The Office; three mechanisms of mediation

Chapter I; the Lover

As I enter, he’s ready to contain me. He holds everyday’s armour and shelters in a mindful way all of my belongings. He never asks what time I will arrive or when I am leaving; he is waiting. In the night, he always keeps a slice of the city’s lights for my sight. Sometimes, I —along with all the domestic devices— tune in with his breath; a very subtle one. A garden is raised at his edges; protecting me from a torturing sun in the summer. He lends me his back and shoulders to map my plans. He never minds the byproducts of my revisions; from rubber rinses to paraffin masses.

        He never supports my ideas. To be honest I do not know if he ever liked them. Yet, he always provided me room for these. When I am tense and anxious, he never makes a grimace. I try to keep him clean, but he enjoys carrying the smell of our daily labour. He is very persistent on that, especially the days that I am very very tired. He can’t hold my hand in my brilliant moments, because he doesn’t have one arm or two. But he amplifies my cheers and warms my heart.

        Cool or uncool, when the days are blue

        When I want to stay off ice, I go to the office.

Chapter II; the Battlefield

        Segment 1: In the “Theory of the Bed”, Balzac describes three variations on the conjugal bed: the double bed, a unified and stable site; twin beds, a site in flux; and separate beds, the complete division of the conjugal unit into autonomous sites. The strategic advantage of twin beds is illustrated through a parable: “The queen has had casters put on her husband’s bed. If he refuses her anything, she moves his bed away from hers. If he grands her request, the beds come together again and she allows him to enter hers.” Given this potential of continual manipulation, the proximity of the beds at any moment would describe the current state of amorous relations between the husband and wife, a “conjugal barometer” gauging their victories and defeats in a relentless “civil war”: marriage.

        Segment 2: Implicitly, a loophole weakens one system of defence (the wall) to make way for a stronger one (firearms or the defensive eye). The ultimate substitution of walls by more effective means of security (smarter firearms and the electronic eye) has rendered the wall a vestigial symbol of defence left over from an age in which conflict was thought of in spatial terms-with vulnerable interiors, defensive boundaries and the threat of external invaders. The word “loophole,” however, retains a spatial force in the context of law. A legal loophole identifies a small defect or rupture in the otherwise smooth, continuous surface of a law-an opening through which to escape its closure. A loophole can be skilfully intentional and undetectable omission or ambiguity which leads to destruction of a logic.[a]

        Similar patterns are met in client inquiries

        Or any human interaction, more or less.

Chapter III; the Club

In the early years of the twentieth century, the office was shaped in the same fordic guidance that industrial production lines shared for numerous products. Lined up in a strict grid —ironically enough as almost clear and tidy as the past is archived in a graveyard— male creative minds ordered one next to the other their ideas and operations on steel typewriters. Few decades later, creativity was so abundant that the speed and intensity of their visions found new ways to get engraved on the daily program. The office desk was extended by hosting two additional chairs for the secretaries that would hold notes; to be later finger typed and approved. It was almost in the sixties, when corporate identities started to change their prospects, taking under consideration lifestyle and cultural identities. The formality of fordic ritual was tuned down, giving some space to lounges and colour in their interiors. From then on, people seemed to like more domestic senses in their own working environments. During the eighties and nineties, working environments performed as the most exuberant fortresses of corporate identities.

        At the turn of millennium, techphillic industries minimised their physical tools inventory in the advantage of web and cloud services. Production zones could be everywhere; all you needed was a computer. Speed and accessibility to information became such an exciting good that individuals shared private life with no hesitation. Checking in at work, checking in leisure, the everyday is accompanied by the habit of instant journalling. Producing or even becoming the product didn’t necessarily require an office equipment hardware.

        The unprecedented phenomena of the Covid-19 and its quarantine, emptied out these infrastructural facilities. No more parties in LA, no more in places to attend. Six months later, we are allowed to unlock our office door. Will it be the same place? Will it be an invisible labyrinth of physical distancing? What does it serve actually?

        In the turn of the key

        A land of belonging is being erected.

[a]Από το βιβλίο Flesh των Diller & Scofidio

Το Studio Precarity συστήνεται στις αρχές του 2019 από τους Βασιλική-Μαρία Πλαβού και Μάριο Σταμάτη. Η ομάδα εργάζεται μεταξύ Αθήνας, Λονδίνου και Internet. Με πεδίο δράσης το graphic design και art direction, το Studio Precarity επεξεργάζεται την οπτική μεταγραφή της ταυτότητας της εκάστοτε ανάθεσης, μελετώντας την δυναμική και τα όρια των σχεδιαστικών εργαλείων μέσα στο πεδίο έρευνας. Πυρήνας της συνεργασίας αποτελεί η έννοια της επισφάλειας που διατρέχει τις διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις σε ένα επαγγελματικό πλαίσιο και τις προεκτάσεις αυτών ως σχεδιαστική μεθοδολογία.

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