Dutch furniture brand Lensvelt is producing a collection of “boring” office furniture intended to “restore the balance between work and play” in the workplace.
The Boring Collection was conceived as a comment on the “ugly” appearance of affordable contract furniture and the distracting designs being added to some workplaces in the wake of the Google office.
Created in collaboration with Amsterdam architecture studio Space Encounters, the collection consists of a plain grey desk chair, visitor chair, acoustic panel, low and high cabinets, and four types of desk. The team also created a “boring” bin and clock.
Each piece is made up of simple, archetypal shapes in order to help the furniture be less conspicuous.
“The looks of affordable office furniture are pretty much dictated by legislation and therefore often detonate with the rest of the interior and surroundings,” said the design team.
“The Boring Collection does not pretend to be more beautiful, in fact the Boring Collection does not claim any attention,” they told Dezeen.
The team’s opinion on modern-day office design is similar to that of expert Jeremy Myerson, who told Dezeen that the Google-inspired fad for slides and ping-pong tables has had a damaging impact on the workplace.
“Partially thanks to Google, the modern day office is nothing like it was before,” said the Boring Collection team. “Office cubicles were torn down and replaced with open-plan floors, dimly lit meeting rooms turned into cappuccino bars, and damp office buildings abandoned in favour of spacious warehouses.”
“These are all meaningful improvements, but somewhere in the process we went too far,” they continued. “When slides, brainstorm mattresses and ping-pong tables started appearing we lost sight of what offices are actually meant for work.”
“With Boring Collection we want to give designers the tools to restore the balance between work and play again.”
Dutch artist duo Lernert & Sander, who are well known for their moving image campaigns for fashion brand COS, were enlisted to create a video and a series of interesting images of the pieces.
One of the images shows the furniture pieces stacked on top of each other in a shape inspired by Ettore Sottsass’ Carlton bookcase.
“We can totally relate to the idea that furniture should not demand too much attention,” says Lernert Engelberts. “For this project, we worked with the most iconic gesture of boredom: the attempt to throw a ball of crumpled paper into the trashcan until the clock turns five.”
“The office people steal the scene even though they are surrounded by the designs of Boring Collection. Just like the architects intended,” he adds.
Lernert & Sander’s concept will be repeated for the furniture collection’s debut at this year’s Milan design week with an installation at Ventura Lambrate.
The furniture will be placed in a clock-like formation, and will stand in an artificial landscape of 150 000 paper balls made from leaflets about the collection.
Long hours, slouching, slumping, and straining can dominate the office. Clean up your act around the computer, before bad habits lead to poor health.
Here are five ways to make sure your computer desk doesn’t become the death of you.
- Give your monitor a second look
If your screen is planted directly on your desktop, it’s time to ask management for a raise — for your computer’s display. According to Dr. Jim Sheedy, director of the Vision Performance Institute at Pacific University, the top of your the screen should be level with your eyes. The ideas is to get the eyes looking down about 10 degrees. If it’s any lower or higher, computer users will adapt to it by moving their head. If your screen is to low, your head points down, causing neck and back aches. High displays, meanwhile, contribute to dry eye syndrome.
- Poor posture? Take it on the chin
Poor posture is something that every office-based employee should consider throughout their day. Most people sitting at a computer get drawn into the screen, which means they crane their necks forward. This imbalance puts strain on the neck and spine. It’s like holding a bowling ball with one hand, says Dr. James Bowman, of Portland, Ore.-based Solutions Chiropractic. If your arm is vertical underneath, it puts less strain on the muscles, but lean that ball forward and your muscles have to compensate to keep it aloft. Sitting at a desk, that bowling ball is actually our head, so Bowman recommends chin retractions, or making a double chin, to keep the neck and spine lined up underneath.
“It’s probably the most effective single exercise you can do for the upper back and neck,” he says.
- Stand up for yourself
The modern workplace was built around the concept of sitting, but humans’ ability to stand goes back millions of years. Buck the trend of the office era with a standing desk — or, if that’s too radical, a sit-stand workstation. According to research out of the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, sit-stand workstations helped workers replace 25% of their sitting time with standing up, which can increase their sense of well being and decreased their fatigue and appetite. The Jarvis Desk can go from 26-inches to 51-inches at the push of a button, lifting up to 350 pounds of whatever’s on your desk—including multiple monitors.
