In a special guest edit, the managing director of Vitra (UK and Ireland) shares his tips on how to rethink the home office
The home, for most of us, is the backdrop of our personal experience with the coronavirus pandemic and will remain connected with it in our memories. The understanding of the function and meaning of our residential environments has been changed as a result.
One of the first needs we had to respond to during the lockdown was how to successfully integrate an office into our homes. Working and learning from home brings with it a cognitive challenge: finding focus in chaos. Rooms and daily routines have to be rethought to maximise productivity.
Is my workspace soundproof for online meetings? Does my chair enable ergonomic sitting for hours on end? Can I vary my working position during the day with a height-adjustable table or by relocating to different settings within the home?
Below are five tips on how to rethink your workspace:
1. Hybrid kitchen
The kitchen is often the first place to be rethought as a functional and flexible workspace. When sitting for more than eight hours, it is best to replace a kitchen chair with an office alternative to enable ergonomic and productive work. Once work is complete, the chair can be easily moved out during traditional cooking or dining settings, or the office chair may even be given a permanent seat at the kitchen table.
Make sure to choose a chair that is not only comfortable and ergonomic but also visually appealing. After all, you will have to see it every day so better choose an object you actually like looking at as well as using. We recommend ID Trim by Antonio Citterio, which you can customise to your needs, or the small and agile Rookie by Konstantin Grcic.
Now that we are spending more time at home and having to share that limited area with our family, partners or housemates, we need to work on optimising the available space. Partitioning off or zoning our interior between various activities and people, or during different times of the day, presents an easy option.
The so-called ‘broken plan’ – with screens, curtains and plants in the absence of walls – can help create digital detox zones while other members of the household carry on with their work. Vitra’s Dancing Wall, designed by Stephan Hürlemann, acts as a mobile partition that can be used to flexibly divide rooms into dedicated zones for living, dining, working or exercising.
It’s challenging to keep a well-used space tidy at all times. The Vitra Accessories collection offers a range of solutions to keep your space tidy, from design classics such as the Uten Silo designed by Dorothee Becker in 1969, to contemporary must-haves like Arik Levy’s Toolbox RE – made of recycled plastic originating from household waste – or the Hexagonal Containers by Jasper Morrison.
The home has been our safest haven for weeks on end, sometimes even months. This experience of feeling safe at home has influenced what we are looking for in our domestic environment. Our living spaces are being repurposed to meet the requirements of an active home that functions as a gym, home cinema and playground for children – while still providing a domestic refuge for lounging, reading and cocooning.
Good lighting is instrumental in feeling well at home and in creating an atmosphere that allows a shift from work-mode to home-mode. The Akari Light Sculptures by Isamu Noguchi are luminaires, handcrafted from traditional washi paper by Japanese artisans. They bring warmth and a sense of reassuring comfort to any living-working space and come in many different sizes and shapes.
The limited use of public space during the health crisis goes hand in hand with the increased use of outdoor space in the home. Balconies and gardens provide a natural extension of our living spaces, suitable for eating, reading, relaxing or working in the warmer months.
Choose furniture that helps you extend your indoor space outdoors, and especially with the arrival of spring, make sure you allow yourself to do some of your work outside too. The Eames Plastic Chair is perfect to be used at a table outdoors and will bring colour and good mood to any outdoor setting – however small it may be.
Images courtesy of Vitra
As featured in OnOffice 154, Spring 2021. Read a digital version of the issue for free here