Redifining the office

Is there an office beyond the cloud?

Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2020 hosts an exhibition exploring the workplace of the future

With your office in your pocket, is there really any reason to leave home? Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair will feature the exhibition Re-defining the office, about what it will take to keep the workplace relevant in a cloud-based reality. The exhibition is curated and designed by architecture firm Tengbom, which has over 10 years’ experience in office design. “In recent years, activity-based offices have been seen as a solution to the varying working hours and habits of employees, but concepts such as open-plan are associated with words like ‘factory’ or ‘machine’, so the challenge for us architects is to design environments that encourage creativity and collaboration,” says Linda Camara, Director of Operations at Tengbom.

Few areas have been affected by the digital revolution as tangibly as the workplace. Today, our mobility has been taken so far that the entire relevance of the office has been called into question – what is the point of even going into work when you could just as easily do your job from your bed?

-Until recently, you at least had to occasionally print out a document to hand it to a colleague, but now you just refer them to the cloud, since everyone can access everything from all platforms, wherever they are in the World, says Linda Camara.
-To continue attracting personnel, workplaces need to offer much more of an experience, asserts Camara, who is project managing the exhibition Re-defining the office at Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2020.
-Here at Tengbom, we’ve been designing ‘offices of the future’ for over a hundred years, in fact since we were founded in 1906. One of the best-known examples is, of course, Canon’s headquarters from the early 1980s, where a cellular and an open-plan office layout were put together for the first time, in what came to be called the ‘combination office plan’. Every innovative leap forward like this requires a thorough feasibility study and market research. We are good at asking the right questions.

It is this experience and analysis that forms the foundation for Re-defining the office. In recent years, activity-based offices, without permanent desks, have been seen as a solution to the varying working hours and habits of employees. But Camara believes this is just the beginning. For her, ‘open-plan’ calls to mind words such as ‘factory’ or ‘machine’.
-And that is the last thing we want right now. The challenge for us architects is to design environments that encourage creativity and collaboration. We need to create spaces that keep employees happy, and this places even greater demands on the interior architecture.”

The (human centered) post-spatial workspace
The exhibition offers visitors perspectives on future working practices, based on three areas strongly linked to the human experience: place, technology and sustainability. The first area analyses the conditions under which physical workplaces of the future will operate. The second looks at how digitalization, through the cloud, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and automation via chatbots, for example, is challenging our spatial needs. The third perspective explores the aspects of sustainability. We are living in a time when the world’s various industries have to switch to sustainable processes, both to support human well-being and for our planet. Studies show that natural materials such as wood contribute to both – the well-being of humanity and the long-term sustainability of the planet. So how will these three elements affect the workplace of the future, and how can we create work environments that make people want to come and meet up?

-A central question for Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair is what happens to the office as a physical space and concept when people are free to manage their own time, says Cecilia Nyberg, Project Area Manager for the fair.
-How will these new behaviors affect furniture manufacturers? And what role will architects and designers play when the physical workspace is no longer a given? Re-defining the office will raise these kinds of questions and provide a valuable platform for debate.

Re-defining the Office is a joint venture by Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, Architects Sweden and the Swedish Federation of Wood and Furniture Industry (TMF), in partnership with Tengbom and supported by Swedish Wood. The exhibition is curated by Tengbom.


Location at the fair, stand: A26:18