For its 40th installation, New York’s ever-changing concept store STORY is exploring work environments—and the future of work itself. The Work/Space edition is more than a shopping experience, it’s also a co-working location and the first-ever space to bring to life architect David Dewane’s Eudaimonia Machine concept. Chicago-based Dewane created the architectural design in order to make offices more efficient, but also (and importantly) more inspiring, creative and innovative. Currently the standard open-plan office hinders and disrupts work, so Dewane created a plan to foster deep work. “For me the process of working is this process of getting yourself in to a place mentally where you’re absolutely in a groove,” he shares. The Eudaimonia Machine design still encourages socializing and collaborating—and is a co-working concept—but it separates the office into five rooms that each serves a very different purpose.
Dewane’s design employs a linear progression through five spaces—the Gallery, the Salon, the Office, the Library and the Chamber—it is essential to pass through each room to get to the next. The vision is that these rooms are oriented with a direct line from one to the next, but it can be adapted to fit an existing floorplan, like at STORY where Dewane has made a curving path through the store to separate each of the equally important spaces. What matters most, he says, is that “you build an intensity in focus and then you unwind on your way out. And by having these thresholds between the spaces you also efface your mind to prepare yourself mentally for what you’re about to do. In some ways you can think of this like a baby being born—it has to be facing the right way or it’s breached and I think in a lot of open office environments we’re working in a breached space.”
Walking in off the street, visitors enter the Gallery, which is intended to spark inspiration and have individuals consider their purpose, intention and identity. With examples of deep work produced in the machine, the Gallery provides encouragement and motivation. Dewane also calls this “positive peer pressure,” which encourages workers to make their colleagues (and themselves) proud. This area is peppered with products from Alain de Botton’s The School of Life, Grovemade, The Arrivals and MM.LaFleur.
Next is the Salon, where socializing is galvanized. At STORY, this space is decked out with Blu Dot couches and coffee tables, giving it a relaxed, living room vibe. Of course coffee is essential to most work days, so it’s here that exclusive coffees (cold or hot) made with Starbucks Reserve Peru Chontali Coffee—which isn’t available anywhere else in the country—are available. Rather than eliminating socializing at work, the Eudaimonia Machine compartmentalizes it.
The tucked behind is the Office, which most reflects the look of many contemporary open-air workspaces, with desks, a conference table, whiteboards and more. Decorated with Blu Dot’s office range, it’s still a fairly laid-back space, though certainly is centered around getting “shallow work” (like emails) done—albeit potentially collaboratively.
Rather than a regular whiteboard, Samsung’s Flip (an interactive whiteboard) is debuting at STORY. Visitors can tinker with the Flip, and those who have signed up for desk space can use it for their own work. When we visited, Dewane used it to draw the curve of people moving through the space—explaining to us the flow of the space and vacillation between inspiration and focus.
Technology and analog collide in the Office, with Giorgia Lupi‘s evolving data visualization on the wall. Lupi is offering a survey for visitors to complete and then she will color the wall art to reflect the results. The resulting visualization will show how STORY shoppers work today, get inspired and think about the future of work.
Following the Office is the Library, which is for quiet research and discovery. With books, artifacts, and various other resources available, this space is organized to contain everything needed to get the rest of your job done. At STORY there are some 200 books by well-known business thinkers and authors, rare titles, as well as documentaries. In a non-retail Eudaimonia Machine the library would also house the archive of work previously shown in the Gallery. Dewane calls this space the “hard drive of the machine.”
Finally, the Chamber is the heart of Dewane’s concept. These are small, soundproof spaces designed for “deep work”—essentially isolating workers from the rest of the office and all its distractions and interruptions. And it’s here where he shares with us, “I believe in this concept of Eudimonia and trying to find the purest expression of things of value that I can create and offer to the world and how can I be in an environment that supports that and how can I help other people be in an environment that supports that. In a lot of ways this is my most autobiographical project, but it also ties in to this entire culture.” In his vision, these “deep work” spaces would even include showers so you can cleanse yourself on your way in (or out).
The Work/Space edition was co-curated by author, and founder of The Ready, Aaron Dignan (right) who believes that the future of work is going to be more human. The ways in which Dewane’s (left) Eudaimonia Machine encourages solo, deep work, but also socializing and collaborating certainly reflect the needs and desires of humans attempting to tackle a project.
Work/Space will run through Friday, 27 April at STORY (144 10th Ave, at the corner of 19th St) and is open every day.
Images courtesy of STORY