In seeing an article titled How to “Hack” Workplace Design splashed across my inbox, I was immediately intrigued and trepidacious. As a designer, the thought of someone “hacking” my work is deflating. Generally my colleagues and I do considerable research into a client’s needs and office culture to consider the needs of an end user in our work. We both ask the client what they need in storage, space, size, and technological components and take that into account when designing workspaces. To have someone else “hack” them after all that might suggest we’re unnecessary or missing the mark.
In reading the article I found my assumptions about it were wrong. This was not a criticism of designers, but a panel discussing way to embrace individuality, flexibility and universal design in workplace environments. Providing a space for all the staff is one thing. Providing a space for all staff that gives them the opportunity to tailor the space to their unique needs is another. It goes back to the need for personal space and personalization. This is about energizing new ideas and collaboration with end-users in a way that is flexible and engaging.
It suggests that designers need to look beyond the components of modular cubical systems and stretch the capabilities of these systems to their edge-points and push for further opportunities. It makes me think of Ikea Hackers, a website that shows off folks who take the modular components of Ikea Products and tweaks them for new or ingenious solutions. Some improve on the existing product in its original use. Many take a product and use it for a completely out-of -the-box solution.