From Left To Right; Winners Matthias Neumann And Louis Lipson And Runner-up Jie Zhang

If you think your workplace won't change much in the next five years, think again. Winners of the "Tomorrow's Workplace" design competition from Staples Business Advantage and Metropolis magazine forecast that in 2021, the workplace may include inflatable pods set up in urban parks, or young professionals working alongside active retirees in a setting that resembles a small town more than an office building.

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The winning submission from a team at Ethelind Coblin Architect in New York City illustrates its Co- ...

The winning submission from a team at Ethelind Coblin Architect in New York City illustrates its Co-Gen Flex concept meant to connect young entrepreneurial professionals and active retirees. (Photo: Business Wire)

Architects, designers, and students from around the world submitted entries predicting how the workplace will evolve in the next five years. The contest is hosted by Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., and Metropolis, the magazine of architecture and design at all scales.

"The massive corporate office tower, usually a glass box with central air pumped in, is turning into the dinosaur from the 20th century," said Susan S. Szenasy, publisher and editor in chief, Metropolis. "Workplaces will become more multi-generational and multi-functional, fostering communities in the process. With the many changes in how and where we work, one thing is sure—today's office is not your father's or mother's office."

Winning DesignsStaples Business Advantage awarded $7,500 to the winning team, Matthias Neumann, Louis Lipson, Eric Cohen, Nikola Gradinski, Ethelind Coblin and Jennifer Judge, from Ethelind Coblin Architect in New York City. Their Co-Gen Flex concept connects two often separate generations: young entrepreneurial professionals and active retirees. The flexible workspaces are equipped with state-of-the-art technology including 3-D printing, as well as a café, daycare facility, and courtyard.

"We are honored to accept this award, and we are pleased to have our submission contribute to a wider discussion on how design may react to and influence the work environment of tomorrow," said Matthias Neumann from the winning team of Ethelind Coblin Architect. "Our proposed co-generational workspace hinges on the belief that a multi-generational environment can facilitate a social experience that is conducive to realizing the increasing desire for work-life balance."

The runner-up, Jie Zhang, is an architect and co-founder of OPT, a platform for design inquiry and technological research, from Cambridge, Mass. She was awarded $2,500 for her FoAM design, which celebrates the rapidly growing freelance economy. FoAM is a combination of easily deployable inflatables that create personal mobile offices, which can be set up in a dense network of urban parks transformed from vacant parking infrastructure. The inflatables are collapsible and equipped with digital technology so workers can connect wherever they are.

"The impressive designs all made it clear that the workplace will continue to shift in the near future, however one thing that will not change is the thirst for collaboration," said Michelle Boolton, director of interior design, Staples Business Advantage. "And collaboration stretches beyond an open workspace. The entries brought to life the concept of repurposing existing space into multi-functional areas that can accommodate worker needs and wants as well as environmental factors."

With more than 25 years of providing quality furniture solutions, Staples Business Advantage helps organizations of all types and sizes—from small, local companies to large Fortune 1000 companies—create more productive, healthy and sustainable workspaces. It is one of the largest contract furniture dealers in North America and one of the only companies with direct relationships with more than 250 manufacturers. From interior designers, architects and logistics experts to professional project managers and installation specialists, Staples is committed to the design community and helping individuals and businesses imagine and create workspaces that are not only beautiful, but also the most productive they can be.

Resources: Report highlighting the designs from the winner, runner-up, and three finalists

About Staples, Inc. Staples helps small business customers make more happen by providing a broad assortment of products, expanded business services and easy ways to shop - in stores, online, via mobile or through social apps. Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division, caters to mid-market, commercial and enterprise-sized customers by offering a one-source solution for the products and services they need, combined with best-in-class customer service, competitive pricing and a state-of-the-art ecommerce site. Headquartered outside of Boston, Staples, Inc. operates throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. More information about Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) is available at www.staples.com.

About Metropolis Magazine Metropolis magazine is the indispensable source for design at all scales. For over 35 years, each issue has delivered stories that link design to evolving cultural trends, from big data to the maker movement. Join Metropolis for its critical views, storytelling, and inquisitive outlook that will help chart the future of the designed environment.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161118005146/en/

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