Hacked office furniture system lets workers sleep, farm and socialize

ÉCAL University
© ÉCAL University

Offices have changed a lot recently -- cubicles and unwieldy file storage units have given way to the trend of open plan offices that can adapt to different functions, though problems like noise are causing some to call for the revival of the private cubicle once again.

But the way we work is changing -- as seen from the rise of coworking, digital nomadism and big companies like Google propagating the idea of the "work-ground" (office as a playground). Running with this theme of flexible, fun workspaces, product design grad students at ÉCAL University created what they call Workbay Village, using a system of flexible dividers, forming spaces for office workers to nap, socialize, and even grow plants.

ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University
ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University

The collection of custom-designed office pods were hacked from Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec's Workbays system of office dividers. Designers Erwan Bouroullec and Camille Blin led the workshop, investigating new ideas for office design. As Blin tells Dezeen:

Through this workshop we tried to emphasize this 'organic' vision of the office by adding functionalities to the Workbays and the work environment in itself, that would create more interaction between the users and with the furniture. Just by adding really simple structures to an existing Workbay, it becomes a space for employees to step away from work and exchange in a more casual way.

Farm Bay, designed by ÉCAL student Paula Cermeno, caters to people with a green thumb and who might want to grow some plants at work. It's a good idea: plants can not only help to purify indoor air, they can also help to lift workers' mood and boost productivity.

ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University

For socialization, Sara de Campos created this Bar Bay for post-work happy hours, right in the office. It's inspired by Japanese sushi bars.

ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University

For those in need of nap for a healthy and quick pick-me-up, Yasunori Morinaga designed Nap Bay to have a cozy little bed, covered with curtains.

ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University

Looking to Japanese capsule hotels for pointers, Antoine Chauvin's Capsule Bay has two mini-bedrooms stacked on top of one another. One climbs up to the top bunk via a series of rungs.

ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University
ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University

Students participating in the workshop also designed items tailored to the workbays, such as lamps, a bungee-cord storage system, standing desk chairs and wall bins that can be used to drop off things via both sides of the dividers.

ÉCAL University© ÉCAL University

As portable and wireless technologies become more ubiquitous and pervasive in our lives, the lines between work and leisure are blurring into something else altogether. As we can see from concepts like Workbay Village, even today's more open and adaptable office is slowly evolving into something else as well, and perhaps someday, even that notion of an office with four walls will become a relic of the past. For more, visit ÉCAL University.

Tags: Furniture | Work

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