More than Human Centred Design


The Office Jungle: A Vision for Wildness to Turn Offices into Jungles

DIS 2020 Best Demo Honourable Mention

  • Ingmar Nieuweboer, University of Technology, Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • Ida Damen, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • Hans Brombacher, Department of Industrial Design , Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • Pierre Levy, Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • Steven Vos, Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands; School of Sport Studies, Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • Carine Lallemand, Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Human-Computer Interaction research group, University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
  • Corresponding email(s): ingmar.nieuweboer@gmail.com
  • Project webpage
  • ACM DL Link: Extended Abstract

The Office Jungle is an experimental office environment based on the principles of Design for Wildness. These roughly defined design principles are inspired by the work of the James J. Gibson, one of the founders of ecological psychology, and intend to point at certain characteristics a living environment, like an office or a house, needs to have if it is to seduce users into more creative and physically active lifestyles. Such a living environment would be wild by design.
Wildness is a concept adapted from the cultural ecologist David Abram. The difference, however, between Abram’s natural wildness and designed wildness, is that the former can demand or necessitate a person to engage his environment, while the latter only invites or seduces a person to engage his environment; natural wildness sets its own terms, designed wildness hands you the terms.

Who is the target audience and why design for them? All people living an urban lifestyle, especially those people with, or growing up in, a sedentary lifestyle. In my opinion offices are the places where sedentary behavior is the most problematic, as people working in offices don't have much of a choice in how they apply their bodies in their work. This is partly due to the work itself, with the current limitations computer interfaces (keyboards, computer mouses, screens) pose to posture and one's ability to move. However, for an important part it is also due to an overall design culture that, in terms of potential for bodily interaction, is extremely poor; treating the body more like a vegetable than "the general medium for having the world" (M. Merleau-Ponty) that it is.

What were the challenges or limitations encountered in this project?
Developmental challenges. Where to start The Office Jungle “revolution”? Possibly: schools, day-cares, cafes, libraries, co-working spaces, family homes, care-homes of sorts, rehab facilities, physical/ psychological therapy… Even though I'm not particularly aiming for the last three target-groups, I think it could be interesting. As the physicality of The Office Jungle cuts through the rational, through words, through distance, and taps directly into deeper forms of expression.

Engineering challenges. How to make a product that contains so many moving parts durable and safe, many of those have been overcome.

Legislative challenges How to fit an intentionally risky product in (over)protective legislation. I expect the biggest challenge to be getting it approved for use in schools. This challenge is still to be tackled.

Technological challenges. How to integrate computer interfaces into The Office Jungle and would it be desirable to begin with? This question is too big to answer here. I have experimented with working on my laptop and I have ideas about short-term and long-term future development.

What are the opportunities and next steps for this project? There are two different categories of opportunities: opportunities in the continued development of The Office Jungle and opportunities for creating new designs with the vision of Design for Wildness. Concerning the current The Office Jungle, it needs exposure. Fairs, conferences, festivals, places where The Office Jungle can reach a lot of people. Obviously, the options are limited at the moment. At the same time I am looking for people, companies, offices, schools, that are interested in doing some kind of a collaboration or that want to buy or pilot The Office Jungle themselves. Concerning the vision of Design for Wildness, I am working on new products to extend the family. The focus of these products is not to design functionally, but to design sets of components that can be assembled into structures that engage the body.

To the Demo Visitors:
Do you have any recommendations for me, other designers, writers, filmmakers, particular articles, books, films, anything that connects to The Office Jungle and the Design for Wildness vision, please let me know!

Do you know a place, a person, a company, that might be interested in having an Office Jungle, in testing an Office Jungle, in collaborating with me or simply in knowing me or The Office Jungle then also please let me know!

Are you working on similar ideas or you think we’d both benefit from a chat, contact me!
If you know how to get a product like The Office Jungle legally approved for use in large offices or public spaces, I’m all ears!

Lastly, if you know any suppliers or factories for one of the following items please tell me: extension springs, round wood, affordable CNC wood milling, custom made steel hooks, cork tiles. Empower the ape!