Living Office by Herman Miller is rooted in natural modes of interaction and behavior.

Chairs and technologies for the collaborative and ‘deskless’ office at Neocon.

Two very special reporters, the international designers Paolo Favaretto and Marco Susani went to visit the Chicago Show and offer WOW! readers their divergent opinions about trends and products they consider as the most interesting ones.

The setting-furniture-technology-man interactions of the collaborative office, where it’s necessary to share information in perfect synchrony and process it as a team, are the focus of the studies carried out by the big American brands. Particularly, the chairs are the protagonists of this new vision, overcoming the difference between task and lounge chair, to become cosy, dynamic and convertible workplaces, suitable for the knowledge worker by now indissolubly supplied with their mobile devices. In a minor role, the desk now undergoing a transformation and looking for new identities and features: the office is going to be more and more deskless!
Says Marco Susani “The general trend is a reassessment of chairs and tables, considering the change from a desktop computer to new and ever more widespread tablets and laptops. However, some companies could make the most of this new trend and offer less conventional products, also from the point of view of form.
Gesture by Steelcase is the outcome of an in-depth analysis (with ethnographies and definition of user profiles to find out how we work with smartphone and tablet) and is supplied with some specific adjustments to support the “deskless” use of mobile devices, yet maybe something more amazing could be attempted as regards design, too.
Haworth presents the Lounge Chair by Patricia Urquiola line with convertible pouf-chairs, Hoop di Ralph Reddig and Bluescape directed in Haworth by the Global Design Director Jeff Reuschel.
More innovative, Jean Marie Massaud Collection by Coalesse: here, too, arms for tablet, storage-poufs and a distinguishing ‘Canopy’ to handle and graduate the privacy level.
But Herman Miller was the star, with a real exploration of new typologies in its mega-project Living Office (that involved some designer: Yves Behar, Hecht+Colin, Studio 7.5, combining evergreen icon-products by Eames and Nelson too), all packed in a fabulous presentation.” The new furniture platform had not yet created new products but offers, interesting elements to reflect upon.

Paolo Favaretto is more sceptical about the concepts presented by the big American companies: “Yes, the American market is doing well again, but from what I’ve seen the companies don’t know yet what to do and most of all if to do. Two new products, two chairs, were noteworthy: Gesture by Steelcase and Purpose by Hon.
Otherwise it was like being at the soft furniture exhibition: easy chairs, sofas and settings, screens in fabric and more or less closed structures, like confessionals.”.
Favaretto doesn’t appreciate the “triumph of textile” on the workplace: “Did someone think of people suffering from allergies (many and going up)? The advantage of these products is that no big investments are required, but, alas, they reveal lack of ideas and trust in an office market still undecided as to what to do”.

Would someone else like to give their opinion about the new trends at Neocon? WOW! is open to comments…

Text by Renata Sias

1 Living Office by Herman Miller is rooted in natural modes of interaction and behavior.
2 Gesture by Steelcase, the first chair designed to support our interactions with today’s technologies.
3 Purpose by Hon, adaptable like no other chair, designed by Marcus Koepke of Marcus Curtis Design in Indianapolis.
4 Collection by the French designer Jean Marie Massaud for Coalesse.
5 Lounge collection by Patricia Urquiola for Haworth.
6 The Hoop by Haworth designed by Ralph Reddig (Haworth Design Studio) is a molded, standing-height and easily movable table for impromptu conversations between two to four people.

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