Staring at the Stairs

Many clever people have spent considerable time and effort thinking of ways to get people out of their cars, lifts and off their bums for the sake of health and wellbeing for the community as a whole (and a very noble cause it is). Have you seen the Piano Staircase? Very very cool.

I recently read this article about the book Making Transit Fun! How to Entice Motorists from Their Cars by Darrin Nordahl,  and whilst I agree that it’s always a good thing to make day-to-day activities as fun as possible and I’m a strong advocate of being very silly, I think that people would use public transit more if it was simply more convenient than driving the car. I take the bus to work because the traffic and parking in the city make it quicker on public transport. It’s not pleasant for the most part but I would prefer the operator spent funds on more buses, training their drivers to use their brakes more gently and customer service rather than making my stop look like a strawberry. Your never going to make sitting on the bus with smelly strangers more appealing than the airconditioned, quiet (or jazzy) comfort of your own car.

However, there are some places where a bit of fun and good design would really make a difference. Fun end of trip facilities and bike storage at major transit stops/transfers which made it really nice to ride even part of your journey would be great. One of my colleagues stopped riding her bike to the train station because the bike lockers provided are just a pain in the ass to use, her bike was stuck in there for a while when the card scanner was playing up, they are ugly, frustrating, dark etc.

I work at 140william in the Perth CBD , it’s a truly lovely building which has won many design awards, is pretty great in terms of its environment impact, with a pretty speccy lift system running through the centre of the building to move us all about. I get pretty horrible motion sickness and so tend to use the stairs when I can to avoid head spins.  I often only need to go up or down 1 or 2 floors so it’s even more efficient. The stairs are just the emergency exit route of the building, they are not intended to be used for access and as such are cold, ugly, dark and pretty yuck to use. This is a brand new building, built to make life in it really comfortable and healthy, but stair access was not considered other than as Plan B for avoiding horrible elevator v. fire situations. This isn’t unusual right? What a shame! What if the stairs where well lit and comfortable to use, would you consider taking the stairs at your work place?

Here’s what the stair case at 140william looks like. In fact just after I took these photos the lights went off on me and I had to go down the last floor in the dark… terrifying.

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Maybe we should get a few hundred litres of paint (a selection of only a few colours so we don’t look insane – each floor already has a bit of a colour theme going which we could use) and get all the inhabitants to come and paint the walls. We’ll need some really really long paint roller poles and some professionals to make sure we get to the tricky to reach bits and that it doesn’t end up looking like a broken kalidoscope. Or we could hire an artist to paint a gigantic geometric mural spanning 14 floors.

Some sound dulling material/carpet on the landings to soften it up a little bit, and it would make the experience of using the stairs so much more appealing!

mural 1 mural2

New Year Inspiration: Breathing space

Desks are boring. I can’t see a long future ahead which involves me sitting at a desk in an office building, so landing at my desk yesterday morning was a bit of an uninspiring moment. I love my job but I despise ‘having’ to be at my desk for 8 hours per day. Just doesn’t really work for me.

But until I can break free I try to make my working space as comfy as I can. Starting up for the new year is a great time to add some colour and inspiration to your working space.

Plants are the best thing you can do to make your desk or office a bit more liveable. A 2007 Norweigian study found that there was a statistically reliable association between plants in the office environment and incidences of sick leave, perceived stress and productivity  after controlling for variables such as gender, age, physical workplace factors (e.g., noise, temperature, lighting, air quality), and psychosocial workplace factors (demands, control, social support).

Flowers Generate Happiness. Having flowers around the home and office greatly improves mood and reduces the likelihood of stress-related depression. Flowers and ornamental plants increase levels of positive energy and help people feel secure and relaxed. Check out gorgeous  PlantLifeBalance site for some more info and links to other studies.

At my last job I covered up the bright blue dividers behind my computer with sheets of cool wrapping paper  (not stuff you get on a roll, those thick sheets you can get from Borders, Planet Books) like wall paper. Sounds daft, actually looked pretty good, cheerful. A pattern is what you want, nothing too crazy. I might go something grey/black and geometric next.

Desk, before.

Desk, before.

Desk, After

Desk, After

 At my new job my divider is a much more pleasant grey colour (sounds like it wouldn’t be nicer than blue but there you go).

My lovely peacelilly, pictured above, did not survive the move between offices :( I am still mourning. It meant a lot to me as it was an emotionally significant plant for many reasons. It really was a surprise it lasted as long as it did, because I generally kill everything I try to help live (lessons here). Go figure, I have an environmental science degree with a major in botany… I can watch things grow on their own accord.

So! New desk and I’m cultivating a small selection of succulents which are much harder to kill off. The peacelilly didn’t like much light so probably wouldn’t be too happy here anyway.

Succulents, and pretty roses I bought myself at the markets over the weekend.

Succulents, and pretty roses I bought myself at the markets over the weekend.

I know it may seem a little show-off-ish to bring roses into work myself, given they were not delivered by some secret admirer but they were dying in the heat at home and I wasnt going to get to fully appreciate them before they died. So I brought them in, judge away!

They are lovely, picked them up from a grower from Gidgegannup at the Kalamunda Farmers Market on Sunday for $10 for the dozen. Can’t be unhappy about that!

In addition I have a lovely tea pot and tea cup, water bottle, Jurlique moisturising hand sanitiser, and a cupboard full of different teas in lovely glass jars. All essentials of course.

Going to brighten up your desk for the new year? Send me in a photo! Best photo received by 9 am 18/1/2012 wins a 50ml Jurlique moisturising hand sanitiser, perfect for your desk. (katbellavanilla@gmail.com)

(I was not sponsored for this post)