12 ways to pimp your office

Cool office furniture
When your office was furnished, did the shopping list go something like this:

  • One desk. Gray.
  • One ergonomic office chair. Black.
  • One waste paper basket. Gray plastic.
  • One filing cabinet. Gray.

You know – the usual stuff. Typical. Traditional. Booooooring!

I’m not going to claim that a fancy desk or a weird chair is going to magically improve your creativity and productivity – but I am damn sure, that all that sameness and eternal corporate grayness, does nothing good for your ability to come up with great new ideas.

Here are some ways to spruce up a workplace that may actually inject some color and fun into your work environment.

Got Milk?

The Milk desk is a new design to match your Apple gear with it’s white surface and rounded edges.

Milk desk
It lowers and raises electrically, it has ways to hide the cable clutter, and it also has four compartments at one end that can be configured for storage, trash or, yes, as an aquarium.

Milk desk

Milk desk

Partition magic

Softwall
Softwall is a great way to flexibly partition a room. It’s made of paper with a felt core, and I love it because it doesn’t eat all the light in the room (if you go for the white one).

Softwall
It can be twisted into just about any shape or rolled up when you don’t need it and it dampens sound more than most room partitioners. Plus it looks amazing!

Softwall

The wing desk

Or how about a desk made from the wing of a DC3 plane?

The saddle chair

The starting point for the Haag Capisco is just your average, garden-variety office chair – but they’ve moved on from there. The saddle seat gives you a more erect posture and doesn’t cut of the blood flow to your legs.

Haag Capisco
The seat and back are constructed so you can sit sideways or reversed on it and still support your arms. And the whole thing tilts back into a very comfortable reclined position.

Haag Capisco Haag Capisco Haag Capisco
I’ve had one of these myself – they rock.

Bean bags

Bean bags look great and can be used in a million different positions. Four bags and a coffee table and you have a great meeting room!

Sumo Omni
Sumo Omni
I’m partial to the the Sumo Omni (pictured above) myself. Disclosure: They once sent me a free one to review here on the blog.

Bibliochaise

Where do you keep all your reference manuals and handbooks? Close to where you can sit and read them, of course! Meet the Bibliochaise.

Chair with books

Stokke Garden

It’s a tree. It’s a sculpture. It’s… I don’t know what it is, but I like it.

Stokke Garden
Stokke Garden
Since I first saw these, I’ve wanted one and only the huge price tag has kept from picking one up. It looks strange, but is actually supremely comfortable and allows you to sit/lie in many positions. I know, I’ve spent quite some time in a showroom testing one thoroughly :o)

The meeting bed.

When your business is innovation, your office can’t really look like any other corporate wasteland. London-based innovation agency ?WhatIf! know that – as evidenced by e.g. the life-sized plastic cow statue painted like Spiderman in the lobby and the big red couch/bed they use for meetings:

Meeting bed

Meeting bed

Conference bike

conferencebike
conferencebike2
This has got to be the coolest idea in a long time. 7 people pedal along, one of them steers. It’s the conference bike and I want one!! I also mentioned this in my post on seeeeeriously cool workplaces.

Art tables

I was sitting in my usual café writing this blogpost when I spotted a lady at the next table looking through some pictures of weird and beautiful desks.

Desk
Art desk
Art desk
Of course I had to ask her what the story was. Turns out she’s Marie Westh, an artist and these are one-off tables she created, first for exhibitions and then later on as usable art pieces. Check out Marie’s website with many more weird and fantastic creations.

A balance act

This is more a metaphor than a piece of furniture – but it’s pretty cool all the same.

Wood wall
The idea is that three people can have a meeting where they must work together to hold their balance during the meeting. Like we must each contribute to a conversation, to make it balanced. Impractical – but cool! More here.

Wood wall

Wood wall

Or how about an entire wall covered in cordwood? Not only is it amazingly beautiful, it’s also great for the acoustics and it gives the wall a great texture.

Wood wall
Wooden wall
I saw my friends at Connecta and their roommates build this from a huge stack of cord woodon the floor to the finished wall. Superb!!

The upshot

So is it the furniture that determines whether a company is creative and fun or staid and boring? Of course not! But the type and variety of furniture does reflect the mood at the company. If you have row upon row of identical, gray desks and chairs then odds are this is not the place wild ideas are born.

And why exactly is it that everyone must have the same desk and chair? Why not let people choose for themselves, and give them a chance to create an environment that suits them. The resulting variety may be confusing to those who think that business is about structure, order and control… but it’s sure to be more stimulating and fun for those of us who think that work is about being happy.

There are more pictures of cool furniture in this flickr set.

Also check out my post on 10 seeeeeriously cool workplaces:

Cool workplaces
Or check out some other past favorites from the blog:

245 thoughts on “12 ways to pimp your office”

  1. I’m drooling over the Milk desk–been looking for a good desk for about a year now. And the Softwall looks incredibly useful and pleasing to the eye.

    *slaps forehead* I knew I should’ve looked to the Danes for these things… ;)

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Cord wood is pretty, acoustically damping… and insects love it. And, because of the insects, spiders really dig it, too. Probably not recommended if you live in the mountains or the arid Southwest, in particular. Black Widow spiders are common in these areas.

