Category: Inspiration

Educated Spaces

05.06.2019

Educated Spaces

What is an educated space? Is it within the education sector, caters to learning environments, or designed with the intent for growth and development? All of the above.

There are many articles saying there is limited evidence to support the idea that making physical changes to classrooms boosts learning outcomes. They conclude that the outcome is found solely in the teaching model, and the impact of it is derived from the practices of its educators.
Despite this, there has been a boom in re-designing education spaces. Why? Well we can look at how technology and the appreciation of collaborative working has driven a need to be more flexible, and create more task-orientated designs.
In workplace design the creation of open, agile and collaborative spaces has been successful by creating ecosystems of zones depending on the nature of work. The mistake is applying this same approach to designing for education. Younger people need more structure in an environment as their brains grow, not just learning curriculums but also how they best learn.
The phrase ‘everyone learns in different ways’ remains true person to person. Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic styles are all known and students develop their best learning style naturally as they grow. Educators have in recent years embraced this diversity using more technology, group learning and visual aids in best teaching practices. In education spaces the different zones for types of learning needs to be strictly outlined. Individual desks for independent classwork, canteen tables for group work, in libraries and open areas for example.

“Everyone learns in different ways”

It remains that rows of desks work in most teaching spaces because the structure is needed. What we can look at is flexible furniture so that classrooms and breakout spaces can be changed for the different learning zones. Folding and moveable tables are ideal to change from individual task work to group clusters. Stacking chairs to optimize space, and create room for large discussions, mindfulness workshops or project space.
In open areas and libraries soft seating and laptop tables allow students to move around and create a space that works best for their need.
By combining the knowledge of current teaching practices, and what is physically needed to define spaces, we can create agile and efficient educated spaces.

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Human Beings: The species in the built environment

24.04.2019

Human Beings: The species in the built environment

Humans: species profile
Common Names: Human, sub-species Designer and Non-Designer Scientific: Humana, Excogitatoris; Humana, Non Excogitatoris Diet: Way, way too often Size: See response to diet, above Intelligence: Often questionable Habitat: Human’s place-based thoughts and behaviours have been systematically investigated by scientists. Applying insights derived from their findings increases the likelihood that single humans and herds of teammates in a particular habitat achieve species-valued goals. These objectives often include sustained market success and financial health.

