Despite renowned architect Frank Duffy claiming that the modern office is on its way out, it remains the base for the majority of people from 9 til 5. But new ways of working combined with new technology have made obsolete pieces of furniture that were, until recently, stalwarts in the office – and home.
1. The Desk
Experts (read consultants) in new ways of working would have us believe that the humble office desk is dead. Instead of being chained to our own personal bit of mdf, we will work in everything from office break-out spaces to cafes, drop-in meeting facilities and the kitchen table. But nothing has quite replaced the desk for sheer ergonomic comfort, as anyone who has spent a day hunched over a laptop in Starbucks will testify. The size and shape of the desk has certainly changed – gone are the massive L shaped desks which took up half a room. Instead smaller desks, or collaborative benches are popular. And even the big law firms where massive mahogany desks were passed down the generations from father lawyers to son lawyers, have gone (but probably only to the home office).
The distant rattle of the tea trolley was the highlight of most office workers’ afternoons. The steaming aluminum tea pot would hove into sight, and all work was forgotten as workers queued up in soup-kitchen style for their brew and a slice of, often homemade, cake. Sadly the nearest most workplaces get to the tea trolley is the sandwich man and his crate of tepid sandwiches which have already been polluted by a circular London commute at exhaust pipe height.