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WOW! celebrates its first five years… and changes.

WOW!, an adventure started out almost as a joke five years ago is now celebrating a great achievement and we plan to keep up highlighting it all year long properly, obviously in the style of WOW!, informally and in an original and dynamic way.
For starters, WOW #61 will be online in February in a responsive mode, with a completely new graphic design.
An event has been planned for March, let’s just call it a party, where we’ll blow out 5 candles, as is tradition, but above all we’ll breathe life into a workshop in progress.
The rest of it is top secret, for now. Details about the event in WOW! and social media pages. Stay tuned!

Five years of hard work, challenging and most prolific.The magazine has gone up, changing into a an actual multimedia platform closely integrated with social media pages and the events. Obviously, we still want to improve to offer you increasingly high-value contents and opportunities for debate, interaction and surprise.

We thank our followers and particularly those partner companies who joined the project and supported WOW!
AkzoNobel, Aresline, BTicino, Caimi, Cardex, Dieffebi, Emme Italia, Estel, Fonology, Herman Miller, HW style, Interface, Kinnarps, Linak, Manerba, Mascagni, Plantronics, Sedus, Snowsound.

Editorial by Renata Sias

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Here is the well-workplace age: wellness, wellbeing and corporate welfare.

“Well” is now definitely used a lot in the context of lifestyle and, most al off, workstyle patterns.
Well-being, mankind’s prime concern, is modeling a new approach to the design of the workplace and the built environment.
There are ethical as well as economic reasons: we should not hide the fact that sustainability (and certifications, too!)and wellness are big business and marketing elements increasing the value of buildings. And employees more productive if they are fine.

It’s not just a trend, it’s a new widespread sensibility, that entails a different relation with the environment you live in.
A shared awareness is often synonymous with sustainability, yet “Sustainability is a means, man’s wellbeing is the objectiveGiovanni Fabris, founder of Welldome, quoted during the WellFerence conference.
The vision of wellbeing at work, mistaken for ergonomics for a long time, is now mostly oriented to health and prevention of diseases, but even physical, mental and social wellbeing is also taken into consideration.
This holistic view makes use of a measuring instrument thanks to the Well certification protocol.
Quality of life also refers to Corporate Welfare, not so long ago an approach made of a mix of sporadic projects targeted to the staff’s wellbeing. A concept that has recently developed into an actual organic and balanced system of staff management, adopted by big corporations but also small concerns.
WOW has often dealt with this subject and followed its evolution in the past five years.
IFMA, too, has discussed about wellbeing research, the way demand for welfare has changed and how it has affected the supply of services related to the staff’s wellbeing. ”Wellbeing means Culture, and that should not be disregarded, as it is strictly connected with communication and how the company is perceived”.
To produce wellbeing is a “work in progress”, don’t delude yourselves, there are no effective remedies, as shown by the Maslow Pyramid, still relevant after over sixty years, once realized our basic needs, new necessities arise, for the concept of wellbeing is ever-evolving, at work, too.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Bio
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.

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Psychic
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

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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.

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Bespoke furniture: fashion, new aesthetics or a real need?

“Bespoke furniture” used to be for luxury environments only, executive suites or middle-class houses. Then, the “special” alteration was necessary to adapt too rigid systems to the building, or to prevent from slipping into standardization.
Still now that industrial design has accepted the concept of the design of options, the “custom-made” furniture can be found  in coworking settings and turns into “shabby mannerism”. Is it less expensive? Or does everybody want to create their own aesthetics?

The new production systems provide for maximum product customization, yet it’s not uncommon for the major bank groups to rely on the architect for the design of their desks; how can it be that none of the hundreds of products on the market could meet with their requirements?
The beskpoke “virus” also hits the smaller workplace, that aims at a domestic mood (Plantronics, Digital Entity, Clubhouse Brera, for example).
It may be less expensive, but do the standards of quality, ergonomics and strength  match the industrial products, engineered and tested in accordance with the regulations?

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Also, the coworking world is ever-expanding with its “raw design” aesthetics, made of shop tables, chairs found in the attic and the do-it-yourself trend to recycle  the wastes of a consumer society.
However, this vision is becoming a new form of standardization. Its rule-breaking spirit has gone.

