Loftwork Co-founder and Representative DirectorChiaki Hayashi Blog
Research on new ways of working through space design
At Loftwork, we have been experimenting with new ways of working through space design. By “new ways of working” we do not mean “driving productivity.” We do not fully understand what the word productivity implies in the first place. Does it feel good or not? Is it your friend or enemy?
Loftwork aims to: reduce the unpleasant feeling of having been occupied by miscellaneous tasks for the entire day instead of working on important ones, or eliminate stuffy meetings that don’t allow you to speak freely. Alternatively, we aim to enhance relationships built on mutual trust, for both the client and partner to be convinced of “what we are doing and why” while increasing creative conversations flowing with new ideas, and to create a time (or experience) that is overwhelmingly positive and undoubtfully worthwhile. This is our goal when we, at Loftwork, design space.
Dogenzaka Pia 10F → 1F → 2F → and 3F
The first space we designed was the 10th floor of Dogenzaka Pia building where the Loftwork office is based. The meeting space we named “COOOP 10” has no wall partition, but instead, plants and whiteboards gently zone each space. Also by arranging the kitchen counter, work-mode brains and exciting playfulness are well connected. A conversation over colorful meals becomes more honest; uniting people beyond their connection in work. In addition, by arranging components like furniture and chairs to move more easily, the space becomes a meeting space in the daytime, and turns into a venue for events and gigs in the evening. The way the space is used will change according to the time and day of the week. The space is designed to have various expressions.
Our next creation was the “FabCafe Tokyo” on the first floor. It is the world’s first digital fabrication cafe. In the evolution of digital fabrication equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters, we wanted to create the future of “fabrication” anchored by “individuals” with our own hands involving designers and students. Now, the space is gathering people not only from Tokyo, but from all over the world such as Iceland up north, to Chile and Kenya down south for workshops and events held once every 3 days, thriving as a dynamic co-creation place.
In response to the unexpected turnout and requests from users, “FabCafe MTRL” on the second floor was created to fulfill a long-term availability and to maintain continuous relationship with the FabCafe community. While individual fabrication is at the base, by going up one floor, the space is provided for a more specialized collaboration. Enriching the assortment of materials, parts, software, and tools, it serves as a space for professional individuals such as architects, engineers, and designers to pursue projects with impact.
Reconsidering the usage of time for white-collar work
A few years ago, Rob Mee, founder of Pivotal Labs famous for agile development, told us interesting stories about programmers:
What inexperienced programmers spend time on is, they take a lot of time idling not knowing what to do, or randomly look for mistakes in the codes rather than understanding and writing them. To reduce such nonproductive time, the agile development―a pair programming method accelerating learning that accumulates small but soundly operating codes―was born.
Due to our little knowledge of coding, there may be some differences in understanding, but it was a very persuasive comment. At the same time, we felt that there may be ineffective processes prone to desk work in the same way.
For example, the meeting time. Which is done more often: a meeting to actively exchange opinions and create value, or a meeting with well-prepared material to obtain consensus? Many are accustomed to the flow of spending a week to prepare materials for regular meetings, and explaining to get approval, spending a lot of time on the process of reaching a consensus or making adjustments rather than actually “thinking.”
COOOP3 aims to escape from this way of working. This space is intended to carry out the whole process of all leading members participating in a discussion, prototyping the image, to creating an MVP in one go. Clients, designers, and engineers will think, discuss and shape together. In such process, there is no need to “prepare documents” to explain ideas, and “meetings” to get approval from others. We just focus on discussing the essence of value through discussion.
In order to clarify who is working on what and how far it is progressing, the references, drawings and materials of progression are pinned up all over the wall every 2-3 hours. That way, it is easier to grasp which parts are difficult, and which parts are progressing, to support each other. For this, COOOP 3 is designed to surround the space with white boards, which came from our learning experience in the design research from last year. (Please see “Design Research 101” for details.)
A two-hour regular meeting once a week for 3 months adds up to 24 hours. In the project room, working for 8 hours a day for 3 days makes 24 hours. Even in the same 24-hour period, it is not hard to imagine that the strength of the result is overwhelmingly different from the conventional meetings gaining a consensus where one is dependent on the reference materials to bring back fading memories.
Our new experiment working with creatives: what results will it bring forth?