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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