Every element that makes up the atmosphere that is your work space sends a signal. Whether utilitarian, something to avoid, or something to be precious of, the surroundings of your work area create. Its called “the vibe” right? Well yes, colloquially, its just a saying, but it stems from the idea that there is a vibration, a buzz, and energy about the room that leaves an impression on the rules and standards. When piecing together the aesthetics of a functioning, designers want workspaces that inspire human performance
How the space feels is based off the look and ability- this gives workers and customers informed affordances. According to psychologist James Gibson, affordances are “objects or an environment communicates its purpose and offers possibilities for action”. When developing the concept of affordances, he believed when we look at an object or an environment, we perceive its affordances for action even before we notice qualities such as shape and color.
Alot of this is about the presence and its design. For example, a candy dish left in a common area says “I’m here to work, but I’m also allowed (maybe expected?) to have sweets” i.e. “my wants outside of my duties are being recognized.” These are signals that are not taught to us in a formal educational setting, but observed in social semantics- candy left on a table is up for grabs. A couch with an ottoman in front of it says “put your feet up, this is where you relax”. A propped open door says “you’re free to come and go”.
Working with Haworth, we integrate affordances into our consultation with you on trying to map your space to give off the right vibe and energy your space needs to come alive and speak to your employees and patrons. We hope to continue to design workspaces that inspire human performance; that give you and your coworkers all the right affordances that signal:
- Cognitive Affordances to help people do their mind’s best work.
- Emotional Affordances to nurture a person’s psychological state.
- Physical Affordances to support the body’s needs.