SO IS THE TRADITIONAL DESK DEAD?
We think for a lot of people, yes, it is. The desk in the traditional sense was just a place for putting a heavy typewriter, or a clunky computer. But you don’t need that now.
Also, the desk is a signifier of power. The boss sitting behind some big oak table, separated physically from the staff. I think that strict hierarchical structure is changing for a lot of companies. They’re becoming a lot more collaborative, and less formal in the way managers and employees communicate.
IF BIG DESKS ARE OUT, WHAT REPLACES THEM?
We see the modern office as being an agile space that enables transformation and change. So you really want to have dedicated spaces for work, but also social areas and places to share ideas and have meetings.
But crucially, they should be spaces that can move around. As we said, with technology not needing to be rooted with lots of wires now, you can have an office space that has smaller tables which move, so for example in the morning you shift them around to create a big meeting space, then build a workshop to look at ideas, and then move it all again so you have a presentation area for a client.
It creates energy too. Those days when any office move took months of planning, with management, facilities and IT all involved, or when the manager was in a little office and everyone lined up outside in their cubicles, is disappearing. People want to be inspired when they go into work, and this agile approach helps that. Every day is different, and that keeps things fresh and inspires new ideas.
Home working is a big thing now. How do you see people balancing home life and work life in the same space? Some people are lucky enough to have the space to dedicate an area of their house to working, but a lot of people haven’t.
What they're really looking for is an area to be able to work that they can then instantly tidy away, so they don't feel like they’ve got a work shadow hanging over their house.
It doesn’t have to be large, with technology such as laptops and tablets now, but it needs to be able to fold out and away, and also signify to the rest of the house (and yourself, psychologically) that you’re now working too. And a comfortable chair is really important, but one that doesn’t look like some functional office contraption.
So there are definitely challenges for designers now to come up with furniture that kind of blurs the boundaries between the two worlds of home and work.
YOUR PROJECTS ARE VERY DIVERSE. HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
Well, it's not really about inspiration, it's actually more about problem solving. We take a problem, and then we think of the best, most functional, most beautiful way of solving that problem.
Clients will often have a vague idea of what they want, but actually the more you question them – and that’s a massively important part of the process - that first idea moves and changes quite significantly, and what they really need becomes clearer.
Our job is to produce things that do not already exist, that bring new angles to that type of object and solves the problem the client has.
WHAT IS YOUR DAILY WORKING ROUTINE LIKE?
People sometimes think being designers it must all be very arty and unstructured. But we are actually quite systematic in how we work. We have a team of people, we have many projects on the go at one time all at different stages, and so process is very important.
That includes daily routine. If we’re in the studio, then there is quite a lot of structure in the way we do things, but it’s a really great space so it’s a really invigorating environment.
There’s nothing wrong with routine and process, even in creative business such as ours, but it must still take place in surroundings that are enriching.