Wednesday, February 07, 2001

Innovative Workspheres

The orange sneakers didn't phase me. Nor did the predominance of black, thick-rimmed, square eyeglasses. All the uber-trendy fashions weren't intimidating either. And although it wasn't a fashion event nor a dot-com event (where you might typically find such elements), it was an overwhelmingly trendy crowd that flocked to MOMA on Wednesday night, February 7th, for the opening night soiree of the new exhibit Workspheres. The exhibit includes six international design teams and their redefinition of the office, with newly conceived work environments and tools. One of Silicon Alley's own hard-working teams, Brad Paley and his Digital Image Design, was involved in a project that became the hit of the night. Their MINDSPACE workstation looked like a cross-section of a fossilized shell, with its semicolon, spiny shape. You'll have to see it for yourself to believe it, but here are some of the highlights that DID's Hai Ng explained to me:

* A trash receptacle that scans your documents before shredding them (in case you need to "undelete"/remove from trash bin).
* Real rocks (simple objects) to which you can assign projects, files, documents and processes, then simply bring to a co-workers desk and transfer the entire project along with all associated information.
* A touch screen desk space where you can drag and drop items by simply using your hands.
* If you want to move your phone, no problem. Simply begin dialing in a different place on your desk, and the computer-desk will redraw the phone for you (you're wearing a headset and there's no physical phone). Same thing with a calculator.
* While the desk space is your "Head's Down" area, store your concepts and ideas along the upper rim areas of the shell-desk (which naturally follows human action. We tend to lean back and muse about our thoughts/ideas/concepts that are far away or out in space, but bend over for our busy work).

Viant's Marylyn Dintenfass and a friend were amusing themselves with IDEO Japan's phone desk. I spoke with one of the designers, Naoto Fukasawa, who explained that when you pick up the phone the skylight (a lighting panel) takes on the atmosphere of your mood. Feeling Sunny? Bright, sunny sky. Feeling grumpy? Dark cloudy sky. When your call reaches the recipient, the light changes to match their mood. In this way, and others, issues on privacy and individuality are combated in open and strong corporate cultures. There can be many moods, all visible, but quietly expressed in a large, open workspace. Emerging from this area, I chatted with NY1's Liz Gerst, who looked positively stunning in a little black dress. As I wander throughout the museum, I also saw's Vittoria Frua, Constellation Ventures' Melissa Blau and Donna Karan's Director of Business Development Salman Khokhar. Vizible's President and Chief Interface Architect Anthony Gallo explained their 3D desktop organizational sphere. United Digital Artists' Stuart McBride introduced me to Mieke Gerritzen of NL Design and pointed out Tucker Viemeister (formerly of Razorfish), who was also involved in one of the pieces. They were all heading out to dinner and next week to MILIA.