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Copernico Martesana: well-being and business trends.

A dynamic hub where well-being and business trends are well balanced, a flexible, hybrid and multifunctional workplace, core of an urban renovation process. The simple internal design of Copernico Martesana in Milan follows the main trends and needs of the new ways of working, like the biophilic design of the Oxygen Room and the home-feeling given by the Loft Office.

The Copernico Platform for Smart Working is constantly growing; following the successful experiences of Copernico Centrale, ClubHouse Brera , the workplace in Turin, and many others, the 6.500 sqm of the thirteenth Copernico hub in the north-eastern part of Milan.
“With Copernico Martesana we want to put our focus on the wellbeing of each worker becoming, at the same time, actors in the new economic processes that lead to new business opportunity”, Pietro Martani, Copernico’s CEO, says. “We want to anticipate the ever-evolving market and workers needs”.

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Copernico Martesana is designed by the firm Studio DC10, mixing different and connected environments as offices, meeting space, lounge area.

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Interior design is inspired by “genius loci” and the building of the ’70s was transformed in a vibrant environment featured by a cool, industrial design.

The centre of the project is the main cafeteria, a hybrid and informal meeting space, designed together by Bunker, Torricelli Associati and Weltgebraus to foster the culture of communication and interaction.

08-Copernico Martesana-hub-wow-webmagazineStudio DC10 has, also, added two environments completely dedicated to the wellbeing of the people: the Oxygen room, a green area where workers can find some rest form the daily stress,  the Loft Office, a comfortable place giving the sense of home-feeling and cosiness and an Art Gallery.

For the interiors, a neutral and neat design was chosen in order to help communication and to create a homogeneous workplace.
“The innovative system Copernico is made by three dimensions: space, connection, culture“, Pietro Martani concludes. “Copernico Martesana wants to become a benchmark in the area”, transmitting his features to an urban redeveloping area.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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 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.

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 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.

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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.

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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 Better Effect Index: make sustainability simple.

Raw materials and resources, climate, pure materials, social responsibility, reuse and ergonomics: these are the parameters that make a product sustainable, according to the Kinnarps’s protocol Better Index Effect. The eco-label, designed following the designer, architects and consumers’ needs and the UN sustainability goals, is open source and can be freely downloaded

“More and more people want to make sustainable choices, so we have to make it easier to choose”, says Johanna Ljunggren, Kinnarps’ corporate sustainability manager. That’s why Kinnarps, despite the different eco-label out there, as Svanen, Möbelfakta, Blauer Engel, NF Environment and FSC, has chose to create a new one focused on important, but too often neglected, factors, like social responsibility or ergonomics, aiming to guide and change the production process and redefine the concept of sustainable object.

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Every object is indexed in 6 different areas, on which the Better Index Effect is based:

1, Raw materials and resources
2, climate
3, pure materials
4, social responsability
5, reuse
6, ergonomics.

“Every product is ranked in the various area, and you can see exactly which criteria they have, or haven’t, fulfilled. This is important. We report not only our good products but also our shortcomings”, Johanna Ljunggren continues.

The first parameter examines where the raw material come from, the condition of the process production and the resources optimization. To increase the evaluation companies have to choose FSC certified products and tissue.
The second one is about the environmental and climate impact and is based on the carbon dioxide emissions, the reduction of packaging and the use of renewable energies.
Thirdly the use of pure materials means also to avoid dangerous chemicals: phthalates, use as softeners in plastic and rubber, flame retardants, bisphenol A, used in plastic, lacquer and glue, formaldehyde, allergenic in contact with skin and carcinogenic, and VOCs, volatile organic solvents. Eco-labelled products and fabrics, water-based lacquer and laminated top are, instead, indicated for increase the air and environmental quality.

