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Designer Anastasiya Koshcheeva makes lounge chair out of tree bark

Wood has been used to make furniture since time immemorial, but tree bark is not often seen as a viable material.

Anastasiya Koshcheeva_Sibirjak_lounge chair

According to Anastasiya Koshcheeva, a Russian designer from Siberia, who now lives in Berlin, bark is one material we should be using more of.

Anastasiya Koshcheeva_Sibirjak_lounge_chair

Koshcheeva recently made a lounge chair out of birch tree bark, which she says is 'flexible, soft, water-repellent and antibacterial, but also breathable, durable and strong'.

Anastasiya Koshcheeva_Sibirjak_lounge_chair

However, despite these unique characteristics, the material often gets forgotten, says Koshcheeva.

Called Sibirjak, the lounge chair deals with the question of how to reinterpret an age-old tradition and also how to make the conventional handcraft up-to-date.

Anastasiya Koshcheeva_Sibirjak_lounge_chair

According to Koshcheeva, 'the chair and ottoman combination emphasises the material aesthetics, combining traditional skills with modern processing. The horizontal alignment of the bark underlines the leather-like properties of the material, is welcoming and offers a wide comfortable seat. The textile details and the reduced geometric frame form a strong contrast to the natural birchbark.'


Enough of open plan offices, say workers

Main picture: Airbnb office, Dublin, by Heneghan Peng. Photo: Ed Reeve

Flick through the pages of any workplace design magazine and you'll get the impression that open plan offices are an unalloyed success story - but a new survey suggests that the people who actually work in open plan offices may not be so enthusiastic.

The survey, commissioned by Expert Market, an online marketplace for office equipment and services, reveals that many employees are not fans of the open-plan office set up with 54 per cent of workers asked saying they would prefer to have their own office than share space with co-workers.

Open-plan office

According to Expert Market. 'The findings beg the question: have we got it wrong? In the quest to boost team morale through a relaxed and less formal environment, companies may have achieved quite the opposite.'

See also: Are offices a waste of space and time?

See also: Office design: the best and worst trends

While concepts such as 'hot-desking' (where employees use whichever desks are convenient/available rather than having their 'own' desk) have become popular, it seems most people would prefer the privacy and sense of ownership that comes with having an office of one's own.

Slide in office

The office of Lego PMD in Denmark, designed by Rosan Bosch and Rune Fjord; Photo: Anders Sune Berg

According to the survey, which questioned 1060 office workers in the UK, peace and quiet came top of the list of things employees said could improve their working day, with over 37 per cent of respondents preferring a quiet office over regular breaks and even cake.
Expert Market says workers reported that the open plan design of many offices 'encouraged a negative sense of competition between staff and a hostile working environment that pitted colleagues against one other'.

While office designers, business owners and managers are often keen to emphasise the 'collaborative' and 'democratic' nature of open plan working, it's no secret that open plan offices - especially ones which use hot-desking - are cheaper for employers than those which give most employees their own private offices.

Tony Nguyen of Expert Market said: 'The findings urge us to question whether a cheaper office structure is really saving an organisation money or costing the business dearly through decreased morale and productivity?'

Key findings:

- 54% claimed they would prefer to work in separate offices
- 37.6% said a quiet office would improve their working day the most
- Respondents ranked a poor computer as the most frustrating piece of equipment which had the most impact on morale at work
- 65% said having no natural light negatively impacted their mood

See also: Open office plans are bad for people's health, an Australian study has found


Cruz y Ortiz completes new exhibition wing at the Rijksmuseum

Main picture: Philips Wing. Photo: Ronald Tilleman.

The Philips Wing, formerly called the Fragments Building, unites a number of previous expansions to the main building to create a space for temporary exhibitions as well as a new restaurant. It opens on 1 November with an exhibition on 20th century photography, and from February, a showcase of Rembrandt.


Rijksmuseum - 2014 - John Lewis Marshall

Similarly to the main museum, finished last year, Cruz y Ortiz has created a light-filled, double-height atrium with mini versions of the white chandelier-like grates. On one side of the atrium is a 17th century wall, which once belonged to a castle in the Dutch city of Breda, before bring saved and reinstated in Amsterdam by the Rijksmuseum's original architect Pierre Cuypers. The entrance has been reoriented to face the main building and a new Asian pavilion, while a staircase leads up to the exhibition spaces on the first floor.


Philips Wing. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

The 13 exhibition rooms, used for the past ten years as a temporary gallery while the main museum underwent its renovation, have been left as uncomplicated, white spaces, connected on either side of the atrium by a sweeping balcony. Elsewhere, Dutch firm Studio Drift has installed Shylight, a moving light system consisting of five petticoat-like lamps that move up and down an old 18th century staircase at the rear of the gallery.


Philips Wing. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

Director general of the Rijksmuseum Wim Pijbes describes the new Philips Wing as 'an extra surprise' to the museum. 'I see it as a museum itself, it's not just an extra wing,' he says.



New Design Britain Awards 2015 – entries open

Entries are now open for the New Design Britain Awards 2015, which take places at next year's May Design Series.
The Awards are open to design graduates until Friday 16th January 2015.

James Harrison

One of last year's winners, Rocker by James Harrison

According to organiser UBM, the awards are aimed at 'bringing talented young graduates to the forefront of the international design industry with a new focus on growing the programme to include mentoring, online resources as a source of info for business advice, fully-fledged progression initiative and campaigns raising awareness and support for issues in the design education community'.

There is a dedicated hub within the May Design Series website where entrants can find out more about the devoted programmes as they are added

This year's awards will feature two new categories - Interior Design and Architecture - which sit alongside the other categories: Furniture, Accessories, Fabrics and Surfaces.

Jason Heap_May Design Series


One of last year's winners, Infinity +1 by Jason Heap

A panel of expert judges will select a shortlist of 24 designers to whose work will go on show at the entrance to May Design Series.
Live judging will take place at the show and winners will be offered a work placement with key industry players, vital industry advice, amongst other benefits.

All winners of the product categories will also receive a free stand to exhibit their product at May Design Series 2016 as part of the Designer Makers area, and winners from the Interior design and Architecture categories to assist with designing next year's show.

Visit to find out more about New Design Britain and to enter the awards.



Design a new concrete wall tile for Domus

By Dominic Goymour

How would you like to see your work up on the wall - permanently?

The call is out for artists and designers to create a new concrete wall tile that will be actually be manufactured and sold. Tile manufacturer Domus, and Kaza Concrete are organising the competition and the winner will see their design on sale alongside tiles from the likes of Barber & Osgerby and Patricia Urquiola.


Kaza Concrete Button

Domus tile designer Sam Frith will assemble a shortlist from entries, which will then be judged by a panel including Ab Rogers and Morag Myerscough. The competition runs until 5pm on12 December, with the winner being announced in early 2015.


Wa by Sam Frith for KAZA Concrete

Submitted designs must be concrete wall tiles, designed to be efficient yet imaginative and decorative. Your submission should show a single tile, and consist of a front view, a side view, a cross section, and finally a multi-tile installation. A copy of your creation should be submitted in either jpg. or pdf. form to


Wa by Sam Frith for KAZA Concrete

Accompanying this must be a complete entry form, which is available at, or you can pick it up from their Eastcastle Street showroom (postcode W1W 8DF). A full list of T&C's is also available online.




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Architect Mahmood Fallahian

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