The word "innovation" has maybe left its worst or best times behind - it depends on how you look at it. It has lost its buzzword status, i.e., its ability to impress simply when mentioned. In recent years it has been too frequently used by the business and advertising world in order to present a product, idea or process in a better light than others. The adjective "innovative" as it is often and happily used today is characterised mainly by one thing: its positive connotation. We meet this word frequently in our daily lives and it may even get on our nerves - after all anyone who ever had to do a project application may have been asked to demonstrate the innovation in their idea. Yet, innovation means renewal - after all that's what the word really means - and we interpret this as progress.
It could be that the people who are currently setting the pace in media, business, politics and advertising and therefore influence such connotations. It does not matter if they have been in their career for only a few years or are at the end of their professional life. All of them have seen a dramatic bandwidth of great innovation or at least have information about it and are benefiting from the fruits of these achievements in our most recent history. Even someone who is only 20 today can remember a time before Facebook and smartphones. Large parts of the population can remember what life was like without the internet and the opportunities it offers today. Put into this context, the positive charisma of the word "innovation" becomes even clearer. It is hardly surprising that technical developments which make our (working) life easier are met openly and positively. After all, we receive great benefits from them. However, it does take a certain time for the long term effects to manifest. Technical advancement can also have downsides - data monitoring, drones, weapons made in 3D printers for example. All of these are phenomenons which are not directly the fault of the innovation per se, but still a possible result.
Work and lifestyle on the cutting edge. In discussions with contemporary figures we review the assertions, clichés and ideals which circulate around work environments. This time Désirée Schellerer und Angelika Molk asked Thomas Fundneider and Markus Peschl, the Knowledge and Innovation Architects, some questions. In this interview, they tell us about spaces which allow innovation and the fear of the new. Furthermore, they show us what makes an office into an oasis in the wilderness.
DI Thomas Fundneider, MBA
is Managing Director of theLivingCore and an expert for innovation and strategy. He uses his varied experience in setting up innovation culture within organisations to create sustainable impact for his clients. He also teaches at several European universities.
Univ. Prof. Dr. DI Markus F. Peschl
is Professor for the Philosophy of Science and Cognitive Science at the University of Vienna. His research focus is in the interdisciplinary area of creating knowledge in cognition, science and organisations, knowledge management, enabling spaces and (radical) innovation.
Our magazine deals this month with the topic of "New". On the one hand, "new" has a positive connotation and stands for progress, change and improvement. On the other hand, there is always also a bit of scepticism. How do you see it, specifically based on your research work?
Markus Peschl: It is a curious thing with the "new". It gives us awe and joy, yet at the same time it triggers a certain basic fear since we are suddenly confronted with something that does not fit into any of the categories known to us. You then often reach the point where you have to make a decision: Do I pursue this new thing or do I rather leave it alone. Innovators, entrepreneurs or more artistic people want to track and experience this new thing. The initial awe leads the way to more questions. This brings you closer to an understanding but also to the insight that certain things simply have to remain open, they cannot be explained. And this is exactly where the potential can be found for creatively handling these insights and making way for potential innovations.
Is there a difference between innovation and "new things"? And if so, how would you define it?
MP: Innovation is when something new is implemented into something that shows success and effect. New things that have success in their environment are innovations.
Who would have thought 50 years ago, that today you no longer need a single typesetter for newspaper and book production, yet another industry will earn really good money with the development of games and moving images? Or that companies who work in a field to reduce energy consumption will provide just as many jobs as companies that work in the field of traditional fossil energy. Well, some things have changed rather rapidly in our Brave New World and 1984 is a thing of the past. A glance ahead into our near future of job trends forms the conclusion of our "Work in Progress"-series.
In the "past" everything was different and maybe things really were easier in the "olden days". You did an apprenticeship or a degree and often stepped happily into the footsteps of the previous generation and gained a feeling of security. And you stayed in this job. For decades.
When was this "past"? Good question. Apparently it has not been that long ago. What we can describe much easier on a time axis, however, is that today we have a greater diversity of training options and jobs. To confirm this simply have a quick look at career platforms or university directories. Eureka!
If our living conditions change, then our jobs change too. If you want to learn more about current or future jobs, then it makes sense to find out more about the essential factors which influence our societal developments.
One of the so-called "mega trends" is surely the demographic and social change. Based on the total population of Earth, the number of people on this planet keeps growing (145 babies born every minute), however, in many countries the birth rates are declining and existing society becomes older and older.
"Bene Daily"; starting from today Bene's new blog will give readers a daily easy-to-cook recipe for making a simple lunch or a healthy snack to quell hunger pangs in the workplace. This "Bene Lunchtime" feature will be supplemented by "Bene Fit" - simple training exercises to bring a little more movement into the office place.
It forms the focus of the working day, it's the fulcrum and hub of everyday goings-on in the office. They will help you to switch off and replenish your reserves during the stressful working day. They will help you interact with colleagues and bring a welcome change even on those days when you're "in the flow” and the work seems to get done almost automatically. What we're talking about here - you've probably guessed it already - is the midday break.
The office as a living space has well organised spaces in which workers can also relax during these breaks. There is nothing more pitiful than having lunch at the work desk (known in the parlance as a “sad desk lunch"). One element that is at least equally important to the lunch break is of course the actual food itself. Whether it be the company canteen, a sandwich, a take-out or yesterday's left-overs - the possible options are as varied as the tastes to be enjoyed.
They are and always have been profound experts and sought after craftsmen, or even celebrated artists or functionally-aware designers. Their material comes from nature and what they manage to create from it bears eloquent witness to human culture. There has rarely been a profession which has been able to stay so important without losing touch with the present.