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Social responsibility concerns the company’s code of conduct and the control on the suppliers and over particular attentive situations, as the method of working in the BSCI’s list of risk countries.
The reuse, instead, follows the motto “Re:use, Re:fresh, Re:cycle”, so the possibility to redesign, repaired, and reused the object or the percentage of recycled materials in it. Reuse is the core of a sustainable object life circle: the 80% of the environmental impact of furniture is dued to materials, and therefore is crucial to make a difference to create a virtuous production process without any addition of energy and materials.
Finally, Kinnarps believes that sustainability is not just about the environment itself but also about the ergonomics and the well-being an object is capable of guarantee: furniture must encourage movements, control the acoustic impact, be easy to use and give the right light in the right place.

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These parameters are not just an instrument of analysis, but a guideline for the company transformation: Kinnarps, for example, has decided to cut off the 10% of the energetic consumption and to use only wood coming from FSC certified forests. Furthermore, Kinnarps has decided to open source the Better Effect Index in order to give to architects and consumers the change to make valuable choices and to cooperate in order to design a more sustainable production cycle.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Caldera Park Worklife: sport and services for the work-life balance.

A 10 meters climbing wall: that’s the symbol of Caldera Park Worklife in Milan, by Generali Real Estate and CBRE. This business center is an example of how physical activity has become essential in the new ways of working, as a good work-life balance and well-being indicator, defining a space that is able to match the workers’ needs.

The project for the renovation of the 110 sqm Caldera Worklife Business Centre has started from a survey among the 4.000 employees working in the building in order to understand what were their most urgent and important needs. That gives to Generali Real Estate, CBRE, as long as General Planning and Carlo Ratti Associati, thata designed the main entrance and square, the line to create a business centre capable to create a wealthy and comfortable working environment. 07-Caldera-Park-wow-webmagazine

That gives to Generali Real Estate, CBRE, as long as General Planning and Carlo Ratti Associati, that has designed the main entrance and square, the main ideas and lines to create a center capable to create a wealthy and comfortable working environment.

“We wanted to create a business park which could be a benchmark for the future”, Alberto Agazzi, GRE SGR’s CEO and General Manager, said. “The core of our project is the people who live the space every day, for whom new services and instruments were created, in order to encourage a good balance between working and private life”.

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Physical activity has been chosen as the key to this balance: outside a two ring running track (1 km + 666 m) has been built with a computerized timing system, as well as a 10 meters climbing wall, while inside a fully equipped fitness area has been designed.
Also Easy Point, the building dedicated to all the services, has been renovated, creating a coworking space, which can be used also by eternal companies and people, as long as a kindergarten, a mini-market, and an app that allows employees to easily find out about dedicated offers, that helps to make everyday life simpler.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Sit-stand and user-friendly workstation.

A user-friendly multimedia workstation with a light design, and without any cable thanks to the use of Linak‘s bluetooth technology: these are the features of Tecnus Evo -evolution of the height-adjustable table Tecnus- designed and produced by Emme Italia, a company that since 1995 marries innovative technologies with Italian handicrafts to offer customized and constantly in progress solutions.

The growth of Emme Italia continues with the usual passion: from the traditional drafting tables to the electrified sit-stand version using linear actuators by Linak and, recently, the most advanced step Tecnus Evo.
Tecnus Evo is a new result of the collaboration between Emme Italia and Linak: a multimedia workstation inspired by a common vision of dynamic ergonomics, well-being and IoT in the workplace.
It is featured by clean design and high performances:
the integration of Linak’s new bluetooth technologies allows the elimination of wiring and a user friendly approach;
the rechargeable Battery Pack makes the table independent by power supply;
height adjustment can be controlled either by the traditional push-button panel housed into the column or by a smartphone (for iOS or Android App).

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The App Desk Control allows the adjustment of the table with a touch and also to save custom settings and set personal goals for wellness.
Standard height adjustment from 72 to 112 cm is perfect for workstations and informal meetings, other adjustments are available on request.

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Height-adjustable table, structure in painted steel column (black, white or RAL tailored colors), desk top in melamine.
Dimensions cm 100 x 200; height cm from 72 to 112.

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No happy workplaces? Objection overruled.

Creating an happy workplace is one of the main focuses of the companies nowadays, even though there are still some objections against it. Alexander Kjerulf, founder of Wohoo Inc., and Happiness expert, has published in his LinkedIn profile an interesting video, collecting the 20 most common ones he usually deals with in his job. 