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Some companies are also launching this kind of “garage spirit” furniture systems (Hack by Vitra,-up photo- Pakiet Zieta, PlayWood by OSB, Pixel by Bene – photo below) but, in my opinion raw wood and rusty iron are becoming really boring.

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Among the “shabby manierism” lovers there is Carlo Ratti that designed the desks and the mobile partitions of Talent Garden Calabiana Coworking;

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while another coworking, Cowo, created a project team to design his own “perfect desk”.
I can’t come to a conclusion, I have no answers, I’ll just wait for remarks and different opinions.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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When design-bulimia replaces innovation.

I’ve now fully recovered  from the usual indigestion from design in April, so a few considerations on the Milan Design Week are almost de riguer. I must admit it: after attending 40 of them, my enthusiasm and curiosity are beginning to wane, but my impressions have been confirmed by the comments of WOW! reporters and some practitioners I hold in high esteem; to mention just one of them, the sharp “Perlina” posted on Facebook by Enrico Baleri, which I find incomparable.

First of all I’d like to congratulate the Salone del Mobile on its new attendance record (343.602 visitors!).
Many exhibitors actively contribute toward this success through their luxurious stand booths, conceived by important designers as temporary architectures, able to attract visitors and emotionally involve them.
In many cases the design of the container seems to be prevailing over the products, that hardly palpitate with true innovation even if their quality is top-notch.
Many companies stop to invest in technological research.
Kartell should be mentioned as one of the exceptions: under the title “Contaminations” ( upper photo) it presented many nice and innocvative chairs… and it is not easy to offer quality and quantity!
The dangers lurk when the company has run out of ideas and dusts off the look of the fifties, or penetrates fields that defy common sense and ergonomics, bordering on ridicule.

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And I’m sorry I have to say that Alias is following this trend. Hybrid design is okay, but how can you even conceive a chair -uncomfortable- integrated inside a bookcase?
That could be explained by the obligation to present something new at all costs.
Maybe we should also reflect upon the very format of the“Fair”: is such a rigid subdivision in different furniture sectors still relevant? Isn’t it anachronistic compared to the fluid way living, working and recreation environments are blending?
For example why Lapalma presented its “Light Office” collection at Salone del Mobile instead at Workplace 3.0?
If the office is increasingly fluid –as the installation A Joyful Sense at Work confirmed- changing a somewhat outdated format might increase its attractiveness: what do you think about a more dynamic Salone Contract & Workplace?

And then there is the festive occupation of the Fuorisalone… son et lumière everywhere in the city, amazing installations that can enhance disused locations, yet also damage historic buildings with ugly setups fit for a funfair.

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I’ve asked about dozen people lying on sofas inside the Orto Botanico in Brera: “Excuse me, do you know the name of the manufacturer of these sofas?” Answer: eyes wide open and an uninterested “no idea!”.
Unfortunately that company (who was it?) invested money for attending that location…
I’m considering writing a “Guide to prevent design-bulimia”. It could be useful.

Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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Can the office make us happy?

Happiness has become a big issue in nowadays working environments. From the new ways of working to the design of the spaces and the furniture, physical and mental wellbeing, creativity, interaction, stress reduction, corporate identity are some of the features creating a happier office and therefore a more productive one. A multidisciplinary approach has been used to combine different disciplines as neuroscience, botany, IoT, ergonomics and energy engineering. Is it that enough for a space to create happiness?

Defining happiness can be a tricky task and a lot of definitions have been given so far. Concerning the working environment, as Alexander Kjerulf said, happiness can be determined by two parameters: feeling the best in what we are doing and building a good relationship in a team. On the other hand, someone else considers it a summon of intense and brief positive emotions that we experiment during the day. Both these definitions feat perfectly with the trends that are transforming the office, changing it from a stressing environment to a space that wants to take care of its workers.

