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As working from home becomes a new normal, Cult considers fixtures and fittings with longevity and practical adaptability built-in.
Longevity is an interesting concept in days like these. For many people the last few months have felt like years, while for others the same/same of day after day of restricted activities and lifestyles has actually felt like time has shrunk and we no longer know what month it is, never mind the day of the week.
This is the year when we all learned a whole raft of new phrases that swiftly became part of our everyday vernacular. ‘Flattening the curve’, ‘working from home (WFH)’, ‘social distancing’, ‘second wave’… this last one became particularly pertinent in Victoria during July, and an ominous idea for other states around Australia.
But one of the biggest lessons of the upsurge in COVID-19 cases that came along just when there was a general feeling that we’d escaped the worst, was the growing awareness that returning to our old lives and ways of working is not only unlikely to happen any day soon, but may never happen again.
The likelihood is that we will favour an altered, safer landscape to work within at least until an effective vaccine is produced. And perhaps even longer, as governments and business consider the possibility of future crises similar to this one.
The other factor, of course, is the number of businesses that surprisingly have found it not just possible, but convenient and cost-effective to have staff working from home. To say nothing of the staff who have taken to this way of working like ducks to the proverbial H2O. There are clearly going to be many, many companies and employees that will endeavour to continue WFH in future – if not all the time, then at least some of it.
So, if a new normal will see large swathes of the workforce fulfilling their responsibilities and carrying out their tasks from the comfort of their own homes, it is imperative that the spaces in which they are doing this are conducive for the long term.
With the initial retreat to home working, there was a rush to throw together makeshift home office spaces – a laptop installed on a cleared portion of the dining room table, a kitchen chair relocated to a bedroom corner or a repurposed children’s desk utilised as an ongoing workspace.
Such solutions answered a short-term need, but they aren’t great for the long haul. They come up short in terms of physical comfort and ergonomic ways of working – leading to reduced productivity and hampered ability to focus well on the tasks at hand.
To set up a practical and functional home office, particularly when there is limited space available, there are three vital core elements: the desk, the chair and the lighting.
The desks showcased by Cult have all been designed with both practicality and aesthetics in mind. Space saving, but elegant, options like nau’s Chameleon, Carl Hansen and Son’s Society table and Zanotta’s Comacina enhance the home working space, while also providing a highly functional surface on which to work. The latter two desks also incorporate discreet sets of drawers for added functionality.
One of the most streamlined home office desks is HAY’s Pyramid. Originally designed by Friso Kramer and Wim Rietveld in the 1950s, the Pyramid is the epitome of a perfectly resolved desk/table solution. Adaptable, light and strong, its original iteration was considered groundbreaking for its innovative application of sheet steel. Its relaunch has built on those strengths, resulting in a new and refreshed product that is simple in design, sparing in its use of materials and light enough to make it easy to move around the home. Adding to its desirability is its affordability, which makes it a great option for home workers everywhere.
Selecting the best chair for a home office means looking for a product that offers a delicate balance of functionality, aesthetics and compact design. Fritz Hansen’s Series 7, Poltrona Frau’s Ginger Ale, &Tradition’s Catch and HAY’s AAC153 all fit the bill.
One of the most traditional looking work chairs is Jasper Morrison’s Lotus, from Cappellini, which comes in a collection of low-, medium- and high-sitting options, so that no matter what space is available, there will be a version to suit. It also can be specified with or without armrests, atop a base with four or five spokes and with or without wheels. This variety, along with a wide array of possible upholsteries and headrests, ensures the chair is easily adaptable for domestic and commercial settings.
As a bonus, the chair is Greenguard Gold certified – guaranteeing maximum emission control as a product that has been designed with the greatest attention to health and wellness.
A chair that looks completely at home in a domestic setting is Arne Jacobsen’s delightfully named Little Giraffe, a derivative of the original Giraffe, designed back in 1959. The Little Giraffe has a lower back than its predecessor, making it perfect for regular domestic use, as well as hospitality environments. This perfect example of mid-century Danish design is timeless, beautifully crafted and a perfect solution for the home worker who needs a chair that they can use for work all day, and then at their dining table in the evening.
Too often an afterthought or barely considered at all, task lighting is actually a vitally important component of any work set-up and the ergonomic impacts of badly designed lighting are now well documented. It’s hard to go wrong with an option from Anglepoise, the balanced arm lamp first designed by UK designer George Carwardine in 1932. Recent additions to the company’s line include the Type 75 and the ultra sleek Type 80 desk lamps, while Louis Poulsen’s fit for purpose designs include the AJ and Yuh table lamps, both of which can be easily deployed in work or relaxed domestic settings.
All the signs are that, however the world emerges from this current pandemic, there will be a far greater reliance on home working and remote settings. There is no better time than now to ensure that those spaces are fitted with perfect solutions suited to work, pleasure and everything in between.