“I definitely feel healthier standing while working as it causes me to be more focused on my posture and ‘hold’ myself better in terms of my stomach and shoulders especially,” says Dan McCormack, who uses a Jarvis Desk at his home office in Austin, Texas.
- Move it or lose it
But why stand when you could walk? Many offices around the country are getting wise to treadmill desks, which can help workers burn 100 calories more per hour over sitting, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health.
“The most important thing is to switch it up and work in different positions throughout the day,” says Emily Couey, Eventbrite’s vice president of people. The online event ticketing service offers multiple workspace options including traditional sitting desks, standing desks, and treadmill desks, which Couey says “people love, because it allows them move while they work — especially those with fitness trackers counting their daily steps.”
- Pace yourself
All work and no play makes Jack a bad employee. Whether it’s on their phone in the bathroom or on the computer in their cube, everyone takes sanity breaks to check their Facebook or read some news. The Pomodoro Technique even encourages this kind of behavior by breaking tasks into “pomodoros,” intense 25 minute work bursts, followed by five-minute breaks. Named because they can be measured using little tomato-shaped kitchen timers (Pomodoro is Italian for tomato), this method lets people work intensely and stave off distraction, yet rewards them with time to goof off, as well. If you don’t have a tomato timer handy, there are a lot of apps online to keep track of your sessions. But Francesco Cirillo, the technique’s founder, recommends using the real deal.
By John Patrick Pullen for www.motto.time.com
A range of AngelShack’s high quality, innovative office furniture will be on display at the fifth annual Proudly South African Buy Local Summit and Expo being held at the Sandton Convention Centre on 30 March.
This is the first time AngelShack will feature alongside some 200 exhibitors at the national exhibition which seeks to boost the local economy by supporting quality organisations that are Proudly South African.
“We are so excited to participate in this very beneficial event where we have been given the chance to showcase our stylish and progressive office furniture range including the award-winning POP Chair, produced right here in Sandton,” explained Joy Turnbull, MD of sales at AngelShack.
The summit has quickly grown into one of the biggest events on the business calendar, promoting local manufacturing and business to stimulate the economy. It attracts a cross-section of business leaders, government representatives, economists, entrepreneurs and procurement decision-makers providing the ideal networking opportunity for all sectors.
“The Summit and Expo encourage an increase in the uptake of local goods and services to stimulate the economy and create jobs,” says Proudly SA’s CEO, Adv Leslie Sedibe.
“It is an opportunity for our members, such as AngelShack, to showcase their Proudly South African products and services while we promote what South Africa makes – and what makes South Africa. We are proud of the achievements by our members such as AngelShack, as well as their important contribution towards growing the economy, creating jobs and helping create a better country for all,” he added.
“We encourage procurement decision makers as well as ordinary South African consumers to visit the Expo and experience the significant contribution AngelShack makes to South Africa and the local economy,” he concluded.
The Proudly South African brand has very strict criteria determining what companies or enterprises qualify to become members of the organisation. To ensure products or services are of the best quality, at least 50% of the cost of production must be incurred within the country; the product or service must have some recognised form of quality accreditation; the company must comply with all labour legislation and ensure fair labour practices and the company must be environmentally responsible.
“AngelShack adheres strictly to these four pillars which we believe are integral to the success of business in South Africa,” said Turnbull. “When it comes to office furniture, we feel it’s important that our customers receive international-level quality while still paying local prices.”
Through buying local, consumers have a hugely positive impact on lives of South Africans through job creation, by safeguarding existing jobs, reducing poverty and establishing a strong industrial base. This simple act also encourages entrepreneurship and creativity while the consumer is guaranteed a good quality product.
AngelShack collaborates with international designer, Stefan Brodbeck, who brings a worldly aspect to the furniture style while the organisation’s local Research and Development team of industrial designers ensure every piece is suited to and costed for the South African market.
AngelShack will be running a competition on the day, the prize being one POP Chair, decorated in the South African flag, which will go to one lucky stand visitor. Alongside the POP Chair, AngelShack will also be displaying the GameChanger NXT desking system, storage solutions, the Speak Easy Booth, as well as the new Buddy – a fun, informal seating option.
