“Comfort, innovation, flexibility and wellness: this is my concept for the office of the future”
“I consider design as never-ending, painstaking research, striving for the correct balance between aesthetics, comfort, form and function”. This is what Stefano Bigi, successful designer and founder of the “Stefano Bigi Design Studio”, told us while talking about himself and describing the new horizons of the office design of the future, capable of better meeting developments in the world of work.
What is the scenario in which large companies find themselves operating today?
In a constantly-evolving habitat, even the world of work has been radically overturned, today more than ever before. Adapting to all these changes is not easy. Some people work in physical presence, while others perform their roles remotely from their homes, and some people change their method of operation in accordance with requirements or the amount of work to be performed. The great challenges of today and tomorrow will be about increasing flexibility, giving employees concrete, practical and intelligent solutions.
So the keyword will be “flexibility”, within the outlook of a “human-centric” vision focusing on employees’ needs…
The pandemic and globalisation have placed the human factor at the centre of discussions on the theme of work, more than ever before. Considering the changes in our habits, and the fact that there is apparently no longer any tangible separation between working in physical presence and remotely, I think that it is a good idea to reconsider our vision of work at a company. And this represents a real opportunity in creative terms!
A few years ago, the arrival of Open Space concepts brought with it the desire to expand the workplace, towards a pattern that could introduce a freer and more participatory vision of work.
In actual fact, people also need to be able to concentrate and work on their own. This differentiation in working method will have to be increasingly flexible. Intelligent solutions permitting these various modes of work are currently in a state of constant development.
So the idea is that of an “open” approach in which people and the interiors are in perfect synergy…
That’s right. Personally I have had the chance to work in different settings. Firstly in a large industrial group in France, and now as a designer in the comfort of my own home. From these experiences I have been able to assess all the benefits and disadvantages. For this reason, today, when I am working on designs for larger or smaller enterprises, I am increasingly aware of the changes and developments within corporate dynamics.
Increasingly, companies will have to understand just how important the working environment is in guaranteeing wellness and productivity for its employees.
In practical terms, how should, or could, interiors change?
I am well aware that sometimes companies have to come to terms with limited budgets, considering all the costs that have to be met, but it is important to open a small window in the mind and understand that an employee who feels good at the company works better and, benefiting from these positive feelings, is more productive. This step can be physically implemented not just by the office’s ambient space, but also through the furnishings within it, the elements that employees use on a daily basis, from the ergonomic comfort of their chairs right through to their desks, introducing new elements that enable them to perform all their tasks using the various physical and technological solutions made available by the company.
So it is becoming increasingly important to combine comfort with the need for innovation when designing an office…
Not only should comfort and innovation go hand in hand, but more than ever before, they are fundamental in the world of office design. An ever-present theme that I rediscovered, such as when, with my friend and technician Piergiorgio Mikula, we created the new SMART SOLUTION concept with IVM. In addition to pure design, other elements have been added to this challenge: comfort, functional daily use, inspiring colours for products, a sustainable approach.
A dominant theme that also involves technology.
In what way has this affected the design of office spaces to improve employees’ wellness and performance? And additionally, how has the role of office furnishing units changed?
Technology in the world of the office has always affected lifestyle and work, accelerating processes and influencing the way in which daily activities are performed.
While previously, technology was considered as a tool available to employees, today we find ourselves facing a new dimension in which it takes on a wider role, becoming completely integrated into the office setting, meeting employees’ needs.
The outlook is for a complex scenario comprising challenges, limitations, but opportunities as well. In your role as an office designer, how do you give support to companies?
From the experience that I have accumulated within the luxury furniture sector and during work on products for the home – with a constant focus on details and comfort – I have developed expertise that has enabled me to propose a new vision for the office, more dynamic, comfortable and inclusive.
I have seen to what degree the world of enterprise needs much more when it comes to the development of new products, and on occasions I have had to work on concepts of exceptional quality with very low budgets. This has enabled me to further extend my vision as a designer, giving rise to a series of exciting ideas. Today I offer this vision to companies who are willing to accept new challenges and embrace change, such as IVM, with whom we shared a stimulating experience that led us to develop products very much out of the ordinary. And we are just at the start: other products that will appear in the coming months will offer new design solutions.
Could you tell us about your design approach aimed at ensuring wellness for employees?
Thinking about employees’ real needs right from the start means asking the right questions: what do they use most? Why? What do they really need, and what is superfluous? And what if the company’s physical requirements for the office should completely overturn its organisational structure from one day to the next? How could this situation be managed?
This is my starting point when I am developing an office design project, both for small companies and more structured organisations.
People are no longer expected to adapt to the solutions present in the office, and on the contrary, the solutions should adapt to meet employees’ needs. The world is in a state of constant flux, and we have to be capable of moving at the same speed.
Born in 1974, Stefano Bigi grew up in France and Italy. Partly through his dual cultural origins, he has developed a taste for everything chic and beautiful. After having studied at the Artistic High School, he began a career in the field of web design, within an SSII (Société de services et d’ingénierie en informatique, software and computing services company), never abandoning the design of settees, chairs and objects.
For this reason, at the age of 31 he decided to dedicate his life to his passion: designing furniture and decorative items.
He settled in Milan in 2005, and set up his own company: Stefano Bigi Design Studio.
Find out more about Stefano Bigi in this video