Talking about happiness at work the first objection is about his definition: what is happiness at work? Being danish, as Alexander Kjerulf, in the case, might help. The Scandinavian languages have a word for it, and it is Arbejdsglæde, and Kjerulf has made all his job about it. He is firmly convinced that happiness is just about doing something you are good at, that makes a positive difference in the world, together with great coworkers and teams. Or in other words, quoting a definition by Sonja Lyubomirsky, it is “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being at work, combined with a sense that one’s work life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile”.
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Talking about happiness someone may say that you can’t objectively measure it or that it is impossible to make everyone happy, also because most of the time people don’t know what makes them happy as well. However a lot of research have been made and a productive dialogue with workers can be a good solution. Also it is the goal of a leadership to educate team members in understanding what could really make them happy at work. And if the answer are different, it is useful to remember that “the only way to treat everybody the same is to that everybody differently”.
Moreover happiness can’t be considered a private matter: a lot of people wants to have the right to feel sad at work, considering the all parties, fun and games in the office trivial, frivolous, stupid or ridiculous. The true is that a negative or sad attitudine can affect all the team and the productivity of a company as different studies show.

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Happiness won’t make you selfish, complacent and lazy, but gives you the energy to be a good corporate citizen, to create a great team and to give a better customer service. It must be underlined as well that make people happy at work it is not just about fun, but also about showing them that they are doing a good job, showing that they work is meaningful, and giving them competences, training, skills to do a good job.It is also nonsense to try to keep the emotions out of the office. Emotions belong to the workplace as to the other spheres of an human life since they are the core of human beings and of the process of decision making.

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That is why being happy at work it is not impossible. Even though someone affirms that if you expect to be happy at work, you will be disappointed, the opposite it is actually true: if you expect to be happy, you will do something about it in your office and you’ll try to create or to find a workplace where you are happy.
As Kjerulf concludes: “Make your happiness your n°1 carrier goal or, if you are a leader, make happiness the number 1 goal of your leadership”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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A Creative Campus in Milan: Jenner 19.

“Turning a sad, empty property into an inviting, creative campus presented a huge challenge, overcome thanks to the vision and determination of everyone involved”. The architect Jacopo della Fontana’s words summarize the project of the Publicis Group’s Creative Campus in Milan: a place designed for all the workers’ well being, an office that “people have no desire to leave, simply because they feel good”.

A garden, a playing field, a vegetable garden, a kindergarten, a restaurant, a gym, a bar and a cinema: “It sounds like the description of a holiday resort, but it’s actually an office, where bedrooms are replaced with flexible workstations with a new, colourful, modern appearance.” Publicis Group and Jacopo della Fontana (D2U) focused the project of the Creative Campus of Jenner st. 19 in Milan, on the main garden, designed by HW Style, the centre of the social life and interaction for the over 700 people that live in the building everyday. A space where the workers of the different companies, Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis meet and enjoy the areas for breaks or informal meetings, the basketball/futsal court, the vegetable garden, or gym.

Although exchange and interconnection are the core of the project, the companies have their own distinct working environment, with three different doorways, equally visible on the facade where screen-printed, coloured film was applied, which creates a highly colourful, dynamic effect.
Also the ground floor is dedicated to areas serving all the agencies, with a cafeteria and a large theatre with 100 seats, numerous meeting rooms of different sizes and a crèche.
An uniform approach has been used also for the upper floors, where the different offices follow the same design, marked by some variants in terms of style: modular desks, perpendicular to the windows, occupy the open space , shielded from the corridor by 1.80 m partitions, in different colours and shapes according to the company they belong to.
The interior has been enriched with designed furniture from different brands as the dealer Cardex, and the top level suppliers; among them: Caimi Brevetti (Snowbound sound absorbing panels), dieffebi (storage),  Interface (floor covering), Universal Selecta (partition walls).
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The Best Companies 2016 by Great Place to Work Italia.

