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The endless table – the working model of the future?

Posted in Things We Love

CWaClive Wilkinson, a 59-year-old Capetonian architect, has designed offices for hip companies like Google and TBWA/Chiat/Day, but one of his most intriguing projects might be what has come to be known as the “endless table”.

Remember the days when advancing from a cubicle to an office, or to the corner office!, felt like an achievement? I still have fond memories of my behemoth in the Murdock Building in Westwood, high up, with a fabulous view of Westwood Boulevard and the University village beyond, the massive door the perfect insulation from the outside world.

Clive Wilkinson
Clive Wilkinson – the face behind the idea

But the office environment has evolved and most employees, these days, only need a place to plop their laptops down, a wireless connection and a mobile phone to access their productivity. Bulky filing cabinets are a thing of the past, heavy clouds hanging over us instead.

This working model is taken to its extreme by Clive Wilkinson and his LA-based architectural firm, who designed an intriguing office space for the Barbarian Group, a NY internet advertising company.

the Barbarian group
Employees plop themselves down wherever there is an empty space

The centerpiece of the open plan offices is a 1,100 foot long table that provides space for all 125 employees, including the Chairman, thus described by the architects:

CWa are creating an undulating ‘endless table’ to serve their 125 employees in an open work space that stretches across a city block. The table surface is resin coated and finished like a surfboard, with a plywood substructure that lifts the table over circulation aisles and shelters informal meeting spaces.”

Shelving and minimal filing space is provided underneath the curving “overpass” and under the table as well.

Informal seating for impromptu meetings 

Because people tend to be creatures of habits, I have wondered whether the employees gravitate towards the same spot, trying to make it familiar, the way we used to decorate our offices to mirror our tastes. Judging from the photos, the answer appears to be no. Awesome idea with no room for knick-knacks or family photos.

There is a definite air of playfulness
There is a definite air of playfulness but no family dog photos

Images courtesy of the NY Times and CWa’s website 

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  1. My work team just moved into an open office that, while not quite on this level, has proved fairly unusual and attention grabbing in my large company and our conservative industry. (Alas no bar on the premises — now THAT would get tongues wagging!) The key to staying productive (and on speaking terms) with colleagues in such close quarter is tons of natural light, and plenty of breakaway space to collaborate. Seems to be plenty of that here.

    February 21, 2014
    • Interesting comment. I have no idea how I would feel to share the space so openly like that but I assume it fosters an exchange of ideas.

      February 21, 2014
  2. silvia

    Cute face I dare say.
    Tomorrow I’ll be walking on your continent’s land. Will think about you.

    February 21, 2014
    • Why do you think I put the photo there? Travel safe! And come back in one piece

      February 21, 2014
  3. Hmmm, It’s very intriguing and in one way I like it. Appreciate the design and thinking behind it. But then I’m so territorial over space, might want to add a geranium to cheer my day…what then?

    February 20, 2014
    • I think I might have a few problems trying to make my corner of the tabe “homey”, something I am prone to do even when I spend one night in a hotel room.

      February 21, 2014

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