Researchers, working in labs tucked into the darkest recesses of psychology department basements, and in spaces as publicly accessible as Grand Central Station, have learned that the responses of members of the sub-species Non-Designer to their habitat can differ from those of humans in the other sub-species, Designer. The most frequently identified reason for these differences is that design training influences how humans experience the world around themselves.
Both Designers and Non-Designers share the same cognitive structures, however. The rest   of this section will focus on the form of habitats in which both Designers and Non-De-signers exhibit their highest levels of professional performance, with sub-species differences noted, as relevant.
The ways that today’s humans are affected by the world around them can often be linked to collective experiences as a new species, many thousands of years ago. Being in the same sort of environments where early humans would have felt comfortable has a positive effect on the mood of today’s humans. That’s important because, achieving the goals detailed in design briefs depends on humans being in one particular mood or another.
Rigorous research studies have found that when humans are in a more positive mood, they think more broadly. As a result, they’re better at problem solving, coming up with creative ideas, and getting along with others, for example. When they’re thinking more broadly, humans are also healthier, because their immune system functions more effectively.
There are times when negative moods are best, however. When they’re in a negative mood, all humans are better at quickly and accurately running through emergency protocols, for instance. So, don’t eliminate the flashing lights and annoying sirens that come standard with each nuclear power plant control center, at least in the movies, just yet.
Humans, both individually and in teams, are in better moods and do a better job on cog-nitive tasks when they can make choices about the spaces where they’re working—that means they can adjust light levels and temperatures, for example. People, however, can become stressed when they need to make more than 4 or so decisions about their physical workplaces; so curated option sets should be provided. It is better to provide humans with lighting fixtures with a finite and carefully selected set of light color/light intensity options than rheostats with infinite numbers of light color and light intensity possibilities built in, for example. It is particularly desirable for humans to be able to choose where they will do solo work that requires concentration and, in so doing, avoid distractions whenever pos-sible. Distractions generate stress and destroy positive moods.
For humans doing cognitive work to feel comfortable in a space, and be in a positive mood, they must feel secure. Humans (of either sub-species) feel sheltered in the same sort of spaces that chipmunks (scientific name: Tamias) do. Chipmunks are regularly social creatures who rely on their wits to survive, just as the earliest humans did. Chip-munks are in relaxed positive moods when they sit on a shielded tree branch with a view out over the nearby meadow, just as people like to survey a restaurant from a high-backed booth with a view of the door. Neither humans nor chipmunks will do their best at work requiring focus when they’re sitting with their backs to passersby in an open area or when they’re being watched by hoards of others, for example. The “chipmunk test” reliably distinguishes spaces where humans are in relaxed positive moods from those where they’re in tense, negative ones.
Researchers have identified numerous pleasant experiences humans had in places where they prospered long, long ago that can be conceptually replicated in modern environments to create spaces where all humans perform well cognitively and are in positive moods. For example, gentle air currents can move things such as mobiles, just as mild spring breezes caused flower heads to bob slightly. Also, a range of sensory experiences at a variety of scales can be incorporated into spaces.  
Humans are pack animals and never ignore the relative status of those they’re with. Many of their social processes depend on having rank-related information. For example, the distances that humans stand or sit from each other depend on their social standing. Not knowing relative status makes humans tense.
Humans today judge their own rank and that of others just as courtiers did centuries ago, by determining what goodies are provided to them—a seat near the manager? A special task chair? Eliminating differences in options provided doesn’t reduce humans’ need to determine the relative standing of others. People use whatever tools they have to signal relative rank. In one case, when everyone was given an identical workspace and coat racks were randomly distributed across the office floor, after a little while, all of the coat racks mysteriously migrated to be beside the work areas of those of highest rank.
The sorts of places that make it more likely humans will be in a better mood make them feel appropriately respected. Non-Designers put a lot of effort into deciding if a place in-dicates that they’re valued (which Designers do as well but don’t like to talk about). Both human sub-species share a deep-seated interest in knowing what other people think about them—so they’ve become good at working with whatever clues they can find to do just that. Are bathrooms appropriately designed and maintained? Are finishes used unhealthy? Do spaces provided support the work that people need to do, really?
Spaces silently convey additional information that can influence human mood. Organizational and national cultures create the context in which messages are sent and interpreted by users. The only way to understand the symbolic language being spoken in a place is to spend time with the people who use it. Habitats that send unwelcome unspoken messages are extraordinarily stressful for humans—and stress diverts mental energy from the task at hand, degrading cognitive performance.

“when humans are in a more positive mood, they think more broadly”

Scientists have collected a great deal of information about how sensory experiences in an area affect how humans respond emotionally to a space. So much information, that only a sprinkling can be shared in this profile. Seeing colours that are not very saturated but relatively bright, such as a sage green with lots of white mixed into it, has been linked to the relaxed positive moods that are just right for knowledge work. Looking at colours that are saturated and not very bright, such as Kelly green, is helpful when humans need to be more energized. Being in warm light optimizes the likelihood that humans get along well with others. Around the planet, floral smells are likely to put humans in a good mood, while smelling cinnamon has been linked to more creative thinking; orange aroma is an anxiety-buster. Sniffing lemon puts people in a great mood to do knowledge work.
Human hearts start to beat in time to nearby sounds, a process called entrainment, and people keep careful track of how fast or slowly their hearts are beating. Unconsciously, humans use information about their own heartbeats to, in part, judge their own mood—with slower beats being interpreted as feeling calm, for example. Tactile experiences also affect humans’ moods, encouraging them to be more or less empathetic to others, or generous and trusting, or to negotiate more vigorously, for instance.
Peoples’ mood and performance are best in spaces with moderate visual complexity. A space with moderate visual complexity features carefully curated sets of colours and shapes. The interiors of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright generally have moderate visual complexity, for example. Designers have much better experiences in spaces with low visual complexity than Non-Designers, who often feel quite stressed in these areas. Designers are generally attuned to variations in design details that are lost on Non- Designers; as a result, Non-Designers can be unpleasantly under-stimulated in a space where Designers are at ease. Non-Designers’ discomfort in spaces where Designers are pleased to be often puzzles Designers.
Information is continually being gathered by human sensory receptors and processed. Individual sensory inputs are combined with simultaneous other inputs to determine the overall effect of a space on mood. National and organizational cultures guide the process-ing, integration, and interpretation of information received. Many other factors, such as compensation structure and economic conditions also affect employee moods.
In technical terms, the physical situations in which humans find themselves drive their conceptual and tangible assessments of stimuli. When those assessments are integrated they determine humans’ fully processed emotional reaction to an experience. That fully processed emotional reaction in turn contributes not only to professional performance, etc., but also to place-based wellbeing.
A final cautionary note: Humans, whether members of either the Designer or Non-Design-er sub-species, can, on occasion ignore their own human-ness, and the forces that influence their emotional response to the world that surrounds them, noted above. This has dire consequences for personal and organizational outcomes. Humans are not automatons, however; they are complex animals, often driven by processes more primitive than they like to acknowledge.

