This odd metal shelf tries to preserve your work-life balance

The boundaries between work and personal life have been blurring in the past few years, and recent work-from-home arrangements have only muddled the lines even further. As many people learned the hard way, it takes a good amount of mental discipline to separate the two when they’re working at home, but it’s not exactly impossible. Having a separate home office is ideal but isn’t always an option for those with limited space. In such cases, furniture can come to the rescue, creating a physical and visual boundary between different parts of your life. That’s exactly the kind of effect that this shelf is aiming for, creating a figurative and literal separation between work and rest, especially for those that tend to have their desks beside their bed.

Designer: Jeong Hyuk Kim

If you look at it head-on, this shelf looks almost stereotypical, with box-like spaces for items like books and a top surface for putting decorative items like plants and vases. Once you start viewing it from a different angle, though, you’ll immediately see how it’s not your conventional shelf, especially in the way its body seems to snake upward, creating another space on its back.

The Criteria shelf concept is actually a blending of two different types of shelves for different parts of the day. As mentioned, one is a typical shelf to store books, stationery, desk accessories, decor, and other items you might need for work. The opposite side of this shelf, however, also has a shelf but with more limited space. It also has lighting that would be more useful at night.

This is the “rest” part of Criteria’s functionality. While one side is designed for productivity, the other is designed as a temporary landing area for transit items like phones, books, watches, or glasses. In other words, it functions as a bedside night shelf, though its height might not be ideal for reaching out at night. The idea is to have a single piece of furniture serve two functions, depending on which side you’re facing. That only works, however, if both “faces” of the shelf are within arm’s reach in the first place.

The skeleton of the shelf is made from a single sheet of metal bent to achieve this crooked shape. The central column and the shelves themselves are attached through gaps in the body. To prevent the metal edges from injuring people, they are bent to curve downward, creating a bit of safety. The shelf has a built-in power socket and USB ports for charging devices and powering the night lamp, and the gap between the spine and the shelf’s frame creates a path for the power cable to pass through.

The Criteria shelf concept presents a rather interesting solution to the problem of keeping a work-life balance at home. Rather than having a single shelf where work and personal items mix indiscriminately, it has two distinct areas for work and for rest. It’s also most metaphorical in how it shows two sides of the same shelf as if reminding people that, at the end of the day, these separate sides are still part of the same person.