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Inclusive Interiors

We have all seen talk of the four generation workplace, the unprecedented mobility that technology is offering, and the death of open-plan working as we know it.

Google’s Penson-designed, London HQ, with its green ‘Velourmtious Snug’ and chintzy ‘Granny’s Flat’, is often cited as the benchmark of experimentation and new ideas. However, today’s real challenge to designers is how to embrace the pertinent while ignoring the possible yet irrelevant. Installing slides and bean bags may be as far as client aspiration goes, but without careful consideration of staff needs and managing the change that will accommodate business processes and support psychological transformation, cosmetic quirkiness can be a costly mistake.

In Scandinavia the model of inclusive design has led thinking for many years and is coming into its own as we seek to create interiors that meet the needs of the widest range of users. This is perhaps why the concept of sit-stand desking – the ability to adjust the height of workstations – arrived over 20 years ago and is now the mainstay of any Swedish or Norwegian office.

Sit-stand desks have suddenly arrived in the UK too, with a bandwagon media getting very confused, one day declaring ‘sitting is the new cancer’, and then countering with ‘standing all day is unhealthy’. The truth is that Scandinavians have known why it works all along... using sit- stand desks as part of a habit of varying posture in order to remain healthy. The additional benefit of being able to adjust to the widest variety of users – the principle of inclusive design - is also why this phenomenon is challenging our view of workplace design.

Sit-stand desk images: Kinnarps