Printer Friendly

Beyond the open office.

The key to today's--and tomorrow's--office design is flexibility.

In the 1970s, office-design flexibility was established with the open-office system. Even CEOs worked in cubicles right next to their employees.

"For possibly the past 10 to 15 years we've been hearing that open-office systems were the wave of the future," says Amy Henderson-Ramaker, director of interior design at HNTB Interiors in Indianapolis. "We don't believe that open-office systems meet the needs of businesses."

The open-office concept has survived this long because managers have been dealing with smaller office spaces and prefer to "reconfigure with little or no effort and not have to rip out walls," Henderson-Ramaker says.

With design trends today, walls still won't have to be ripped out, says Alice Puzyk, owner and president of Paraplan in Crown Point. "Now, the trend is to lowering the height of the panels for group interaction," she says. In the next 10 years or so, she adds, the higher walls of individual cubicles will lower to foster that team effort; the higher walls will be used to section off departments.

According to David Sicklesteel, director of sales at Business Furniture Corp. in Indianapolis, teams will be brought together to perform certain tasks. Then when the task is finished, groups and furniture will be rearranged so new teams can do something else. "You want to have tables that can be easily moved, laptop computers that can easily plugged in," Sicklesteel says.

"Hoteling" is another concept that will shape the design of the future office, Sicklesteel says. Traveling salespeople, for example, who rarely work in the office could call ahead of time, reserve a desk, plug in a laptop, roll in files and work, rather than having dedicated space they would rarely use.

But private offices are far from becoming obsolete, because people still have a need for spaces in which to talk or work confidentially--not easily done in a cubicle. Because work environments need to support both team- and independent-effort space, Steelcase is experimenting with Personal Harbor and Activity Products as a unique working environment.

The private Personal Harbor capsules can accommodate a phone, work surface, lighting and a computer in 48 square feet. The Personal Harbor features a sliding curved door. Like tents around a campfire, Personal Harbors typically surround a team center. This setting is currently being field-tested by Steelcase in several client offices.

For Kent Reyling, sales manager at Kimball Office Furniture, the future is products that allow for users to change space themselves without having to call in maintenance or a design representative to do it for them. Such user adjustability would make panel systems even more flexible so "you can put them up, take them down and rearrange them based on what you need," Reyling adds.

Footprint, a new line of office furniture, bridges the gap between casegoods and systems that allow for user flexibility, Reyling says. The line consists of Traxx, horizontal twin wall tracks, plus modular storage components, modular work surface components and tiles.

From these horizontally mounted Traxx, storage components, work surfaces, wall tiles and accessories can be suspended and easily moved on a horizontal plane. The Footprint components and work surfaces can function with open-plan systems, as free standing casegoods, as wall-mounted components, or as panel-mounted components with Kimball's Cetra System.

But don't think that traditional designs--and traditional management styles for that matter--are gone for good. Though modularity has an attitude of its own, some may prefer to portray a more traditional image with wood.

Tradition was key to the design of the recent hit movie "The Firm." The film centered on a modern law office, achieving a prestigious image through a traditional design approach. The style was created with wood furniture from Kimball's President Series, Independence Seating and Laureate lines.

Preferences for wood are not likely to fade anytime soon, Reyling adds. Kimball recently introduced two new wood lines--Longwood and Brandenburg--for CEOs, presidents, company chairmen and "clients who want nothing but the finest."


Well-designed fluorescent uplighting eliminates computer screen glare and related problems because the light source is shielded by the fixture. When the light spreads evenly across the ceiling, there isn't a single, highlighted source of light. With these goals in mind, Peerless Lighting Corp. has created Softshine furniture-integrated ambient lighting to work with Steelcase systems.

These fixtures can stand on the floor, be attached to the desk or sit on a shelf. When level, such as 73 inches above the floor, the light sources bounce an even amount of light off the ceiling. How many are needed depends upon the height of the ceiling. With lower ceilings, the bounce is less efficient so more lamps are needed. A 9 1/2- to 10-foot ceiling is preferred.

Depending on the type and height of mounting, each fixture can cost $400 to $500. These fixtures, though quite a bit more costly than regular fluorescent ceiling lights, can save money over time. The price includes installation, all repairs can be done without the use of ladders and, because these lamps are considered portable office equipment, can be written off at tax time.

Proper lighting also can have a positive effect on other aspects of a company's bottom line: greater productivity, reduced errors, better quality control, reduced absenteeism and improved employee morale.

The key to today's--and tomorrow's--office design is being able to adapt one's environment and one's attitude to change. Whether it involves moving panel systems, rearranging ergonomic products or assembling a different team, offices are constantly changing.

Those who do so most quickly will get more things done.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:office layout innovations by Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendoff Interiors, Indianapolis
Author:Gilbert, Jo
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Agents of change.
Next Article:City spotlight: Crawfordsville.

Related Articles
Landscape architecture awards.
Leasing heats up in Rockland.
5 Penn Plaza attracts fourth new tenant in two weeks.
Kansas City-based engineering firm leases 23,000 s/f at 5 Penn Plaza.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters