We caught up with Tom Lloyd, co-principal of the London furniture design studio PearsonLloyd, which has developed some unexpected concepts for Teknion, including a wooden loveseat for one-on-one meetings. Here, Lloyd discusses how he and his firm created a happy and productive office for themselves.
Your staff of 16 shares a 167-square-metre office in Shoreditch, in London.
Tell us about it.
Most of what we do is at human scale. We design digitally, but we also need a parallel process for physical building, so we have 3‑D printers next to our sketchbooks, next to our CAD software, next to our cardboard mock-ups. We’ve moved our workshop to another location a mile or so away; we decided to take a second space, where we can manipulate models.
So what happens at the main office?
People work from their individual desks, but the studio is also collaborative. The creative areas are more about standing in front of drawings, almost like at a design school, where you can see what someone else is working on and discuss it openly.
Is collaborative space key?
In London, we don’t have the luxury of space, because it’s so expensive, so our individual workspaces have gotten smaller, but that has allowed for more collective environments. There is constant interaction between team members, and as in most offices everyone benefits from the different types of spaces: the big conference table, a quiet area, various pin-up zones, a workshop and so on. These tend to merge.
What do you consider essential to a productive office?
The understanding that productivity within the knowledge economy is about making the most of people’s minds. Motivating them properly, keeping them active, keeping them alive, keeping them healthy.
What led to your recent line for Teknion, which includes a chair that two can sit in and a hat stand?
We were trying to understand what makes a work environment healthy. It’s not always about sitting in one chair in front of a monitor. It becomes much more about finding a point of interest for groups of people. We wanted to express craft making as an antidote to the seriousness of office design. The hat stand is close to my heart. It immediately gives you a different sense for a workspace. I have one myself, next to my office chair.
It seems almost residential.
Well, we aren’t aiming to make offices look like homes. You might call it humanity; that’s what we’re interested in. It’s about investing in people’s emotions. For a long time, that kind of thinking, where the employees’ well-being is important, was like a bonus to staff. But enlightened organizations now realize that humanity is how you get productivity.