Great Place to Work Italia has recently announced the Best Workplace 2016, the ranking of the best companies to work in. The 2016’s list includes 40 companies, 5 more than the last year, with 4 small ones between 20 and 49 employees. The research has also pointd out three foundamental relationship that makes a working environment excellent: the trust between the management and the employees, the pride for your own job and for the companies you work in and the quality of the relationship with collegues. Five dimensions need also to be taken into account: credibility, respect, equality, pride and bond.

One of the keywords of nowadays management is “Welfare“.
“It is a very simple concept: anyone works better if he lives an happy life. It is about giving the instruments to build a good work-life balance and helping the workers to deal with emotional and private needs and problems: stress management courses, psycological counseling, monitoring all the stress factors in the working environment, these are some of the solutions companies are experimenting”, Antonino Borgese, Presidente di Great Place To Work Italia, explains.
That’s why we can find Vetrya at the second place of the Medium Company ranking (Cisco in confirmed at the first Cisco), a company from Orvieto (Italy) with its environmentally friendly campus with wide green spaces, sport fields, relax areas and a nursery.

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A manager should be also careful about his workers and colleagues’ social media, where, as Alessandro Zollo, Great Place to Work’s CEO, noticed, the satisfaction and the bond with the company is mostly expressed. “The pride is the real power of the people”, he noticed.
A third important, but sometimes ignored, aspect is the feedback or the constant communication between managers and employees. “Even though feedback is not the only feature that makes the distinction between a good and an excellent company, it is clear that the vertical communication is something that the big companies are really careful of. If you wanna reach the best results you can’t undervaluate this aspect”.
The Best Workplace’s ranking is based on the opinion of the workers, through the Trust Index questionnaire . These results are the 2/3 of the final grade that is completed with an analysis of the HR management made by the companies themselves in the Culture Audit questionnaire.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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A mediterranean workplace: the Mosaicoon’s offices by Lago .

A new Lago at Work’s project is born in the Mosaicoon’s headquarters: a sea view open space with a citrus grove, image of the mediterranean culture. The interior design by Squar-e Architettura, Francesco Brigulia and Giuseppe Di Prima, with Francesco Librizzi Studio, in collaboration with Lago, focused on the concepts of relationship and individual and collective well-being in the workplace.

Empathy is the foundation of every kind of innovation. It was from this idea that Daniele Lago, Lago’s Managing Director and Head of Design, with Ugo Parodi Giusino, CEO Mosaicoon (Tech Company leader in the web video production and distribution) join together in the project of a space capable to express the “mediterranean” workstyle.
“…We have to use our great cultural and genetical heritage to define our own identity, based on conviviality and wellness, that will become really appealing for the rest of the world”, Daniele Lago says.
The Mosaicoon’s headquarters in Isola delle Femmine (Palermo, Italy), is located on a triangular space between the land and the sea, 2.000 sqm over 3 floors.

In order to answer to the need of a flexible space in the operative areas, a movable version of the “Et Voilà” walls has been placed, allowing to connect and separate different spaces in different ways. In addition, comfortable couches, swings and table footballs give a playful touch to the environment, while a Community Table Air gives is the ideal place where to share ideas and projects.
Lago has also made the furniture of the common area in the basement: the cafeteria provided with a 36e8 kitchen and a 12m Community Table; the conference room with a 6m Air bookcase and a break area with Slide couches, that can be arranged in different compositions.
The home feeling sensation, that dominate the whole project, is emphasise in the executive offices at the first floor: a kind of apartment-office with divided in an operative and relax area with a big domestic Air couch.
Testo di Gabriele Masi.

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Innovation Center: Intesa San Paolo tower in Turin.

How can design improve your life and your business? Located at the 31st floor of the transparent tower designed by Renzo Piano, the collaborative project by Lago for the Intesa San Paolo’s Innovation Centre reflects the values of a flexible home-feeling-oriented space, capable to bring in a work environment the positive sensations that a domestic environment can give. Daniele Lago has talked about it with Roberto Battaglia, manager of the Intesa San Paolo training department, in an inspiring conversation at the EXPO Pavilion.


