as also the evolution of the workspace shows.
The main resistance that a company has to face in the smart working’s transformation is the skepticism and suspiciousness of the people, as we already pointed out in the  WOW! Agile Working Island’s Jelly Sessions.
Every project has to answer to the question: how is it possible to turn this fear into enthusiasm?
Designing and engagement, listening and communication, people management and performance management: these are the keywords that must lead every change.
“When the pilot project starts, no one wants to be selected. However turning something you fear into something different bring some indisputable organizational benefits”, Alessandro Adamo concludes. “Once a manager of a company said to me “the mood of the people is changed”. Knowing precisely the effect that this has on numbers is very difficult, but when you change the mood, you automatically affect in a positive way the spirit of the team and the worker’s perception of the organization. And automatically you increase the productivity”.

Technology. Technology is the main driver towards this fast-paced changes, that are becoming day by day more compulsory for all the companies.
Technology has already allowed us to make the working time more flexible and to enlarge the space of the company by something we can call “digital expansion”.
“Wherever I can connect to the company’s server, in that moment it is like I am there”, Michele Dalmazzoni, Cisco Italia’s collaboration country leader and business transformation Cisco Italia.
There are two rules leading the development of technologies for office: they have to be easy-to-use and all integrated in only one device.
It is like selling a toy”, Michele Dalmazzoni says. “You don’t have to design a toy only to make the mum happy, but also the kids. That’s why you can’t create difficult and cutting-edge technological products that only the company’s IT can use. The most important thing is the user experience, even more than other fundamental parameters such as safety and innovation”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.



The new BTicino’s website for architects.

BTicino introduces the new website for design professionals. The new area, linked in the official website’s homepage, aims to create a constant, interactive and high-quality relationship between the company and architects, supporting the brand engagement.

The new Bticino website for architects has several contents, from company’s products to helpful services and instruments.
The main section, Progetta con noi, (Design with us) gives some handy services and instruments as the Richiedi Sample service (Ask for a sample), or the Configuratore, an operative instrument capable to simulate different plant design’s solutions, personalise configurations and evaluating the costs.
Thanks to the Download Area and Ask to BTicino, downloading any documents and information about Bticino’s products, or finding trained technicians in an area, is really easy.
In the Products section, you can also find everything about domotics and Bticino’s collections, with a focus on the new Air’s “thin revolution”, a set of a minimum-thickness products.
For other kind of contents BTicino has developed Blink, the corporate blog, with posts about contemporary architecture, new trends and interviews.
In the end, the I love Bticino section allows professionals, that have already used the company’s products in their projects, to join a dedicated community, hosted on Archilovers, where they can give their feedbacks and suggestions.
Testo di Gabriele Masi.