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Design Visionaries See Future Workplace as Hyper-Collaborative, Sustainable and Employee-Centric

Business Interiors by Staples and Metropolis Magazine Unveil Workplace of the Future

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 4, 2013-- With concepts that span the re-imagining of office furniture to managing employee health through temperature and light to maximizing multifunctional space, more than 200 architects and designers have helped answer the question: how will we work in 2020?

Workplace of the Future contest winner, Joe Filippelli, created Vertical Flux-a comfort-based approa ...

Workplace of the Future contest winner, Joe Filippelli, created Vertical Flux-a comfort-based approach to the 2020 workplace with fluctuating atmospheres (perspective 1).(Photo: Business Wire)

Architecture and design visionaries shared their insights as part of a contest hosted by Business Interiors by Staples, the furniture and interior design division of Staples Advantage, and Metropolis, the magazine of architecture, culture and design. The Workplace of the Future design competition challenged students, emerging designers and industry professionals to submit innovative concepts for the 2020 workplace.

Designers focused on a number of trends, including:

  • Reclaiming urban space: Capitalizing on vacant building spaces in cities to provide workplaces for businesses, traveling workers and anyone in need of a productive work environment.
  • Re-imagining office furniture: Rethinking the way furniture is designed to facilitate mobile, pop-up workstations with self-sufficient, self-powering capabilities and interactive technology interfaces.
  • Employee-centric design: Creating all-encompassing workplace environments that consider comfort, sustainability and health of employees.
  • Hyper-collaboration: Pushing workspace layouts beyond conventional collaborative models to focus on interdisciplinary, multi-company and multifunctional arrangements that take the co-working trend to the next level.

Winning Designs

Business Interiors by Staples awarded the winner, Joe Filippelli (Seattle, Wash.) $7,500 for his Vertical Flux concept that radically re-imagines office space as a series of atmospheres where occupant comfort and health are at the forefront. This new approach focuses on thermal comfort made possible by advances in technology, as well as natural properties of temperature and light, to create fluctuating environments and comfort zones.

Features of the Vertical Flux office tower include:

  • Radiant heating and cooling
  • Solar-powered fiber optic ceiling that fluctuates in color and intensity
  • Thermally active furniture with touch screen capabilities
  • Multiple varieties of plant life local to each climactic zone in the building

"By thinking of light, temperature, and air as building materials, architects/designers can rethink the typical static office environment and put the worker's individual comfort into the foreground,” said Filippelli. “I believe staging the office as a gradient, providing opportunities for both privacy and collaboration in a variety of atmospheric conditions, will be a significant element in future workplace design."

The runner-up, a team of designers from Eckhart Interior Design (Rotterdam, Netherlands) led by director Teun van den Dries, received $2,500 for CoLAB— its digital re-envisioning of the classic corporate office. The CoLAB office of the future incorporates technology in a way that allows employees to work at any location throughout the office, collaborating with co-workers in any imaginable configuration.

The basic element of the design is a modular partition system that functions as a physical and acoustic separation, interface and display. This scalable partition system, which can create team rooms, meeting rooms, board rooms, individual work booths, privacy spots and informal meeting places, includes cutting-edge technology elements that allow for seamless connectivity and integration.

To learn more about these winning designs, as well as 10 other finalists from the Workplace of the Future competition, please visit to view a slideshow featuring images and additional information about the top entries.

“The Workplace of the Future means different things to different people – but maximizing productivity, health and wellness and sustainability were at the top of the list in this contest,” said John Michael, vice president and general manager, Business Interiors by Staples. “Staples will be at the forefront of bringing the workplace of the future to reality as we continuously enhance our capabilities and our portfolio of solutions.”

“I was gratified to see how many firms, both young and mature, entered the competition and presented many excellent ideas about working in a tech society. The winner, of course, blew us all away, not only with his mature ideas but because of his youth—he is of the generation of architects that will, literally, give shape to the 21st century,” said Susan S. Szenasy, editor in chief, Metropolis Magazine. “He took a broad, systemic look at working and re-imagined the container of work itself, the whole building, from inside out. What's even more exciting about his proposal is that everything he suggests can be done today; we don't need to wait for 2020. The future is actually happening now!"

About the Workplace of the Future Design Competition

Business Interiors by Staples and Metropolis announced the Workplace of the Future Design Competition call for entries in May 2013, and the competition closed in early August 2013. Judging took place at the Metropolis offices in New York City on August 15, and the panel, moderated by Susan S. Szenasy, included the following industry experts, architects, and interior design professionals:

  • Paul Makovsky, editorial director, Metropolis magazine
  • John Michael, vice president and general manager, Business Interiors by Staples
  • Nona Gross, workplace strategy and design specialist, Siemens Corporation
  • Paul Darrah, director of corporate services, Bridgewater Associates
  • Jonas Damon, creative director, Frog
  • Tom Krizmanic, principal, Studios Architecture NYC

The winner and runner-up are profiled in the November 2013 print and digital issue of Metropolis magazine.

About Business Interiors by Staples

Business Interiors by Staples is the contract furniture and design arm of Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc. With more than 25 years of providing quality furniture solutions, it helps organizations of all types and sizes - from small, local companies to large Fortune 1,000 companies - create more productive, healthy and sustainable work spaces. It is the largest contract furniture dealer in North America and one of the only companies with direct relationships with more than 250 manufacturers. To learn more about Business Interiors by Staples, please visit here.

About Metropolis Magazine

Professionals in all areas of design, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, technology, industrial design, and graphic design, rely on Metropolis magazine each month for dynamic journalism that spans the gamut of their profession, and shapes the future of design. Visit to subscribe to the magazine and access a wealth of continually updated content and professional design resources. Follow us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Vimeo.

Source: Staples Advantage

Staples, Inc.
Mark Cautela, 508-253-3832