First Herman Miller Living Office Award goes to dwp

dwp (design worldwide partnership) has won the first Herman Miller Living Office Award for workspace design in the Middle East. dwp’s rather good work for the Smart Dubai offices in Dubai Design District won it the prize.

The Smart Dubai office incorporates cutting edge technology, naturally, with the sustainability measures that are essential these days. Visually, the design takes its cues from the rippling of sand dunes, repeated in the ceilings and shared spaces suggest movement and fluidity; practically, it’s distinguished by intelligent space planning and flexible workplaces as well the aesthetics.

Herman Miller launched the Living Office Awards in Asia some time ago “to raise awareness of the importance of good workspace design as a tool for companies to achieve their organisational goals”. Neale Vanstone, the company’s VP for EMEA, expanded on this: “the design of workspace has entered a new phase. Beyond just simple planning, designers are now part curators, scientists, and psychologists too, all carrying a high degree of understanding in the realms of business strategy, workflow and organisational design”.

For this inaugural Middle East version a panel of eight judges, mostly independent (only one from Herman Miller directly), assessed each entry against criteria including a sense of belonging, supporting collaboration, environmental responsibility and creating a health positive working environment.

As one of the jury members, DIDI dean Hani Asfour, put it: “The workplace of the future must be a place where people with a wide variety of choices would choose to be in that place … Understanding and empathizing with the user and their changing needs is the starting point”.

The judges obviously felt that dwp’s Smart Dubai office pressed the right buttons. Lucy Bolton, Assistant Professor in Business Psychology at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai, said it was difficult to select a winner among several “great” project submissions – but “the winning project does stand out and genuinely meets ‘the living office’ requirement in terms of nature, technology and human wellbeing.

“The light, materials, and the variety of innovative workspaces, allowing both individual solo work and privacy as well as collaborative spaces, is exemplary.”

Submissions for the next Herman Miller Living Office Award for the Middle East will open in November.

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