Alain de Botton: A Week at the Airport


For one week, writer Alain de Botton worked from his desk in the middle of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, and wrote a book about it, called A Week at the Airport.

He wrote an outstanding essay about his experience -- and the effect of architecture and interior design on one's mental well-being -- at Herman Miller's Lifework site.

For most passengers, I was simply a terminal employee and therefore a useful source of information on finding the customs desk or the cash machine. Those who realised my role found it more appropriate to consider the desk as an opportunity for confessions. I was approached by a man embarking on what he wryly termed the holiday of a lifetime to Bali with his wife, who was months away from succumbing to incurable brain cancer. She rested nearby, in a specially constructed wheel chair laden with complicated breathing apparatus. She was 49 and had been entirely healthy until April, when she had gone to work on a Monday morning complaining of a slight headache. Another man explained that he had been visiting his family in London, but that he had another one in Los Angeles who were ignorant of the first. He had five children and two mothers-in-law but his face bore none of the strains of his itinerary.
Ideal Live/Work Space: Alain de Botton