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Orgatec: Home of the New+Renewed

March 29, 2017

If immersing yourself in four solid days of the latest thinking in workplace design and materials is your idea of time well spent, the Orgatec fair, held every other October in Koeln, Germany, might just be your dream destination.

It’s also an ideal place to be inspired by global interpretations of how and where we spend our workdays. All the major players are represented, of course, as are hundreds of smaller companies with major ambitions.

i+s once again covers Orgatec with an eye toward the ingredients that make up the products we all hope will someday be part of our own work environments.

Here’s a fraction of the materials making their world debut at Orgatec 2016:

A work cocoon as imagined by the Turkish company Koleksiyon, with a relaxed, home-like feel enhanced by TFL shelves with exposed MDF edges. In TFL (thermally fused laminate) the printed or solid color décor paper is bonded directly to the substrate to create a commercial-grade, efficiently produced decorative panel.

As founder of Berlin-based Haute Innovation, Dr. Sascha Peters tracks the most important material and technological developments for new and unique products. He also organizes the “Innovation of the Interior” materials exhibit at Orgatec, curating emerging and concept products that may eventually play a role in commercial spaces. Peters’ exhibit also serves as a preview for the Interzum materials fair, coming up this May in the same location, also organized by Koelnmesse.

This Humanscale Quickstand sit-stand desktop unit uses compact laminate for its keyboard tray. Compact laminate is made from resin-infused paper fiber that, under heat and pressure, becomes a solid panel very similar to solid surface. It’s exceptionally smooth, warm to the touch, incredibly durable, wears gracefully, and machines much like wood.

Composite panels made with coffee grounds and a biopolymer and polylactide (PLA) have similar performance and machining properties
to MDF and are 100-percent biodegradable. Pictured here are selections from the Portuguese company Pladec.

“Corcrete,” developed by Design Studio Niruk, mixes concrete and cork. With the product, you have natural warmth and modern coolness, in a light and vibrant material stabilized by bamboo reinforcement.

Mushroom MDF bonds standard wood fibers with mushroom mycelium. After drying, the panels perform much like any other
MDF, and can be recycled in a normal compost bin. Developed by Diana Drewes in Berlin.

Also from Koleksiyon, a workshop-style desk with an everything-old-is-new-again surface that popped up all over Orgatec 2016: linoleum. This time the material is over back-beveled MDF.

Designer Markus Bischof was given a fantastically unique challenge: reimagining a classic Bauhaus-influenced desk from Mauser, model rd.3. “This is a redesign of a popular piece from the 1920s and 1930s, all steel save for the linoleum worktop, with tambour doors,” he explained. “The original round metal tubes were a very Bauhaus element, and we wanted to keep that feeling but make the frame more dynamic. By orienting a ‘square-ish’ tube at a 45-degree angle, the frame becomes a sort of ‘infinity curve’ through all of the right angles. We very much liked the original linoleum work surface, so that’s what you get on the redesign—it’s warm and soft, very nice to the touch.” Bischof’s rd.3 was given the Iconic Design “Best of the Best” Award at Orgatec by the German Design Council.

Photography by Kenn Busch, Material Intelligence

About the Author

Kenn Busch | Contributing Editor

Kenn Busch is a longtime journalist, educator and public speaker dedicated to bridging the knowledge gap between materials, sustainability, and furniture and interior architecture. He is the founder of MateralIntelligence.com and ClimatePositiveNOW.org, two major resources for design and manufacturer specifiers. 

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