The meeting “Come il design migliora la vita e il business?” (How can design improve your life and business?) opened analysing what really empathy is in a workplace. Not only the “Empaty of point of views” that allowed Lago to design the innovative space for the future bank Intesa San Paolo had in mind, but also the kind of empathy that make spaces, objects and people “vibrate in unison”.
The Innovation Centre collaborative project, developed by Lago along with Intesa San Paolo, is inspired by the Lago Interior Life’s principle, creating, through design, a home-feeling-oriented environment that support the individual and collective well-being, developing both formal and informal connections.
A strategy explained in the claim “Welcome Home”  that Daniele Lago, Lago’s managing director and Head of Design, has introduced with this words: “I believe that the true innovation is the one that makes the everyday life better, independently of the field where it is applied. For us design is a powerful instrument of social transformation. We spend most of our day outside our homes, in the office. That’s why we think it is necessary to design working and business environments as welcoming houses, in order to support an individual and collective well-being and to build a background for new ways of encounters and exchanges.

In the centre of the open space, a 13m long Lago Community Table “floats”, suitable for co-working or conferences, surrounded by furniture on wheels that allows to constantly reconfigure the space if needed.
The plan of the table goes through two specular bookcases, that dived the space in an area for the laboratories and a break area, suitable also for events.
The LagoLinea bookcase links the working area with a kitchen, design to increase the home feeling and relax perception and the chances of encounters.
A sensation given also by the big wall integrated in a living station, that allows to easily share and present projects and digital presentations, and by the domestic lighting, in compliance with all the workspace’s ergonomic standards.
The business district area was thought differently and developed around a main rectangular environment, with three wide glass walls on the sides. For this reason Lago created a light interior, emphasising the panorama with a ring of couches, a perfect place to enjoy a break.
At the sides of this space two management offices are located, while in the centre a 4m x 3m Air table is entirely dedicated for meeting: all following the principles of transparency and lightness.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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The Social Workplace: by TILT and European Coworking Conference (London, October 16th).

How is it possible to create community powered workplace environments? This is the answer the European Coworking Conference and Studio TILT will try to give in London, at the inaugural event of “The Social Workplace” the next 16th of October. An opportunity to hear from the leading thinkers and doers in both work and coworking, exploring the most pressing questions facing real estate, placemaking, wellbeing and workplace the world over.

How do mission driven values, authenticity, connections, and facilitated social interactions drive productivity, collaboration, innovation, and employee wellbeing?
It was recently disclosed that there are 816 coworking spaces active in London today. 10 years ago that number was zero. Coworking has grown up very fast, and now it challenges the conventional and corporate workplace offering.  Meantime the values of work have changed dramatically alongside this revolution.
The Social Workplace Forum it’s a dynamic day long programme about convening the worlds of work and coworking for the first time through an intimate, discussion led event, sharing the success and learnings of coworking to help understand the human side of the modern workplace.
At the conference several names of the cowering world will be present: Jean-Yves Huwart (Coworking Europe) Despina Katsikakis (Transforming Workplace expert) Oliver Marlow (Studio TILT) Sophy Moffat (DTZ London) Alex Hillman (Indy Hall) Edu Forte (Betahaus Barcelona).
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Title: The Social Workplace.
Where: The Office Group, Henry Wood House, 2 Riding House Street,  London.
When: October 16th, 8:30 am.

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Green Office: plants in the office can make us up to 15% more productive.

Noise and stress reduction, purification of the environment from noxious molecules, particles or bacteria, increasing of the worker’s capacity of focusing, satisfaction and productivity up to 15%. That is why office plants can make so much difference.

“Simply enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15%. This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working”.
Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, sums up with these words the findings of the last international study regarding the benefits given by the plants in the office, carried out by different Universities worldwide (University of Exeter, University of Groningen, Netherlands, and University of Queensland, Australia).
Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation at Ambius, who were involved in the study, said: “We know from previous studies that plants can lower physiological stress, increase attention span and improve well-being. But this is the first long term experiment carried out in a real-life situation. Businesses should rethink their lean processes, not only for the health of the employees, but for the financial health of the organisation.”
The research was carried out in three different Dutch and English offices, examining the impact of lean and “green” offices on subjective perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction as well as objective measures of productivity. In all 3 experiments enhanced outcomes were observed when offices were enriched by plants.
“Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity” Marlon Nieuwenhuis says.
Co-author Craig Knight, of Psychology at the University of Exeter, then concludes: “Psychologically manipulating real workplaces and real jobs adds new depth to our understanding of what is right and what is wrong with existing workspace design and management.  We are now developing a template for a genuinely smart office.”

