Comfy, cushioned cubby is an inviting workspace
By Beth J. Harpaz
It’s a quiet but cozy workspace, designed to promote focus and creativity while providing an alternative to a traditional desk or office.
It’s also a bright pink cubby covered in comfy cushions.
The pink seating is the brainchild of Karen Bala, Jen Taylor and Michelle Bristol of Dyer Brown, an architectural firm. It was one element of Dyer Brown’s Boston office space design for Criteo, a tech company that works with retailers to personalize online ads for consumers.
The cubbies are “a very welcoming, inviting space that you want to be in,” said Taylor. “As people spend more time in the office, comfort is a priority. Creating these informal amenity spaces that replicate the comforts of home can help companies attract and retain talent.”
The comfy cubbies — three in all — are located in a lounge area. Each consists of a rectangular space recessed into a wood-paneled wall. The front of the cubbies are open but the top, sides, floor and back are lined with pink foam bolsters covered with FilzFelt, a type of felt. The soft materials increase comfort and absorb sound.
The bold color contrasts with the cozy vibe, and ties in with “the energy and excitement” of the company’s fun, young office culture, Taylor said.
“The rest of their office is heavily packed with work stations,” said Bristol. “We wanted to make sure that this worked with their office culture of being very vibrant and energetic.”
The color — actually a magenta — matches a hue in some of the company’s branding documents. And there was no concern that pink might be off-putting to men: “We’ve seen the trend move away from pink as a gender-specific color,” Taylor said.
Each nook has a single overhead light fixture but no electric outlet. “We wanted it to be an unplugged zone,” Bristol said. “We wanted them to use it for heads-down work, where someone has to write something or make a phone call.” Employees do take laptops in the cubbies, but the lack of outlets helps “keep the spaces open so nobody is hogging them,” Taylor said.
The feedback, they said, was extremely positive, with workers telling them, “I want to try it out! I want to be in that place!”
How could the concept be adapted for home design?
A simple reinterpretation would be to cushion a window seat or convert a closet by removing a door and adding a bench.
An unused corner, or space between furniture and a wall, might also work. Do-it-yourselfers might consider building a pod-like structure with plastic or wooden panels. Wrapping the material in foam and fabric for comfort and sound insulation would be key to maintaining the cozy aesthetics.
Bright colors work well in a kid’s bedroom or playroom, lending a sense of energy even if the cubby is designed to be more of a quiet spot. Calmer colors might work best in a home office, especially if the space is intended to help users disconnect a bit from technology so they can dig into a book or craft.
An inexpensive stick-on light could easily illuminate the space.
Dimensions will depend on the intended user and available space. The office cubbies are 3 1/2 feet deep, 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall.
Cushioning the space is important not just for comfort and mood but also to increase the quiet. Bristol said that even in an office with hundreds of employees, the padding muted background noise.