Sunday, April 3, 2011


The Comedy Of Etiquette

Offices expect a certain etiquette. The professional must be business like at all times, this no extreme behaviour of any kind. Serious but not

cold, hard working but not stressed, friendly but not overbearing. Small talk in the break room can be the high point of the social contact as busy workers ignore one another around the office space for fear of being branded a slacker. Human nature prevents people from being perfectly professional all of the time, and when personalities emer

ge it can feel out of context. However it is these moments that make the workplace a human dwelling. A

tired worked may take his shoes off under h

is desk revealing cartoon socks under a grey suit. A joke circulating can break the serious tone. Or a flustered woman can run through the office in her pencil suit and heels, neither of which encourage movement. It could be interesting to search for moments where the clinical office etiquette breaks to show the human habitat it is.

The Desk - barrier, habitat, sanctuary

The most personal space in the office is your desk. With others rushing around it becomes you private space to

get lost in your own thoughts. Each desk it arranged for its user. Layout and content can be a revealing insight into that person. They could be tidy or messy, have family pictures of m

agazine cut outs of thei

r favourite car, do they sit facing the person opposite or intentionally turn away. Each workspace has the unconscious fingerprint of the user. Desks also work as barriers. They separate which gives that sense of privacy. They also show hierarchy. The desks of the office change according to rank. The boss gains authority sitting behind a large desk that is unshared. This leads into the progression from cubical to office to bigger office. In an office one of the things the working strives for. The feeling of importance from you own roo

m. The desk has many different possibilities for investigation. I could either investigate desks from the angle of personal space and how each one is unique. How different professions react to the workspace is also interesting – how no matter the job, we all make the space our own. Or maybe how the desk separates and protects us in the jungle of the w


The Computer

Lee Friedlander took a very interesting series of pictures of people at their computers. Blank expressions deep in concentration staring at the screen. One of the major changes of our time is the introduction of the computer and its dominance in every aspect of out lives. Once architects used drawing boards, now its all computer. Other professions have transformed in a similar way. Despite its definite advantages what Friedlander shows is how the computer can take the activity away from work, and in a way make it depressing. We no longer need to move around the way we used to. Another way of looking at it is that our computer is all we need as a workspace, and it is portable. People can open their laptop and suddenly coffee shops, benches and airport lounges become offices. People get equally lost in work at a coffee shop table as in an office block. It condensed the workspace and means we never leave it behind. Iphones mean emails are accessed as soon as they are received, meaning we are never really disconnected from work. How people interact with the computer is an element of the workspace. The portable office could also be worth attention.


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