Cindy Allen -- Interior Design, 5/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Paperless office, hey? Remember that one? Clearly I didn't get the memo—I mean the e-mail. I can't help but chuckle at this white-collar myth as I gaze at the gravity-defying piles of books, folders, proofs, mail, samples, and the occasional interloping personal tchotchke, all receding in perfect three-point perspective from my desk to the door of my office.
Telecommuting could be the most recent of these fictional constructs. Though I consider it a fantasy exercise in large metropolitan areas, I do keep it in mind as I offer our May issue as evidence of the true direction that office design is taking. There has been a fundamental shift indeed, but staying away from the office is directly the opposite of what seems to be happening. In story after story, walls between people have been coming down. At an ad agency in Chicago, Nick Luzietti actually hauled big-time execs out of their perimeter offices, then handed them scooters to zip around on instead. Even mighty Microsoft is in on the action, with gatherings large and small taking place in "hubs" with one of three themes: billiards, golf, and, no joke, spa. By all accounts, we are cheerfully back to working together. And we like it! Otherwise we would not spend money on it. (I'm sure you've heard of that pesky square-foot seat cost thingy.)
Being an unreformed rationalist, I see reasons behind this zest for working side by side. Cities, big and small, are rebounding. City living, sharing, or merely coping are back where they ought to be—and none too soon. Have you taken a drive through suburbia recently? But that's for another issue.
At the end of the day, it always comes down to that six-letter word. Thank goodness people continue to need one another. —Cindy