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There are several factors that push this changing: the working environment models from the new technology and e-companies, the different needs of the new generations, the new scientific and technological findings that keep on changing the all society and also the need to create a more appealing environment, capable to face the challenge of different workplaces where everyone can actually do his job, outside the office, such as coworking spaces or home.
As long as the office, also our life has changed and, along with it, our time has become more fluid, mixing working time and spare time, creating a new need to better define boundaries: smartworking has brought office in our home, but it has also brought the concept of home-feeling in the office: couches, table football, good restaurant, medical examinations, relaxing methods, playgrounds, and has also brought in all the world in general, opening the building to the city, capturing different instance from science, art, and different cultures. And also the concept of co-working seems now old now: we are, maybe, moving towards co-living.
Since we are talking about a working environment, these features have the goal to increase productivity and creativity: the new paradigm happiness = productivity has focused all the attention on the wellbeing of the human resource, considering design the key to this new happy productivity. Seats, desks, plants, flexible and dynamic furniture, a well-lighted, healthy environment, with informal spaces that always allow to meet someone and feel comfortable. It is a new kind of design, though. It is a hybrid design that has to give a shape to the scientifically and technological always new instance, creating a responsive and interactive space though the IoT.

people-meeting-plantronics-wow-webmagazineSo is it that enough to consider the wellbeing we are creating in the office a way to our happiness?
I think, even though it is undeniable that nowadays office is far better than the gray and has ones someone may remember, there is a risk that I want to point out.
Focusing too much on the physical and mental wellbeing of the individual, we might forget that happiness is a social deal, it is socially defined by every culture and every society has its own way to pursue it. So there are not standard or fixed solutions we can uncritically apply to every working situation.
The office space (allow me this, even if it sounds exaggerate) might become a beautiful golden cage where we get used to having everything we need, so attractive with all his feature that give us continuously rushes of dopamine: can we end up totally absorbed by the office?
Happiness is a matter of work-life balance and linking happiness to work it’s a risky business.
Although the innovations that will be present at the Salone Ufficio 2017, where the happiness topic will be present in the installation Work 3.0 – A Joyful Sense at Work, are a real breakthrough in the office design, a question is now aroused: an human-centre office will cause an office center kind of human?
Editorial by Gabriele Masi, anthropologist and journalist.

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What are the employees’s most desired benefits and services?

Is there a change of trend under way as far as benefits and services companies are offering to their employees? Let’s reflect upon the manager’s awareness of the staff’s actual wishes and the strategies of companies such as Microsoft Italia, now moving from the perfect, well-served campus outside the city to the new and beautiful offices downtown Milan, however with “no services”

So far, every company aspiring to the role of best workplace relied on benefits and services for the workers, becoming a sort of “mum-company” taking care of her babies: besides free organic food and the “butler” taking care of the staff’s mental and physical wellbeing, there is also a commitment to promoting a healthy life style.
The offices are wonderful sub urban architectures surrounded by nature (for instance Technogym, Tetrapak, Elica, Diesel, Loccioni), work-life balance oriented headquarters, micro-cities offering services such as day nursery, restaurant, fitness center, garden, theatre, doctor’s appointment and more.
Perfect workplaces, but…
However the survey by Oxford Economics and Plantronics studied what workers want from their office environments, and what managers need to do to enable the highest satisfaction and productivity from their people. First of all workers just want to work and sometimes managers don’t see the problems.
It raises doubts, which is more important than a supply of more “optional” services.

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Microsoft Italia seems to be taking this path by leaving the fully-equipped campus to take its employees downtown and to a beautiful architecture (by Herzog & De Meuron for Fondazione Feltrinelli) and working environment meant for the highest level of comfort.
There are several break rooms and a kitchenette and cafe machines on every floor, yet no restaurant, nursery or gym. However all services are available around here, downtown.
To make up for it, even the public can stop and try the new technologies, play and work on the ground floor, and a lab is available for schools.
An about-turn compared to the usual pattern: Microsoft entering the city is an entry in every respect, meaning relations, involvement and services not only for their workers but for all residents.
A new mission statement, an osmosis with the vibrant town, even the employees are certainly proud of.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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The pictures show the new Microsoft Italia headquarters in Milan.

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A source of well-being and emotional influences: that’s the workplace 3.0.

We are all looking forward to the presentation of the next Salone Ufficio -in April, during Salone del Mobile in Milan expected to launch new products and to give new a picture of a smart workplace not just from a technological viewpoint, but as a place where the worker plays an active role within virtuous circles.
A smart office because based on relations, trust, transparency, wellbeing. Where work and joy, productivity and play coexist.

