What digital multi functionality does to our physical world

Our familiarity with multi-functional devices and multi-tasking has visibly influenced usage spaces where an all-purpose functionality has developed. We work at home and relax, but play sports, eat and drink at the office. Shops with several purposes are also becoming more common. Food- and coffee concepts have been given space within book shops and do-it-yourself chains, hairdressers appear in clothing shops. New combinations of existing concepts are increasingly seeing the light of day, like Kamu in Breda which is a coffee bar and bicycle shop, or De Wasbar (The Wash Bar) in Antwerp which combines a coffee bar with a laundrette. The new hip ‘Line DC’ Hotel in downtown Washington DC recently placed a full service radio station in the middle of their lobby. ‘Full Service Radio’ is a community podcast and internet radio station which broadcasts more than 30 local talk shows per month, covering art, culture, food and drinks and music. Interviews and round-table discussions met local influencers from the ‘DC community’, travellers, musicians, artists and food lovers are regular features on the various popular online shows.


The spectacle that goes with multi-purpose room functionality is further triggered by today’s consumer expectation that physical products and things, such as an interior, can be updated or upgraded just as easily as their daily digital devices. Pop-up stores applauded this development at first, using it to secure their own position within the retail scene. The interior of restaurant Sketch in London changes continually (the name betrays their secret- a sketch is never complete or definitive). Ever so often the chairs and tables are literally pushed aside late in the evening and Sketch changes into a night club where the bar no longer serves coffee and tea, but only mixes cocktails. We have been fans of Sketch since its opening and have experienced that this place really never stands still. This dynamic attracts us as guests, we are inspired by it and the place becomes the ‘talk of the town’. It also allows a more flexible response to changing interests. In our opinion, both the owner and user benefit from this, making work and leisure more pleasant and interesting for both.



Multiple functions and continuous change create a buzz and are entertaining. As well as the practical and time-saving aspects of having more functions under one roof, we think that the success of both are also related to today’s short concentration span, whether or not this is a consequence of extensive use of social media, apps and our digital devices. And since we are used to multi-tasking and updates, both at work and in private, this also counts for the use of our space. Whereas in the past our choice consisted of home, work and third places such as a coffee shop, café, restaurant or gym, we now see that various purposes and usages blend together, adjustments are made sooner and renovations are done in phases. Offices attract us to work there with their high quality in-house restaurants, coffee bars and modern gyms, making it unnecessary ever to go back home. Nomads restaurant in Amsterdam changes their kitchen and dishes every year, based on their culinary travels all over the world, not only does this makes their work more fun but more importantly, it attracts a steady stream of guests. And that is precisely the point.


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