These Japanese-inspired office pods offer an oasis in busy workplaces

Design trends come and go. Some even say they swing back and forth like a pendulum. Office cubicles and room dividers were once deemed impersonal and anti-social, but open floor plans that replaced them are now considered too distracting and unproductive. Whichever way that design pendulum swings, the workplace will always be a busy place, and people in that space will always be in need of some safe, quiet area from time to time. Rather than building permanent walls and rooms, office pods have become a more economical alternative, offering an enclosed sanctuary even for just a few minutes or hours. This minimalist work pod promises the same but adds a touch of Japanese-inspired aesthetic to bring a visual and aural retreat right in the midst of a chaotic office.

Designer: Staffan Holm

The Zen Pod is designed to blend with its surroundings, but its beauty makes it stand out easily as well. Inspired by Japanese design, the small boxed room exudes serenity and quiet, both with its uniform lines and conventional shape as well as through its material construction. The slatted oak wall fitted into the glass barrier creates an enclosure that is private but not isolating. People can still see each other on both sides, maintaining a smidgen of human interaction even while enjoying some moments of peace and quiet.

The pod doesn’t just embrace a person inside a beautifully minimal space, it also protects them from outside noise and distraction. The materials used in the Zen Pod’s construction were chosen not just for their beauty but also for their acoustic properties. It is able to dampen sounds by as much as 31dB, freeing people inside to converse comfortably and privately, whether for work or for fun.

It’s easy to get lost inside this visual and acoustic oasis. The choice of “sympathetic” materials like wood, wool, glass, aluminum, and steel all contribute to conveying a character of warmth and elegance that you’d typically encounter in Japanese design. For those who need a few moments to retreat from the frenzy of the workplace, nothing says “detachment” better than leisurely sipping a comforting drink while watching the action unfold outside the safety of the room’s glass walls.

The Zen Pod carries a tinge of irony in its design and purpose. Intended to look relaxing and to protect its occupant from the hustle and bustle of an office floor, it is also meant to be a place of intense work or serious conversation, not really allowing the person to fully escape the duties and responsibilities of the day. Built-in power outlets, shallow angle lighting, and adequate ventilation all work together to also induce a productive working atmosphere. It strikes the perfect balance between work and calm that cubicles and full office rooms can’t provide.

Best of all, the Zen Pod is designed to be less stressful to build and install in spaces that need this small escape. Although it will hardly be economical to fill an office floor with these small booths, it’s the kind of safe space that every workplace needs to have. Plus, it looks great, too, which can help uplift the atmosphere in a busy work environment, standing out like a beacon of hope for anyone who needs to take a break once in a while.