The conditions are naturally perfect. Wood, in addition to stone and metal, is amongst the most important materials of humankind in almost any place of the world. Even the industrial revolution of the 19th century did not put a sudden stop to this.
The early machines usually still had wooden frames or wooden mechanisms. Only with an increase in requirements for wear strength or load torques did iron managed to oust wood from its dominating position in favour of greater load bearing strength and breakage resistance.
One of the first and at the same most impressive traditions in elaborate wood art dates back to Egyptian times as one would expect from the ingenious Egyptians. In 3,500 B.C., the Egyptians already recognised how versatile wood was and how is easy it is to work. Veneer technology was already used for ships, buildings, furniture and objects for daily use and a type of plywood was developed. The sarcophagus of the god-king Tutankhamen is a special example for early craftsmanship.
The wood craftsmen of the Greek and Roman empires perfected these work techniques mainly by developing new tools. Amongst others, the plane as we know it today was finally developed from little spades which were used to smooth the wood. Furthermore, not only domestic woods were used but for special purposes rare and exotic woods were processed thanks to the active trade in the ancient world.
Work and lifestyle on the cutting edge. In our conversations with contemporaries, we examine the claims, clichés and ideals surrounding our workplaces. This time we speak with Jacob Holm, President and CEO of Fritz Hansen. In an e-mail interview, he talked about Fritz Hansen’s design DNA, explained why Danish design is so popular and told us what makes employees creative.
Founded in 1872 by the carpenter Fritz Hansen as a carpentry workshop, today the Republic of Fritz Hansen is known all over the world. The Republic of Fritz Hansen works with internationally selected designers and architects. Thanks to creative partnerships with visionaries such as Arne Jacobsen, Hans J. Wegner and Poul Kjærholm, Fritz Hansen has created a number of trendsetting, technically revolutionary and functional furniture classics which became classics. New creations also demonstrate the innovative power of the brand: The success of the models FAVNTM and RoTM by Spanish top designer Jamie Hayón or the series minusculeTM by Cecilie Manz are testimony to their flair for design and materials.
Fritz Hansen is famous for a number of iconic design classics, but you also work with contemporary designers a lot. How do you connect past and future? How can one move into the modern world without breaking with the past?
I wouldn’t distinguish between design classics from the past and new design for the future – at Fritz Hansen we are keen to ensure there is a common thread running through our “design DNA”. It is important for us to design new things that can stand next to pieces that are 50 years old – for example, take our combination of a new table by Jaime Hayon with a 55-year-old Arne Jacobson design!
What do you like most about your work?
I really like to work in a highly internationally-orientated environment and with Fritz Hansen exports at 80%, it means I am travelling a lot. At the same time I really like the combination of business and design – it is a privilege to work with design and innovation.
Founded in 1872 by the carpenter Fritz Hansen as a carpentry workshop, today the Republic of Fritz Hansen is known all over the world.To this day, the design by Republic of Fritz Hansen is characterised by its own independent identity - the art of furniture making that exhibits contemporary sense of form and long-lasting originality. For us, the Fritz Hansen team created an Office.Playlist. Will it be a classic in its own right? Tune in to find out!
Materials which are selected for the environment in which we work and live in are usually considered as a mirror of the soul. Some leave us cold and seem unapproachable, they keep us at a distance and create clear borders. Others are inviting and exude warmth, they invite us to touch and bring a harmonic balance to a room. Wood is without doubt part of the second category and is more and more sought after as a material - both for our homes and offices.
What is it that makes wood so fascinating? Surely, it can't be just the diversity of nature with its different grains, habits and wood types, providing us with a seemingly endless range of design opportunities. It's also the thought of a natural environment and grown beauty, the idea of valuable resources and sustainability and the feeling of security and soundness. Wood combines all of these qualities: a regrowing miracle material which never stops to live and is unparalleled. No surprise then, that since the invention of the saw blade man has always wanted to surround himself with this natural element.
Bene Belgium turns 10! In order to properly celebrate this anniversary, we are pleased to invite you to the Bene Expert Talk «Co-Creating Tomorrow», taking place at the brand new headquarters of our partner Potiez-Deman.
Co-Creating Tomorrow: cooperation and creative collaboration enable innovation and encourage companies to grow and develop. In a Bene Expert Talk, international consultants, designers and entrepreneurs will discuss how teamwork can make your company successful and the part that office design plays in this process.
A new spin on the office: Bene brings fresh pep into the office with the TIMBA Table and TIMBA Stool, designed by PearsonLloyd, offering the best conditions for creative cooperation and dynamic teamwork.
Cooperation is the key word. Employees shift back and forth between meeting rooms, places and spaces for communication, team and project work, workshops and desks. TIMBA, the new furniture line from Bene, was developed especially to create a pivotal point of focus for teams in modern office landscapes.
TIMBA Table and TIMBA Stool take you by surprise with their solid oak construction and rotating features. The oak legs of the table and stools convey stability and warmth. The round swivel base brilliantly provides the team access to power and the network via the “Power Bowl” in the centre of the TIMBA Table. The TIMBA Stool’s round, swivelling seat surface ensures optimal freedom of movement during discussions and promotes dynamism and interaction. When people are relaxed in terms of their posture, they remain flexible and open to new ideas.
“Meetings in the office are no longer events you always go to a separate room to conduct. They are just as likely to be quick, unplanned, and informal. TIMBA was developed for an open type of cooperation that is done at a shared table; it fills precisely that gap between informal collaboration and the formal setting delivered by traditional meeting rooms.” (Tom Lloyd, PearsonLloyd)