We’ll soon know how some designers from all over the world are going to develop the theme “A Joyful sense at Work” proposed by Cristiana Cutrona for the cultural installation at pavilion 24 of Salone Ufficio.
However the guidelines of this cultural transformation of the workplace are clear and a “movement “ is getting underway to lay the groundwork for the Workplace 3.0, as proved by some of the articles published in this issue:
PwC Switzerland office in Basel by Evolution Design (Work Your Way to Well-Being!); AB Medica headquarters by Giuseppe Tortato, a “refuge regenerator” in balance with the nature and focused on worker’s psychophysical wellbeing.
Joyful, wellbeing and emotions also features the Fondazione Feltrinelli headquarters in Milan designed by Herzog e De Meuron and the colorful workplace by GaS in Rome.
These places, where a work-life balance is possible, enable new behaviours, a different use of space, and are a source of inspiration for an actually groundbreaking furniture design.
Hybrid objects out of the box and out of any kind of existing category ( for example the swinging pouf by 13&9 or the wall-piece-of-furniture by Kaja Solgaard Dahl).
Enjoyable furniture for a non-static and standardized working environment.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.

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Photos by Peter Wurmli:  PwC Switzerland office in Basel, design by Evolution Design.

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The bench desk is dead. Long life the nomadic design.

No doubt: the bench desk is dead. I’m writing this death notice, as I would do for someone I respected and I feel the need of finding new answers to the new ways of working and what the market asks for: customized and flexible tables together with a wide range of options for in-between areas. Smart working needs a smart design and the latest trends are addressed to the “third spaces”, as we could see at Orgatec 2016.

In 2002 Vitra launched Joyn, the very innovative bench system designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and inspired by the memories of the happy get-together in the French countryside where the whole family gathered for lunch.
The bench desk was eagerly welcomed (mainly to cut back on, not to be sentimental).
So all the big companies have chosen this typology to equip the huge open plan offices in their headquarters. A new standardization in the interior design of workplace has been applied for over ten years.
But then they realized the office isn’t a joyful countryside and workers are not happy table companions.
So the drawbacks of the bench desk started to be evident: no privacy and irritating noise are the first signs that caused the proliferation of all kinds of acoustic panels. Even the excessive static condition of 6/8 linked workstations causes some significant problems in terms of flexibility, while the static desk tops cause ergonomic problems.
Hence, urban fancies, even somewhat plain (for instance the Garage by Vitra), and new aesthetics have replaced the bucolic visions.

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The number of desks decrease, yet with a higher performance (free standing structure to allow a simple and flexible management, sit-stand tops a.s.o).
And most of all we explore the new-nomadic worlds changed by those mobile technologies -smart working, coworking, cloud computing, traveling working- typical of the places we live in and that affect design, too.
And innovation for the workplace probably comes from the approach to the nomadic design.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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Captions
upper photo:
Bench system Joyn, design by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, launched by Vitra at Orgatec 2002.
middle photo:
Hack, garage-style system, design by Kostantin Grcic, launched by Vitra at Orgatec 2014.
sotto:
Mastermind High Desk, organic and flexible system for creative areas launched by Sedus at Orgatec 2016.

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Special Orgatec preview: follow the live WOW! Tour via streaming.

From WOW! a “bespoke” Orgatec preview live. New products, interviews with designers and the latest trends… you’ll find everything in real time from Cologne, even at a distance; through WOW! multimedia platform you can visit the exhibition via streaming.

Before the publication of the comments in the next issue, WOW!’s followers are given the chance to make a live visit to Orgatec through its multimedia platform, broadcasting stream videos on its Facebook page @WowWebmagazine and posting in real time sempre in diretta, photos and off-the-cuff comments on Twitter page  @WOWwebmagazine.
Don’t miss this opportunity to get a real time updating about the exhibition and obviously your requests and comments will be taken into consideration.
How to be notified of  live videos?
Enter Facebook page @WowWebmagazine, click on “I like” and tick off the YES box to be notified of the streaming broadcasted from 12am to 6pm on October 25th and 26th.
How to book WOW! video-tour on demand?
Should you be interested in a particular stand,  just write in the COMMENT area at the bottom of this page the name of the company and the exact  position of its stand (hall, aisle, number). The visit “on demand” (for free) must be booked by October 24th (h 5pm).
Write your comments!
Obviously we’ll be pleased to get and share your comments about everything we are going to post and broadcast.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW!

