Work and the office (or how a designer is different than an architect)

Work. For most people it’s a verb that doesn’t happen at the noun.

I discovered quit a few years ago that, at least for an architect, that sitting in front of a computer in a cubicle is one of the most least inspiring places to work. The work of an architect involves developing inspiring designs that provide solutions, complex code and constructability issues, and creating advanced and highly detailed documentation in order to build what we’ve designed. And we’re supposed to accomplish this by sitting in a cubicle?

Work, like too many things that mold our lives, is defined by established and sometimes archaic boundaries that are in place only because we accept them. If work didn’t suck then it wouldn’t be work. But what if work didn’t have to suck? What if you looked forward to going to work? What if the place you call work was inspiring and productive?

This is one of many facets of architecture that the general public doesn’t realize – architects redefine the perception of what something can be. A designer will approach a bad workplace by providing more natural light, getting newer furniture, and maybe incorporating a different color palette. An architect will start with the very core of the problem – why does work suck. We understand design issues, but we also understand issues of human interaction in formal and informal settings, spatial perceptions and how it affects productivity, and methods for increasing the chances of a more accommodating work environment.

Of course we can’t solve every single issue within a work place because it still comes down to the people in that office. If the people are just the biggest jerks on the planet then the greatest design won’t make them better people. But the architecture won’t be a hindrance.

Jason Fried’s talk is relatively short. If anything watch it and begin to question the norm of your office work place.



1 thought on “Work and the office (or how a designer is different than an architect)

  1. Mile High Pixie

    This is *SO* right on, especially for me right now. I have a manager who loves all of the things that the speaker rails against: meetings, managing, and interruptions. He thinks I don’t like working on multiple projects, but the truth is that I don’t like be interrupted ever ten minutes and/or having to change directions and work on a different project every ten minutes. May day becomes a gauntlet of short-term goals to check off a list instead of really seeing the overall point of a project or a task for a project. He was amazed to hear me say recently that I frequently let my phone go to voicemail on a regular basis. I do it because I’ve found that most callers don’t leave a message–they either find someone else to answer their question or they figure it out themselves or they email me (which is what I prefer), which allows me to think a question or request through (i.e., not on the spot or being interrupted) and respond more thoroughly.


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