Office Skyline

Furniture system for coworking spaces
Thesis project in collaboration with Herman Miller Inc.
Winner of the “Most Innovative Project” award from of the Faculté de l’aménagement’s Co-op
Montréal, 2007–2008

Office Skyline is my industrial design bachelors degree project. I developed it at the School of industrial design of the Université de Montréal.

The name Office Skyline is a nod to the ‘office landscape’ given to revolutionary ‘open plan office’ space planning of the 1950’s. The project represents a paradigm shift, opening office planning to new possibilities using the ceiling surface, and truly using space volume—not only 2D flat layouts.

Office Skyline is meant to be installed in offices that offer very high levels of flexibility in space planning and have demanding spatial organization needs. These elements are found to be crucial in coworking spaces hosting freelance workers as they have to accommodate individual and group work—as well as client presentations—during the day, as they often host networking activities over the course of the evening. The results are morphing occupancy rates and fluctuating space usage throughout the day.

Office Skyline is materialized as sections of ceiling mounted on a simple pulley and counterweight system, allowing workers to pull up and down the platform by a simple push of the hand, giving access to electricity, hanging accessories and deployable work stations. By lowering the height of the ceiling, the users also transform the volume of their work spaces, therefore changing the perception they receive from it. A lower ceiling reduces the volume of a space, transforming it into a more intimate one, best for individual work. High ceilings and big open spaces are best suited for group work, when ideas need to be shared and where discussions are dynamic.

The advantage of the embedded furniture is one of storage. When space is needed for special events, all furniture stows itself inside the platforms, the platforms go up, thus freeing the floor.

Also, considerable amounts of research was done during that project regarding the wellness of workers in open plan offices. One of the most disturbing elements is the noise produced by nearby workers. To address that problem, all platforms are covered with sound absorbent felt panels. Each one is tri-dimensionally textured with æsthetically pleasing patterns to increase sound absorption.

Academic project made at the Université de Montréal, with guidance from Professor Tomás Dorta.

  • Look up! Office Skyline is a new way to use ceiling surfaces in open plan offices.
  • Photo of the prototype taken at the degree show exhibition
  • Up and down movement of the platform and it’s counter weight. A low ceiling will improve the perception of privacy, which helps concentration and individual work. A high ceiling gives a more dynamic perception of space influencing creativity which is essential to collaborative work.
  • Composite image of the embedded furniture deploying itself out of the main platform
  • Late concept iteration of the coworking space preceding the final version of the working model
  • The difference resides in the strategy used to embed the work stations into the main platform
  • Forefront: hand cutting the 1/4 in. wool felt for the final prototype. Second plan: tri-dimensional pattern study.
  • Final tri-dimensional texture for the sound absorbant felt panels.