The world of modern design is a distinct and thriving sub-culture with its own celebrities, trends, and movements that are evolving as quickly as everything else these days (i.e. in the blink of an eye). For anyone hoping to keep up, Dwell magazine has long been a total must-read. The publication delights in the space where design and technology converge, and focuses as much attention on the architectural aspects of homes as it does the decorative. From prefab homes and LED lighting, to the hottest building materials and coolest new furniture, Dwell has it covered.
Who better to weigh-in on a space particularly transformed by technology: the modern workspace. Dwell’s editor-in-chief, Amanda Dameron, takes us inside the magazine’s beautifully appointed (duh) offices, shares her wisdom around workspace design, and curates a collection of modern gems inspired by the office, but sure to chic up any room of the house.
How have offices changed from yesteryear to today?
“The idea of the American office has changed fundamentally with the advent of our digital culture. Suddenly, tools emerged that enabled remote workspaces, and the need for paper storage has all but disappeared, save for libraries and the like. Therefore, our office furniture has to change with the times. Even the way our body needs have changed is monumental—think of the way people use their laptops, hunched over with necks pointing in odd directions! It’s terrible. Even as I write this, I am not sitting at a desk, I am sitting on a couch. My feet are up. This is certainly not the way Robert Propst, who designed the hugely influential “Action Office” furniture in 1964 for Herman Miller, envisioned people working.”
When thinking about designing an office, what are some essential things to consider?
“Flexibility is key. Think of your office as any other room—one that should be able to transform as needed, based on the actions that happen there. Just because you set up your office one way, if it doesn’t work, you need to be able to change it easily.”
What’s your perspective on an open plan office layout versus having offices within a shared space?
“I go back and forth on this. Truly I think it all comes down to how individual people work best. In our new office, everyone sits in a communal, open space, but there are many other areas outside that space in which people can work. I love the malleable environment that a co-working space like Bond Collective provides, because flexibility is the most important ingredient in good design.”
What is a “must have” decor element in an office (whether work or home)?
“Plants. I think it’s important to have something living and breathing alongside you as you slog through the work day! Also, plants add such a welcoming, sculptural element to any space. And they release oxygen.”
What’s your take on office chairs? Do you have a favorite?
“My favorite desk chair is a Vitra ID Mesh by Antonio Citterio, which I have been using since I became pregnant with my first son, Otto, and my back really began to ache. It really fits well with my body, plus I am only 5’1’’ so I need a chair that doesn’t make me feel like a Lilliputian.”
Do you have a go-to storage solution to help contain office clutter?
“Discipline is the only way. I want to read every book that crosses my desk, save every memento, just like a lot of people. But I have to be pretty cut-throat about what I keep and what I don’t. If I didn’t, I would be buried amidst stacks. My colleagues would tell you that I don’t really take my own advice.”
What’s your perspective on hanging art in an office?
“Luckily we have 17 years of incredible photography, so that makes it easy!”
For a home office, do you think it’s important to have a secluded place?
“It really depends on how you personally work best. Some people can easily tune out visual and audible distraction, and others are hyper-aware of the surrounding sensory noise at all times. For me, seclusion works best.”