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The Office of the future
NET NEST, a living spaceThe office is a living area
Wolfgang Scheppe, October 7, 2013
Wolfgang Scheppe, October 7, 2013
Net 'n' Nest
During the Western world's changeover from being an industrial society to being a services society – and technological progress has been speeding up this change for some years now – the office has replaced the production site as a centre of productive process and is increasingly becoming a marketplace for knowledge. The office is a place where people go to exchange information and to work in teams. This is because the mobile knowledge worker can do everything else at home or in alternative models from hotspot-based areas.
In the early 1990s, several developments came together at Vitra with a focus on the same complex of problems. The full concentration of the company was devoted to casting aside problematic workplace conventions and re-thinking the office environment. One conviction lay at the core of these efforts. Today it seems trivial, but at the time it was revolutionary: if people spend most of their time in the work environment, then real life cannot simply be put on hold until they have left its confines. Life has to be accommodated and facilitated within the office as well.
Early on, Vitra had made it its business to contemplate the nature of the workplace. The very first office furniture programme embraced by Vitra as the European distributor is recognised as the original open-plan furniture system. Developed by George Nelson and Robert Probst, the so-called Action Office translated a new conception of workflows, movements and sociological changes into a collection of furniture. Probst later commented: "There has been a regrettable tendency to try to reduce all offices to a uniform appearance with the only variations being in status orientation." Simply redesigning the old office furniture typologies would no longer do. Modularity, growth and mobility were the leitmotifs of the revolutionary idea behind the Action Office. The new manifestations of individual components derived from observations of everyday workstation routines. A precise understanding of the spatial successions of typical work sequences resulted in a shortening of physical distances and a much more efficient operating range for desk workers.
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