2016. A year of collaboration and discussion for Bisley

Our Director of Business Development, Helen Owen, takes a look back at some of the events that Bisley held, and contributed to, in 2016.

Surely 2016 is a year for the history books? The UK voted to leave the European Union after over 30 years of membership, Team GB fought their way to 2nd place and their greatest ever performance at Rio 2016 and England were trumped by Wales when they were knocked out of the Euros by Iceland - the latter being the most tweeted about topic of 2016! We also lost a number of great icons, including Zaha Hadid, David Bowie and Muhammad Ali; their creativity and contribution will be sorely missed by many.

Here at Bisley, themes for 2016 were far less controversial - and overwhelmingly positive. For us, 2016 represented collaboration, lively discussion and insightful opinion on a range of topics.

We hosted the first of a series of thought provoking events in our London showroom, with a panel discussion in conjunction with Disegno about designing for modern work.  Our panel of experts; Oli Stratford, deputy editor at Disegno; Andy Swan, workplace strategist from BDG; Luke Pearson, of PearsonLloyd design studio and designer Felix De Pass, shared their views on this challenging topic.

The occasion highlighted how technology has liberated the workplace and how our previous ‘one size fits all’ approach to office design often resulted in uncomfortable and disengaged employees.  Luckily, things have changed and workplace design has become more varied and fluid.  Historically space was designed without consideration of the organisational culture.  Now, with increased emphasis on research, designers work to balance the conflicting needs of the workplace and its inhabitants. The overwhelming conclusion was the need for choice, as workers demand more and more from their place of employment.

As the lines between home and office working continue to become indistinct (more than 1.5m people work from home in the UK), we focused our next event on ‘Workification and Homification’ and asked the question ‘if we can work at home, then should we also feel at home at work’?

Yet again, we had an amazing line up of contributors. The conversation was chaired by Professor Jeremy Myerson of The Royal College of Art and WORKTECH Academy. Speakers included Kirstin Furber, People Director at BBC Worldwide; Sebastian Conran, the leading product and furniture designer; David Barrett, buyer of Living, Dining and Home Office at John Lewis and Amelia Coward, Founder and Creative Director at Bombus.com, a business that began at home.

Jeremy encouraged us to look back with a brief history of home working, reminding us that ‘work’ only became a destination during the 1800’s in conjunction with the birth of factories. Fast forward 150 years and the rise of the freelance economy, mobile technology and co-working has undoubtedly penetrated the culture, design and expectation of where, when and how we want to work. 

Consequently, the home has become economically productive again. Kirstin highlighted that work is no longer about presentieeism but outcomes, leadership and trust. Sebastian noted the importance of understanding great ideas are not always realised in the workplace. While David estimated a 16% potential market growth for home offices, the difficulty comes when identifying what exactly a ‘home office’ is... Ultimately, all agreed that there will be a continuation of the diminishing distinction between home and office and that flexibility and individuality were the key to making the two work harmoniously together.

We concluded our 2016 events with ‘When Art meets Brand’, a conversation between James Burke, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Acrylicize and Roger Beckett a renowned publisher in the design world and founder of the international art competition, Pintar Rapidao.

The duo discussed the birth of branding and advertising, place-making, graffiti, hip-hop and all things in-between that have led to how businesses today are telling brand stories, internally and externally, through art. 

Bisley first collaborated with Acrylicize earlier in the year for my personal 2016 highlight, our debut at Clerkenwell Design Week, where we unveiled ‘Workflow’ the world’s very first (and possibly the last!) filing cabinet water fountain.

This unique partnership of our heritage brand, with the creative and intelligent thinking of Acrylicize, produced a truly stunning piece of Public Art. It became a source of discussion around hopes for the design community moving forward through the wishes cast over the three days.

Continuing with our collaborative theme, Bisley worked with a number of leading publications including onofficeFXMix InteriorsArchitects DatafileFM World contributing to discussions on the future of workplace and in particular the evolution of storage. We have been delighted to support events in our industry on an international scale, sponsoring Mixology in London, the FX International Interior Design AwardsCommercial Interior Design Awards in Dubai and the Identity Awards also focusing on the Middle East.

It is our hope that Bisley has inspired and encouraged discussion on the continually changing world of work, while establishing our Great Portland Street showroom as a venue for innovative conversation. Thank you to everyone who attended our 2016 events; we look forward to hosting you again in 2017.