When you work from home, a power nap can be the ultimate fringe benefit. Rather than burn an hour, blurry-eyed on Twitter, you can recharge for 30 minutes and come back to work smarter than when you left.
But sleeping at the office is still a cultural stigma, which a product called CalmSpace, by the office-furniture maker Haworth, hopes to challenge. It’s like a plug-and-play nap capsule, allowing employees to take 10- to 20-minute power naps, reinforced by automated LED and music cycles. It’s anything but the whimsical sleep pods you’ll see at workplaces like Google. Calmspace is modeled after Big Brother himself.
"The first main concern was to have a shape singular enough not to be related to the ‘zen’ trend and which could embody new workplace product archetypes," designer Marie-Virginie Berbet explains. "Science-fiction culture from novelist like Philip K. Dick or Aldous Huxley to ’60s dystopian architects like Archigram, Archizoom, or Haus-Rücker-Co inspired the formal concept. The spaceship shape expresses the idea of a stabilized environment, a space into which environmental parameters are precisely controlled to support at best the physiological needs."
From the outside, CalmSpace looks straight out of Gattaca, or some other rigid futurism that values anatomical metrics over human comfort. But that’s exactly the look Haworth was going for, and for a good reason: It implies as much to management as employees that the power nap is a very official thing, a valuable corporate asset that humans can dock into as if recharging a smartphone.
At the same time, the inside had to be made cozy enough to lull people to sleep. Haworth found that to capitalize on cozy, the industrial pod had to make a compromise.
"As the space is totally enclosed, without exterior views, closing it with a door could have provoked a feeling of confinement," writes Berbet. "Using a straight acoustic curtain allowed keeping the flat aesthetic of a door and its sound insulation properties while providing an easily escapable exit."
It’s interesting that when it comes to privacy, people are willing to sacrifice a bit of personal security if it equates to a less confining sensation. And rightly so. Because a prefab room like this is never more than one design error and a bottle of hand sanitizer away from resembling a portapotty.
CalmSpace will go on sale for 15,000 Euros in January 2013. Until then, may we recommend conference room pillow forts?