Bearing in mind the world’s ageing population, Sarah Hossli dreams up an all-inclusive seating solution for the intergenerational office.

In the lead-up to each issue, we challenge emerging designers to respond to the Frame Lab theme with a forward-looking concept. The past year has shed new light on the role of the office, prompting those who use one to reconsider its relevance. There are lessons to be found in not just the pandemic period, but the time before that. In our current issue Frame 138, we ask: What were workplaces missing? What has working from home taught us? What would make us want to go back to the physical office? We asked four creative practices to share their ideas.

Before obtaining a master’s degree in Product Design from Écal, Swiss creative Sarah Hossli taught experimental 3D sketching and furniture design at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, while working as an independent designer. The colours of Move, a social-distancing-proof and modular seating solution, were selected with people suffering from colour vision deficiencies, as well as other visual impairments, in mind. 

You explored the challenges for the future office in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

SARAH HOSSLI: That’s right. I expect the coronavirus to remain a part of our everyday life for at least some time to come. When thinking of the future office that expectation raises two questions. How can we make sure that all employees, especially those belonging to risk groups, feel safe and protected in their workspace? And secondly, how can social encounters and interpersonal exchange, both key to creating a healthy and inspiring team spirit, take place in the office again?

How can we make sure that all employees, especially those belonging to risk groups, feel safe and protected in their workspace?

Regarding risk groups, which one(s) are you focusing on most and why?

The most mature workers. Parallel to the COVID-19 crisis, we find ourselves in the middle of a period of demographic change. There is a rapidly growing ageing population. At the same time we stay fit and healthy longer than ever before, which has an enormous impact on society. People will want to work longer and office environments will need to be redesigned with senior citizens and their safety in mind.

What’s your solution?

I conceived Move, a collection of playful yet comfortable seating solutions designed for the intergenerational office. The pieces will invite employees to meet in the office space, at safe distance. I envision the freestanding objects positioned in large open spaces with a healthy air circulation. To add a sense of privacy, huge curtains flexibly separate the office in different areas. The dimensions of the furniture pieces, which allow for different sitting positions (hence the name Move), will help secure a 1.5-m distance between teammates while fostering connection at the same time. In this way, I hope to create an oasis for encounters.

Get your copy of Frame 138 here.