Indoor offices are the de facto place of business -- they're protected from the weather, climate-controlled, and they provide plenty of electrical outlets and a Wi-Fi signal. But with the advance of mobile technologies, we don't really need to be tethered to a desk anymore. In fact, we can work almost anywhere -- as long as we get a signal. For the last three years, New York-based designer Jonathan Olivares has been exploring The Outdoor Office to determine what is necessary to conduct business in an outdoor setting. What he suggests is that working in nature helps us think and has an added bonus of reducing our carbon footprint. You can see his recent project and furniture ideas on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. Brainstorming session in the park, anyone?
Jonathan Olivares, who opened his design studio in Bostom in 2006, develops industrial design objects, exhibitions, and human-centered research projects. In 2011 he wrote the book A Taxonomy of Office Chairs, published by Phaidon. From there his interests evolved to consider what it would be like to work outdoors. Now that mobile technology is so widespread and accepted, the traditional office is becoming a thing of the past. In the age of telecommuting, travel, international collaborations, we largely work as if we didn’t need an office anyway — so why not just get rid of it? The Outdoor Office is a research project and exhibition dedicated to learning more about what it would take to move our work into the outdoors.
Olivares explores the history of outdoor offices across a variety of cultures and he ponders on the types of furniture and infrastructure necessary to make it work. These alternative spaces could in turn help boost creativity and thinking, all while removing the barrier between us and nature. This in turn would also reduce our need for infrastructure, buildings, HVAC equipment, lighting and much more, all things that would lower our carbon footprint.
Sure, working outdoors may not be feasible in many climates, and certainly not at certain times of year, but we all remember how awesome it was when our teachers decided to hold class outdoors. It would be the same feeling if we held meetings outdoors. Olivares’ exhibit is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago until July 15th, 2012.
Images ©Jonathan Olivares