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Insight is a magazine created by Form in collaboration with our friends and colleagues. Full of inspiration, insight and ideas for the design community on new product launches, industry news and trends and other things we like right now.


  • An Insight & Ideas Paper by Form & SB Studio

    InsightInspiration, Insight and Ideas. Spring / Summer 2014

    Sleeping on the job, the evolution of office culture,

    productivity in the workspace, and the future agency.

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    As the twenty-four hour, seven-day working week spirals,

    the possibility of achieving a work-life balance is proving

    an elusive goal for us all.



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    Employees are working more, earning less and have

    less time for family and activities. But, the workplace is still many things to many people, especially for those

    for whom the 9 to 5 is no longer the standard.

    The workplace has become a meeting place, a social

    space, a source of identity, a source of comfort and

    a second home for some.

    How we work has changed, the places we work in have changed even more. Its about studio culture, inspiring, informing, living, sharing, breathing, and working all under one roof. Its about redefining and re-imagining the workspace.

    We are all striving for balance. That is why it is so important to understand the culture of a workplace before deciding on its design, the way it is managed and the specification of the products used to help provide this balance. The evolution of the office has changed our relationship with the workplace. The current workforce is overwhelmed with challenges that continue to threaten work-life balance. As the twenty-four hour, seven-day working week spirals, the possibility of achieving a work-life balance is proving an elusive goal for us all.

    Some see positive benefits in the blurring boundaries between the office, factory and home life, as new technologies and changes in business structures provide opportunities for greater control over how, when and where our paid work is performed. The struggle is getting employers to see the links between the workplace and the well-being and productivity of the people who work in it and understanding that the relationship between work, rest and play needs to be a focus.

    The way we use our offices, the way we choose to interact and share with other colleagues and carve out space to focus alone, is pivotal to design trends in the workplace. It important that companies offer flexibility for when physical and emotional spaces overlap, as it can increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and positively impact a businesses bottom-line.

    The benefits of providing quiet spaces and areas for recreation dedicated to taking a break, can better support the weary workers needs for rejuvenation to unplug and unwind. Such spaces are being designed by offering a cosier environment and to reflect more personal homelike rooms. Like a living room, which benefits from softer tone colours, comfortable furniture with moulded form soft seating that is ergonomically designed and natural light supplemented with ambient lighting in task areas. Other social spaces such as chill-out zones (ping-pong tables, table football, micro-gyms and yoga areas) are filtering into mainstream office design, as they encourage social interaction and allow us to change our focus, which is essential both visually and emotionally.

    To strike the right balance in a well-designed workplace means providing a mixture of spaces in which people can enjoy anything from complete openness to partial or total privacy. Investing in a healthy, happy workforce and personalising the workplace should be a key consideration for companies.

    An important part of the design process is learning and understanding the culture of the workplace, think of it not like an office, but like a house, where it should be comfortable and livable and where employees can get their job done.

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    The average employee in the UK spends just 29 minutes eating their food, most often as they work at their desk, so in essence having no break or rest at all. The problem this creates is that our brains are changing in response to the evolution of work patterns and the technological environment around us. We could all benefit from a positive cultural shift in the workplace.

    A recent report by one of the worlds largest architectural practices, commissioned a survey of 90,000 people to find out what made them most effective at work. Genslers report concluded that the most significant factor in workplace effectiveness is staying focused.

    A further report from CABE, the then Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, found that the ability of employees to carry out their work increases by an average of 38 percent, if they are able to focus on what they are doing.

    James Maas a sleep expert and social psychologist, consults on workplace sleeping and productivity for Harvard, IBM, Goldman Sachs, and Blackrock. Maas coined the term power nap 36 years ago and recommends employees nap for 15-minutes when they feel sluggish to restore a sense of vitality to the workday. Maas highlights that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury and adequate sleep is arguably the most important element of productivity and focus. We can underestimate not only our ability to focus on tasks, but also how important it is in terms of doing them well and accomplishing goals.

    Forward-thinking companies like Google and AOL Huffington Post are realising that sleep is an important pillar of health and if theyre interested in maintaining employee well-being and improving the performance of their knowledge workers, they need to do something to allow people to get rest during office hours.

    Power naps can boost our brains, including improvements to creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, objective learning and statistical learning. They can also help us with analytics, logical reasoning, our reaction times and symbol recognition.

    To make the most of your nap, experts say, rest in a cool, dark room and limit your nap to 20 or 30 minutes. Cue the Ostrich Pillow a new product hand-crafted in Spain, that provides the perfect conditions to enable easy power naps anytime, anywhere. The Ostrich Pillow provides a microenvironment in which to take a creative power nap to boost productivity and focus, without needing to leave your desk, chair, bench or wherever you may be.

    The Ostrich Pillow Family (yes, theres more of them) was designed by Kawamura-Ganjavian (Studio KG), an architecture and design studio based in Madrid, who drew inspiration from observing lifestyle changes: 30% of us sleep less than 6 hours per night, leading to growing health problems, poor performance and even falling asleep unintentionally in the workplace.

    Seeing as we all spend more and more time at work, in front of a computer screen or travelling, we thought why not create something that helps us disconnect and refocus? explains designer Ali Ganjavian.

    At FORM, we find that we are happiest and work best when were relaxed. Just because were relaxed, it doesnt mean were not working hard. To get away from our workplace for a short period of time, means we can positively detach ourselves psychologically as well as physically.

    NASA sleep researchers have found that a power nap of just 26 minutes can boost performance by 34 percent. Another NASA study found that

    napping significantly increases working memory, the ability to focus attention on one task while holding other tasks in memory, which is critical

    when performing complex work.

    We are all living in a workaholic society, logging longer hours than ever before and taking

    the office home with us. There is also still a huge culture of lunch-break denial in the UK,

    as many employers think that taking time out from the office is unproductive.

    Fast Forward Thinking Productivity in the


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    Quiet Joy

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    Normally, when you think of insulation, you think of ugly pink foam to be hidden in the walls. But today were seeing blends of wood, wool, cement and water as graphic wall art that is also insulating and soundproof.

    Noise and visual distraction can have a direct impact on staff health and productivity. Providing the optimum level of acoustic performance is never an easy challenge which is why it is important to help surfaces and spaces in the best way possible to create a pleasant acoustic environment, in which staff can stay both creative and focused.

    One of our newest obsessions is with Swedish industrial design studio Form Us With Love. Since their creation in 2005, the agency has used design as a catalyst to position the design brands of tomorrow. BAUX, their latest venture, explores two of the worlds oldest building materials, combined to create unique acoustic wall panels. The combination is simple and ingenious, resulting in an environment-friendly, recyclable material made from wood, wool, cement and water. The material structure reduces reflection of sound, absorbs sound, dampens noise and contributes to restful acoustics in residential buildings, industrial premises and public spaces. BAUX Acoustic Panels meet the contemporary expectations of architects, engineers and builders, without compromising on safety and environmental standards and can be combined to create beautiful patterns that can be mounted magnetically or fixed with glue.

    Quiet Joy: Soundproofing Never Looked So Good

    The current trend for big, open plan offices and the greater use of mobile phones and other technology in the workplace, has also focussed attention on acoustics

    Different room environments also require different types of sound absorbing products. The current trend for big, open plan offices and


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