THE OFFICE: A NEW PROMISE?

From the 20th to the 24th of January, M&O Paris will open its session of conferences including both the Designers’ Studio and L’Espace Retail. Don’t miss our round table on the evolutions of office spaces and the new BETC headquarters in Pantin on the 20th of Janaury.

Shared spaces: the new ideal workplace?

Shared spaces, which encourage mobility, dialogue and change, are offering a new take on the conventional office space. It provides an opportunity for designers and architects to innovate and combine work and creativity in a single space.

Speakers :

  • Catherine Geel, design historian, founder of T&P Work UNit
  • Christophe Pillet, Designer
  • Moderated by Dominique Cuvillier, Journalist

We talked to Catherine Geel, artistic director of the renovation of the Magasins Généraux for BETC in Pantin. Her agency, T&P Work UNit, has also been invited to the Biennale of St Etienne to present this project in March 2017.

So, if I understood correctly, this is not your first adventure with BETC?

We have done 3 other spaces. On the condition that the top management had no fixed office. It has been working for 15 years! Les Classes laborieuses was a former department store for 350 people, which received a Wallpaper Award after BETC moved there in 2003. Rosa Park was a second space with a huge workshop on 3 levels of 150 people, all in the 10th district of Paris. We helped them to understand that design is a tool for work, well-being and attractiveness.

What has changed in the way you approach the workspace in this project?

Today 4 out of 5 people work in the tertiary sector in Europe. The Pantin project is a challenge of a much more ambitious nature for us and the type of design that we defend, since it is through the design and our programming that was reflected on the work and office. We have pushed some standards. We have spent much time coding and decoding our propositions.

Brick, Alban Le Henry, Les Magasins généraux – T&P Work UNit (DA) – BETC, 2016 ©Philippe Garcia

Brick, Alban Le Henry, Les Magasins généraux – T&P Work UNit (DA) – BETC, 2016 ©Philippe Garcia

What is the future of office work?

I was rereading to prepare the M&O conference a text by the American designer George Nelson, who reflected much on this issue. He says that thinking in ‘open space’ is a reflection on the whole of society because it is the first place of employment. The form of business organizations will still evolve, but there will always be space, and more and more, to work within. I’m not talking about co-working as a business model but as project.

Desk 74, Sophie Breuil – T&P Work UNit, Unifor, Les Magasins généraux – BETC, 2016 ©Philippe Garcia

Desk 74, Sophie Breuil – T&P Work UNit, Unifor, Les Magasins généraux – BETC, 2016 ©Philippe Garcia

What types of industries do you think are ready for this type of innovation?

We would like to see other companies as deeply interested as BETC. We work like that. Our projects are singular and generic. It is the strength of the workshop, the collaborations and the discipline. I think that companies sensitive to R&D or with a strong cultural profile, or with a vision of open governance are interested in these types of reflections. Even small. We will demonstrate this in St Etienne by recreating a generic office space, and actually working in it, instead of just exhibiting a showroom.

Vue bureau, Les Magasins généraux – T&P Work UNit (DA) – BETC 2016 ©Philippe Garcia

Vue bureau, Les Magasins généraux – T&P Work UNit (DA) – BETC 2016 ©Philippe Garcia

How is the role of the designer at once general but at the same time atypically unique?

It is in the ‘grasping’. To grasp and capture in a specific and adapted form or function, a spirit, a singularity and the norms! To be a ruthless observer with great benevolence. In a business, the techniques of circumvention of the rules are – in fact – necessary. The designer must leave this small space that makes the thing not imposed but proposed.

©DR

©DR

Designers & architects: Stéphane Barbier Bouvet / Sophie Breuil / Gaston Cavaillac / Laure Jaffuel / Alban Le Henry / Jean Nouvel / Peter Opsvik / Parking Club
/ Adrien Rovero / Jean-Benoît Vétillard

www.tpworkunit.com

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