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Student Projects Aim To Design A More Social Atmosphere At Work

Student Projects Aim To Design A More Social Atmosphere At Work
Design & Architecture

Improved collaboration, privacy and organization ideas came out of an intensive semester long project.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 2 june 2014

Challenging students to create designs that are “semantically correct, syntactically correct, and pragmatically understandable, but also visually powerful, intellectually elegant and timeless” is a tall order. The Metaproject initiative at the Rochester Institute of Technology was launched four years ago as a semester long project for industrial design students to develop products that make getting work done with others better.

At the 2014 International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), the RIT students staged an exhibition of this years’ work which had to address one of these workplace interaction conditions: face-to-face, digitally mediated or human-to-tools. On display was the winning project and several runners up selected by a team of judges from Herman Miller, who sponsored this years’ program.

 

Winner-
Invitation Chair by Alexander Bennett

The office serves as a hub of interaction, much of it predicated on digitally mediated conversations. An object within that context should further encourage and enhance those interactions. The Invitation Chair allows for the creation of a temporary shared space to collaborate, by allowing a user to share their seat with someone. The chair facilitates short bursts of interaction between two people who must focus their attention upon a computer screen while seated. By making it easier for workers to collaborate including the computer as a ‘third entity’. The Invitation Chair promotes a stronger workplace camaraderie and encourages creative thinking.

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Runners Up-
Task Stones by Emily Gammon

Focused work is best accomplished when stress is well managed. By using a system of physical objects which directly correlate to a person’s capacity for work, individuals can minimize worry about taking on more than they can handle. An individual stone is an elegant representation of the task it marks; as a whole, the set serves as a visual reminder to the user, and those around them of, “what’s on your plate.” The Task Stones come in three sizes. The smallest stones are made to mark quick and easy tasks, the medium stones represent moderate tasks, and the largest stones represent the tasks of greatest importance. A computer interface allows users to further sort their tasks. Here they can also select a category to subtly illuminates its stones with a soft halo of light, an elegant visualization of workload.

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Mobile Divider by Maritza Garcia

Open offices that encourage collaboration and inspire creativity have become a common theme in modern office design and planning. Introverts and extroverts have different means of generating ideas; introverts psychic energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. Some of the greatest ideas come in a moment of reflection. However, in an environment that is designed for constant interaction it is sometimes difficult for a person to create their own space to retreat into. The Mobile Divider allows a user to create a visual barrier, and gives them an opportunity for personal reflection. It can quickly and quietly open to create a temporary barrier, and can be used as a signaling device to inform others that you wish to be left alone. When closed, the Mobile Divider is elegantly stored and is unobtrusive as a simple box.

RIT_MaritzaGarcia_01 copy

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Personal Space Bar by Kat Given

The Personal Space Bar allows the user to sit in a variety of comfortable positions and choose between open and private environments. The object consists of two components which creates two spaces: a desk just above bar height for an open environment for face-to-face meetings, and a cushioned interior space which allows a user to relax and retreat to a more private and isolated environment. The cushion is mobile, allowing for meetings with others outside of the desk space. It also functions as a seat which fits into the interior space and allows the user to sit-up or recline comfortably while underneath the desk space. By giving a user a variety of ways to work within their space, the Personal Space Bar provides them with a few of the comforts of home, and allows them to change positions throughout the day so they do not become stiff and stagnant.

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Snack Station by Tony Han

From sharing food to sharing a conversation to sharing ideas, the innate sociability of communal eating facilitates collaboration and enhances relationships. In order to promote a healthy lifestyle for employees, grabbing some quick healthy snacks without disrupting a conversation fulfills that critical need in a working environment. The Snack Station does this by offering a series of surfaces to place a variety of communal snacks for employees to enjoy. The structure and surfaces encourage users to interact and connect around a central hub within the office.

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Social Furniture System by Richard Luo

Workspace stress can interfere with productivity and impact both physical and emotional health. Creating social space for informal conversation and providing opportunities for social interaction among employees is a efficient way to release stress as well as enhance relationships with co-workers. This pie-shaped modular furniture concept is designed to empower and enable interactions in the office area while creating a sense of sharing. It has twelve pieces of identical sections that can be joined to create endless arrangements in a variety of shapes and functions as stools, side tables, footrests, or bookcases. They can be used as an intimate communication space, where employees could relax and share of information, encouraging creative thinking, as well as serving as an entertainment center to release workspace stress. The pie-shaped modular system is minimalist, with a clear and functional use of its essential form. The curved lip creates a minimal stacked system that prevents each piece from moving around when stacking on top of each other. It also forms a subtle edge, preventing things from rolling or sliding off from teh storage space. Additionally, the curved lip leaves a finger space at the bottom edge for people lifting piece when needed.

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Intelligent Workflow Journal by Tal Rosenblum

The Intelligent Workflow Journal is intended to track what is being accomplished on the computer, visually reporting it to the user when requested. This empowers the worker to visually experience their thought process anytime during their work. At the end of the day, the user can request a visual-story of what they have done to use as their personal journal. The Intelligent Workflow Journal also ranks the worker providing a reflective feedback on how the user can improve their workflow. These rankings will be intelligent because they will be calculated from the workflow trends of the user.

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Discretion Barrier by Gino Santaguida

In today’s society people are relentlessly on the go, while remaining constantly connected to the world via their digital tools. A simple phone call often disrupts our productivity and transit. The Discretion Barrier provides privacy without total isolation, and acts as a physical division for spontaneous behaviors that require a layer of privacy, such as phone calls. The frame also acts as a coat rack, providing additional layers of privacy for the user.

RIT_GinoSantaguida_02 copy

You can see all the student work from this year as well as the work of the three previous years on the metaproject site.

metaproject // ICFF

 

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