There’s a principle in physics called ‘The Observer Effect’. Usually this refers to quantum objects at a subatomic level, but it is very real in everyday life. A common example is checking the pressure in a car tyre; this is difficult to do without letting out some of the air, thus changing the pressure. Put simply, the act of looking at something has a distinct effect on the world around us, whether we want it or not. Concept Cubicle Systems has recognised this phenomenon in its innovative new Washroom Workshop at the newly launched Material Source studio in Manchester.
Picture this. You are working from the office (or at home), when the doorbell goes. You have a delivery. The consistently cheerful courier you’ve been chatting with for the last couple of years, picks up the box he’s just photographed with visible effort. Inside are bricks. Somebody has literally sent you bricks.
It takes a moment for you to realise it wasn’t some crazy prank by a friend – you had ordered samples for a project specification. The realisation that you have willingly participated in the process of sending bricks through the post, suddenly hits you – like a ton of bricks. In any other context this would be regarded as unimaginably absurd and shockingly wasteful.
Just delivering such samples to specifiers involves manufacturing, storage, packaging, packing and organisation. It also means time and effort by someone organising it, hefting by various people in the supply chain and carbon released over the entire process. After they have done their job, these samples may get pointlessly stored for months or years before being thrown away, requiring more carbon expenditure before ending up in landfill.
And that’s just bricks. Now multiply that across every sample of every product specified and you soon realise that this is a serious problem. This can easily be dozens, or even hundreds of samples in a single project.
No-one is arguing that designers shouldn’t look at physical samples before specifying a product. It is an essential part of the job that’s fundamentally built into the design process. But there are better, less wasteful and more responsible ways to achieve this. Why has no-one ever looked at this process?
Architects and designers may need to see mock-ups of washroom systems before they are shown to the client or site team for approval. And of course, we are happy to create these and send them to you. But there is a faster, more efficient and sustainable way to achieve the desired result. Very often, most samples end up in landfill once they’ve served their purpose. In our Washroom Workshop at Material Source Studio, we are playing our part in addressing this waste by creating a modular mock-up system where dozens of display products can be configured and reconfigured to provide a source of inspiration for washroom design.
Rather than manufacturing mock-ups and sending through the post or by courier, we’re encouraging designers to play, and experiment with, more than 5,000 different door, pilaster and lock options to find the right combination.
Concept Cubicle Systems Specification Manager, Jackson Sutcliffe, believes that designers and architects will see the benefit of this efficient approach and reduction in waste:
Imagine if every manufacturer took this same approach. But as is often the case, it is the simplest ideas that can elude us. It clearly makes sense, from a sustainability point of view, to go to the samples rather than have them come to us. Plus, there’s all the benefits of visiting the showroom, take time out of the office away from the screen, get a welcome bit of exercise and grab coffee and a sandwich with a friend or colleague.
It really is a win -win-win situation and we look forward to welcoming you and help search for the perfect solution for your client.
The Physicists are right, there really are much more effective ways to look at things and change our world for the better in the process.