The Proudly South African Summit and Expo will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre on 30 March from 7am to 5pm. As part of Proudly SA’s service to the country, entry to the Expo is free of charge. Registration to attend the event can be completed online at www.buylocalsummit.co.za
A simple guide to choosing heaters for your office
It is common knowledge that the more comfortable employees are, the more motivated they are to do a good job. If your office is too cold employees are more likely to get sick – and therefore take sick leave or be unable to adequately focus on their jobs. They are also more likely to be unproductive, making mistakes such as typing errors and taking more coffee breaks than usual in an effort to keep warm.
Bar heaters are the cheapest to purchase. They come in one-, two- or three-bar varieties, and consist of elements placed in a reflective box which radiates heat from behind a safety grille. They do not have any safety features apart from an on/off switch. They are also dangerous to touch, as one is always in close direct contact with the heat source. Because they are cheap and small, they are often used in overcrowded, unsafe environments. As such, they are the most dangerous type of heater and the cause many house fires. These heaters are not recommended for office use.
Portable panel heaters (or space heaters) have castors, while panel heaters are mounted on the wall. They are the best way to heat a space, slowly and consistently. Each panel consists of an insulated electric element sandwiched between two layers of heat resistant, non-hygroscopic, cellulose fibre sheet. The size of the room they can heat depends on a number of factors, such as ceiling height, window size, curtaining, insulation and the opening and closing of doors. One 400-watt panel will generally heat a 12 square metre area. They are safer and more energy-efficient than fan heaters. A disadvantage is that portable panel heaters are a greater fire hazard – because they are portable, they can come into contact with flammable materials and careless people.
Keeping an office warm need only rely on a few well-placed panel heaters. Seal up any drafts that come from windows and doors, and insure that the ceiling is properly insulated.
A good quality fan heater can be energy efficient and heat a room well. Ideal for immediate heat, they are best used in a room sealed of all potential drafts. A fan heater works by using a fan to pass air over a heat source, such as an element. The air is warmed up, leaves the heater and moves into the surrounding room. Fan heaters can heat an enclosed space quickly. The down side is that because the heater contains a fan, it creates a noise.
In general, fan heaters consume more electricity than other types of heaters, so it is a good idea to switch them off once the room is warm. Leave the heater on in a safe place, such as the centre of the room.
Oil heaters consist of a series of joined columns, sometimes with spaces between them. Inside the body of the heater is diathermic oil. The oil is not a fuel, but serves as a heat reservoir.
Oil heaters are costly to purchase but are worth the investment in the long run. They are self-regulating and switch off when they reach the chosen temperature setting. The oil in the heater remains warm for a long time, ensuring that not too much electricity is used. They spread heat more evenly (albeit more slowly) than fan heaters.
Gas heaters are usually panel heaters that burn natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, propane or butane. They pose many of the same risks as other heaters, including burning and tipping. Permanently-installed gas heaters are usually vented. Portable gas heaters are non-flued (not vented), and can emit carbon monoxide.
Using your heater safely
- Ensure your heater has a kick-over (or tip-over) automatic shut-off. If the heater is tipped it will turn off, which prevents it setting things alight if it falls over.
- Automatic overheat shut-off is a must for preventing shorts and fires.
- Don’t expect any safety feature on your heater to be foolproof. A heater by nature is hot and could burn something even after it has been switched off.
- Plug your heater in safely. Plug it directly into the wall socket using a short, heavy-duty extension cord. Heaters tend to draw a lot of current, and a lightweight power cable could melt or start fires.
- If your electricity trips while you’re using your heater, stop using it as it is overloading the circuit.
- If for any reason there are animals or small children in the area, ensure that they stay away from the heater.
- Don’t leave heaters on overnight.
- Don’t leave your heater on when you are not in the office.
- Only put your heater on the floor. This is the most efficient, least wasteful and safest place for it.
- Concrete, tile, hardwood or extremely short-pile carpets are the only surfaces to place heaters on, to promote safety and avoid fires.
- Allow approximately 1m of space all around the heater.
For office managers trying to accommodate the needs and preferences of millennials, keeping up with trends can be a daunting task. Open plan is in, then it’s out. Dedicated workspaces make way for flexi-workspaces just in time for the pendulum to swing the other way.
And so employees and employers hustle and jostle to embrace the modern office, knowing the only constant is that it’s always changing. But there are some key trends that are here to stay in future-focused offices. Leading business solutions provider, Nashua, rounds up the most important office trends for 2016.