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From New York to Milan the past and the future of Design.

The history of design is online free of charge: the heritage of pictures and details from the MoMa, New York, from 1929  until today (Museum of Modern Art Archives).
Instead, Milan – after the closing of XXI Biennale- looks ahead and stands out once more with the groundbreaking format Design City Milano (October 1st to 9th): a selected program of events focused on the today and next design culture.
The program includes two workshops on workplace: Green Office Design (by Assufficio on October 6th) and Office Design Ibrido (by WOW! Webmagazine with Dieffebi on October 7th).

Design Weeks are spreading all over the world: they are mostly boring, as well some exhibitions, planned as business events, and follow the same old pattern; maybe they are good for doing business but don’t cause surprise and don’t grasp the change of scene.
Something got stuck in that settled and consistent System that, as from the postwar period, has produced the cult of Design Made in Italy and the Compasso d’Oro -the oldest design award- made the Salone del Mobile the major fair in the industry on an International plane and gave rise to the incomparable and extraordinary event known as Fuorisalone in an almost spontaneous way.
Now Design needs to feed on something else. The debate is focused on the ethics of design, placing emphasis on the sustainability of a system still producing more than it is needed, on the social role that design should play, on the potential in shaping a better future and its impact on people’s life quality.
These key themes have been expanded to the architectural project at the Biennale di Venezia by Alejandro Aravena and brought to the attention of the world.
The wave of innovation now arousing the interest of the design community was also catched by the British Council that launched in Milan the platform Invention in Design, stressing the need to collaboration between designers and producer with scientists, technologists, and researchers.
In Milan you can feel the need for an actual and constructive discussion; it is no coincidence that contamination, hybridization and co-planning are the keywords in the Design City Milano program.
The basic levers for a creative industries are to open the planning process through the collaboration with different sectors and offer opportunities to ideas that are the catalyst for invention are the basic levers for a creative industries.
Yet the design industry still feeds on famous designers’ and star architects’ griffe, self-regarding events, copies, forms without contents, meaningless objects… thus risking death from indigestion.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.

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Innovation in workplace is the winner of Compasso d’Oro ADI.

It was a great pleasure to hear that several products from “Design for Work” category were among the winners of del XXIV Compasso d’Oro ADI, the oldest and most authoritative Design Award. In particular, I’m referring to Flap by Caimi Brevetti and Vela by Tecno, and also to the Special Mentions to LaPalma for Add and Unifor for SC&A (..and a little bit disappointed for Privée by Ares Line, not selected by the Jury).

Quite rewarding for me, too, in a way. Actually, being in the board of ADI Design Index in the category “Design for Work” I could take part in the selection of these products, I had followed their path during these three years and had supported their value in the various stages leading to the final prize.
Lately, the “workplace” trade had not aroused the Compasso d’Oro jury’s interest, but thanks to those companies who have invested in research and innovation and shown a coherent planning consistency, 2016 marks a turning point, thus proving that the technological devices are not the only work tools, although absolutely necessary and not just in an innovation-oriented field.
The quality of work, real and perceived, also comes from the physical space (one of the three key words of Smart Working together with technology and management).
And furnishings, along with other interior design components, bears upon this quality, provided that they actually offer something new, help to improve the wellbeing of people.

