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The Outdoor Office: Better for Morale and the Environment

A designer imagines office space for the outdoors.


What would your work day look like if you were at a desk enjoying fresh air and an occasional breeze instead of isolated in a cubicle? That's the question that designer Jonathan Olivares set out to explore through his hypothetical project "The Outdoor Office," on view through October 14 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

In an increasingly mobile world—with ubiquitous laptops and smartphones—an outdoor office for business or education isn't too far fetched, especially in locations with relatively consistent weather. With technology already in place, Olivares looked at the types of furniture that could be used for this new kind of environment and the different ways these setups could be arranged. In one scenario we see a group of students sharing a communal desk/seating space, while the teacher gives a lesson on a standup chalkboard, with a panoramic view of the city in the background. Olivares also makes the case for working outside so HVAC regulations don't have to be implemented, and natural light can be used instead of artificial, meaning a dramatic energy savings.




The designer heads the eponymous studio Jonathan Olivares Design Research, specializing in furniture, industrial design, and research. While his project may be imagined, it touches on some real ways office culture could be revolutionized. After all, wouldn't you rather be reading this post from a grassy knoll while the sun shines on your back?

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Olivares Design Research.

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