A vertical garden to grow vegetables at work? Yes please.

grow vegetables at the office

Growing organic products at the office has never been so easy with wall-mounted Herbert, a mini vertical garden for your breakout area.

Herbert is an innovative product that will quickly revolutionise the breakout area of your office. More than a green wall, Herbert is a smart wall-mounted garden that can host up to 15 plants. 

This effortless gardening system lets you grow organic food from the comfort of your own office, be it fresh salad every 4-5 days, herbs or even strawberries.

Originally designed for the home, we think Herbert would also be a great fit for the breakout area of your cool office. 

Herbert mini vertical garden to grow your own vegetables

Simple, clean and efficient, Herbert is the brainchild of Ponix Systems and was funded on Kickstarter within 6 hours.

How does it work? Rather than cultivating plants in soil, the hydroponic gardening system uses a nutrient solution to grow your products. All you have to do is put a seed into one of the biodegradable sponges (also used by NASA), and place it in Herbert. Add water and bio mineral fertilizer to the tank and watch your food grow. As simple as putting a coffee capsule into your Nespresso machine.

instructions on how to grow your own vegetables at the office

From lettuce, through basil, to chilis, this mini-vertical garden allows you to grow organic vegetables, fruits and herbs at the office. Herbert is available in beechwood or poplar wood and is guaranteed to bring a splash of colour to your office.

What's more, there is a free app for Android and iOS that will guide you through the growing process and allow you to adjust your lighting settings to suit your needs.

watch your plants grow
vertical vegetable garden for the office
fresh vegetables at work

Office breakout spaces – a matter of collaboration

Breakout spaces are an essential component of office design. All work and no play makes the office a dull space after all.

Unsurprisingly, a breakout space was long thought of as a room where staff can take a break, but companies have been pushing the boundaries of this auspicious little space. Today, breakout spaces pride themselves in their ability to foster creativity and collaboration while offering a space away from the screen. Those cleverly designed, fully integrated little hubs can be as versatile as necessary.

breakout spaces at Cisco San Francisco
Cisco, San Francisco by O+A, photographer Bruno Damonte. 

Relaxed shared workspaces or impromptu meeting points, dedicated breakout spaces can also double as scenes for catered lunches, thus allowing companies to save on venue hire.

breakout space inside Google Dublin's office
Google Dublin, photo by Peter Wurmli © Camenzind Evolution, by Camenzind Evolution in association with Henry J. Lyons Architects

Collaboration lies at the heart of breakout areas. Google, famous for its fresh and forward-thinking achievements in the corporate workplace, holds free lunches at a set time, thus creating long queues at lunchtime. What would be the point in that? To encourage mingling, of course.

informal waiting area at One Workplace
One Workplace, Santa Clara, California, by Blitz

People will chat while they’re waiting. Chats become ideas, and ideas become projects.

Dan Cobley, Google UK's Managing Director
Elevated breakout space at Ogilvy Mather Jakarta's office
Ogilvy & Mather, Jakarta, by M Moser Associates

A breakout space does not have to be a room with four walls; quite the contrary, it should be a shared oasis, open to everyone. Integrating breakout spaces in your office will significantly reduce the demand for traditional meeting rooms and consequently, delays in the decision-making process that are due to unavailable or booked up meeting rooms.

As pictured below, a simple wooden screen and transition in flooring are enough to create a separate space.

breakout area set apart by a timber divider
Y&R Group, Sydney, by The Bold Collective

A flexible, multi-use breakout area will help companies combat rising space costs and boost staff productivity. As such, the modern workplace would be incomplete without one.

Colourful breakout area at Motorola Chicago
Motorola Mobility, Chicago, by Gensler

Is the multipurpose staircase a solution to tired offices?

Why choose a simple set of steps when you can opt for a staircase that doubles as a meeting space or breakout area?

Stairs can be ubiquitous in the workplace, particularly for bigger companies with larger floor plans and open plan layouts. They are so popular because they are built with an obvious goal in mind, and that is simply to facilitate movement from one floor to another.

Sculptural, multipurpose stair inside software company Atlassian's offices in Austin, Texas. By lauckgroup

But what if you could encourage interaction in a space as transient as the staircase? What if you could you take it up a notch by incorporating extra functions? Could a multipurpose staircase that doubles as a meeting space or a breakout area be the solution to your tired office? Could it be the way to a cleverer, more dynamic workplace?

Benches, seating areas and breakout spaces make for a great addition to a staircase, provided you have enough floorspace. The most important requirement for an efficient multipurpose staircase is to define a clear space for movement. Balustrades, a clever layout or a simple change of materials can help set boundaries.

Stair and bench space in Arnold Worldwide's Boston office. 
Staircase doubles as meeting space inside international ad agency Wieden+Kennedy's New York offices. By Work Architecture. Photo: Bruce Damonte via designboom 

Stairs can also serve multiple purposes when adorned with lush living walls, vibrant office murals or even feature walls. And since greenery and art in the workplace both have an impact on your wellbeing at the office, why not integrate them to your central staircase for everyone, including prospects, to marvel at?

