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Work Remotely? Check Out These Enviable Home Offices

Working from bed gets old fast. A new book about home office design shows how remote workers turn their living spaces into something workable.

Working from home is an increasingly common 21st century company perk. It means greater flexibility for employees, particularly when it comes to work-life balance, and it’s become a hallmark of progressive company culture. But while it might sound like working in your pajamas is a dream come true, it can also be a challenge if you live in a tiny apartment. What’s a remote worker without an office to do?

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[Photo: courtesy Thames & Hudson]
That’s the subject of the book HomeWork, which will be published in early April. Written and curated by cofounder and editor- in-chief of Monitor magazine Anna Yudina, the compendium contains a host of projects that reveal how workers transform their tiny urban apartments from the place they sleep into the place they work.

“People have very different situations to which they have to adapt their workplace,” Yudina says. “Sometimes you need to balance it with kids at home, sometimes you have a tiny space where you still have to find a way to organize for different times of the day and situations. It’s finding the right scenario in the right space and time, through design.”

Some of the designs in the book highlight what Yudina calls “time-based” solutions, where people use movable walls and furniture to entirely transform their space between leisure time and work time. Take a design by the New York-based architect Michael K. Chen. Chen uses a single movable wall to transform 390 square feet from a living room and workspace into a bedroom. It’s a way to keep your work separate from the rest of your life. Similarly, a studio flat designed by Spheron Architects in London hides a kitchen and bed in two movable wooden blocks at opposite ends of the room, allowing the artist who lives there to have a completely bare space to work and meditate. “The person wanted to create a very zen, convent-like atmosphere for him to concentrate and be one-on-one with his work,” Yudina says.

Urban Hermitage, London. Design: Spheron Architects. [Photo: Ioana Marinescu/courtesy Thames & Hudson]

Other designs are more permanent–what Yudina calls space-based solutions. These often use an apartment’s entire space, both vertically and horizontally. Take the Domino Loft, designed by architects Peter Suen and Charles Irby for a young couple in San Francisco. A single piece of furniture functions as a dining table, wardrobe, bedroom, guest bed, and workspace. It’s like a glamorized bunk bed situation for grownups, with the bed elevated above the dining/workstation.

Domino Loft, San Francisco. Peter Suen & Charles Irby. [Photo: Brian Flaherty/courtesy Thames & Hudson]

Hong Kong’s Jaak Design took a similar approach in a design for a double- income couple with no kids living in a 350-square-foot flat. The flat is divided by custom-built cabinetry that includes a small kitchen, bathroom, workspace, and bed. The bed and desk are connected through an opening in the cabinet to provide a sense of cohesiveness throughout the space–but it can be closed if one partner needs to work late.

Kevin, Hong Kong. Design: Jaak Design. [Photo: courtesy Thames & Hudson]

Yudina is particularly taken with designs that separate the bedroom and workspace visually. “What I find sometimes disturbing is the fact is that you sleep and work in the same place when you work at home, and if you live in a studio you always see everything, all the functional parts of your life, all within the same space,” she says. “This simple idea of moving the wall and closing off the bedroom when you don’t need it visually and mentally declutters the space and probably makes you concentrate better.”

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And she would know. Yudina herself works from her studio apartment in Paris. She describes her workspace as a big white table that faces out a giant window, allowing her to connect with the world outside. And crucially, she can’t see her bed. “The other part of my life is behind me,” she says. “I’m not distracted by myself.”

Check out the slide show above to see a selection of the most ingenious live-work solutions from HomeWork.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.

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