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Art & Design

Why blurred lines between office and home needn’t necessarily be a bad thing

Sonderschau: being home, Boulevard Nord

But perhaps the most striking domestic inspired interior we came across while writing the book was that of advertising agency Gummo in Amsterdam. Designers i29 sourced all the furniture, from the Chesterfield chair to the pool table second hand before spraying everything in a polyurea hot spray, a durable rubber coating, in a daring shade of black.

From the Dutch capital in 2009 to Liverpool in 2014, the home-inspired trend in offices continues. I recognise the sofa in creative agency’s Uniform’s kitchen straightaway, not from the Milan furniture fair but from my local Ikea in Edmonton. The man responsible for the design, Neil Dawson of Snook Architects, is unapologetic about his plundering of the Swedish furniture behemoth’s product catalogue in numerous places around this stylish office. The Ikea standard lamps more than hold their own against the designer versions. There’s a wooden meeting table that would be more at home in a country kitchen and a selection of Windsor chairs like your grandmother used to have to complete this home-from-home look.

As well as the home coming into the office, the office in increasingly heading into the home as furniture manufacturers embrace the idea of home working 2.0. The results such as Bisley’s @Home range of storage cleverly bridge the gap between the two environments: the cabinets and shelving don’t look out of place in a home office but are practical enough to hide away all the papers, laptops and other workplace ephemera, when you want to tune out, log off and be free from the shackles of the 9 to 5.

Whereas before the recession it was probably indicative of an employer’s desire to make staff never want to leave the office, nowadays it’s about being able to set boundaries, whether that’s the aforementioned storage encouraging you to shut away your office life or rooms in offices where smartphone signals are jammed and you can literally get away from your inbox during your lunchtime.

But let’s end with a little common sense here: if you’re worried about work encroaching on your home life, remember there’s always the off switch on your smartphone.

Helen is a writer on workplace design and furniture design for various business to business and consumer publications including onoffice, FX, Crafts and Kitchens Bedrooms Bathrooms. She is programme manager of Clerkenwell Design Week 2013 and 2014. Helen also provides copywriting for professional bodies including the Design Council and the Professional Planning Forum.

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