Once every two years the design world gathers to contemplate how office workers work. Orgatec, held in Cologne every other October, showcases the latest in practical design for our ever-evolving work spaces.
We’re spending more time in the office than ever before, but longer hours don’t always translate into higher productivity. Being cooped up in a cubicle under fluorescent light rarely brings out the best in people. As designers continue to play with flexible spaces that allow workers to change their scenery and take advantage of wireless connectivity, territorial boundaries fade further and further into the distance.
This level of mobility helps keep people engaged and inspired, while the layouts that enable it offer more efficient use of existing space; accommodations for the occasional influx of remote workers that need to spend a few days at HQ every few months; room for informal meetings.
Furniture needs to achieve higher levels of comfort in order to support this way of working.
The following observations illustrate the different ways in which Orgatec exhibitors are utilizing materials and design to achieve them, creating the next generation of worker-friendly environments.
The traditional workplace palette of whites, blues, browns and greys is being rocked by a riot of gentle, dusky pastel shades. Prominent, contrasting stitching on upholstery adds comfort and familiarity to seating; soft tone-on-tone colors subtly break up monolithic color schemes, and hoods over chairs and movable space dividers let workers determine the level of isolation that best suit their tasks.
The company Mascagni offers acoustic control in the form of very stylish veneered panels patterned with tiny holes. This approach to reducing noise can also be found in laminated panels, and has proven to be very effective for designers looking for a hard-surface alternative to fabric panels.
From BuzziSpace, this is a rustic take on the conference table. Styled like a bier hall or picnic table, the grooves in the top are engineered to hold mobile workers’ tablets upright as a readable angle, and charging and connectivity access is through the trap doors. Small tabletop dividers allow users to set boundaries when necessary.
Continuing with the rustic-goes-to-work theme, an oversize high-top collaboration table with a very large-format TFL surface and in-register surface textures offer realistic splits and knots.
A layer of kraft paper with lower density than standard compact laminate creates an integrated writing surface on this desk. It also adds warmth and provides a nice design contrast.
Text and photos courtesy of Kenn Busch