Salone del Mobile Milano

04 April - 09 April 2017

A Joyful Sense at Work

The purpose of A Joyful Sense at Work is to breathe new life into the theory of office and workplace design by setting its sights squarely on people, in terms of their needs, emotions and experiences. This stunning installation was created especially for the biennial Workplace3.0 exhibition curated by the architect Cristiana Cutrona.

The workplace of the future will be adaptive, unfinished, vibrant and evolutionary, tailored to reality and capable of accommodating the comings and goings and needs of the workers and the way in which they use it. It will be smart, fast-paced, flexible, evolutionary and contemporary: human beings will be the key focus in a fast-changing environment. It will be happy, nourishing, fertile and sustainable – both environmentally and ethically, in terms of respect for people’s feelings, history, culture, diversity and rights.

The new spatial model of the workplace is adaptive, as in being adaptable to the creative possibility of managing unexpected and unforeseeable situations both in the long term and at a moment’s notice. The office shakes off its static image and enters the age of the theatre, of creativity, of imagination.

The focus will be on people. Technology and furnishings will move with and around people, meeting their needs the moment they arise. Technology will become cloud-based and mobile, space will be come fluid and self-regenerating, evolving and devolving. It will become devoid of fixtures (furniture, partitions, false ceilings and floors), and stripped of functional areas (Meeting rooms, business areas and private offices).

Within an area of around 1,600 m2, A Joyful Sense at Work showcases this new concept of the workplace by creating a piazza virtually split into three “areas” or “regions” according to purpose: the Concentration area, a closed-off region and private space for individual work; the Sharing area, a short-stay region, a public space for collaboration, socialising and sharing; the Creative area, a space for innovation, invention and imagination, which converge in a large central piazza; and Porous Fabric, a filter space, an intermediate area between public and private, a place for opportunities and exchange.

4 architectural practices of international renown and standing, chosen on the basis of geographic area of provenance, have been invited to design “an installation within an installation”: Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander/Studio O+A (USA), Arash Ahmadi/Ahmadi Studio (USA), Ben van Berkel/UNStudio and Jeff Povio/SCAPE (Holland) and Alfonso Femia & Gianluca Peluffo/Studio 5+1AA (Italy).

The Water Cooler perfectly synthesises the concept by Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander of Studio O+A: water as a perfect metaphor for the workspace of the future – water, like thought, takes on the form of a container. This space aim to feed the imagination, restore motivation and regenerate the people who work in it. The space is marked out into different areas, according to the needs and activities of the workers: an ice cave entered with the intention of surviving, in which each postural activity – crouching, lying down, standing up, moving – helps workers’ creativity to flow, like water. 


Ahmadi Studio has come up with an adaptive and constantly evolving workspace, capable of bringing the personal and social spheres together. The title of the project, Ham-Dasti, the Iranian word for complicity, underscores the assumptions underpinning the workplace of the future, in which dynamism, sharing, belonging and confidence create a working environment in which everybody can feel at ease. Arash Ahmadi has drawn inspiration from two iconic Iranian spaces: the Persian garden, an intimate and private space, and the bazaar, a place of exchange and discussion.

The centrepiece of the installation – split into four micro-areas, welcoming, meeting, working and private – is a fixed element representing nature inside a vortex that expands upwards and extends throughout the spaces, generating a sense of belonging and a powerful connection between man, work and nature.


Ben van Berkel of UNStudio and SCAPE’s Jeff Povlo reflect on the condition of stress at work, to which contemporary man is exposed. RESET – Responsive Emotional Transformation – is a totally immersive and modular system that draws on two of the six scientifically proven ways of reducing stress in a playful and interactive way: intimacy, which inspires calm, and sound therapy. The concept is based on the use of technology applied to people but perceived by the environment, enabling them to manage difficult emotional situations as well as possible and allowing the space to mutate according to the level of stress experienced by those who work in it.


Chronotopic System, the space designed by Alfonso Femia and Gianluca Peluffo of Studio 5+1AA, changes in relation to space and time. There are an almost infinite number of combinations, which can be assembled and reassembled according to the demands and desires of those who inhabit it.

There are two key elements: a meeting room that is see-through and circular, representing the origin, the fixed point; an intimate space, yet capable of relating to the visual connections between inside and outside, reminiscent of the patio of a Mediterranean home, an empty space that gives meaning to what surrounds it.

The second element, the video call cell, is an integral part of the “magic cube”, a dynamic element that changes shape to respond to every single requirement at any specific time. The interior is covered with corrugated cardboard, which has soundproofing qualities, thus guaranteeing superior acoustic performance and setting up a dialogue between matter and light, which characterises the entire project