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What influence does the changing world of work have on the design of the Soliscape light system?
Over the last two years, offices have had to evaluate and revise their approach based on changing evaluate and revise their approach based on changing conditions, attitudes and regulations, and as such, have had to reassess the meaning of work. As parts of the world move back into shared office space it becomes clear that there is no way of going back to a pre-Covid normative. The way we perceive the paradigm of work has changed.
To understand the workplace of the future we asked ourselves, what are the biggest shifts in the perception of work and how can our workplaces of the future adapt to these changes? This is where we see a need for responsive systems like Soliscape. Knowing that environmental factors including light, sound, scent, air quality and temperature can have a significant effect on our health, we designed Soliscape (sound and light-scape) to be a human-centric lighting solution that can be tailored to its individual user and have a positive effect on their wellbeing. -With Soliscape, our goal is to take smart buildings towards responsive architecture through a system that gives people intuitive control and personalisation of their space.
What does “Human Centric Design” mean to you and what significance does it have for you as a designer?
It has always been our long-term ambition to enhance human well-being with the designs we develop and the projects we deliver. For us at UNStudio, and especially our UNSx team, “human centric design” means that we keep the users’ needs – the physical, social and emotional – at the very heart of what we are designing.
However, we actually take this understanding a step further. We are constantly pushing to take a planet-centric approach to our designs. Therefore, we not only take user well-being into consideration, but also the health of our planet in terms of sustainability, nature, eco-systems and humans. We believe that in this way, we can create solutions that consider a more holistic approach.
For Soliscape, “human centric design” meant we investigated behavioral science in order to understand how to better humanise spaces. Soliscape influences the productivity and wellbeing of users by allowing more intuitive control of their spaces in a scenario-based development. The system enables the user to adapt the lighting and surrounding factors in order to optimise working conditions. The Soliscape system is also designed to optimise performance through visual comfort and the quality of the work environment. It responds to multiple contextual variables and is activity based, thereby upgrading the overall sense of spaces.
What key user needs did you particularly focus on during the product design?
As UNStudio’s strategic and experience design unit, UNSx researches and experiments with new methodologies, technologies, processes and materials to design solutions for the shared human experience. With a team of architects, computational designers, product designers, creative strategists, VR/AR specialists and sustainability consultants, UNSx covers a wide range of disciplines.
Some of our most recent projects include building adaptive and responsive environments, using data to design for happiness, and developing products and services for connectivity. Taking a user-centric perspective, the experience of the community that will be living in a space, using a product or accessing a service, is at the core of the UNSx design approach.
By exploring how people live, work, move and interact, either by nature, culture or geography, we explore how to create environments, products and services that enhance and support the human experience. As such, we develop products defined by resiliency, ranging from climate adaptive paint to versatile workplace furniture for dynamic spaces. As such, the Soliscape system is a toolbox of flexible components for architects and designers, that will enable them to create workable and livable solutions for their projects; a system that combines lighting with acoustics and IOT, into an aesthetically appealing solution that can easily connect to any building management system. The system is also flexible and future-proof, as it allows for new materials and functions to be added in the future.
What trends and developments are you currently observing in your sector?
Across the design sector, and really in all facets of life, sustainability is driving the future. In the Netherlands, the ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) system is also changing how we at UNStudio look at the future of product, experience and architectural design.
With its emergence, investors (along with policymakers, and other key stakeholders) are becoming increasingly concerned with safeguarding businesses from future risks, and as a result, are now prioritizing socially and ethically responsible, sustainable and impact-related investment.
This, in turn, has led many larger companies to announce net-zero or carbon-neutral commitments and pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in climate action.
We are now presented with an opportunity to assist in these goals in a dual manner. As an architecture practice, we have been pre-occupied with questions surrounding the sustainability of our projects and how we can design cities, buildings, and products with the health of the planet in mind. However, as a design practice, we equally have to ensure that our cities, buildings, and products are healthy for people too. Grappling with how to do so becomes much more complex, but fulfilling as well. We are now thinking about holistic sustainability from the application of sustainable materials to how we can design for disassembly and closing the circular design loop.
What does it take to be a successful designer?
A successful designer is a ‘holistic thinker’, eager to bring their own skills and knowledge to the table, but also keen to collaborate with other experts in order to create better results than can be achieved alone.