Author: Sally Augustin, PhD, environmental psychologist and a principal at Design With Science, focusing on human-centered design. Via Teknion ETHONOMICS. 
Read more from TCW in Volume 3 of YELLOW here. 

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Some Considerations When Purchasing Office Furniture

26.03.19

Some Considerations When Purchasing Office Furniture

Purchasing new office furniture can be a tough job, just because of what number of elements that you need to ponder upon. Regardless of whether you’re simply beginning, or you’re remodeling your present working area, any person would agree that it is some job to do. Numerous components, whether they are smaller or bigger, may influence a definitive choice of buying. Your priorities at the beginning will guarantee that you are able to save money and cut down on expenses. Here are a few fundamental contemplations to remember when purchasing collaborative workspace furniture. 

The Time factor: 
Similar to taking any decision on investment, purchasing incautiously could lead you lamenting your choice later. It would be significantly more helpful to save some valuable time to chalk out a strategy. This strategy can basically be an assessment of needs regarding your office furniture. It is likewise a smart idea to get some opinions from your workers as well. It is imperative to consider how much space you have available to you, and also any forthcoming plan to develop your organization and contract extra workforce. Soliciting the correct inquiries ahead from time adds a feeling of authenticity to your desires. 
Ergonomics: 
For example, ensure any desk in your office has satisfactory extra space to move around for the people sitting there for a long duration. It is fine if you are purchasing something that looks decent, however, if it’s not what your workers are comfortable with, it will be of no utilization to them. The furniture in your office is both a device for efficient production and a contributing factor to workspace health and solace. The fundamentals of ergonomics mix these two functions. 
Workers: 
Remember your workers when you purchase new quality furniture in Sydney for your office. Something that is agreeable for one individual may be awkward for another. The desk of an office that is perfect for somebody taller might be awkward for somebody who does not have that height or the other way around. A seat with armrests probably won’t be reasonable for a bigger representative. Moreover, a few representatives may require communitarian workstations while others may require a singular desk. 
Conclusion:
Try not to think that purchasing office furniture is going to be a staggering errand. Take a lot of time in your research, plan cautiously for what you need, and be smart with regards to the comparison of quality and pricing.

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We are Only Human

21.08.2018

We are Only Human

At FRONT, TCW was one of many exhibitors showcasing innovative products and services that responded to needs in the architecture, design and building industries. There were a variety of concepts prevalent to our industries explored throughout the seminars, and driven in the types of products presented throughout the event.
Something that continued to reoccur was across the board, designs were being created and considered against a highly human-centric approach. My thoughts were further cemented listening to the speakers of ‘Tech Two and Call Me in the Morning’ spinning thoughts on designing for Circadian rhythms, integration of technology and emotional responsiveness, all the way to discussing AI and robotics with a sole purpose of bettering human welfare.

In an age of technological innovation, and moving forward with new workplace practices, some crucial needs can get lost. There are certain nuances in life that will always make a person happy, and those things that will always create roadblocks to ones wellbeing. The workplace today is as demanding as ever, and life is moving at a fast pace too. Most professionals don’t just go home and ‘switch off’ after 5pm. They are likely to be checking their emails and take work home outside of business hours, and likewise run a personal errand and check their social feeds at work.
When you walk into an office there should be places to live not just work. The architecture and design industry is booming with multi functional furniture and spatial design that allow for individual and collaborative working. This was the first step. Now we need to think deeper about the work-life aspects. Let’s exist in workplaces designed so that when entered, you know that there are zones for those personal tasks too.
The Human Space Cube designed by Bosse is one solution for an independent space, a means of creating a room with a free-floating frame – not impeding on a buildings structure. You can create a 10 person meeting room for high intensity work, or a solo cube for taking that personal phone call. The acoustic panels, temperature control and air-circulation are all feats of design and engineering that made the Human Space Cube such a success at FRONT. This product is an ideal solution to the privacy issues that arose out of the open office concept. People always need time in their own space, and considered design can provide it.

