Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Nearly There - Workplace Trends

It’s just one month to go before the next Workplace Trends conference on 20th October. It seems like a good opportunity to share my views on this year’s programme. It’s a great line up which I am genuinely looking forward to; this year could be our best set of speakers yet, but then again I do say that every year. But first a little history.

Did you know this will be the ninth Workplace Trends conference? It all started during the last recession (2002), I had just joined an architectural practice and, to be honest, I was getting a little bored at work. I proposed to the Board that we hosted a conference for our current and potential clients, to which they agreed. We had around 60 delegates at that first conference, my colleagues and some of our clients presented case studies. I quickly realised that the format was too constrained – how would we learn if we only drew knowledge from our own limited pool of expertise. The following year we brought in some heavyweights from our industry, paid for some Americans to come over, and invited our peers/competitors to speak or join the audience. That year we attracted nearly 200 delegates – we were off and, as they say, haven’t looked back.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Rethinking the Design Brief pt2

At the recent CoreNet Paris Summit, the delegates at my session on Rethinking the Design Briefwere asked to prepare a three minute response to our presentations using the materials on each of their tables. One table had Lego, another Fuzzy Felt, another plasticine, another coloured paper and scissors and so on. The idea was that using different materials to a flip chart or PowerPoint might facilitate producing a more creative or lateral response.

Preparing a response

Rethinking the Design Brief pt1

It’s not every day that you meet Donald Duck on the way to work, but this did indeed happen en routeto presenting at the CoreNet Global Summit held in Disneyland Paris. I shared the platform in person with Brian Szpakowski and virtually with Neil Usher, with the help of Susan Wagner who kept us on track. We each presented pecha kucha style then facilitated a practical session using different materials.

The theme of the session was “rethinking the design brief”and our idea was to challenge the way that our industry usually writes the brief for a new workplace. When you visit the majority of modern offices they appear, to me, to all be quite similar. They have large areas open plan desks with the more interesting (collaboration) spaces positioned around a central core; the desks are bench systems in white or grey with low screens and accompanying tambour units; colour comes in splashes at the end of corridors or in the limited number of breakout spaces; informal meeting and soft seating areas are parked in the irregular spaces that desks do not fit in, and so on.