Two concepts neatly characterize the deepest ideals of the modern office: flexibility and collaboration. Offices in the past were closed – offices for executives, cubicles for everyone else, and perhaps a single closed meeting area for infrequent discussions – whereas these newer ideals call for openness above all else. Openness is critical to innovation – an idea shared, we now know, is an idea improved. It also allows teams to cut back on inefficiencies and to improve quality through constant feedback loops and knowledge sharing.
The prospect of transitioning from a traditional, closed-off office space to a more open one can seem daunting, but it might be easier than you think. By simply selecting appropriate furnishings and making intelligent decoration decisions, you can take important steps to encouraging collaboration in your workforce. The USM Haller system is designed to make openness as easy as possible, adapting to the needs of the day with minimum hassle.
As award-winning design studio Yabu Pushelberg found out, using the USM Haller system to build an open and agile working environment can pay dividends, making resources more readily available, decision-making faster and workers more productive (not to mention happier).
For 23 years, Yabu Pushelberg had been housed in traditional offices in an unassuming, low-slung building in downtown Toronto. When their neighbors moved out, the studio seized the opportunity to expand and redesign.
Redecoration was a key part of the office update. Now the airy, white-walled 13,000-square-foot workplace feels wide and open, in-keeping with the firm’s reputation for designing spaces with a modern aesthetic and an “anything is possible” mentality.
Another element was the removal of private offices, even for Yabu and Pushelberg themselves. The old offices were repurposed into a variety of inspiring meeting spaces and boardrooms that are equipped with videoconferencing to connect easily with both clients and colleagues in other offices.
Each team also has their own dedicated meeting area, allowing them to all communicate together at a moment’s notice. These team meeting spaces are outfitted with USM Haller tables finished with clean white tabletops, Jacques Guillon Cord chairs and linen-wrapped posting panels for brainstorming sessions.
“It was an easy decision to use USM in our studio. There is a seriousness and a quietness to the design that we appreciate.”
- Yabu and Pushelberg
Other collaborative hubs have been built into the premises. One is the kitchen, fitted with four custom oversized picnic tables and benches from Dutch designer Marlieke Van Rossum. Another is the “salon,” where guests encounter an eclectic mix of furnishings, including Yabu Pushelberg–designed pieces, art collected over years of travel and designer table-tennis and foosball tables.
Each individual work area has also been redesigned to provide every employee with space and functionality. Every worker has a USM Haller workstation and a USM Haller rolling storage unit, both finished in pure white. The USM Haller furniture extends to each individual worker the adaptability that the firm is now enjoying at a wider level: sleek, customizable functionality, altered to suit emerging needs at a moment’s notice. The incorporation of USM pieces in the skylit studio is a dream come true for the designers. “We’ve always admired USM’s rational aesthetic,” say Yabu and Pushelberg. “As young designers in the seventies and eighties, we remember being aware of USM, but then, it seemed exotic, European, and somehow unattainable.”
The result of the redesign is a pure, neutral space that encourages the exchange of ideas throughout the office. Yabu and Pushelberg have also found that the entire staff is more accessible and plugged in to the day-to-day activities of the studio – resources are now at staffers’ fingertips, information is transmitted faster and the entire office projects Yabu Pushelberg’s philosophy of a flat hierarchy. “Most importantly,” say Yabu and Pushelberg, “people are happier”.