Why do the office plants increase our productivity?
The answer to this question can be given looking at several studies that have been carried out during the years. One of the first was led by the NASA, together with the ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America) in the 80s, showing that houseplants can remove several forms of indoor air pollution, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
That helps to reduce “sick building syndrome” cases and, as another research of the Berkeley National Laboratory shows, up to 40% cases of diseases that can be led to a poor air environment.
The same Berkeley’s research has shown that molecules and particles that plants can absorb purifying the air, can detrimentally affect decision-making and concentration.
Plants like Chrisantemum morifolium or Peace Lily, for example, are able to remove from the environment a great part of noxious chemical molecules like Trichloroethylene found in printing inks or paints, Formaldehyde found in paper bags, plywood panelling and synthetic fabrics, Benzene used to make plastics resins or detergents, Xylene found in printings and paint industries and Ammonia found in window cleaners or floor waxes.
Moreover, Washington State University and ALCA’s studies have shown that plant transpiration in an office environment releases moisture, creating a humidity level exactly matching the recommended human comfort range of 30-60%. In addition proper selection and placement of plant materials can lower heating and cooling costs by as much as 20%.
At last, University of Oxford and Surrey’s researches have shown that plants not only can reduce significantly worker’s stress, but also that a small indoor hedge placed around a workspace will reduce noise and office pollution by 5 decibels.
These different outcomes confirm the words of Axel Haslam of the University of Queensland School of Psychology: “The ‘lean’ philosophy has been influential across a wide range of organisational domains. Our research questions this widespread conviction that less is more. Sometimes less is just less“.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Captions:
Some creations by HW Style, 20-years-experienced company in designing, realising and managing green indoor and outdoor environments for offices, banks, hotels, hospitals, and public spaces. In the pictures some examples of outdoor green spaces, living green walls and live pictures.

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Secretair Sedus: an oasis of privacy.

Sedus cultivates the renaissance of an old type of furniture for casual work places, as a retreat in the open space, a cosy solution for the home office or useful desk in common spaces like university and library. It underlines the effect of productive well-being and close the gap between “main office” and “home office”.

This single workplace created by designer Rüdiger Schaack is small (1200 x 700 mm) but beautiful and easy to position thanks to its castors. A screening textile element and conscious avoidance of conventional table legs contribute to the special character of the versatile piece of furniture.
5-sedus-secretaire-Rudiger-Schaack-wow-webmagazine.The supporting structure consists of a tubular frame construction with a net-like fabric cover, which also functions as acoustic and visual screening as well as supporting the table top. This creates a small haven of well-being that allows concentrated working and further reinforces it with the slanted flanks of this screening.

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Agile Working: results and prospects.

How important is the smart working in a big city like Milan? The results and the prospects of the Agile Working Day 2015, an event that saw Wow! Webmagazine on the front line, were presented the last 15th June. The Agile Working Day 2015 represented a successful experiment, a chance to spread the culture of the new way of working that will be replayed in 2016.

