One could say that we live in a time where secretaries, desks and over-inflated offices appear excessive. Creatives from Generations X and Y are working within a network of people who’ve traded office spaces for exclusive club memberships, a movement they’re fondly calling ‘co-working’. Organisations like The Hub, Central Working, and the indefatigable Soho House were among the first to cater for this new professional sector.
Organisations like NeueHouse and Second Home have recently joined the office party, providing a more progressive look into zeitgeist corporate culture by offering Michelin star chef’s within the super design led and/ or achingly hip spaces. This movement has galvanised the working populace that doesn’t like being silo-d from society by working from the kitchen table. A quick trip to Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel lobby will show you how rampantly this culture has evolved – but even more so, how this generation likes to do business. It’s not with pomp or ceremony, but instead a casual cool that mirrors the qualities associated with this laissez-faire manor of work.
The culture found in the lobby of Ace is very reassuring of this trend, a space where hip mobile worker meets 6th form college lounge. Shoreditch House is akin to an old school’s gentlemen’s speak easy club, only the genders are more blended and the design aesthetic is lovingly distressed and from a throwback era.
This has impacted on the contrasting ‘big gold watch’ culture that Mr Big might’ve have worn whilst trading stocks, bonds or shares in a manner reminiscent of Jordan Belfort, JR Ewing, Gordon Gekko or, for that matter, Ari Gold. Today’s corporate culture has seen cuff links, ties, watches and briefcases swapped for the more modern trademarks of power. Instead what we’re seeing are measured status symbols deployed through technology paraphernalia: laptop sleeves, iPad pouches and, yes, the backpack.
The lines between business and leisure, already blurred, now appear gone. That’s probably for the best, given how hard people feel they need to work right now. Already it has given rise to a piece of jargon, coined by trendspotters The Future Laboratory: ‘bleisure’. There’s another obvious parallel between corporate culture and travel; often the goods we purchase for business moonlight in our own leisure time. Terms like ‘integrated lifestyles’ and ‘collaborative working’ are routed in this evolving mentality. Space that allows oneself to be oneself and do whatever it is one needs to do.
It’s a new era of cultural capital that combines cool and competence. With this departure we thought we’d take a look at what’s keeping the hip, organised.
Cote & Ciel is a brand where the founder was one of the first to design accessories with Steve Jobs himself. The backpack is slick, functional and unique. It’s a staple of differentiation, but not so unique that someone is screaming for recognition. In our view its an understated cool boasting a fully integrated mobile desk with enough compartments to keep Bruce Wayne happy. It comes in several different colour-ways and materials, and the brand also offers laptop sleeves and tablet pouches for all the tech a Shoreditch dweller could hope for.
Mont Blanc, is perhaps the ultimate power player of yesterday and today. No mobile desk or pocket is complete without one. It doesn’t matter how digital you get, you’ll always need a good pen with a slick notebook. Serving as the perfect accompaniment to the aforementioned is Moleskin. This is a brand that makes quick notes and looking slick, effortlessly accessible. They’re the best in business. If the Internet is Google then paper is Moleskin.
Atomic Floyd are making some waves. They are the best “in-ear headphone” in their category. “In-ear headphone” being very different to bold, brash and over-sized headphones often donned by the hipsters, think Beast by Dre. Their subtlety makes it perfect for pretending to not be on the phone in Soho House. Made from space grade titanium they are indestructible and perfectly honed to immerse you into a track, call or YouTube skit.
Whether you’re one of Oliver Peoples or not, thick rimmed specs have become somewhat of an anathema amongst the creative neighbourhoods. They’re simple, clean aesthetic says, be unique, but don’t look like you’re trying. Frames come in all manner of shapes and sizes, each contemporary with classic twists. Established in 1987, they’re charged with bringing distinctive design and culture routed in California to the world.
But as we find is always the way in this battle of cultural paradigms, shifting attitudes and the innate pressures of “cool hunting”, it is actually the balancing of both old and new trends, that often wins the war. Now that’s genuine collaboration.