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Working from home is now more prison-like than ever!

Would you buy a couch cubicle for your home?

At least 5% of Americans work from home now, and 70% of people globally work from home at least once a week. Telecommuting certainly has its benefits, but work-life balance can be tough, especially for those of us who live in ever-shrinking apartments without dedicated office space.

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It’s just this convergence of trends that inspired British furniture brand Established & Sons to hire designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to create Grid. Grid is a flexible, modular piece of furniture meant to adapt to life inside a converged home-office. The press release describes Grid and Established & Sons’ broader line of furniture as “considered responses to the rise of the live-work space and shifting attitudes towards aesthetics in the working environment.”

[Photo: Peter Guenzel/courtesy Established & Sons]
Grid’s base is a powder-coated steel frame that’s either L- or U-shaped, much like a couch sectional would be. Atop the industrial base sits a wood board that allows it to serve as a table. And on top of the wood, you can also place upholstery, so it can be a comfortable seat or couch.

On the flip side of the design, Grid features a small shelf that can serve as a desk. And in between these two worlds lives a partition that’s either wood veneer, upholstered to stop sound, or, as seen here, a metal grid that looks something like a bird cage for humans.

[Photo: Peter Guenzel/courtesy Established & Sons]
We believed the idea of the grid was that you can talk through it to someone else in your apartment, so it’s less confining than a traditional wall. It’s a half-step better than working in a cubicle. Perhaps. But perhaps it just feels like you’re always, sort of, in prison. Established & Sons has since specified to us that the high-backed cage version is actually not intended for home interiors, but the low-backed could be.

In any case, we’ve seen privacy pods like Grid in office spaces for the better part of a decade now, as they’ve become increasingly popular as a way to mitigate the distracting effects of an open floor plan. Having worked in tiny, domestic spaces for most of my career, I appreciate the possibility for furniture that can tune others out without totally closing you off. Then again, given that Grid starts that $4,350, that would cover a whole lot of trips to Starbucks to just get you out of the house instead.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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