The secret of these products intended to become masterpieces can be found in these wise statements by some of the professionals winners of the ADI Compasso d’Oro Career Achievement Awards 2016:
“As design engineers we do something about it. We’re all about invention and improvement.” (James  Dyson, winner of international Career Achievement Award).
“I like to design products that last for years, products that are not intrusive and that give the feeling of having always been where you put them, but which also stimulate the imagination at the same time.” (Carlo Bartoli, winner of Italian Career Achievement Award).
“Italian design companies have shown that through expanding sensitivity and taste, the human capacity to connect the head, heart and hands is enhanced: a value that we associate with craftsmanship and incorporate into accepted Italian and therefore humanistic design.” (Rodrigo Rodriquez, winner of Italian Career Achievement Award).
“In the complexity of contemporary society there is always someone somewhere who is doing something unexpected and which goes in the right direction, that is, someone who has found how to deal with and solve a problem, while redefining and creating a new sociability at the same time.” (Ezio Manzini, winner of Italian Career Achievement Award).
We thank these promoters of the genuine vision of Design awarded by Compasso d’Oro.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW!

Captions (from left):
Flap di Caimi Brevetti (ADI Design Index 2014) design Alberto Meda, Francesco Meda. (Design for Work): “Compasso d’Oro for a free and versatile system that presents a new solution for invisible problems such as sound and noises.”
Vela di Tecno (ADI Design Index 2015) design Lievore Altherr Molina (Design for Work) “Compasso d’Oro for research that results in an elegant, lightweight, technological yet solid product that brilliantly integrates ergonomics and aesthetics”.
Add di Lapalma (ADI Design Index 2015) design Francesco Rota (Design for Work) “Special Mention for a Modular chair and backrest system for the design of waiting rooms or lounge environments”.
Parete SC&A di Unifor (ADI Design Index 2014) design Pierluigi Cerri, Alessandro Colombo – Studio Cerri & Associati (Design for Work) “Special mention. Only the glass walls are left exposed and it greatly lightens the perception of enclosed spaces so as to create a permeable, rational, and comfortable work environment”.

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Let’s reconsider the office. New trends from Milano Design Week.

No Salone Ufficio at Salone del Mobile 2016, but a lot of activities concerned office design, thus confirming that there are new paths we can follow to rethink the workplace. What are the strongest signs? Irony and playfulness, yet along with pragmatism.

From the growing Milano Design Week (more than 372.000 presences at Salone del Mobile!), we selected events and products showing a collective nature, related to the working world in the broadest sense, since it’s by now obvious that the new WOWs break up the boundaries among the most varied sectors.
So it came as no surprise to find some attractive hybrid evolutions (for instance Coffice by Estel) or new directions for the workplace at Eurocucina (A Joyful Sense at Work).
Inside the “modern” and “design” pavilions a great many of companies deal with the contract and workplace market, as well (Caimi Brevetti, La Palma, Magis, Alias, aso).
Some signs of interest an new ideas for the office could also be seen at FuoriSalone (Live Work Design or Tecno, for example).
The liveliest concepts of how to rethink the workplace come from the Ventura area, where the designers really knew how to surprise and amuse (expecially Boring Collection by Lensvelt the visions by Lund University’s students).
Indeed, the keyword is enjoyment, playfulness,
as Play Office concept by Isao Hosoe (we wrote a book together entitled PlayOffice) had forestalled more than 25 years ago and the “behavioural energy” it can generates.

Office doesn’t necessarily mean boredom; we can plan amusing and stimulating workplaces, but designers and companies find it difficult to follow this logic, perhaps paralysed by the idea of record sales.
Coworking and start-up are ever-increasing, economically and in numbers and Millennials are about to become the new generation of managers, but even these “niches” don’t buy current furniture units for they don’t identify with that kind of boring aesthetics and functionalism.
They want to have fun, to play and listen to music and be comfortable together even while working.
Wise people. And this is a contagious attitude. Don’t forget that while reconsidering the office before the next Workplace 3.0 in 2017.

Editorial by Renata Sias.

BartoliDesign-Iceland-preview2016

Let’s escape all that is not design at Milano Design Week!

