We talk to Konrad Krusiewicz, founder and owner of The Design Group studio, about programming the workspace in a manner tailored to the tasks that we have to do at a given time, within a given project or team.
AFTER THE OUTBREAK OF THE PANDEMIC, THERE HAS BEEN MUCH DEBATE AS TO WHAT THE RECIPE FOR A SAFE OFFICE IS. MANY CONCEPTS HAVE ARISEN – WHICH ONES HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVE IN PRACTICE, WHICH ONES ARE THE MOST FREQUENTLY IMPLEMENTED?
Indeed, it must be admitted that quite quickly after the pandemic was announced, a lot of new concepts and ideas emerged. On the one hand, it’s great that people started talking about them – it showed it is important. On the other hand, there were so many concepts and they were so different that it looked a bit like seeking a catchy topic. Among them, there were quite a few ideas that were completely off, based on assumptions that did not necessarily make sense. However, this is my personal observation. I must admit that none of our clients wanted us to pursue “post pandemic” ad hoc ideas: no six feet office, no two meters distances, and no one-way streets. Such solutions did not appear in our projects and we did not even consider them. What I see in cooperation with our clients are – in my opinion – ideas that are much more mature and well-thought-out. I notice a huge emphasis on the approach to the workplace strategy design phase, i.e. planning the entire functional program of the office with this “post pandemic” approach in mind
HOW DO THESE ASSUMPTIONS LOOK IN PRACTICE?
In new projects, there is already an expectation that offices should be developed on the basis of new guidelines developed thanks to a more careful approach to the workplace strategy. They are implemented as workplaces in which a large number of people operate in a hybrid system. Let’s not confuse it with shift work, but with flexible solutions. The way of working is based on online tasks, machine learning, algorithms and artificial intelligence. Therefore, many companies expect that the office space will be more dispersed, flexible, more multifunctional and will allow users to truly develop utilitarianism. For me, this means programming the space in a way that matches the tasks that we have to do at a given time, within a given project or team. It is an office and work environment that we can flexibly adapt to our needs in a real manner, because there are already technological and technical possibilities allowing us to do so.
AND HOW DO YOU, AS A DESIGNER, UNDERSTAND THIS FLEXIBILITY IN THE OFFICE?
I understand it as flexibility in and out of the office. The flexibility of the office must be combined with the fact that we can work from anywhere. The employer must enable employees to act in this way, and in my opinion this is the first step in how flexibility should be understood in the context of the workplace. However, in the office itself, it is about flexible spaces that can be programmed for specific functions and using mobile and modifiable furniture, or accessories that allow you to freely shape the workplace. If we talk about flexible solutions, we cannot ignore the role that giants like Herman Miller have in shaping them. It is a furniture company with a long tradition and fantastically developed R&D departments, also working on the sociological and social aspects of office programming. We have the opportunity to use its products thanks to the involvement of Bakata in our projects, the representative of Herman Miller in Poland. At Bakata, we work with people who have extensive knowledge and follow a philosophy similar to ours.
AS WE CAN SEE, THE OFFICE SPACE IS FACING PLENTY OF CHALLENGES. AND HOW WAS THIS “POST-PANDEMIC” PERIOD FOR THE DESIGNGROUP STUDIO AND WHAT IS AWAITING YOU IN 2021?
This past year has been a dynamic and interesting time for us. We are closing it with a very high volume of designed square meters. We have certainly grown a lot when it comes to designing and setting new goals. In the projects we did last year – and we will certainly continue to do so in 2021 – we focused on designing individual solutions. I mean elements such as lighting and furniture. Last year also brought a very important distinction to us, the International Property Awards, as well as the title of The Best Office in Poland 2020. The current year, despite a large market question mark, looks very interesting. We are seeing a recovery among tenants and companies on the market. We also clearly notice a conscious approach to the design process on the part of our clients, which makes me very happy. This applies to needs, expectations and role that the office can play. It’s not just a workplace anymore. The office also plays an important social role. Our clients see that it is no longer just a place to fulfill tasks, but a place to work where social relations are key.