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How to work in peace, yet still benefit from the bustling and sometimes noisy atmosphere of a coworking space? That is the conundrum that plagues most coworkers. During the recent 'Coworking Week' in Germany, one workshop looked at solutions to the problem and came up with a blueprint for the coworking space of the future. In a futuristic coworking space, furniture should be cheap and adaptable, preferably made from recycled materials.
By Carsten Foertsch - Tuesday, 21 September 2010

What solutions are there for the coworker who takes a call over Skype? Currently they have to leave the room and take their laptop with them. In the future, a tent made of soundproof material could fall from the ceiling to provide a cone of silence. The first designed models were called CoWoCoon and CoCabin. In reality, it’s unlikely that anyone would install a soundproof tent on the ceiling. But the concept of roof-mounted sound reduction room dividers is quite feasible, and is cheaper than inflexible stone walls.

And what about the coworker who wants to interact sometimes, but at other times remain entirely in peace? For them, the workshop designed a flag system as a status indicator to attach to their seat. Also possible is a three-colour chair system to show your mood – red to remain in peace, green to interact, yellow for in between. This would allow users to show their status without having to move to an entirely different room. Coworkers with similar needs would automatically sit together.

A third idea for flexible space separation looks up into the air for inspiration. The workshop devised a similar concept to bunk beds – bunk desks. Noise is attenuated in the higher areas of the room, yet the worker can still enjoy eye contact with the rest of the room. Having higher cubes or just several levels, for sitting or working on, adds a noise blocking effect either without separating the space completely.

The office chair also underwent brainstorming during the workshop. The result was an inflatable office chair that adjusts to the activity of the worker – up straight and fully inflated for work, deflated and comfortable for a relaxed chat.

Unfortunately time constraints meant the workshop participants couldn’t finalize their designs. It wasn't about building a perfect prototype but rather the idea behind. The products were the result of a design thinking method that considers the ultimate needs of the user before sketching begins. The workshop was driven by students from the School of Design Thinking in Potsdam, who have formed the group „inventedhere“ to spread their ideas.



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