It was renowned industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa that said ‘the best designs are those that dissolve into behaviour’. Unsurprisingly, people often respond to environments emotionally first and rationally second. When a designed space is so simple and responsive to the need and audience that it is created for, it becomes intrinsic in its use.
We can improve the ‘liveability’ of our workplaces by designing them to target the way people feel in them, not just their functions. When you are surrounded by harsh edges and bland, unnatural materials – it’s just not a nice feeling. Zones designed by Pearson&Lloyd for Teknion, brings back the notion of circadian rhythms with a human centred design approach interlaced into every stage of their process. Each piece of the collection is considered by how someone would react in the space, how would they feel sitting in it, how they move around, how different elements interact. Using furniture should be intrinsic; as is the way you react to it. There is not one right angle in the collection, paired with soft textiles and timber, the mind can relax. Luke Pearson reflected on their outcome “it has to feel simple, at the end of the day you don’t want to have to tell people how to do things or how to use it. They have to just intuitively get on with it.”

“It has to feel simple, at the end of the day you don’t want to have to tell people how to do things or how to use it. They have to just intuitively get on with it.” – Luke Pearson

Designing for a healthy work-life balance and recognising that workplaces needs are inclusive of human needs, needs to be a factor for every healthy and productive workplace. Simply adding in a nice skylight or piece of furniture doesn’t automatically ensure positive human behaviour, but it does make a difference. Take time to inspect and understand how parts of a fit out effect people’s behaviour, it could be a chain reaction.

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From Russia With Love

18.07.18

From Russia with Love

By Kasim Ali-Khan
I have never thought of Russia as being a romantic place but after 3 weeks touring, there is definitely some passion and you can see why. They have written their own history with a strong belief that Stalin was a “Great leader” despite the fact that he butchered 9 million of his own people. Talk about a stiff upper lip they have taken several upper cuts and that was the demeanour I expected. Whether dictated to by the powers above or their love of football the Russians were fantastic people across the 5 cities I visited.

The vast metropolis that was Moscow had the world’s most beautiful (and deep) underground stations that would never fail to amaze in the details the artisans of the various states invested in the stations. From intricate mosaics, to beautiful artworks and even a station of stain glass windows it was a true gallery and with trains every 60-90 seconds we have a lot to learn about mass transportation. The Kremlin was majestic and St Basil’s cathedral with its quirky coloured domes and a maze of little praying and reflective spaces had fantastic acoustics. Hearing an A Cappella choir bellowing out the chants in their low base sounds resonated deep in the soul and made the hairs on your neck stand to attention. Magnificent!
On to Kazan, more cathedrals, and the influence of the mogul leader Genghis Khan (apparently, I am a descendant) within the architecture and the ethnicity. The long Bauman Street provided entertainment with pubs and cafes along with a lot of French supporters cheering their team. ‘Détente Cordial’ for sure, as this was the first test of how supporters of 2 nations greet, and emerge as a happy collection of passionate supporters enjoying the spirit of sportsmanship, such was reflected throughout my trip. Boys done well, but not well enough as they lost to the French 2-1, the eventual winners of the tournament.
Next – Samara, the space capital of Russia and where the first man on the moon was managed from. We stayed with the Danish team in a FIFA approved hotel and enjoyed the best hotel food on the trip. We managed to hold the Danes to 1-1 and most of us feel this was the game we should have pushed to win. Still no Timmy Cahill!! Samara is on the vast Volga River, over a kilometre wide in parts and apparently freezes over in winter. They even created a beach along one side with volleyball and plenty of entertaining. In addition Stalin’s very deep Bunker in the event that it all turned to Borsch!!

