Close your eyes and think about office furniture. What do you see? I bet it’s the beige and soul-crushing blinds of The Office rather than the fabulous Mondrian-vibe and Op art of Mad Men (speaking of, outside Roger and Don’s offices, there’s still a sea of bleak typists’ desks). After all, even Dolly Parton’s sassy getups on 9-to-5 couldn’t make up for the cubicles. But change is in the air for office decor, as evident in the countless office tours that are replacing home tours, with “I want her career” replacing “I want her life” (or are those two really that different?!). The thing is, even now, in order to produce that inspirational-aspirational office, one has to scour flea markets and thrift stores for that Mad Men worthy midcentury Danish desk, then proceed to drill a hole (for the cables) into that precious and often expensive find and surround it with furniture and accessories meant for home, not the office, so it won’t come out as too stuffy. Go to an office furniture store (on- or offline) and you’re sure to be met with the same cubicle bleakness; that – or overpriced retro reproductions which is just the expensive version of same-same-sameness. Even if you go to Ikea, you have to be creative in order to inject some color into your office (my red desk is actually a console table from the Swedish empire). But that all seems to be changing – and believe it or not, the trigger for this change seems to be hi-tech and start-up offices. Yes, I did just say that high-tech offices are leading a cross-industry change in office decor. Gone are the days of boxy computers – if we can take design cues from the iPhone and fashion cues from the so-called geek eyewear, why not be inspired by the offices where those reside? One thing that high-tech and start-up companies use to draw in coveted hires is the cool factor – just think Google Campus facilities. Fiverr, the multi-million gig marketplace start-up, is one such company. CTO Shai Wininger commissioned a colorful mural for the company’s headquarters ground floor which reflects the fun-loving environment Fiverr strives to create and hired an architecture firm. But that wasn’t all. The company also commissioned the office furniture from Rack&Tack, an emerging design duo specializing in office furniture, headed by designer Yuval Tal and his wife and marketing partner, Maya Tal. After falling in love with the young brand’s playful desks and fresh take on cubicles, I was invited by Maya and Yuval to tour the Fiverr offices in Tel Aviv (where I discovered the company’s CTO was actually brother to my friend and client Tal – such a small world!). Enjoy the photos and read my interview with Rack&Tack’s leading couple, below:
So… Why office furniture? Our love for workspace design (be it the office or your desk at home) stems from the challenge of combining fun and function.design surrounds us in almost every area of life – from the clothes we wear to the streets where we walk. There’s no reason for the workspace to be devoid of design. Especially now that people spend increasingly more time in the office and do there so much more. We feel like this is a really exciting and challenging area with a lot of space to innovate. How is it working together as a couple and also small business partners? It’s so funny – we keep getting comments and questions about working together, but for us it’s just very natural. Maybe that’s because we each work on a different side of the business – it’s helpful to have each other’s opinion but we don’t share the same responsibilities. Most of the time – lets say %75 of it – we work together, and then the rest of the time we go to different meetings, errands and so on. What background do you each come from? What did you do before Rack and Tack? Yuval is an industrial designer who participated in exhibitions in Israel and abroad over the last few years. He started as an in-house designer for larger companies and then started his own studio, designing independently as well as for other companies. Maya comes from a marketing and sales background and takes care of almost everything besides the designing. How did you come up with the name Rack and Tack? It was actually an idea of a friend of ours, Orit Biderman Pe’er. A strike of genius from the world of office supplies after many failed name ideas. Your furniture looks like it was born for the Fiverr HQ. Can you tell us about the design process? It was such a fun process. they came with very specific tastes and needs, which was very helpful. We met with owners and also the managers and they told us about their office environment, the way they each need to use the space and so forth, so it was very collaborative but we also had to find a common ground so it will fit everyone’s needs and wishes. It was great collaborating with then because they were very design-oriented; they did their research and brought photos from offices all over the world to convey the look and feel they were after. It was really fun to feel like there’s a challenge, that the end-result should really be extraordinary . One of the best things is when we visit and we hear from employees how the furniture cheered their workspace up and made for a better working experience.
How in your opinion do office design and furniture affect the behavior and dynamics at the office? There have been so many researches on the effect of the environment on human behavior. The office environment consists of so many dynamics between people, productivity, feeling of connectedness and belonging… Some companies that are on to this even let their employees bring their own furniture, or work closely with designers and architects to make sure the working environment is really conductive to working.
Do you feel there’s a real shift in office design recently? Certainly! Not only are companies more invested in designing their offices, they’re also understanding the need to create a pleasant space that makes employees feel like they belong and connect, and that also means designing less formal offices, as well as creating a space that will inspire the people who work in it. This is manifested in using more color, pattern and texture and also veering away from the traditional cubicle or at least modifying it – Our own Honeycomb design is sort of a reconstructed cubicle – you can shuffle the cubes, use them with or without the screens for privacy and storage and build them high for a private office feel or low when you need or want to collaborate with your office mates. Thank you so much, Yuval, Maya and Fiverr for the tour and the thought-provoking interview. Now it’s your turn: Do you work in an office? What’s it like? And how does your dream office look like?
p.s. any favorite tv/film office? mine might be kate hudson’s from “raising helen”