Meet The Winners: Ware Malcomb’s Pearl

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Chair of the Month

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Former Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

Meet the Ware Malcomb team: the winners of the Furniture category

Heather Groff, Director, Design

Cynthia Milota, Director, Workplace Strategy

Sarah Walker, Studio Manager, Design

Corinna D’Ambrosio, Senior Interior Designer

Maira Vega, Designer

Julia Levis, Designer

Check out their submission:

This is a theoretical project envisioned by the team.

What if a workspace in the office had all the qualities of a private office, embodied in a workstation footprint? What if one did not have to sacrifice privacy and acoustic separation to have the open, collaborative workstation experience? The eco-system of work environments has been permanently influenced by the “freedom” experienced by working from home these past eighteen months. The office will now be judged on a new set of standards for acoustic separation, environmental controls, personal comfort and more.

This submission explores a model for an individual workspace in the office environment solving for visual and acoustic privacy without the seclusion of an enclosed space. The idea for Pearl is an evolved combination of a traditional workstation, 120° worksurface planning, the newer bench desk, a cockpit/dashboard archetype packaged in a circular form. “Humans have a preference for curved over angular shapes, an effect noted by artists as well as scientist,” (1). Starting with the distance that one can reach, the circle footprint is set. Overlaying the pentagram planning module creates zones for functional separation such as offset openings, reinforcing the privacy goals while creating visual rhythm and variety, resulting in a tighter more comfortable 108° workzone.

Pearl provides features that employees will demand when returning to the office:

  • Personal control over hot and cool air
  • Personal control over lighting
  • Acoustic isolation
  • Automatic ergonomic adjustments
  • Seamless technology integration

Emerging technology will be incorporated into Pearl including acoustic beamforming for noise source localization; laser projected keyboard; worktop integrated wireless charging; personalized LED circadian lighting system, and an ultra-wide folding and curved monitor, cloud computing eliminating all need to carry laptops and peripherals. Automatic adjustments to personal preferences will be triggered by RFID wearables. A string of Pearls is the natural progression from last century’s six pack of workstations.

While densities are akin to benching, the workplace experience features customization, flexibility, and choice. The best features of open workstations and enclosed offices are combined in Pearl, enabling 23% more desking capacity when compared to a combination of 80SF offices and 36SF workstations. The planning module works in odd or even quantities and allows for re-configuration without dis-assembly. Natural pearls have been valued for centuries and have become a metaphor for something admirable and valuable. Pearl synthesizes commodity (solid), firmness (useful) and delight (beautiful) into a new human centered personal office environment. (1) Bertamini, M; Palumbo, L; Gheorghes, T; Galatsidas, M. 2016. “Do observers like curvature or do they like angularity?” British Journal of Psychology, 107(1): 154-178.

Click on an image to see it full size.

To celebrate their win, we connected with the team to see how their idea evolved since it was submitted.

“Since our submission, we have evolved asking two more questions:

What if you left the office healthier than when you arrived?

How can this be built today?

As organizations are building their post-Covid strategies, there’s much talk of the workplace presenting a competitive advantage to organizations, and how our offices can place human needs first. Embodying Vitruvian principles on a human scale, the Pearl will help you leave the office healthier than when you arrived.

Further research and development of the concept is taking three paths:

Psychological Impacts

  •  Incorporating a full range of sensory experiences, including aromatherapy, positive tactile interactions, and customized sound/music. By supporting effortless transitions between types of work done at the desk, less activation energy is expended. 

Technological Interfaces

  • Working with system integrators such as Honeywell and Lutron, the technology to automate air, light, sound, physical furniture settings exist, only at larger scales.  Integrating nascent technology, like beam forming for acoustic separation, is a primary interest.  We would be remiss not to include UV technology for sanitization.

Physical Prototyping

  • Working with a fabricator, injection molding and 3D printing are being explored to reduce waste and we are seeking materials that improve IAQ”

Comments from the Jury:

Great design overall. Very elegant.

I would like to see them plan with it. Not so much in six packs and eight packs, but to really create a different kind of environment. All in all, a great piece of work

🏆 Did this submission earn your vote? Vote for the People’s Choice award here! 🏆

Voting ends September 24th – one vote per person. 

A special thank you to our sponsors: 


Thank you to our 2021 Market Partners: Workplace Evolutionaries (WE) • Allwork.Space • IFMA Foundation • ACT • IIDA

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