FIRA & the future of the Workplace: competition winners announced



The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) launched a competition where undergraduates were invited to present a vision of how the workplace will function in the future. Titled [email protected], the competition marked the 65th anniversary of the formation of the Association. Chosen by the public, the winners present an innovative take on the workplace in the future with insights that do not seen so far away from reality. Here we present a highlight on the three winning designs.

Over the last 25 years, the workplace has transformed and will carry on evolving for the next 25 years. As an antidote to workplace dissatisfaction and developments in technology and design, the workplace is now a dynamic environment not limited to a single format. Evolving methods of communication, collaboration and the desire for a more flexible format means the workplace is much more accessible and agile, allowing workforces to adjust their surrounds to suit needs, and not the other way around.

The requirements were very elemental: be bold, creative and ensure the entries align to a selection of key criteria. With students from furniture, architecture and design subjects taking on the competition, the final winners present a novel take on the subject of future workplaces.

3rd Prize: Drop Desk designed by Jonathan Thompson

FIRA Drop Desk Designed by Jonathan Thompson spaceist blogpost workplace

Focusing on the flexible dynamics of working and the way business are becoming global, the Drop desk looks at a multifaceted desk made from sustainable materials that include cork and aluminium. The Drop Desk is par to this idea, where members of the staff are no longer fixed to a single desk. Instead, if someone needs a desk, they can book the Drop Desk, and use it alongside their own devices.

Ideal for freelancers, contractors and temporary work, the Drop Box can be used for sitting, like a standard desk or as a standing desk. A simple mechanism allows a swift movement that locks the desk from horizontal into a vertical format. The approach taken by Jonathan Thompson is just as relatable and crucial now as it will be in the future.

2nd Prize: Orbis Desk designed by Mark Heyster 

FIRA future workplaces Orbis Desk Designed by Mark Heyster spaceist blogpost

The main focus taken by Mark Heyster is on creating the ‘perfect creative environment’. The idea behind Orbis Desk is to replace the standard architects/designers desk with a high level of focus on technology by integrating the computer onto the desk. This is an agile solution for creatives so they can work at an enhanced desk that has everything they may require within immediate reach.

As well as a built-in computer system that can be reconfigured and upgraded with a simple under-desk slot, the main desktop tilts and moves accordingly, similar to an architects desk. The dual functioning surfaces means it is easy to work on multiple digital platforms. Highly functional for the architects office, the extra storage shelves might seem a bit fussy, but they become useful when titling the desk to place the looser objects away.

1st Prize: Familiar SystemsTM designed by Jack Darby and Andy Lyell

FIRA future workplace Familiar Systems Designed by Jack Darby and Andy Lyell spaceist blogpost

The winning entry is the Familiar Systems, which is based on drone technology and encapsulates the computer, with an incorporated projector and stand called a gimble that can be used to configure each ‘Familiar’ according to the needs and requirements of its user. Probably the most versatile design from all the entries, this idea is not limited to any one profession or work environment.

A wireless system, it is the optimal portable device that allows you to turn any space into your workplace. A combination of touchscreen technology, it replaces the computer screen, presentation screen and transforms any surface into the output screen you desire. This is the ultimate solution to reducing clutter, where there will no longer be a need for cable management. Instead the desk or meeting table surface becomes a key component. This doesn’t take away from the need for furniture or desks and only enhances the need for smooth, large surfaces within the workplace.

All Image Credits: FIRA