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Coming Up For Aire: The War on Talent

A+D community is increasingly involved in the war for talent retention. Mario Ruiz’ latest Aire for Schiavello has just changed the battlefield.



BY David Congram

November 2nd, 2016


The pace of globalisation has never been more rapid; succession planning between workforce generations has never been more lop-sided; general confidence in the pipelines of competent successors has never been more despairing; and ‘development practices’ merely elicits hands thrown up in absolute defeat. No-one is winning the war for talent.

But it’s not necessarily Sisyphean. Corporations are increasingly experimenting with whacky and wonderful ways to tackle talent retention. And, interestingly, the A+D community is #1 on their call-out list.

But, why?

“Having an efficient design system”, according to designer Mario Ruiz, “allows collaboration [that] will help to retain talent.” Where collaboration is key, A+D professionals are uniquely positioned to construct, refine and increase systems for communication and interrelation in the workspace. This is the vital crux upon which Ruiz’ latest collection – Aire, a suite of three essential pieces (the Aire Fold and Aire Meeting tables, and the Aire Work Bench) – enters the fray of design-thought. Light and adaptable, Aire speaks profoundly for championing change, flexibility and the true value of talent in the workspace.

“To reach unity with simple shapes is complex to achieve and it is what helps emphasise that the important thing in an office is the people. Sometimes, we do not realise that this is the foundation for the happiness of workers.”

Meditating on proportion, balance and foundational geometries, Aire tells a design story of harmony – in aesthetics, in form, in utility – so seamlessly reflecting our dreams for accord and unity between individuals in the workplace. In this, Ruiz’ thoughtful design approach comes through in full force. “For me, design has to help the object to do its mission: being useful.”

“Useful”, here, is double-edged. For the individual worker, a range of accessories such as privacy panels, above-desk shelving and storage allows for intelligent customisable options to suit many idiosyncratic modes of work. But for the corporation, “useful”, provides a new stronghold on the disappearing-act that is capital-T Talent. According to Ruiz, Aire “helps to answer the balance of group and individual needs […], the collaboration, identity and communication of a team”. No longer trying to merely keep and/or attract talent, this is design-thinking in action that instead declares talent is something we can grow. In our increasingly agile workspaces based on knee-jerk flexibility, Ruiz’ Aire collection declares ‘talent’ is a question not of investment, but re-investment.

“Sophisticated furniture which talks about the status of the worker in a company gives you a lot of information about the company [itself]. Essential and light furnishings that don’t put labels on people, speaks so much about a company that [seeks to] add value to a more invisible thing like talent over status”.

Perhaps, then, Aire is less concerned with responding to talent retention than it is to supporting talent attention. After all, in Ruiz’ own words, “design has to work for the people”.

What a breath of fresh air(e).

This article is presented by Schiavello.


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