25 July, 2021

Need some (spatial) refreshment?

As the late summer stretches on, we hope you’re taking some time to unplug and recharge. As is our custom, we’re happy to share a selection of our favorite articles, podcasts, and other summertime sundries. Please scroll on down to this month’s “On Our Minds…” for PLASTARC’s summer reading list.

On our minds

Real talk: last summer was pretty rough for many of us. While challenges remain, we are certainly enjoying the small pleasures that have returned this year. Top-of-mind at the moment? Taking a trip with a new book.

Each summer, for your edification and entertainment, we offer up a sampling of the articles, books, podcasts and ephemera that have had our attention of late. So grab a frosty beverage and settle in for the dog days of summer with PLASTARC’s Summer Reading List.  Still thirsty after this, check out our bibliography and search through topics of your choice.

On the Future of Work

It’s no secret that work has changed dramatically in the last year. We’ve been enjoying this ongoing blog by Dropbox, where they chronicle the process of adapting to the hybrid work future. We also spoke to WorkSpace Connect about how to plan for hybrid offices in a way that prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion.

The last year and a half of virtual work brings its own unique set of challenges, including “Zoom Fatigue”. An interesting article unpacks the biological and behavioral factors behind the digital doldrums, and offers some hope of addressing them with design changes to video technology and the culture around its use.

Changes to the way people work are bound to have a profound impact on cities as well. We’ve been enjoying this article series on digital urbanism.

Tech Ethics

Interested in going a bit further afield with your summer reading? We’ve been digging deep thoughts on the intersection of culture and technology. You might enjoy this piece on increasing the accountability around algorithmic systems. Or, an in-depth look at the role algorithms can play in perpetuating racial inequality, and what should be done about it. Or, perhaps this re-examination of a classic text of technofeminism, highlighting its Western bias.

The continued development of AI is leading to a broader discussion around the nature of meaning. If epistemology is your idea of a beach read, we’ve got you covered. Enjoy this sample chapter that discusses how people create meaning from what they perceive, as well as a fun piece that even seemingly basic perceptual information like color is shaped by human language and culture. Dig into this piece on what role AI systems should play in broader society.

Data and Cool Visuals

We love data, new ways to look at it, and how it can reshape our thinking. We marvel at fascinating visuals like this map of population density around the world.

While most people would fully endorse tree-lined streets—especially when it’s hot outside— unfortunately not everyone has one. Take a look at this map highlighting the inequality in the distribution of trees.

Because we can’t go to the beach every day, perhaps some competitive play is on the agenda? Maximize your chances of victory on game day by using math—for example, check out this fascinating take on optimizing Monopoly strategy. Or, those who find themselves entertaining children this summer may also enjoy this new book on data-driven parenting.

Trips For Your Ears

Perhaps you’d prefer an auditory vacation? Journey through the evolution of architectural practice with “Practice Disrupted”, which takes a look at the social and cultural factors shaping design. Or see how a range of topics in science and technology are impacting the workplace environment. A podcast called 'Open sourced workplace' by Steven Todd discussing today's leading topics in science, tech, and how it related to the workplace environment. Find your next great read with “New Book in Architecture”—a podcast that does just what it says on the tin, so to speak.

Finally, a bit of fun: Go anywhere in the world by visiting the—a map of the radio stations around the globe. Or travel into the surreal with this hilarious synthesizer made out of wind-up teeth!

From the archives

This time last year, we were extolling the virtues of working outside. While some workplaces are now calling their employees back into the office, there is still a lot to be said for working al fresco. Why not grab the mood and performance boost of being surrounded by nature?

If you’re staying inside—or heading back to HQ—revisit our piece from 2017 in which we wrote about our work with west elm to “unoffice the office”. It featured new types of furniture and office products inspired by the world outside of work, including the home.

That’s it for this month. Our newsletter will be back in September—though of course we’re only a “reply” button away! Until we meet again, we’ll be enjoying the high-energy Tiny Desk concert by K-pop superstars BTS.

In Case You Missed It

Summer has a way of flying by, but we’ve got you covered. Here's summaries from the latest haps!

Good Vibes Only

With our friends at Hushoffice, we wrote about the role acoustic pods can play in making workplaces more comfortable.

What Will We Do With All That Plexiglass?

As vaccine adoption ticks up, many of the temporary modifications that protected people from COVID are going away.

Wellness and Spatial Choice

In this special edition webinar with Hushoffice, we discussed the importance of offering choice true choice to occupants.

Return Agile Conference

We presented a refreshed version of our workplace reentry roadmap at this 2-day summit hosted by SpaceIQ.

How to Include DEI in Hybrid Work Strategizing

We spoke to WorkSpace Connect about how to adapt offices while prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion.

Looking Ahead

While things tend to slow down a bit in the summer, we’re looking forward to these awesome events just around the corner. They’ll be here before you know it!

Future Offices Summer '21

Two days of discussion includes strategies for the post-pandemic workplace and how to create equity in a predominantly hybrid work environment. Hosted virtually Jul. 27-28.

We'll moderate this panel hosted by Lehigh University, discussing how organizations in tech, advertising, media and information are moving to hybrid work. Hosted online, Jul. 29.

Ethnography of World’s Fairs

The World’s Fair has long provided a look at what’s on the horizon. This event explores the culture around these landmark events. Aug. 25-27.


HR professionals, executives, people managers and students gather to build workplaces where employees and employers thrive. Happening in Las Vegas, Sep. 9-12.


The premier furniture conference returns to Chicago on Oct. 4-6. We'll be rooting for the classics and newcomers alike!

Tradeline Space Strategies

PLASTARC speaks at this conference focused on hybrid workplace, organizational performance and more. Join in Scottsdale, AZ from Oct. 11-12.

IFMA World Workplace

A perennial favorite, this event is all about facilities and how to manage them. Coming to Kissimmee, FL on Oct. 26.

CoreNet Global Summit

Thought leaders discuss how the intersection of HR, IT, and CRE can support the relationships that enable business success. Join us in Seattle Nov. 7-9.