For the final game we ended up in Sochi on the Black Sea, with history going back to the Egyptian trading routes. In 2014 Sochi hosted the winter Olympics an hour north in the mountains of Krasnaya Polyana. You go from the hot and humid coastal city, one of the longest cities in the world at 142km, to the crisp air of the hills and the snow. Temperatures dropped by 10 degrees heading there along the highway and the general infrastructure that cost over US$50billion to build and host the games through mountains, it is indeed an engineering feet.
Sochi is also known as the seaside resort for the wealthy and connected Russians who escaped for their summer holidays. One famous Dacha we visited was built by Stalin in the hills and all with a paint called Stalin green to blend in with the trees in the surrounding hills. Quirky little things like having low treads on the stairs as he was a small man as well as small beds and a swimming pool that was half filled so the great dictator didn’t drown made me smile. The game against Peru was disappointing on the football front and surprising on the support front that Peru had sent 32000 supporters to cheer on their team and outnumber the Aussies 3-1!! 
No tour of Russia would be complete without a trip to St Petersburg and the Hermitage. A fantastic collection of art started by Catherine and Peter the great had a collection the Louvre would be proud of and a building the French would envy. St Petersburg is made up of 36 islands linked together with bridges that all have a timetable of opening up to splendid pomp and ceremony and Tchaikovsky blurting out at 2am with crowds jostling for position. Bizarre !!! When you are on your last legs of a 3 week vodka /football binge I was expecting a day too far but the splendour of St Petersburg and the Hermitage, St Isaacs and the bridges kept us up through the last hours of a magnificent tour. Well done the French on getting the trophy and well-done Russia on fantastic hosting.  

“The Kremlin was majestic and St Basil’s cathedral with its quirky coloured domes and a maze of little praying and reflective spaces had fantastic acoustics.”

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Real Bodies

25.06.18

Real Bodies

By Alexandra Kennedy.
There is a new and rather controversial exhibit in Sydney at the moment. It has been travelling the world to both much acclaim and heated debate since 2005. The exhibition entitled “Real Bodies” is as the title suggests an exhibition of the workings of the human body.
What makes it so controversial is that the exhibit comprises of 20 actual bodies which have been donated to the exhibit as permanent works of art, beacons of learning or abhorrent abominations depending on your view. These bodies have been dissected in various ways to expose the inner magic that is man.
 

Image Source: https://www.timeout.com/sydney/museums/real-bodies-the-exhibition Supplied: Edison Graff
 

The bodies are prevented from decay by means of plastination, which is a rubberisation process patented in the 1970’s by anatomist Gunther von Hagens. It essentially replaces water and fatty material in the cells first with acetone then plastics, such as silicone rubber, polyester or epoxy resin.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who when questioned would not have an immediate opinion on the value or need of this exhibit. The views held both by individuals and groups are strong and at times very polarising. At the end of the day your opinion will be shaped by your environment, upbringing and life experiences.
In the modern times death is no longer so much of a taboo and as such, is this exhibit really so much different or more confronting than that of Tutankhamun? As humans in the 21st century our thirst for knowledge, improvement and curiosity fuels an ever increasing interest in what may have in times gone by been more of a macabre fascination. The digging up of various graves and exhuming persons long gone along with their possessions is no longer termed “grave robbing” rather the new and preferred definition is archaeology.
My personal opinion is that if you are curious and intelligent enough to discern that these people donated their bodies to the “Real Bodies” exhibition for a reason – to teach others and as such who are you to begrudge them their last attempt at perpetuity? By all means go along and view the magic that is the human form – for once from the inside out. Which in these times of obsession with external appearance is almost a breath of fresh air.

“The digging up of various graves and exhuming persons long gone along with their possessions is no longer termed ‘grave robbing’ rather the new and preferred definition is archaeology.”

My 8-year-old daughter has been learning about the human body at school and is most excited by the prospect of going to see this exhibit. Having a few years of life experience to shape my opinion, I may be a little less excited but just as curious. I freely admit to being albeit a little anxious at the thought of coming face to face with my own mortality. At 8 years of age she can afford to be a little more cavalier about it.

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What’s Instore for the World of Work in 2016?

April 15, 2016

What’s Instore for the World of Work in 2016?

