Leo Schouten, founder of PROOFF, talks to Mandi Keighran about his vision of the future workplace.
June 19th, 2012
Dutch company PROOFF, which stands for ’project’ and ’office’ or ’progressive’ and ’office’, creates the tools that enable new ways of working.
The PROOFF ’EarChair’ developed by Jurgen Bey during the ground-breaking Interpolis project in 2002 has become an icon of Activity Based Working and flexibility in the workplace.
On a recent trip to Australia, founder of PROOFF, Leo Schouten, spoke to Indesign Editor, Mandi Keighran, about his vision of the future workplace.
“When I started in 1995, the industry of office furniture was concentrated only on desking, task chairs, and cabinets. It made me angry. The ’EarChair’ is the statement that nowadays needs in the office and public areas.
“The needs of the workplace are totally adapting for new ways of working,” says Schouten.
“In the next 25 years, I think the office will just become a meeting point. It will be the place for briefing or creating the family idea of a corporate culture.
“From 1975 to 2000, there was still the traditional office. From 2000 to 2025, we are seeing new ways of working, where it is more informal. From 2025 onwards, there will only be an informal concept. It will be partly the office, but mainly outside. The office will become the grand café with some private meeting rooms.
“I think there will be other communities where we meet and work. Employees will be employed by many companies – freelancing – and people will be more independent. Life and working times will change to be a 24-hour economy, and people will hold responsibility for where and when they work. It could be really interesting how society and the total way of living could change.”
To engage with these new ways of working, Schouten is in the process of launching the PROOFF laboratory – a not-for-profit research initiative headed by Jurgen Bey.
“The idea of the laboratory is that Jurgen can engage in permanent research on what will be happening in the workplace and public areas,” Schouten explains.
“The PROOFF laboratory will make a digital library that will be free to explore. There are so many chapters to this research and it is important to understand how everyone is thinking about it globally.
“There are not many companies working like PROOFF, especially with the PROOFF laboratory. I do not think that too many will work like this.”
PROOFF has recently launched to the Australian market through Living Edge.
For the full story on PROOFF, pick up a copy of Indesign #50 in August
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