Offices furnished with rows of desks and swivel chairs are now a thing of the past, according to designers and brands exhibiting at this year’s Orgatec furniture fair. Here are 10 new designs for today’s more flexible workspaces.
The theme for Orgatec 2018, which runs from 23 to 27 October in Cologne, is “visionary concepts for a new work culture”.
For some designers, the development of mobile technology means that people no longer need to be sat at a conventional desk – sofas with integrated power points and surfaces can do the same job.
“The desk is dead”
“The workstation is going the same way as the dining room – it’s disappearing as an archetype. The desk has had its day,” said Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who have teamed up with Swiss brand Vitra to launch a modular seating system that doubles as a workstation.
“With mobile technology you need a place to sit occasionally, or a comfortable place to hang out,” they said.
Swedish company Blå Station echoes the sentiment, with the launch of its customisable seating system by designers Thomas Bernstrand and Stefan Borselius.
“The desk is dead,” said the brand. “Work doesn’t have to tie you to an office desk. Meetings don’t need conference rooms.”
“Design is built on behaviour”
This change is paving the way for open-plan offices to be furnished with more flexible elements, from stackable chairs and furniture on castors, to pop-up structures that can accommodate meetings or private working.
“We all respond differently to the place we inhabit, however furniture can transform us to think ‘I will just move that chair to suit my need for the day’,” said Danish design brand +Halle, which is launching a range of simple chairs and tables designed by Form Us With Love.
“In that way, the design is built on behaviour, just as much as it becomes a part of an improved experience,” he said.
Here are 10 of our top picks for the desk-free office:
Soft Work by Barber & Osgerby for Vitra
Barber & Osgerby has designed a modular seating system for Vitra that doubles up as a workstation. Called Soft Work, it is designed for people who work at laptops, but don’t need require the typical facilities of an office.
Pivoting tables and power sockets located between the seat cushions enable diverse seating and working positions. Partition screens can also be used to divide zones and create privacy.
Torno Collection by Form Us With Love for +Halle
Form Us With Love designed this series of chairs and tables to open up conversations in a workplace. Launched by Danish design brand +Halle, the seats allow people to sit in a variety of ways and not just straight on.
Each piece is also lightweight, so can be easily moved to create an informal meeting space at a moment’s notice.
BuzziBracks by Alain Gilles for BuzziSpace
Brussels-based designer Alain Gilles has created a series of modular workspaces that can be combined in various compositions to create “micro-environments” within large, open workspaces.
According to BuzziSpace, the system is designed in direct response to the “dynamicity” of today’s workplace. Featuring standalone frames finished with curtains, it acts as a visual and noise-reducing acoustic shield.
Bob Job by Borselius & Bernstrand for Blå Station
Thomas Bernstrand and Stefan Borselius teamed up to design this sofa system for Blå Station, which can be configured in multiple ways.
Table add-ons can transform the sofa system into a desk, while shelves can be used to store magazines, documents or even plants. Meanwhile wall partitions can be added to allow for private conversations and face-to-face meetings.
Boxie by Claudio Dondoli and Marco Pocci for Pedrali
Italian designers Claudio Dondoli and Marco Pocci have created a mobile storage system for Pedrali – a set of drawers housed in a steel frame and mounted on castors.
Boxie provides a solution for open-plan offices, co-working spaces and adaptable workspaces.
Dune by Front for Offecct
First debuted in Milan last year, Swedish brand Offecct has now officially launched Dune, a seating system that could function as easily in a public space as in an office.
Designed by Front, the ottoman is designed for places where the need for informal meetings crosses over with the demand for relaxed seating. It can be used by up to eight workers at a time.
Studio Chair Series by Simon Legald for Normann Copenhagen
Danish designer Simon Legald took inspiration from traditional French factory chairs for this range of seats for Normann Copenhagen.
The chairs are designed to be easily stacked, meaning they can be used in different types of setting. The steel frame also makes it easy to lift them and move them around. The design comes with or without arms, and as a bar stool.
Office Pavilions by Kettal
Kettal’s in-house design team developed its Office Pavilions, which can be used to create pop-up meeting rooms and workspaces both indoors and outdoors.
The structures can be left open or enclosed with movable walls that come in finishes including aluminium, wood, fabric and glass.
Co Chair by The Office Group and Norm Architects for Menu
TOG and Norm Architects teamed to design this “stackable, good-looking chair” for modern office spaces.
Launched by Danish brand Menu, the chair features a wide veneer backrest, supported by a powder-coated steel frame. While it was designed with the modern-day office in mind, the chair is also designed to suit the home.
Pastille Lamp by Industrial Facility for Wästberg
This minimal lamp comprises a disc of light attached to a thin line. Designed by Industrial Facility for Sweden-based Wästberg, the lamp can be rotated in all directions, making it suitable for a wide variety of workspaces.
A single control touch button at the top of the lamp’s vertical pole allows users to dim the light, or switch it on and off.