Informal meeting hubs withing Soho's Living Staircase in London. By Paul Cocksedge 
TripAdvisor's Needham, Massachusetts headquarters, by Baker Design Group
Dentsu Aegis network offices in Shanghai boast a lush living walll. By PDM International
Colourful office mural inside coworking space Le Campus, Paris. By Virserius Studio

The Soft Office Collection: breakout furniture with a twist

Functional breakout furniture with the comfort of a sofa.

Designed by leading UK designer and manufacturer Boss Design, The Soft Office Collection consists of Cocoon, Cega and Shuffle - three design seating solutions that work together to create flexible spaces in the modern office, where breakout furniture can make or break a space. 

Created to highlight the importance of touchdown areas, The Soft Office Collection also makes a strong case for acoustics in the workplace.

Cocoon - for the collaborative work

Perfect for team meetings and collaborative tasks, Cocoon blends the function of a traditional desk with the comfort of breakout furniture, with the added benefit of total privacy. The high sides, back and roof form a cocoon that isolates the user from their surrounding environment. Set on wheels, Cocoon can easily be reconfigured and used individually or back-to-back to create private, booth-like meeting spaces. 

Cega - for the private reflections

Cega is a standalone high-back seating solution designed to foster privacy. Its contoured design has been intentionally developed to reduce peripheral vision and external noise while the open top lets ambient light through for optimal use. Clever, innovative and highly functional, Cega's 360-degree swivel allows for enhanced privacy.

Shuffle - for the flexible spaces

Based on one simple unit that can be specified with a high or low back, Shuffle is a modular seating system that lends itself to both private and meeting spaces. Depending on your daily requirements and the task at hand, Shuffle allows you to change your office layout when needed, keeping your options open between casual breakout furniture and a more formal set-up. 

What flooring is best for your office?

Office flooring, like designer furniture and workplace innovations, is becoming an invaluable tool in the commercial landlord's toolbox.

In recent years, the floor has seen some of the most innovative materials and designs in creative workplaces. From warm to industrial, from sleek monochrome to bursting with colour, from stylish vinyl tiles to hipster concrete, office flooring has become an invaluable tool in the commercial landlord's toolbox.

Useful in brand-carrying, flooring can also be brought into play when defining areas of your office with different functions: you might, for example, use concrete throughout the space but highlight the breakout area with a hardwood flooring. 

The growing trend to specify contrasting materials and textures means that some unlikely flooring combinations may arise in the future, but what about the basics?

What is the best flooring option for your office? 

Vinyl flooring – stylish and affordable

Forbo’s Tessera Alignment carpet tiles inside Data solution company Qlik, at Tower 42, London. Designers: Crisp Design

Pros:

  • Its long-lasting performance makes it popular for commercial flooring.
  • Ideal for big offices with high traffic
  • Resistant to damage, like dents and scratches
  • Available in countless colours and designs
  • Easy to clean and with minimal maintenance

Cons:

  • Not biodegradable
  • Susceptible to discolouration when it comes in contact with rubber such as in mats or rubber shoe heels

Hardwood flooring – the classic

E&O Singapore's office boasts Hakwood Delft herringbone flooring

Pros: 

  • Has been a stylish look year after year
  • Durable and easy to clean

Cons: 

  • Costly
  • Soft wood will scratch and blemish easily
  • Can be noisy when walking across it
  • Choose a pre-finished floor to prevent damage from moisture

Laminate – versatile and inexpensive

Kronoswiss white oak laminate flooring

Pros:

  • More inexpensive alternative to wood flooring, tiles or stone
  • Simple to install and does not scratch or dent easily
  • Durable and easy to clean and maintain
  • Also comes in a variety of options from smooth and embossed to patina and wood grain laminate.

Cons:

  • Excessive water can seep into the seams between boards and cause swelling, so special laminate floor cleaner is required
  • As a result, buckling or warping can appear as a result of moisture. 
  • If heavily worn, scratched, or grooved, it cannot be sanded or refinished like solid hardwood: it must be replaced.

Carpet – hardwearing and cost-effective

Artistic Liberties carpet, by Milliken Carpet 

Pros: 

  • Suitable for businesses in need of noise insulation
  • Carpet tiles provide more flexibility and come in different styles and patterns, allowing for a wide range of choices to match the brand and aesthetic of an office.

Cons: 

  • Can easily get stained
  • May require close attention over time. 

Concrete – trendy and brimming with potential

Stylish zoning inside Saatchi & Saatchi's New York office. Architect: M Moser

Pros:

  • Low-maintenance: properly sealed concrete floors minimise the appearance of dirt, grit, stains and spills. A little damp mopping is all it needs to look new
  • Can be dyed to produce a wide range of earthy colours
  • Allows for surface treatments such as acid stains, concrete stains for unique finishes.
  • Can also be stamped with rubber stencils for more texture.
  • Can be made to mimic ceramic tile, natural stone, or brick.
  • When poured over an existing slab, can be embedded with  electrical cables or hot water tubes for added radiant heat 

 Cons:

  • Undeniably hard underfoot
  • Even expertly installed concrete may develop cracks over time. That’s due to inevitable changes in temperature, moisture and settling. Opt for coloured cement paste and patching materials to help disguise cracks.
  • Although concrete itself is biodegradable, the process of making cement requires a lot of energy and produces carbon dioxide.

 

Opening image: Whale Song, by Milliken Carpet