The Fantastical Backstage

Click here to read my essay 'The Playground Office - The Diminishing of the Authentic Self' on Issuu!

‘The professional’ can be seen as an actor, willingly playing a role put upon him by his social surroundings (other human actors), the interior becomes the stage for him to play his part. The more extreme the interior design emphasizes or supports this play, the more it makes unpredictable behaviour impossible and therefore, eliminates possibilities to be the authentic self. In my view, this applies to all over-designed interior spaces, such as extravagant bank foyers, overly decorated three-star restaurants, playground offices, but also for eaxample silent, white minimalistic architecture offices.
Sartre explains this ‘playing of a role’ as being a ceremony connected to social status. Looking at his notion of authenticity and the social condition we routinely put ourselves in, the question is: can we consider ‘over-designed’ interiors as catalysts for the playing of (social) roles at the workplace? If these interiors are stages of our professional lives, what is the backstage?

‘The Fantastical Backstage’ explores all the spaces of an office which can be considered ‘backstage’, such as copy spaces, bathrooms, archives, smoking areas or pantries, as spaces where we can be our authentic self. Each of the spaces is designed to emphasize and reveal specific moments, challenging (inter)social behavior. For example, the archive is imagined as a labyrinth-like space enhancing both the moment of temporal withdrawal from the office and the chance of a sudden, unexpected encounter with a colleague.
The final proposal is a condensed building core of all typical secondary spaces which are usually neglected. Organizing these spaces in the centre of the building and generating hybrid functions creates an oneiric world, negotiating between the fantastical and the real.

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