This study sponsored by US furniture company Steelcase and IDEO Product Development was conducted for the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre at the Royal College of Art.
The research project set out to explore ways of providing open-plan office workers with increased levels of privacy through the design of objects used on and around the desk. Observations of a variety of work styles and office layouts was followed by the designing, prototyping and user testing of concepts to improve privacy and cut distraction.
The most successful outcome, the umbrella chair investigated the notion of signaling the desire for privacy. By providing a collapsible screen that surrounds the user it generates both a physical and psychological barrier both giving an impression of solitude and a warning to colleagues not to disturb unless necessary.