The concept of the dedicated desk has disappeared, replaced by a hive of hot desking. This workspace seating trend encourages movement and diminishes desktop clutter, as well as bringing bosses and team managers out of glass-windowed offices and into the general working area, amongst their teams.
Hot desking has also grown out of the need to avoid a completely sedentary work day – ‘sitting is the new smoking’ is a phrase that’s growing popularity. It’s also based on the belief that a large portion of desk space remains unused during the day as employees come and go, so having half the number of desks as employees is an economical move.
Teamwork and integration continue to dominate office spaces. Cubicle segregation is now officially considered ‘retro’ and communal tables (often oval-shaped or round) are favourable places to set up shop.
This kind of community-minded workspace needs easily movable tech, which highlights the importance of cloud-based services and wireless hardware.
Tangles of wires aren’t just an eyesore, they’re a potential safety hazard and they inhibit the user’s ability to move as and when they need. In 2016, businesses will focus on minimising spider webs of wires around the office, both with nifty wire-hiding devices and through the introduction of wireless tech – most importantly phones, printers and scanners.
Setting up managed print services (MPS) allows any organisation to begin the process of reducing the number of cords in the office and establishing a wireless workspace.
With the rise of the mobile workspace comes the need for secluded spots employees can use to escape the bustle of the open office. Pods, nooks and breakaway rooms have become key – preferably decked out with comfortable couches and reclining work chairs. Armed with a laptop or tablet, employees can work in seclusion and hopefully, boost productivity. This is especially important for creative workspaces.
To embrace office dynamism and have employees constantly on the move, businesses need to centralise their information management, so employees can access anything they need, from anywhere in the office – hammock, armchair or stability ball – at any time of day. Managed Document Solutions (MDS) is a simple way for organisations to facilitate this change.
Office spaces are generally becoming spaces of alliance, not separation – integrated and collaborative thinking is of utmost importance. This is mirrored in the movement towards more co-operative and seamless processes, giving employees the freedom to access the information they need at the touch of a button. It’s all about dynamic flow – and some seriously cool-looking offices as a result.
Dauphin HumanDesign Group has recently opened its doors to a stylish new Johannesburg showroom – and it’s set to change the face of office design planning.
The slick new showroom is an ode to working smart and celebrates the dynamic characteristics of Dauphin HumanDesign Group signature furniture solutions.
Central to the showroom concept is Dauphin’s Bosse Modul Space system, an innovative range of modular office concepts and furnishing systems for in-office design solutions – everything from smaller, boutique style office spaces right through to large corporates. And this international office range is now being produced in South Africa.
“Both office design specialists and end users of Dauphin’s Bosse Modul Space system will be pleased to know that the European-designed system, known for its sleek good looks and best ergonomic practises, is now entirely locally manufactured.
“This means that office designers using the unique Bosse systems can rest assured that not only are they using a product that adheres to outstanding European design, quality and safety standards but they are guaranteed of competitive pricing too. It’s a win-win situation,” says Cherine Leishman, sales and marketing director for Dauphin HumanDesign Group.
The new Dauphin showroom is a showcase of the versatility of these design systems, allowing would-be users to engage with the product to maximise their own design plans and find a solution for every office spatial demand – from the desking systems and customised storage solutions in the Bosse ModulSpace range to the Bosse Dialounge, which offers lounge and pause area solutions.
“Nowadays, workspaces and office environments need to accommodate the multi-tasking nature and dynamism of workers. Fulfilling these needs impacts on the culture of office workers and so to their ability to be efficient – it’s no longer about sitting in the same position at the same desk in the same chair from 9 to 5,” concludes Leishman.
There was a time when standing desks were just a curiosity – used by the likes of Hemingway, Dickens and Kierkegaard, and over the years have seldom been taken seriously in the workplace, until recent.
Christmas just isn’t Christmas without reams of sparkly tinsel and fairy lights draped over the tree, the sound of Christmas crackers popping and old photo albums on the coffee table for loved ones to reminisce over.
Fact: there are 37,2-million adults in South Africa and 97% of them have a cell phone. It’s not surprising that texting is a popular form of communication for us as a nation, which contributes to global statistics of more than 1-billion text messages sent every month.
Extroverts make up a large percentage of the workforce who thrive in the hustle and bustle of an energetic open plan office, but what about the rest?