Article originally published by Allison Tsao, Sr. Workstyle Consultant, Veldhoen + Company

Does your work environment effect your performance – your productivity, creativity, or overall well-being? Are you curious to know how the workplace trends forecast for 2016 correspond with the psychology behind activity based working? Read on to find out and to gain access to TCW’s upcoming event series – the first featuring ABW experts Velhoen + Company…  

As we kick off a new year, I found myself wondering about what 2016 holds for the world of work. It got me thinking about what I’ve read, heard, and experienced throughout 2015 and how 2016 could continue to not only evolve, but push the boundaries of possibility. Many people are discussing trends and predictions, however, I wanted to take a different angle and present my own personal hopes for where we could be going to not only evolve, but transform our workplaces. As a believer of the Anticipatory Principle – what one hopes to create in the future has a significant impact on guiding one’s actions in the present – I bravely put forth my Top 6 Hopes (rather than predictions) for the world of work in 2016:

So how will you tackle these challenges in 2016? If any of this has stirred your thoughts, please get in contact. The world of work is never without challenges, however, as Goethe once said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”.

1. Flexibility will become the norm rather than the exception – flexibility is no longer a perk, rather a demand from the workforce. Gone are the days of traditional work hours and static work locations. Globalisation and technology will only continue to increase so employers will need to fundamentally rethink their strategy around flexible working, and this needs to be fully supported and enabled by the company culture, leadership style, and tools and technology. The blurring of personal and professional lives will continue, increasing the demand for more flexibility to manage the integration, rather than the balance, of the two. If your company’s been putting off thinking about this big, scary topic, 2016 is your time to tackle it head on.

2. Less policies, more freedom – with an emphasis on flexibility as the new norm, more and more companies are and will continue to take a progressive stance to move away from traditional policies and rule-based cultures. Unlimited vacation days, non-standardised working hours, eliminating the performance management process in favor of year round, informal feedback and coaching, and flexible working arrangements that work for individual needs will enable increased freedom of choice. This freedom of choice will also increase the need for employees to demonstrate more personal accountabiilty and intention to define and voice their needs while still achieving outcomes. Mutual trust will become a key attribute in fully embracing this freedom and creating a fluidity to the way we lead our lives.

3. Collectivism over individualism – the conversation topic of “collaboration” will continue to heat up. A shift in our typical individualistic way of working will occur to make room for the collective whole. Cultures will shift to establish and evaluate against team goals, celebrate and reward team accomplishments, and create team-based coaching processes. Traditional hierarchy will be challenged even in the most bureaucratic organisations, and collectivism will blur the lines of organisational structure and make functions or departments irrelevant. Rather, organisations will focus on people’s knowledge and skills to bring together the most effective teams to create new possibilities.

4. Focus on inclusion – Enabling the workforce will rely not only on diversity, as it has in the past, but more importantly will shift focus towards inclusion. For the first time, the workforce will be welcoming Gen Z’ers into the workplace. Their way of working is even more agile than Gen Y so employers will be challenged to meet the needs of 4 generations in the workforce while taking measures to not alienate any single generation. Creating a workplace culture that enables flexibility and collectivism while also balancing the strengths and preferences of 4 different generations will present a major challenge, which means companies need to support workers used to more traditional ways of working through this change by providing everyone with the competence and confidence to thrive.

5. The workplace will become a true strategic enabler – Let’s face it – real estate has typically been seen as a business cost. However, the conversation has been and should continue to shift away reducing real estate costs towards increasing brand equity through the workplace. After all, the workplace can serve as an enabler of a company’s strategy, a talent attractor, and a key differentiator from competitors. To enable this shift, real estate and properties professionals need to challenge their own paradigms and upgrade their skills to be able to influence business leaders and fellow peers around how a workplace strategy can be a critical link to the business’s strategy.

6. Inviting the outside in – workplaces and employers will open their office doors to the outside. This means inviting strategic partners, potential partners and customers, and existing customers inside their homes to collaborate in ways that never existed before. Traditional ways of thinking around confidentiality and collaboration will be challenged, as partners and customers can provide key input into the design of new or improved products and services. The traditional “firewall” between the outside and inside will become irrelevant to the ultimate outcome – creating more value for customers.

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The Day I Met Eames Demetrios – Grandson of Charles and Ray Eames

February 20, 2016

Meeting Eames Detmetrios

As told by TCW Director Kasim Ali-Khan – Last weekend had 2 personal highlights. The first was winning nearest the pin at Wakehurst, a birdie and the promise of beer. The second requires a little more explaining…

EAMES DEMETRIOS needs to be recognised as a global and interstellar traveller, poet and story teller. In the world of CS Lewis there are fictional characters appealing to children with a parallel meaning to adults, inviting the symbolism of Aslan as Christ and the world of the stars and constellations. 2 layers operating in a mesh of fiction and symbolism. Eames has created a world with a series of “markers” in 127 locations around the world in remote places, under water and in more popular spots, where stories unfolds with a tint of local flavour and characters with creatures from the deep depths of his mind. Welcome to Kcymaerxthaere. Eames has overlaid “Earth” with his parallel world of design and creativity having no boundaries to the imagination of form and function. Throw in characters, stories and places in Kcymaerxthaere where “Nobunaga” links “Alcibiades” at the “Adalanta Desert” across the parallel universe with the current geography of the world and you have a vivid world of stories and possibilities.

