In conjunction with each issue of St-W, we challenge emerging designers to answer a topical question with a future-forward design concept.
Sparked by media reports that robots are likely to replace half of all jobs over the next 20 years, for St-W 117 we commissioned five makers to desgin an item, tool, space or service that relates to the anticipated automation of tomorrow's workspace.
You’re not fans of crowded offices and co-working spaces…
Stefano Panterotto: While it can be very helpful to be surrounded by colleagues and friends with whom you can have a quick exchange or relax together, we have often found shared spaces difficult environments to concentrate and multi-task.
Will this get worse in the future?
Alexis Tourron: We foresee that people won’t be attached to one workplace, but immersed in an ever-changing environment of different people and situations. This new way of work will create the need of focusing inside environments not intended for that function – and thus a way to eliminate the noise and stress that will surround us.
Other concepts for The Challenge suggest that in the future we might only travel via virtual reality, so why do you think we will be more on the move physically?
SP: Virtual travel will definitely be a reasonable and efficient solution to how we travel to, and interact with, other people. But we believe that this experience, however realistic it might be, will be more related to a working or social sphere, rather than a personal and relaxed space. That’s why we think that going ‘more-real’ – spending time in the real world, while still connected to the virtual world – will be a future trend that helps us find a good balance between our digital and physical presence.
What's your solution?
AT: A wearable that’s both a noise-cancelling device and a sound emitter. The device will be extremely lightweight and thin so that it can be placed directly behind the ear. It’s accompanied by a pin-sized receiver that changes colour to show whether the wearer is in free, occupied or ‘do not disturb’ mode.
Why’s that necessary?
SP: Nowadays when we talk on the phone, we hold a piece of hardware in our hand that symbolizes what we are doing. But in the future technology will be increasingly invisible and we will need to establish a code to help us deal with that. It’s like current electric cars that are introducing the sounds of a real motor in order to be heard for security reasons.
What are the advantages of your concept?
AT: It will give us the freedom to move freely, without being anchored to a certain place in order to do certain kind of activities. Nowadays, even trying to find a quiet place for a business call forces us to hide or be apart from the crowd. With this device you can be part of the crowd and still feel free to communicate or work in the same environment, thus facilitating new encounters and interactions.