  3. Alexander!
    My bank will hate you for showing me this!
    -I have already ordered one of each! (almost)
    Especially the conferencebike is way cool!
    Expect to see one in Copenhagen soon!

  4. Alex – Congrats on getting this post to the top of reddit – well, not quite as of yet – it’s hard to beat out John Stewart. :)

  5. These trinkets are for people that actually like being in the office all day and suffice it to say are probably in need of something to compenstae for their utterly vapid existance. Every one of those ideas lacks any real imagination, is totally impractical and a great way to waste cash and resources. Here is a better idea to brighten up any office: pot and prostitutes.

  6. Great post and sooo many nice designs. We have the bean bag :)

    Any idea how much the soft wall goes for? we have a great studio office that we might want to divide up a bit.

  7. Pingback: Daniska'da Paylas
  8. Great, now all I need is a job at an office cool enough to allow me to buy any of this stuff!

  9. I liked the art tables, they would be very cool for my editing system, and I think it would impress my customers. I will try to make one when I have time.

  10. Pingback: pligg.com
  11. Pingback: andedammen
  12. I think the conference bike has got (intentionally?) bad marketing. If you took the same picture above, removed the bike helmets, and used someone who didn’t have coke-bottle glasses, it might be lots more palatable.

  13. Hahah, “Pimp Your Office” should be “How to turn your office into a pre-school playground”. None of that stuff is pimp at all… more like yuppie wanna be pimp. Don’t get me wrong some of it could be cool at home but c’mon – most of it doesn’t even makes sense in an office.

  14. I recently placed a large order for office furniture with a company called http://www.saxen.co.uk And the experience i had with this company was fantasic from order to comletion the whole process was perfect and I would recommend using them for purchasing office furniture to everyone. They also have some very funky stuff

  15. Pingback: ttiqq.com
  16. Pingback: hangy.de?
  17. Really cool ideas to keep you fresh through out the working day. A far cry from the mundane office spaces we are used to. It is daring though and will take a good amount of convincing for implementation of these ideas in our offices. Though some of them can be tried in our own homes to change the mood while chatting or studying.

  18. Choosing suitable office furniture for a busy, heavily populated call centre requires a lot of thought. Practical considerations regarding ergonomics, acoustics and technical integration often out weigh the aesthetic considerations which contribute so much to a productive and enjoyable work environment.

    I was responsible for sourcing and selecting the furniture for a recent call centre refit project and found many suppliers were quick to present their ‘out of the box’ solution without much consideration for the needs of the call centre workers. In the end I chose http://www.theglassoffice.co.uk and we have all been mightily impressed with their service, the installation and the environment that has been created.

  19. That aircraft wing table took my breath away. I would like to see kind of a furniture taken from a submarine. Is there any on this site, please?

  20. i have just brought from a fantastic office furniture superstore called officesupermarket. The range of furniture is huge and the guys on the end of the phone really know what they are talking about. My order was delivered on the day it was booked in for and even the delivery guys we pleasent. Try it http://www.officesupermarket.co.uk

  21. I know one’s office furnishings can increase productivity and creativity. I just never knew there was an opportunity to purchase such creative office furnishings.

  22. Pingback: Pimp your office
  23. Love the article and every one of its type. I wish I could go thru all the messages, but I’m at my currently un-pimped workplace and need to get back to the dreary looking mundane stack of paper.

    We have a very smalllllll space to work in, but I am going to try to get my boss to pimp it up- there are too many winning combinations of cheap yet peppy arrangements. I’ll try to post pics of my google sketch up plan.

  24. I need info on a stack on any surface (smooth) screen to divid space about 13 to 16 inch in height and 60″ wide and 30″ wide? Any help. Thanks David

  25. i love the cord wood wall! i’d love to make one. is there any way to get in contact with the folks who did that?

    thanks for this great site!

  26. The Milk Desk is pretty cool, but optical mouses don’t like white surfaces. Unless you get the black version of Milk, you’ll probably end up needing a mouse pad or (go for size with) a desk writing pad, which kinda defeats the purpose of having a clean, cool looking desk.

  27. You non-Black hipsters using the word “pimp” as a complimentary verb are about as silly as they come. Real pimps are violent, nasty people who exploit women, but as long as you’re sheltered from that by your nice office job, keep parroting away.

  28. i got 250 square feet of office i want arrangemy office, With 4 machine and a desk and two persoenal computer please give some suggestion about the arrangements

  29. Was completely turned off by the title of your column. Please learn what the definition of pimping is and perhaps you will not use it anymore.

  30. The Milk Desk is pretty cool, but optical mouses dont like white surfaces. i love the cord wood wall! id love to make one. I know ones office furnishings can increase productivity and creativity. I just never knew there was an opportunity to purchase such creative office furnishings. But on whole all are good

    Custom printed pen
    Promotional products

  31. The conference bike is amazing – no more falling asleep in a boring meeting! That sure is one way to make sure everybody contributes. The beanbag idea is great for smaller offices and we will probably implement it. I also love the partition rather than boring cubicle walls!

