Design Your Life: The Pleasures and Perils of Everyday Things
I just finished teaching Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 essay Designs for Working, which applies Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities to contemporary office design, especially “creative” industries such as graphics, software, and advertising. The new mixed-use, open plan offices, writes Gladwell, encourage contact among workers and invite different kinds of thinking throughout the day — New Urbanism goes to work.
I found some great examples at Office Design Gallery — soft porn for the new enforced leisure of the creative class. In the office featured above, the festive play between open and closed spaces encourages the exchange of ideas (or maybe just phone numbers) in the multi-colored, multi-racial open plan offices of information workers. The residual “cubbies” that zone the worktable into separate spaces support the habits of “prairie dogs,” those characters in cubicle culture whose heads are always darting up to check out what’s happening in the Habitrail.
I ended my lecture with the ultimate open plan office: my computer in the kitchen. I am the ultimate Prairie Dog, and by plunking my workspace right in the middle of things, I can keep track of my prairie pups (all four of them), and write about design, too.
— Julia Lupton · 2009-03-14