The second edition of the “Giornata del lavoro agile” (Agile Working Day), that took place the 25th of March, was a great chance for companies and the public administration of Milan and surroundings to experiment a day in which their employees would have had the opportunity of working wherever they liked, according to the smart working idea.
In that week WOW! Webmagazine organized the WOW! Island Agile Working, a space that made possible to move the workplace directly above a swimming pool and that became one of the main point of the event, with several jelly sessions and experts.
The official results, presented by Marco Mareggi, consultant of the local timetable plan commision, together with different professionals, have confirmed the participation of 149 public authorities and private companies, 61 of which were new, and of 8.175 employees, 63% of which had an experience of agile working for the first time.
It was registered a higher number of small companies with less than 100 employees (from 40 of the 2014 to 82 of this year), and of medium-size companies (from 21 to 30). On the other hand, the number of the big companies, with more than 1000 employees, decreased (from 31 to 24). A significant step forward was made by the public authorities, where applying the smart working’s concepts is made difficult by the lack of specific laws (from 2 to 11).
Thanks to the 1.704 online forms filled in by the employee who joined the Agile Working Day 2015, it was possible to draw a profile of the average “smart worker”.
He is over 40 (32% more than in 2014) and he usually lives just outside of the city where he works and daily moves (49%). The Agile Working Days 2015 allowed to save almost 3.000 hours of life, 108 minutes per worker, a time that was used mostly for personal care activities or with the family.
The 85% of the participants decided to work from home, saving also 170.000 km overall (+13%), allowing a desynchronization of the traffic, a very important breakthrough for a big city like Milan. Less people, though, had the chance to have a flexible working time management (-9%).
The main benefit, the workers has pointed out, are money saving, stress reduction, more time for their families and higher productivity.
The downsides where pointed out just by the 3% of the survey, which have found some criticality in inadequate instruments, in the difficulty of organizing the job, and in a lack of human relationships.
Smart working is nowadays an important way to build a sustainable social and environmental transformation, a great support for urban mobility and a well-being centered society.
How are the italian companies interpreting the concept of agile working?
The studies presented by Simona Cuomo of the Bocconi University highlights the fact that the majority of the companies are nowadays doing gradual steps in approaching the agile working, trying to change the bias that links it to ways of working that are considered less productive, like part-time and teleworking.
Companies are trying to find halfway solutions: they give one or two days per week or per month where the agile working is allowed, most of them still work on a clocking in concept, lowering the clocking in times, allowing a more flexible working time and keeping the offices open longer.
Most of these changes are in an experimental stage and hasn’t become formally established yet: first steps towards a new long-term structure.
Testo di Gabriele Masi.

 

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Plant Picture: a touch of “green”, saving space.

Could it be the owners are not involved in greening up their offices? And are not aware of the advantages for the employees having green in offices?
Almost 20 years have passed since the botanist Patrick Blanc realized his first brilliant indoor Vertical Gardens. Since then the concept of Plant Wall developed offering more flexible and less “demanding” solutions.
Today is possible to literally frame a corporate garden and hang it on a wall, and also to create an office vertical vegetable garden.

We asked Hans Westerduin, Mobilane manager and commercial partner of Suite Plants, to tell us about the benefits of a “green office” and specifically of an original sistem named  “Power of Plants” which is cleverly able to integrate the office needing of walkable area and a green environment. (The italian supplier is HW Style).

On which studies is Power of Plants based?
Studies by famous institutes like NASA, University of Harvard and other Universities have shown how the presence of plants in a work environment brings a lot of benefits and in particular a productivity gain, less absenteeism, less health problems and a better sense of well-being.
The problem so far was that it was impossible to increase this green presence in the offices because of the lack of walkable areas.
Can you give us an example of this studies?
This studies include different fields. NASA, for example, has run air controls in indoor environment where plants where arranged, founding that several common species of indoor plants have the ability to remove compounds such as benzene and hexane in the range of 50% to 75% of the total volatile organic compounds. Other experiments have focused, instead, on a social-anthropological aspect of the problem, showing that both women and men demonstrate more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in a office environment that includes flowers and plants.
What is your opinion about this results?
Humans have a natural love for plants and green environment. The Biologist Ed Wilson of  Harvard University has named it “Biophilia”. It has been demonstrated by several experiments run by Steelcase, Inc., a popular manufacturer of office furnishings, that the 42% of office employees brings their own plants to personalize their workplace.
LifePicture, LifeDivider and LifePanel, the three “shapes” of Power of Plants, are not just about making the office more green. It’s also about design.
Absolutely yes. We have thought about giving the chance to our customer to choose among different kind of plants and to personalize the frames. Most of all LifePicture: I think it can be considered a bridge between art and plants.
Text by Gabriele Masi


 

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An art-skin: Living Art by Dante Benini, Moscow.