  32. i think its defintely true that the workplace decor affects productivity…its so hard to be creative when you’re in a stuffy, crowded office surrounded by greyness!

  33. Pingback: topinews.com
  34. I was very interested in the flexible paper partitions but did not have much luck in finding tehm in the UK. But I found an office furniture company called CH Workspace Ltd, and they know the product and have sent me samples. They frequently import from Germany and can supply me with these partitionsin about a week, which is amazing.
    You can search for them by typing “office furniture” onto Google or by going to their website which is “http://www/chworkspace.co.uk

  35. Re previous comment about CH workspace as a supplier for the flexible screens, the website address should have read ” http://www. chworkspace.co.uk ”
    Sorry

  36. We’re designing an office for 10, generally in open cubicles. Windows all face South and we should have good lightening when it’s complete. What about colors for carpet, base boards, kitchenette flooring and countertops? Any recommendations?

  37. I like the blog post, but I strongly disagree with the aquarium thing. We have no right to use animals in this way.

    A former client of my father had a different method for pimping his home office. His cat. The cat used to sleep in the mail basket while he was working. It always made him feel good.

  38. I’m using one of those saddle chars, first it’s really strange and you have to get used to it, but it really helped with my pain in the back…so it does alot more than just looking stylish :)

  39. I like the wall it’s unique and adjustable! I can’t believe it’s made of paper! The chair is very unique and creative too. I believe that it’s comfortable to sit upon because it got many heads to lean upon our back or our head. The aquarium looks so elegant and expensive, yet I just thought it’s too big and spacious , but all in all, your furniture and post are cool!

  40. This office ideas this article has mentioned are amazing. They are so super unique, I wish my office had chairs, desks, and conference tables like the ones in this article. Just Amazing!!!

    Love, Love, Love It!!!!

  41. You should do a before and after photo contest to see what people do to their offices after reading your post.

  42. I love this blog. I found it when doing research for me own. It seems that this is a subject that most companies still have not explored, yet as employees we have been saying the same thing for years. We want our surroundings to stimulate us!!

    I have just wrote a blog on how office space can improve productiveness: http://www.believeinonline.com/pimp-my-office-space.aspx

    Its my first ever blog.. I would be really interested in your thoughts… I have a total of 5 comments, I would be very happy if I get half the comments you got!

  43. I am in love with that Bibliochaise. I would love to have a chair that doubles as a handy book shelf! Offices will never be the same again with the things you posted above. In a book called Depression in the Workplace (http://www.depressionatwork.com), I read that depression can be a very expensive problem. But with furniture and designs like the ones above, I’m sure that employee depression will be out of the question.

  44. Totally loving the meeting bed idea and aeroplane wing desk. Some fantastic ideas there, I imagine alot of these are inspired from US companies and would not be seen as often in UK offices.

    I strongly believe the office environment should be relaxed and not always corporate, creating a good working environment is key to any business and so many do not simply think of things like this.

  45. Love the idea of a meeting bed, but I really don’t think it would work for me! I would simply become too comfortable and relax too much, causing me to completely forget why I’m at the meeting.

  46. In today’s business world the key factors that are shaping our office spaces are Sustainability, Mobility and Flexibility. Work places that are sympathetic to office workers in the twenty first century are still few and far between, however perceptions are changing from businesses who no longer see offices as a liability, but rather a key branding tool.

  47. This reminds me of when I was working at a small ISP about 14 years ago. We had an incredibly cool executive director, she told the owner that they could save a ton of money on the tech dept salaries if she had carte blanche to buy us toys and cool stuff, wingback mesh chairs, in bright colors, dell latitude laptops and company cell phones for all! The whole tech support department was deliciously bright white drywall, with art that the tech staff helped pick out, huge boomerang table with 3 vintage PVC eames loveseats (aquamarine, rose, and ivory) for meetings. Too bad they were too cheap to roll out DSL and went out of business. But when we were asked if we wanted money or toys and luxury as compensation, we always voted for the toys. They were great folks, when the operation was purchased by a consortium of independent telcos, they gave everybody a nice little check for a few thousand to transition on.

  48. I love the imagination that has gone into the planning and functionality of the furniture! The bibliochaise is awesome, sitting on your own library :) also the milkdesk is awesome if you take a look at http://milk.dk you’ll see what i mean, the whole minimalistic look and the animation which shows you how much stuff you can interchange from just storage to having a fish tank! I think this deserves a shout out on facebook :) top article!

  49. Hi

    i have found your soft walls very interesting.
    i am interested in purchasing it for my office.

    however i need to know the following:
    1)what is the material
    2)how is it sold (in meters)
    3)length and height
    4)do youll build it and do fitting
    5)is it streachable,flexible,can change and adapt to how i need it to fit?
    6)what is the cost
    7)how do we purchase?
    8)what are available colours etc?

  50. I absolutely love the Milk Desk!!! Having a goldfish or two swimming around next to me would be awesome and quite ambient i imagine …but i would then need to hire someone to clean the tank on a frequent basis so it always looked as good as in this picture. Great work Alexander, some great stuff here. I see some of the old comments are now a few years old but I would say most of this stuff is still current now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>