Today’s AWEsome blog was written by guest blogger Katie Schlientz, Freelance Architectural Writer! Learn more about Katie on her website, 

Multitasking is a way of life and the lines between a person’s work life and personal life are becoming a larger part of our culture. This is causing people to look for spaces where they can accomplish several goals at once—for example, picture the old cafeteria space where diners sit and eat. Today’s cafeterias of this new age are an extension of an office space…

“No one just sits and eats. They come to eat and talk, eat and read, eat and check email… And that raises an interesting challenge, there must be a surface to eat upon, but also ample space for laptops, books, pens, and paper,” says James Williamson, IIDA, ASID, LEED AP BD+C, president of IIDA International Board of Directors (2012-2013).

This new demand for more effective space is affecting all business types, including office, hospital, and college environments. Designers are now tasked to perform a balancing act between the high cost of real estate and the new social and work requirements of “millennials.” This new generation needs to be connected all of the time—not just through iPads, computers, and mobile devices—but also to each other. They need space to collaborate.

Collaborative Space Falcon ThonetPhotograph © CFGroup, 2013

The best way to tackle various demands on these spaces is to create multipurpose zones, like those supported by FORUM. A design concept created by Falcon and Thonet, FORUM is a physical space with specific zones where people can connect, are encouraged to be creative, share ideas, and even grab a bite to eat. It’s a community hub.

Here are a few ways you can incorporate FORUM into your design:

Create: A place to think or work.

  • Adding booths to a workplace, cafeteria, or college environment not only brings visual interest to a space, but it also creates the privacy needed for people to work. Selecting booths with higher backs or screens helps reduce the noise coming from outside tables.
  • Incorporating power into the furniture, or making it clearly accessible, helps articulate an attitude that welcomes one to sit and spend extended periods of time.

Share: A place to collaborate.

  • Although flexible enough to add to any zone, freestanding seating encourages collaboration, allowing people to easily pull up a chair to join a work group.
  • Outfit a space with tables and chairs for two, four, six, or eight, with the understanding they can be moved together to accommodate various group sizes.
  • Wall benches aid in developing a collaborative feel, they allow groups of people to increase or decrease on demand.

Connect: A place for socialization.

  • Often times, counter or bar height community tables are used to facilitate social interaction and comfortable eye contact among groups where some people prefer to sit, and some may stand.
  • Use furniture to cultivate more relaxed social meetings and get-togethers.

Recharge: A place for relaxation.

  • Using furniture that can be reconfigured, like Thonet’s MOSS | 3, allows people to move to a more comfortable spot to unwind.

To see design ideas related to creating a community hub for your next office, hospital, or college environment, download the FORUM brochure.

-Katie Schlientz, Freelance Architectural Writer!