While developing Overlay, Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck set out to bring clarity and order to open-plan offices. They found inspiration in urban planning concepts and designed Overlay to create a pattern of integrated but distinctive settings to help people intuitively navigate the workplace.
They also found inspiration in the reconciliation of dichotomies. Their design research showed that people do their best work in environments that offer both “social buzz” and a sense of boundary, like trains, planes, and cafes. They realized that people want to see and be seen as part of a community, even if they’re working alone. They also knew that people are most productive with the ambiance of background sound but not when they can hear the specifics of a conversation.
Overlay is designed to create long-term value for organizations by making seemingly opposite needs and wants—open yet closed; alone yet together; clean yet messy—co-exist. As Birsel says, “if you can make any two opposites co-exist, you can have your cake and eat it, too.” When it comes to the office, Overlay makes the unthinkable, possible.