It is the World greatest habitable artwork, a project included into the Guinness Book of Records, a “new” entrepreneurial format inspired by Italian Renaissance: the role of the Prince is played by the developer Aleksey Dobashin, founder and General Director of Krost, one of the most important construction companies in Russia.
Five 140 meters high towers were transformed into colossal frameworks within to live (45,000 sam surface). The primary colors plus some golden touchs cover facades and interiors, art becomes architecture and architecture becomes art thanks to the project by Dante Oscar Benini Architect with the involvement of the Italian artist Mario Arlati. The project was winner of the competition organized by Krost to try new people-oriented solutions giving identity to the mega residential complex, socially and culturally engaged, which is rising in Pavshino at the gates of Moscow (1500 employing workers).
Dante Benini stresses the aspect of the social utility of art with a strong communicative impact statement (see the video-interview).

The low selling price is a great merit of this residential complex: $ 2,500/sqm. including the undeniable advantage of “owning ” an Arlati’s artwork framed by the window of your own home.
The philosophy of the project was not only to create convenient urban environment where all necessary is “at arm’s length”. People can walk in parks, play with children, go in for sports, spend time with a family and have some rest. Thus on the territory we obtained shops, cafe, tennis courts, ice skating rink, sports school for children, kindergarten and so on. Maximum attention was paid to the landscape quality (land art project for the park by Emanuele Bortolotti, AG & P Studio in Milan ) to livability and people well-being mainly through art. The five towers are located in a huge park (7 acres of green on a total area of 10) that also involved Russian artists (Natalja Nikolaevna Opiok and Aleksej Petrovic Parfenov) and intenational architects (including the Dutch firm Mecanoo and English John Hopkins).
The presentation of Living Art was mainly focused on the couple art=beauty without investigate aspects related to technological systems and the eco-sustainability of the complex, but we presume the same attention was also devoted to the “beauty ” and livability of our Planet.

 

APPiness: propositions for happiness by mobile devices.

The project APPiness was made possible by a collaboration between OgilvyOne and the SPD Scuola Politecnica di Design. Six workgroups has a week to design a mobile application to improve people’s lives. Guided by Executive Creative Director Paolo Iabichino and supported throughout the workshop by the agency’s senior creative talent, including Luca Comino, Andrea Guzzetti, and Tommaso Minnetti, SPD’s creative youths designed applications to establish a virtual space for the communication and interaction between six important brands and their consumers.

The Jury: the judging panel included Guerino Delfino (CEO and Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Italy), Paolo Iabichino (Executive Creative Director at OgilvyOne and OgilvyAction Italy) and Federico Ferrazza, Managing Editor at Wired.it – which partnered the initiative. In fact, Wired decided to support APPiness because of the affinity the project’s concept has with the magazine’s mission “to change the world for the better”.

The proposed APPs promise happiness and consist of increased utility, usability, fun, and wider accessibility,embracing all lifestyles and categories of consumption: travel, money, food, mobility, fashion and communication. APPiness gave the 25 Visual Design Masters students the opportunity to explore this new space for dialogue between consumers and brands. For years the advertising course – taught by Paolo Iabichino and part of the Visual Masters at the Scuola Politecnica di Design – has been oriented towards identifying new opportunities for exchange between people and brands – beyond the product experience. More and more often brands are being called upon to engage in comprehensive well-being, so that the simple functioning of products and services is accompanied by a real improvementing our lives and routines.

The winner project: the application Get Lost was designed by Alexandra Balisova, Livia Galeazzi, Viktoria Shopolova and Olga Mikhailova to help people re-discover their desire to “explore” and to “get lost in order to discover”, a concept that’s in sync with Timberland‘s philosophy. The application’s central theme was “greenery” in cities. Discovering parks, charting unknown and unexplored green areas, identifying plants encountered along the way, moving around the city with the help of a compass, an analogue tool inserted into a digital device. These and other functions involve users and invite them to share their discoveries with others.