Traditionally, office contract furniture is sold as a fixed system organized into layouts determined by the data-driven protocols of efficiency management. Today, companies like Herman Miller and Knoll are rapidly integrating data-gathering systems and automation protocols into the furniture itself to track worker productivity, anticipate ergonomic desires, and algorithmically predict optimal layouts and postures. This project asks: how can these digitally-analyzed and computationally arranged terrains of labor be re-framed to deny work, encourage unproductivity and play, and insist upon a new metric of quanta and performance?
OFFICE-PARTY proposes the re-design of the office environment through strategic adjustments to office furniture and building systems networked by a digital software interface. As a post-occupancy platform, this software allows users to anonymously alter movable furniture systems to create new proliferations, unfamiliar re-arrangements, and inefficient clumpings. Controlled by a phone/desktop application, workers can transform desk arrangements and lighting with a simple swipe, orchestrating a network of geo-tagged motorized casters into motion.
The floor is a smooth and wireless surface with a graphic overlay suggesting alternative compositions and spatial structures for play. The ceiling is littered with a confetti of trays, cords, and retractable power reels, all hanging from mobile hooks, straps, and brackets. Adopting the tropes of corporate aesthetics—pop colors, glossy surfaces, playful shapes, and irreverent dispositions alongside the rhetoric of mobility, collaboration, and adaptability—OFFICE-PARTY functions as a Trojan Horse, embedding disruptive protocols within the platforms of office management. The software app and furniture hardware produce an opportunity in which rules can be set aside, desks can be reconfigured, and users can surrender to a suppressed desire for chaos and motion. Defying the cybernetic determinants of efficiency and logistics in the bürolandschaft office landscape, OFFICE-PARTY proposes an alternative form of work.
Featured in the Section of Now: Social Norms and Rituals as Sites for Architectural Intervention Exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). Curated by Giovanna Borasi. November 2021-May 2022.
Office Planning Interface and Furniture Hardware Proposal, 2019
Project Leads: Daniel Jacobs, Brittany Utting
Design Team: Brian Baksa