New workstation design blends into nature

Although the reality of Canada is that we are an urban country, our collective self-perception is a country imbedded in nature and the wilderness. Which is why a new design project coming out of a country with a similar personality – Finland – is both clever and entertaining. The Finnish city of Lahti, the European Green Capital 2021, wants to encourage its residents to enjoy the calming effect of nature and has therefore set up remote workstations – called Viita-workstations – in the city’s nature sites free for everyone to use.

Reflecting ecology, locality and functionality, the workstations differ from traditional camping tables and include a telephone and a cup holder, an area for one’s laptop, a place to put one’s pens and a possibility to hang a bag or purse. “The designing process started by thinking about the shapes, textures and elements that can be found in nature. They combine the roundness of trees and breathing nature, helping the workstations to blend into surrounding nature. The design of workstations guarantees a sense of privacy, but also a connection with surrounding nature while working”, says Umberto Onza, an industrial designer from TBWA Helsinki, who led the designing process.

“The ordinary workday looks very different compared to what it was a couple years ago, and remote work is here to stay. People now need solutions that combine different ways of working. Many have also found themselves to nature more often in between meetings and have awakened to the importance of nearby nature. The new workstations make it possible to work remotely while enjoying the calming effects of nature” says Human Resources Director Mira Keitaanranta from City of Lahti.

Viita workstations are made of Finnish spruce, which is durable material for outdoor use. The use of spruce has a long history in Finland, and as a material it represents the Finnish forest at its best. The workstations are attached to trees so that no harm is done to the trees after installation and removal.

Viita workstations will be in use for the first time this autumn as a part of the Green Capital Year and have been made in collaboration by a Finnish design company Upwood and creative agency TBWA Helsinki, and a team of students from LAB Institute of Design and Fine Arts has been involved in the process.