Eames Demetrios, the grandson of Charles and Ray Eames, needs to be recognised as a global and interstellar traveller, poet and story teller. 

So there I was in a place, known in our world as Kangaroo Valley, a tranquil spot owned by Designer and Sculptor Alex Ritchie with Edward de Bono guardian, Amanda Mobbs, in the middle of the adventure to lay another piece of the world of Kcymaerxthaere here in our back yard. So the 128th marker was laid amongst a frenzy or formwork and setting concrete, with 1541 words ( not quite infinity less 29) a team of enthusiastic pilgrims just being a part of a story not yet written. As the shadows lengthened and the mossies tore into their work, the last letters were pressed and the crowning beer drank to a good days work. Eames indulged us with 20 minutes of his world and the vision for these markers and the promise to set out more in this land “we” call Australia. Not sure what I got out of this experience apart for an appreciative and commemorative shot glass for my participation, but I would not have traded the day and the experience of being a part of something important. One day the places and the characters will become household names like Aslan and the White Witch and when I take my grandkids to the marker in kangaroo valley and probably others, I can say I was a part of this adventure.

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Q&A with LoOok Industries

February 11, 2016

Q&A with LoOok Industries

These days, we’re constantly followed by the pressures of daily life. Our robust smartphones, pervasive Wi-Fi services, and an ever-more-powerful Internet keep us connected, engaged, and distracted. Whether we’re at home, in the office, or in all the places in between, we’re switched “on”.

It’s getting harder to simply relax. There’s no place to kick back, to restore one’s energy, and to get a clear perspective. We are surrounded by too much noise, too many distractions, and not enough comfort.

Read on as we interview Ivar Gestranius of LoOok Industries and uncover how this furniture manufacturer is helping to solve some of today’s most pressing work problems… 

“The best way to get inspired is to go outside and have a look at what’s going on around you. It’s much harder sitting inside four walls trying to force yourself to come up with the next big thing or figure out what people want or need.”

GIGI  (TCW): You are a collection of creatives that make up LoOok Industries. How has this relationship formed, and what do you each contribute to the business?

IVAR GESTRANIUS (LOOOK INDUSTRIES): Me and the other founder Kevin Lahtinen went to design school together. During this time, we did a lot of design projects together, usually quite successfully. After finishing school, we didn’t really have anything better to do so we decided to start a company that designs furniture. As the company grew, we had to pick up a few more great minds along the way; all with an equally bad sense of humor. One guy who is a marketing guru and one guy who is really good with numbers, etc.

GD: Why are there 3 O´s in LoOok Industries?

IG: There are actually three good reasons for that. Maybe not good reasons, but three reasons nonetheless. First of all, three is usually better than two. Secondly, you have to admit that three o´s look and sound cooler. Last but not least, when coming up with the company name on a cold night back in 2009, whiskey may have played a small role in that particular creative process.

GD: Who, where and what inspires you?

IG: The best way to get inspired is to go outside and have a look at what’s going on around you. It’s much harder sitting inside four walls trying to force yourself to come up with the next big thing or figure out what people want or need. Usually when you ask a designer that question they tell you a long crappy story of how they got their inspiration from the nature; from the shape of a leaf or from a stone on the beach. I guess people and all the weird things going on in their everyday life inspire me.

GD: What makes your work unique? What characterises LoOok Industries’ style?

IG: I have always been a fan of Nordic design. We like to think of our design as Nordic design with a twist. There is still the focus on functionality and certain simplicity, but we try to add a little extra weirdness to the equation.

GD: In your opinion, how does Finnish design / manufacturing standout from that of the rest of the world?

IG: I think Finnish design usually is quite simplistic and functional. We put a lot of attention to detail and use a lot of natural materials. When I think of Finnish design I also think of high quality.

