As part of co-designing an unplugged and interactive work environment, I introduced ”Configurations in a box” at a workshop with the users of the office.In the box the participants found different types of configurable systems – some more designed and finished in their approach than others. The aim was to see how the users interacted with the different elements, what functions they gave them and how this could evoke new ideas for an office that change over time.
What I observed during the workshop was that not only did the participants investigate the potentials of the different configurable systems, but they also started combining them which created new configurable systems.
It turned out that the less designed and the more open the elements were didn’t necessarily make them more open-ended for the users. Take for instance the “joints” which was the most designed and fixed system, but the fact that it communicates its configurable potentials makes it more open ended and invites the user to interact with it.
As I see it, the challenge is to balance between the simple yet complex, the flexible yet fixed and the concrete yet abstract.