As companies literally tear down the dividers between their workers to create open-plan offices with an eye toward transparency and minimalism, designers are creating more and more products intended to bring some organization and privacy back to the workplace. Noticing a pattern yet? There’s a happy medium to be found somewhere between the Facebook-headquarters-style Utopian vision of an egalitarian workplace and a cubicle farm full of clutter. At Facebook’s new building in Menlo Park, California, workspaces are so spartan, there’s no place for employees to put their belongings, and that’s frustrating for the people who spend a huge chunk of their lives sitting at those desks. Well, folks, industrial designers have some ideas that’ll fill those needs as we wait for office managers to get the memo.
Metaproject, an annual industrial design senior project at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), teamed up with modern office supply store Poppin to create a line of highly usable accessories that look nice, too. According to the project website, “The students are challenged to create innovative accessories for this new line that accent, improve, or add to their use. The design solutions are to appeal to Poppin’s target market, being value conscious and aesthetically minded; feasible for mass production; simple and functional.”
22 students contributed to the project with their individual designs, which often augment existing Poppin products, like these privacy panels. The High-Rise Hanging Family by Evan Cincotta (top image) is one example, featuring a series of bins, a cord holder, a magnetic bar for push pins and other accessories that hang onto the panels. Ethan Young’s Under Shelf attaches to the leg of a Poppin desk so you have an extra surface for phones and other small items. The Munch Mat by Danielle Marino provides a carrier for your take-out and a clean surface to eat it on so that you don’t mess up your desk, and the Booster Desk by Tristan Cannan lets you use your computer while standing.
For those times when you need a bit more privacy, Maxwell Whitehead’s Adjustable Desktop Divider pops into place in seconds and breaks down just as easily. The Phone Docking Station with Cup by Linghua Zhu keeps your phone charged and visible while also holding pens, and the Connect Office Gaming Partition by Jordan Stemper lets you play a game with your co-worker when you need a quick break. And for those of us who are tired of putting our purses under our desks and then kicking them all day, there’s the Task Chair Overhanger by Emily Moore. Check out the rest of the designs at RIT.