What can we expect from the Milano Design Week ? Besides the 1500 exhibitors at Salone del Mobile, the usual 2000 events of Fuori Salone all over town and the inevitabile tiredness?
It’s a moment of triumph for Milan, world capital of design also thanks to the happy coincidence and synergy with the 21 Triennale. But don’t delude yourself, this kermesse won’t actually offer just “good design” …

We’ll have to be strict, for the cultural level of the Triennale is unequalled and the too many events and products won’t stand comparison, worthless and useless things that are not at all missed, passed off as acts of creation, and that probably nobody will ever buy them.
Il Design che non c’èis the title of ADI’s excellent proposal to photograph and publish the mess and eyesores due to the lack of a project. In order to organize a competition to better design these situations.
I suggest we do something like that also for the mess and unsightliness caused by a project or the lack of ideas and that go unpunished.
The risk lies in ambush even for some iconic brands above suspicion.
I’m thinking of a good company, Segis for example, and an excellent designer, Bartoli, who produce together an iceberg-sofa escaped from a sheet of ice.
Another example, Prospettive and its sofa Book, to “celebrate the value of words and extol the power of writing”. Why do I feel duped?
I’ve seen things you design-loving people wouldn’t believe!
Editorial by Renata Sias

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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.

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Can stability and agility coexist?

Today companies must be agile and dynamic, if they want to be competitive. Even if they are inspired by the start up organizational structure, the “stable” companies are still considered as “sound”. So it comes naturally to me to wonder if it’s possible to be remain stable though adopting agile approaches.

Paolo Bruttini– on the occasion of the presentation of the book “Coaching: come trasformare individui e organizzazioni” – he asked: why do cities last for millennia and the companies don’t? Because the governements are weak and develop self-organizational processes that make the city stronger. The enemies of a stable enterprise are control and hierarchy.
Mc Kinsey tackles this issue in the article Agility: It rhymes with stability, (by Wouter Aghina, Aaron De Smet, and Kirsten Weerda) concluding that we should know how to be stable “and” dynamic at the same time.
The smartphone is the example used to expound this model.
The stable backbone is formed by the hardware and the operating system, but they are made agile and able to develop new features in a dynamic way through upgradable and editable Apps.
A topical and most convincing metaphor.
Text by Renata Sias

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Models and factors of development for the workplace.

The end of the year (third WOW!’s anniversary) is the time to take an inventory and forecast the near future, and the articles of this last number of 2015 briefly express some of the chief factors of the ongoing change, that are more clearly marking the development of the next ways of working as well as the configuration of the workplace for our children or grandchildren.

They are already considering the Generation Z, whose needs are after all very similar to those of the more individualist grandparents, the Baby Boomers. Yet with a big difference: the Gen Z expects to find work environments meeting those requirements and wants to share them with other people; they regard it as a right and don’t tolerate to be disappointed.
Gensler’s Design Forecast sums up which are the key factors to design the workplace in a world broken into fragments, where technologies are dominant and information is pervasive. Digital supremacy leads to the reconsider the real values, the actual needs.
Some of the chief key factors?
To work everywhere. Under the name of  Smart Working or Agile Working a philosophy is taking shape, that doesn’t change thoroughly the concept of work and place of work only, but even the life styles, the use of buildings and the development itself of Real Estate, because smart working is synonymous with hybridization and flexibility (as quoted Paolo Gencarelli of Unicredit at RE-Start conference).
And coworking definitely includes these elements and confirms its growth and the strong Community value, thus becoming a point of reference also for large-sized companies.
Desire for nature and respect for nature are also influencing planning on scalar quantity, from the product to interior design, architectural to urban design. Headquarters are more and more similar to Olivetti’s model of campus and integrated into nature and the territory. Even for smaller offices, a park or a terrace to work surrounded by nature is almost a must. Sustainability and wellbeing are the keywords of a new design thinking able to produce happiness (Francesco Schianchi calls it Anthropodesign).
The pursuit of wellbeing is also expressed in a planning increasingly conscious of the user’s experience, and environmental comfort (including acoustic interior design) which changes the very meaning of Beauty.
Perhaps it’s not necessary to aim high, it’s enough to focus on these themes to outline the near future, but we expect great stimuli from the next Milan International triennial exhibition “21st Century, Design after Design”, that will expound what to expect “after”.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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IoT, a revolution in the relationship between people and objects is in progress.

It’s impossible not to talk about IoT. In 2020 26 Billion objects will be connected all the world over! The media interest is recent, but Internet of Things is a phenomenon, which the experts have been investigating for many years and is quickly evolving. A phenomenon that doesn’t concern just a few sectors but even every scope of our life and our ways of working. Hence, the Smart concept can be applied to each object already commonly used and extol its performance.

