Mini Focus Den


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Paolo Aguila, Industrial Designer, Teknion

How has the Pandemic impacted your projects?

Our team recently worked on Discovery Sprints, where the design team poses an open-ended question to explore. We were interested in finding out how people have adapted to working from home during the pandemic and what kind of changes or challenges they dealt with during this transition. Since we were not able to visit people in their homes, we relied on images they provided to investigate what they really needed - beyond what they said in their interviews. We asked them not to clean or pretty it up for us so that we could get a sense of what the actual issues were that they faced.

Where did that information lead you?

What particularly stood out for me was that, sometimes, multiple workers suddenly had to be accommodated at home in the same small space. I was interested in that divide between when work stops and life happens and vice versa, especially during the course of a day. With regard to smaller spaces, I noticed that some people were able to find a dedicated desk at home but others just hacked their dining table or their kitchen island to make a workspace. I realized that there were users who needed a causal means of dividing space or creating a separate work zone within these existing pieces of furniture. That’s how I came up with the proposal for the Mini Focus Den.





Tell me about your process.

I sketched ideas for something lightweight and easy to assemble for a home user. My initial concept was for a simple folded sheet of felt held together with two pieces of steel. I then met with the Design Engineers to brainstorm construction methods and they quickly created a proof of concept prototype with features that enabled toolless assembly and flat-pack shipping. Along the way, I created a series of working mockups in cardboard, foam and felt for user-testing. What caused the most discussion was the size and proportion. We are used to a specific scale or impression in the workplace but most people don’t have that at home. Most dining tables are not the same as conference tables. Most home desks are not the same as office desks. So we had a few repetitions just to get the right size. It was critical that we sent some of those prototypes out for people to try at home to gain feedback and verify our design direction.

What findings did you have using the prototypes in your own home?

I have dedicated desk space at home but, for me, the empathetic exercise was understanding people who don't have that same luxury, so I worked at my dining table. Right now the kids are also at home and I like to join them for meals; our dining table gets used quite a bit. The biggest discovery was that we have a bunch of stuff that we need to be able to put away just to have lunch for an hour, and then put them back out. Even if people are just casually dropping this on their table, they still accumulate a bunch of work tools. I initially thought it was just going to be a laptop and a mouse. The use cycle of the table is so different during the day that I needed to add functionality. That was consistent with the findings of the other users as well.




What has your work life been like over the past year?

I have been working from home for the majority of it. There’s no commute, so you gain some time during the day but it also comes with a different set of challenges with having the kids at home. Our design work involves handling prototypes, walking around things, and discussing them with our collaborators. So that posed some difficulties. We needed to adapt and improve our communication. That’s the challenge we are all facing going forward, how to balance working from home with in-office collaboration and how that will evolve in a post-pandemic world.

What’s the Status of the Mini Focus Den Project?

It’s exciting to see that the finished product is now available on Teknion’s online store so people can easily acquire one for use at home. The Mini Focus Den is also part of Teknion’s May product Launch. I think we’ll see this become popular in traditional workplaces as well.

Check it out on Teknion Store US and Teknion Store CA!



SAP AG - Teknion Case Study

Paolo Aguila

Industrial Designer, Teknion


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