Modular Product Designed for Workplace
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Office Stretcher is a modular product that enhances the workplace environment by promoting productivity, engagement and mental and physical health.
"Just as some historians start to doubt whether the Homo sapiens domesticated the wheat or vice versa, I start to rethink whether human habits build nowadays workplace environment or those office tables form our behaviors."
The “Stretch" in the name indicates the stretching of the body (wellness),  space, and time . 
For wellness, the three-dimensional frame structure of the product assists the users to take a workplace-proper body stretch to maintain physical health. By re-discussing the boundary between work and break, the product also facilitates interactions that help improve employee engagement, self-initiative, and organization-based self-esteem, increase career opportunities, as well as maintain workplace mental health.
 For space, the product compresses various kinds of office space, such as break rooms and small seminar rooms, into specific compact zones — increasing the use of space.
For time, the product nurtures small group discussions, which are usually more efficient than large meetings. While communications are stimulated by the product, it also helps to reduce conversations in the main office areas where people need to concentrate. Therefore, involuntary distractions are prevented and productivity is improved. 

(This project won the European Product Design Award 2019 in the Office Equipment / Furnishings / Modules category. https://www.productdesignaward.eu/winners/epda/2019/9708/)
(The project was highlighted in the school website of Rochester Institute of Technology. Check out the post  here https://www.rit.edu/news/alumnas-internationally-recognized-design-enhances-workplace)
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/ Background
More than half of the world population now lives in cities while more people are moving in. By 2050, two-thirds of the planet will be city dwellers. People today are generally facing ever-increasing pressure both mentally and physically, which is especially evident in people who live and work in busy metropolises. The project is designed to help build a better working environment in crowded, chaotic and complex cities. 


/ Research
Starts from the ‘basic organizational model’, the research is focused on how different elements influence people in the workplace environment and how those elements can be optimized by means of design.
The research shows that the individual is at the center of the organization’s operation. A good working environment should not only ensure physical safety but also be responsible for wellness, work efficiency, organizational engagement, as well as the mental health of the employees. 

       

The small group activities could include peer appraisal – helps build the individuals’ organization-based self-esteem and increase their organization engagement; open communication – makes individuals feel more respected and helps them get information in time; professional networking –creates career opportunities, therefore, helps improve job satisfaction and organizational commitment; small group discussion – research shows that discussions in 2-6 people are more efficient and get more considered results than large meetings and thinking alone. Meanwhile, small group discussion helps reduce involuntary interruption in the workplace by providing a more suitable place for the casual dialogs rather than office tables where people are trying to concentrate.


/ Concept
This project aims to find a method that breaks the boundaries between work and rest for a better workplace environment where individuals are more engaged, more efficient, and maintain both physical and mental health. ​​​​​
The spirit of this product is to provide a concept that there is no need for a specific space or time to work or breakout. The product will gradually help the individuals to realize that work and rest can happen simultaneously, anytime, anywhere, and, to live a more flexible and efficient work style.
It emphasizes the importance of exploring the possibility in the workplace using the most succinct and direct structure and materials without relying on any high-tech. Despite of the traditional body postures in the office such as sitting and standing, more innovative ones are involved in the design. 
    


2D & 3D Ideation



/ User Testing
Testing Method: A full-scale testing prototype of the refined concept is placed at the public area of the school building. It welcomes people to interact with. There are no instructions or interruptions during this testing process, which means, the users are completely free to decide how they are going to use the product, how long they stay with it, and even, whether to use it or not. All the interactions are spontaneous activities.  And all the observations are documented by photos to use for the later summary.
Main Testing Aspects:   1. interactions    2. structure    3. access path

Interaction Observation

Path Observation

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/ Testing Feedback

To refine the structure:   
1.simplify the relatively less attractive parts 
2. keep the functional-oriented parts to simulate user interactions
3. strengthen some parts for stability and reliability
4. make module solution to adapt to different sizes of space  



/ Use-case Scenario Storyboard


/ Prototype Manufacture
The product components include pre-welded carbon steel tubes, plastic connectors, and grooved wood boards (can be assembled by recessed steel tubes). Its self-assembled structure is simple for the users to use and transform. With the  modularity, ‘Office stretcher’ adapts to different sizes of office space and accommodates different amounts of users.


/ Final Work​​​​​​​
Through the purity of form, the structure and the material of "Office Stretcher" enable a minimalist aesthetic. It is also a multifunctional product that benefits both the individuals and the organizations by facilitating tangible interactions.
 The combination of classic geometric forms and the welcoming color and material promotes the users to interact with the product as well as interact with each other. The wood components can be placed at any corner of the steel structure as needed.

Final Prototype Photoshoot 1

Modularity in Rendering

Product Details

Interactions

User-Scenario Rendering 2

Final Prototype Photoshoot 2

User-Scenario Rendering 1

     
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