A technology connecting human beings with objects, and one object with the other and the objects with the life the user is fascinated by, stimulates new strategies and requires a new design thinking.
It’s a stimulus for the marketing and a new frontier for the manufacturers in nearly all sectors.
Among the McKinsey’s studies devoted to IoT, two are expecially educational and inspiring An executive’s guide to the Internet of Things and The Internet of Things: Five critical questions”, the interviews to some of the most automative experts in this field: MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group deputy director Dan Kaufman to Cloudera cofounder and chief strategy officer Mike Olson to O’Reilly Media founder and chief executive officer Tim O’Reilly.
Their answers express a vision of the the next progression of IoT and what are the possible risks.
The social benefits of IoT especially regard healthcare and medicine projects (delivering better care in the intensive-care unit, designing better drugs, understanding the progress of disease). Sustainable benefits, for example, come from the possibility to connect the lights in a building to motion sensors, and they’re harvesting data about building occupancy and this kind of technology can save companies a lot of money. In the workplaces “there are three things that never work: printers, videoconferencing, and overhead projectors. I think that if we could use standards and interconnectivity to make all of those things work, or even one of them, I’d be a very happy man”.
The bigger risks are privacy, security and any possible kind of a cyberattack.
there are also advices for business leaders interested in the Internet of Things; they are not so different from any other innovation strategy: “What are you doing? What is your plan? How are you different? What’s your vision? How do you plug into the ecosystem?
Be suspicious about “people jumping to technology to solve a problem without thinking about the problem first. Analyze “what the fundamental problem in your business is and how you would go about solving it. It is quite possible the Internet of Things will be a solution. But I think it’s a mistake to do it the other way around.
IoT is an enormous opportunity, but does not make miracles.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW!

In the video the Tecno’s vision of IoT for the workplace (IoT: Intelligence of Tecno)

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Are we really productive? And how do we make the most of the time gained with productivity? 

I always feel deep admiration for those Anglo-Saxon studies that succeed in “quantizing” even values apparently immaterial and not measurable with great professional competence.
For example,“the field” research carried out by Marlon Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff University in three different workplaces shows that green in the office increases productivity by 15%, as common sense and instinct have always suggested – is there anyone who has never put a plant on their desk? – and now it has been scientifically proved.
Productivity is often the focus of this kind of studies and the theme of many articles.
We are fascinated by the Myth of Productivity, we all feel hyper-productive, but are we fully conscious of what productivity really is? 

Are we sure we don’t confuse it with multitasking, with that anxious bustling about, the uncontrolled overlapping of more tasks, the “obligation” to devote more and more time to work in the vain attempt to progress in the “things to do” list, inevitably growing every day longer?
Let’s face it, there is a good dose of smugness in our complaining all the time about too much work, about having to rush things and not achieving enough to schedule!
This unanimous attitude suggests a few remarks.
The first one, well-known, is that to work a lot doesn’t mean to be productive. On this point, the “Why Germans work fewer hours but produce more” article is quite interesting.
The second one concerns the fact that techniques and method are requested to learn how to be productive. Feeling up to Superman or Superwoman, rushing or bustling about 12 hours a day, is not enough.
A few useful tips ca be found in 14 things productive people do in the first 15 minutes of the workday an interesting article listing the first things productive people do in the morning. An example to follow.
However, the actual issue is something else: even supposing we really are productive productivity is time-saving and time is the greatest value in our society, not only because time is money but most of all because it is limited!
But how do we use this “value”?
How do we spend time gained thanks to our techniques and rites devoted to the Productivity Goddess?
If, catched in this frenzy, we devote more and more time to work to be always productive, there is something perverted…
And the general feeling perceived by someone who thinks to be productive is not synonymous with a better standard quality of life!
Why waste the time/value “gained” thanks to our skill?
Let’s try to “quantize” the time we could save and “investi itin our wellbeing, so that productivity can really create quality.
Some might spend their time reading a book, or with their family; some can devote it to themselves and some to acts of solidarity.
There is not one formula, for our wellbeing and happiness it’s important to know where the time saved with productivity ends up.
Text by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.migliorare-produttività