Features

Our chairs are killing us, but that’s just the start. Why it’s time to re-think the entire office

Toronto's Financial District. Photo by Matthew Wiebe

Photo by Matthew Wiebe

There is a workplace where employees can drop off dry cleaning onsite and chat with an in-house doctor before arriving at their desks. Low on cash, they can hit the ATM on the way to the onsite convenience store, or go to the gym for a mid-morning break. There’s no cafeteria here, not in the traditional sense. Lunch options, cooked daily, might include Argentinian flank steak panini, tartufo pizza with fontina cheese and truffled mushrooms, or curried squash and apple bisque with leeks. This can be eaten in the atrium, or at a desk, which is nice and bright thanks to glass curtains on all four sides of the building.

That’s not all. Sore neck? Call the staff ergonomist to assess and adjust your workspace. (If the massage chair didn’t provide relief.) Need groceries? Order them online and they’ll be ready for an end-of day pickup by the back exit. A need for a stroll can be satisfied with a walk around a pond out front, naturally. And it’s a place to return on the weekend, if you’ve got the onsite volleyball court booked for a kid’s birthday party.

Short of a round of ping-pong, and a zip through the office on a Segway, it sounds like a campus in Silicon Valley, filled with millennials doing techy things. It’s the stuff Fast Company pages are made of. The stuff most of us will never experience as we bang our elbows against the broken armrests of our desk chairs for the 156 thousandth time.

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I hate food: For some of us, eating is more a daily act of sustenance than lip-smacking cultural observance. A look at the chemistry behind the crave (or lack thereof)

Photo by Kevin Van Paassen / The Globe & Mail

Photo by Kevin Van Paassen / The Globe & Mail

While I have been known to take the odd photograph of a dish at dinner, and occasionally eat at the most au courant of restaurants, I would never describe myself as a foodie.

I’ve had the same breakfast every day for the past 10 years: a glass of green sludge (a powdered supplement mixed with water to boost my vegetable intake) chased by a smoothie (mixed berries and a scoop of chocolate-flavoured protein powder). When “cooking” for myself, most snacks and meals are the following: protein bar or apple with almonds for snacks, salads with protein of some sort for lunch and dinner. Healthy, delicious and efficient.

But even this can be a chore. More than once I’ve wished I could pop a meal in pill form, just like George Jetson did, and get on with things.

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The secret to a successful charcuterie spread

Charcuterie-Feature-RESIZED-1600x700

The word charcuterie likely evokes images of pork, cured and cut in various ways, laid out on a platter, and adorned with pickles. But that’s like thinking of breakfast and picturing only a bowl of Cheerios with some blueberries floating among the Os. Charcuterie can be sausage, but it can also be much more, including paté, terrine (like paté shaped into a loaf) and ballotine (a poultry thigh stuffed with other meats, cheeses and vegetables).

“Over the past two or three years, things have changed,” says Gilles Vérot, dressed in chef whites with his name embroidered in blue on the chest of his jacket, as he sits in Café Boulud at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. “People are looking at us like they did pastry chefs a few years ago,” he says of charcuterie’s evolution. “A few years ago, as a profession, we weren’t ready. But now, I am ready. It’s our time, and we’re becoming more ambitious.”

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A tale of two communities in Dubai

Dubai

During a work trip to Israel and Palestine in 2008, Dubai-based Lina Nahhas was sitting on a bus when she looked out the window at a passing car and had a startlingly simple realization. “It was just like me car at home — a woman driving in front and her daughter, practically the same age as mine, in the back. And it was like a slow-motion vision. I thought, ‘If this bus blows up, or if there’s any kind of danger around us, I would be absolutely be shattered if this child gets hurt,'” she recalls.

“That was the very first time a sameness moment, as I call it now, occurred to me. I was no longer just looking at the story from the outside; it became personal. If anybody gets hurt, it means that my child and I are hurt.”

The Arab-Canadian calls that moment “an epiphany” — one that “rebooted [her] life.” It was the trigger for stepping away from her successful career in market research and launching the Sameness Project, a Dubai-based organization that strives to break down barriers between people and promote empathy and humanity.

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‘Less is more’ goes mainstream: The case for white space

Second Cup Coffee Co

Late last year, Second Cup rebranded itself and opened up a prototype café — a glimpse of what the future holds for the chain.

Second Cup’s new looks gleams from the southwest corner of King and John streets in downtown Toronto. Gone are the wood panelling and patterned-fabric seating so often found in its cafés. The new look is clean, streamlined, minimal. Walls are bare white, and though one houses a large mural, it’s a line drawing. Milk comes from metal taps with white levers, counters are white and grey marble, food is housed in spacious, clear containers. It is sleek, modern and it kind of looks like a coffee laboratory.

Its new name, Second Cup Coffee Co., may be a bit of a mouthful, but the design of the new outpost adheres to the maxim that less is more.

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Bottling creativity: Why food and drink companies rely on artists to refresh brands

Courtesy Nadège

Courtesy Nadège

Three weeks ago, through the Paris­ian cloth­ing bou­tique Col­ette, luxe French bakery Ladurée launched a col­lab­or­a­tion with pro­du­cer/sing­er/guy-who-can-do-every­thing Pharrell Wil­liams. The man has the Midas touch, so it was a bit of a let-down when his lim­it­ed-edi­tion macarons were fla­voured pea­nut but­ter and cola. Im­agin­a­tion is his call­ing card — sure­ly he’s got more cre­ative fla­vours under his Moun­tie’s hat. Re­gard­less, Ladurée isn’t exact­ly an un­known name needing ce­leb­rity rec­og­ni­tion. It’s been around since 1862 and sells 15,000 macarons a day. And Wil­liams isn’t exact­ly a musi­cian who needs pro­mo­tion in Paris. His show at the Zénith, like so many others in cit­ies around the world, was sold out. So, why col­lab­or­ate?

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Swing strong: The club house isn’t merely for men

Swing Like a Girl at Predator Ridge

The air was fresh, the sky was blue and the golf carts were… pink. I arrived at Predator Ridge golf resort in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley for a clinic dubbed Swing Like A Girl—a women’s-only day of training—and wasn’t sure what to make of all the pink. It was on hats, shirts, and even our ball markers were adorned with pink diamantes. “Are we really going this girly route?” I asked myself as I walked up to a practice tee.

Joining me were a dozen other women, ranging in age from their thirties to seventies. Some were beginners (that would be me), some were pros (in my newbie eyes, anyway), and although the vibe was easy-going, all were decidedly serious about improving our games. The daylong clinic was split into two sessions: short game and long game. We covered everything from the fundamentals of stance to posture and grip, how to keep one’s girls in check (never underestimate a quality sports bra), to the quickest escape from a sand trap (plant your feet, open your stance and have, or at least fake, confidence).

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