Little Brinkland : future of work and the work place.

The product design and manufacturing company Colebrook Bosson Saunders collaborated with the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre at the the Royal College of Art to investigate the future of work and the workplace. As an interaction designer hired for the job – this became my brief – one of the most challenging I have ever worked on.

We all know how we work today – most of us in offices in one fixed location for a set number of hours a day. But how will we work in the future – the surprisingly near future perhaps – when emerging technologies rethink the rhythyms of working life against a backdrop of a rapidly ageing workforce and growing environmental fears? While exploring these key drivers of change that are likely to affect the way we work in the near future, I also carried out primary research to get a better understanding of our curent workscapes.

Based on interviews and ‘flickr dialogues’ with people who posted images of their workplaces and obsessions online, I
created scenarios of three people who became the protagonists of the project.

Little Brinkland year 2012


Between a technological utopian vision of enhanced future lives, reality of longer life spans and imposing environmental risks, how do we continue evolving new frameworks around ‘work’ in the future?

In the project context section I show how I projected my three protagonists into the future and began to invent new jobs for them. The process of speculation was grounded in research and foresights, but was also very organic and stimulating.

In order to visualise new ways of working and the possible products and services that might emerge from these newly invented jobs, I needed to have a social and a spatial context to contain them. Hence came the idea of creating a fictional block in the city of the future, which I called Little Brinkland.

The invention of this fictional architectural space gave me an opportunity and the flexibility to create various workspaces and play with the messiness of the transforming urban environment. I was able to visualise jobs, services, products, and ways people would move by creating urban scenarios and placing the jobs in the context of a ‘real’ yet imaginary city.

After creating Little Brinkland, I needed to find a way of presenting design concepts while providing a glimpse of a social change in a believable and tangible manner. Over and above everything else, I was very keen to present a human story, about the lives of the three people and how their ways of working evolved in few years.

In order to do so, I take on the role of a chronicler in Little Brinkland and my job was to visit people, talk to them and write the stories of their everyday lives. This role allowed me to gather insights into the ways of living and working that my protagonists have adopted in Little Brinkland. I could then create props and scenarios which would show my design ideas already in use with apparent ‘feedback’ from users. 



Jobs in Little Brinkland: Design Proposals

As seen in the section ‘Little Brinkland 2012′, creation of this fictional town helped me project the three protagonists into the future and invent new jobs for them. Through this method I was able to explore the kind of design spaces that might arise to accommodate the new jobs of the future when demographic and scientific forecasts have come true.

The jobs these protagonists do are not entirely new-fangled but more like strange mutations of present-day careers. By visualising the scenarios of their future working lives I was able to imagine a variety of novel office environments in conceptual terms which are not to be regarded as prototypical designs, more as a means of broadening creative thinking about the future of work.

I take on the role of a chronicler in Little Brinkland and narrate the stories of three protagonists in the form of three documentary films set in the year 2012 in Little Brinkland.

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