Technological, political and economic transformations over the last few decades have radically changed the nature of work. Today, we can draw floor plans as easily from bed as from the office. And with the emergence of platforms such as Skwerl, the freelance economy looks like it could start to break up the centuries-old work structure of firms.
Along the way, workplace benefits disappear and job security vanishes. In fact, individuals often stop seeing themselves as workers, or distinguish between labor and leisure time. Architecture has never been a particularly receptive profession to unions – or the collectivized bodies of workers fighting for rights and fair pay (as well as other shared goals). But the more precarious our livelihoods the greater the need for solidarity.
Sofia Angelopoulou, a master student at the Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design, MIARD at the Piet Zwart Institute, imagined how a union of freelance design workers might be fashioned. Taking a political issue as a design challenge, she developed a piece of joinery that would serve as a symbol of membership as well as help facilitate, materially, collaboration between increasingly atomized workers.