Designing Modern Work


15 April 2016

The idea of the purpose-built office is almost 300 years old, but the creation of such spaces remains a work in progress.

For much of the 20th century, offices were open rooms with front-facing desks – as in the 1960 film The Apartment – that co-existed with small separate rooms sitting off of corridors. In the late 1960s, Herman Miller’s Action Office II system tried to offer a single environment that offered the best of both worlds, but its legacy was the cubicle culture that came to blight the 1990s. Fortunately, in the 21st century far greater variety in the makeup of workplaces has become apparent, not least in the recent emergence of the Google office: spaces that reimagine the working environment as a kind of playground.

On Wednesday 23 March, Disegno partnered with Bisley, a British office furniture brand, to stage a panel discussion examining the future of the workplace. Will the diversification of spaces and the blurring of home and work environments continue apace? And what role will the office play as wireless technologies allow for ever greater flexibility in how and where we choose to work?

The panel discussion took place Bisley’s showroom on London’s Great Portland Street. Speakers included Felix de Pass, the designer of Disegno’s office; Luke Pearson, the founder of industrial and furniture design practice PearsonLloyd; and Andy Swan, a workplace strategist at architecture and design practice BDG. The event was chaired by Oli Stratford, Disegno’s deputy editor, and took place in front of an audience of architects, designers and furniture dealers in attendance.

Disegno is delighted to present a video recording of the event at the top of this page.