Office Garden

Fellow Day 2017: Next Habitat

Consider this, the office might be an ‘environment’, but it is not a proper human habitat. Yet, most of us spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week in this place following the strict regime of scheduled events and forced break times – how to cope with that? Last week our NNN fellows, artists, designers, researchers working in and around the next nature theme, gathered to discuss the Next Habitat. How will we work in the future? And how will this affect our personal life? Has modernity fully domesticated us? During a day-long program in the Dutch woods we explored the magical realm of the Office Garden.

Freshly made STROOOP waffles by food designer Chloé Rutzerveld.

Ecopreneur Frank Gorter, host of the day, invited us to his cabin in the forest-rich Veluwe, a green stretch in the province of Gelderland in The Netherlands. Frank explained his plans to turn the family estate into an ecological paradise, where a bio-based economy would define a circular village that embraces nature as a force for recreation. In the long run, “we need to develop an ecological intelligence” Frank said. “I see a huge potential if we embrace ecological value” (to learn more about ecology in relation to economy, make sure to visit our ECO Coin project page). “What if forests are their own enterprises?” artist Govert Flint wondered, imagine a forest with its own bank account that determines itself whether trees get cut or not.

NNN director Koert van Mensvoort leading the discussion.

To follow, Govert Flint gave a presentation about his work and shared with us his research on human emotion in relation to body movement. Govert is known for his dynamic exoskeleton chair and more recently for Enrichers, his collective effort to propose a sustainable design movement based on the use of environmental simulation to increase wellbeing. He wondered how we come to live so strictly to our agendas that we even plan our emotions. “We need an office environment to make us happy” he said. Well, take a look at his work and you will understand his statement. “We are currently trying to develop spectacles to simulate daylight” socialpreneur Peter van Eijndhoven replied, as prolonged exposure to overhead lights has negative effects on our bodies. “Maybe we should just be working outside” Govert concluded.

Govert Flint, Dave Hakkens and Pauline van Dongen.

Artist Lonneke Gordijn from Studio Drift closed the morning session. “All our work is about movement” she said. “We take nature as our starting point – when is something alive and when is something dead?”, Lonneke shared some insights on how Studio Drift is managing their operations, but also took us on a tour to Drift’s work, from picking dandelions to a flying concrete brick. “We read about it in a book, to make a flying house in the future” Lonneke said. “We wanted to give the concrete a new reality; even though it was flying, the concrete block felt very natural at one point”.

Lunchtime! Koert van Mensvoort and Frank Gorter lighting the fire.
Fashion designer Pauline van Dongen.
Back to the tribe! Rain or no rain, the fellows roast their veggies on fire.

After an inspiring morning and a tasty lunch, the fellows divided in three groups to speculate upon Office Garden future scenarios. And what better place to do that in a KantoorKaravaan? These trailers equipped with Wi-Fi, coffee machine and other work-related necessities turn nature in your office!

Group 2: Frank Gorter, Peter van Eijndhoven, Chloé Rutzerveld and Koert van Mensvoort.

An Office Garden scenario for the future… It might sound abstract, but luckily our fellows are an ingenious group of people with a sharp tongue and a relevant eye. The first group envisioned a sensible environment that moves the user closer to the surrounding world. “How can physical activity perform?” was one of their questions. Imagine your environment bringing materiality to life. The second group delivered biorhythm-based self-driving office capsules, where virtual calendars synchronize with other users and bring together people by means of energy, productivity and expertise. In this scenario, companies will not employ people anymore; it becomes one big skill database. The third group imagined a mini-wearable surface that can turn each surrounding into a workspace. We will no longer need screens or office supplies, we can simply wear them on our bodies.

And that’s a wrap! The NNN Fellow Day 2017 was full of inspiring talks, shared knowledge and synergetic collaborations. We are lucky to be surrounded by such a group of talented people who help us dream, work and live in the next nature.

Want to know more about our fellows? Make sure to check out their pages on our website. Do you have an idea for an office scenario for the future? Share it with us in the comment section below!

Thank you Govert Flint, Peter van Eijndhoven, Lonneke Gordijn, Pauline van Dongen, Leanne Wijnsma, Dave Hakkens, Chloé Rutzerveld and Frank Gorter for participating in the Fellow Day 2017.

Photos by Nichon Glerum

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