GD: I understand you’re quite an environmentally conscious company. Tell me about your environmental philosophy.

IG: It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this planet is slowly dying. The environment is something we always take into consideration when designing new products. We put a lot of thought into materials, manufacturing processes and product lifecycle. There are of course different ways to look at environmentally friendly furniture. For example, a durable chair made out of glass reinforced plastic probably will be just as durable and look the same after 50 years. A chair made out of some other material may not be as durable and you would have to buy a new one 5 times during that same period. I’m not sure which one is better.

GD: What are some of the highlights of your career so far, and why?

IG: I guess there have been a lot of highlights. I can’t think of any in particular. Of course it’s always nice to get appreciation for our designs. When architects praise our designs or if a customer tells you how happy they are with the products, it always brightens up your day.

GD: What would you consider to be your “hallmark” piece(s), and why?

IG: That would probably be The Box Lounger. It is our best selling product at the moment. It has such a differentiating look and it works really great. When it was launched it got an unbelievable amount of media attention around the world.

GD: What is the most notable project you have worked on, and why?

IG: I don’t know about most notable, but I helped my mom build a birdhouse last summer. I made it out of scrap wood found on the beach. It had two floors and a chimney. She was really happy about it.

GD: Business or creativity wise, what has been your greatest challenge?

IG: The greatest challenge so far was probably to get the company up and running. As mentioned earlier we started the company straight after school and at that time we didn’t really know anything about running a design business. Fortunately, you learn a lot along the way, and if a mistake costs you enough, you probably won’t do the same mistake twice. Looking at where we are today, I guess we did at least a few things right.

GD: What (if anything) is frustrating you in the design world lately, and Why?

IG: I’m not sure. There is something, but I can’t really put my finger on what it is.

GD: Tell me a bit about the future of LoOok Industries. Can you share any new products or concept you currently working on?

IG: There is a lot going on at Loook Industries for the moment. We are working on seven new products that will be launched in October during the Orgatec fair in Cologne, Germany. Unfortunately, we will have to keep them a secret until then, but I can assure you, we have some really cool stuff coming up. If you feel like dropping by, our stand number is K-031, Hall 10,2.

GD: What else do you want Australia to know about you?

IG: The story of Loook industries has only just begun. Keep up to date with what’s going on in the deepest darkest north by following us on Facebook and Instagram.

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3 Ways to Make Sitting Good Again

February 2, 2016

3 Ways to Make Sitting Good Again

Sitting has been getting a bad rap lately. As much as we at TCW support movement, ergonomics and standing while you work, it’s time to highlight some positives in chair design, don’t you think?  
Let’s have a look at three ways we can help you can make sitting good again…

“THE DETAILS ARE NOT THE DETAILS. THEY MAKE THE DESIGN” – CHARLES EAMES

#1 – Longo by Actiu  Longo is a modular system that allows formal structures and dynamic spaces to collide. Fusing soft seating with workstations and storage, Longo connects and branches into unlimited seating opportunities.
#2 – Bounce by Naughtone Called Bounce due to independent movement of the seat and back, this flexible design provides a comfort and sophistication not usually associated with steel and plywood chairs. It’s streamlined components allow the form of Bounce to shine.
#3 Speed-o by Dauphin Futuristic design coupled with intelligent technology. Its sleek design and attractive price point make Speed-o the perfect task chair to meet the demands of a modern office. Even more, Speed-o was developed to minimise waste, energy consumption and environmental impact. Nothing bad about that!

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Naughtone Excites

April 2, 2014

Naughtone Excites

Always’ easy form has been designed to compliment any interior no matter what the style; the 5 different base options facilitate this even further. Always is proportioned to offer a positive back support with a comfortable enclosed feeling. The organic form of Always feels as good as it looks from every angle; it uses contemporary engineered foam techniques to provide the fine shape without compromising the comfort and durability. 

Technically, Always is meticulously upholstered to ensure the cover will remain neatly tailored to the product. Always is upholstered over an engineered foam core a top a steel frame for firmly affixing all 5 different base options.

Always’ easy form has been designed to compliment any interior no matter what the style; the 5 different base options facilitate this even further.

The Always chair swivel base is cut from mild steel plate and mild steel tubing. A separate swivel mechanism is pressed into the top of the tube before the top plate is attached. The base is then finished with either chrome plating or polyester powder coat. The components can be separated with hand tools for end of life recycling

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