The Clipper Capsule
By Daniel Will-Harris
"We are still sitting at a the computer in much the same way as our ancestors sat at a writing desk back at the turn of the century." Stupid, isn't it? Computers have given us a new way to work and now an industrial designer has finally created a new place to work.
Are we still going to be using 19th century furniture in the 21st century? Not if Douglas Ball can help it. Ball has designed a "virtual office," a completely self-contained and enclosed "capsule," 4-feet wide, 7-feet long, and 4 and a half feet high, designed specifically for concentrated (and ergonomically correct) computer use. Think of it as a cross between Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car (without wheels), a flight simulator, and a beautiful, slightly art nouveau, maple and frosted lexan seashell/Wellsian time machine.
This computer cockpit provides perfect seating, viewing, lighting, as well as total privacy. You get completely inside it, much as you'd get in a very small car, and sitting in it feels kind of like sitting in the cockpit of a small plane--with everything you need within easy reach. As well as providing correct ergonomics, it's allows a person to have a separate office without a separate room.
This is not merely a prototype, but an actual production product. It's been in design and testing for six years, and will ship next month. Behind it is the former president of Knoll Office furniture (the biggest office furniture company in the world), who was also the former head of Sunar (famous for being one of the first to hire architect Michael Graves), so this has potential to become a fixture in offices (and homes) in coming years.
This totally new kind of furniture is for:
The unit creates an ergonomically-correct setting which meets the new legal requirements for the workplace. The unit provides proper adjustable seating (which slides on a rail down the center of the unit), proper lighting, and proper ventilation which can otherwise be difficult to achieve.
While this is a first, it's not alone in what promises to be a revolution in furniture for computer users. SteelCase and Herman Miller, two major office furniture manufacturers, are coming out with less dramatic but similarly computer-centric solutions within a year.
While I have not personally worked in one of these units-I could certainly use one-and so could many people with home offices, or office spaces where workers need real privacy. I like that this was designed specifically for people and their computers--creating an environment for concentration, creativity, and comfort. It's high time we stopped thinking that machines alone can provide our workspace-the actual space around these machines must be tailored for computer-centric work.'
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Copyright © 1998 Daniel Will-Harris, www.will-harris.com