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New trends from Worktech17: Living Office, co-design and IoT.

A self-learning space, open-designed for the future needs, based on the individual experience and wellbeing. This is the way of designing that was debated at the forum Worktech 2017, among leader companies as Herman Miller and Interface and architecture firms like Carlo Ratti Associati, Zaha Hadid Architects and Studio Banana.

The office must follow the life that takes place in it. That’s the core of the Herman Miller’s seven provocations, seven statements thought to guide the discussion between designers and companies, and based on the last company’s research “Living Office”, presented at Worktech17, one of the worldwide most important forum dedicated to real estate, technology and innovation. The study has involved anthropologists, psychologists and designers in a new holistic approach to the workplace, aiming to define the facts we need to understand when we think about today’s ways of working.

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One of these provocations states: “we feel before we think”. The environment has a great impact on us, therefore it is the main feature we have to take care of. It must be a living environment, where communication takes constantly place (quoting a provocation, “you + me = 3”) in a “wonderful mess” that facilitate creativity and innovation.

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Ulrich Blum, from Zaha Hadid Architects, has given a really good insight during his speech “The self-learning workplace”, describing a way of designing that starts from the use of IoT and sensors to collect data about the habits of every employee. “We have to think about the office as a “living network” Blum said. The data are divided in different parameters as distance, visibility and lighting, in order to give to designers the right knowledges to create a space that fits with the needs of every single person living in the workplace, optimizing the desk arrangement, the communication, the use of working time and the disposition of different environments. Furthermore, datas give the opportunity, using the generated algorithms, for creating more effective team works and arrange them in an ideal workplace. “The idea is to enhance the hierarchy of the office as it really is, and not as it is in the boss’s mind. We have to join furniture and artificial intelligence in order to increase the flexibility the furniture can give us”, Blum concludes.

As we can already see, technology is crucial in nowadays office, even though, quoting another provocation, “we have to forget about it”, meaning it has to be like a comfortable shoe: we have to perfectly walk in it, without feeling anything. As Marco Maria Pedrazzo, by Carlo Ratti Associates, said, exposing the firm’s research about the “technological management of the workplace”, “technology has to create a resilient environment. We have to change our perspective: it is the environment that has to adapt to us, not us to the environment. We have to design as we are designing 20 years ahead, and the only way to do that is making experiments, trying prototypes and see how people react to them“.

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Even though it seems in contrast with Herman Miller’s provocation “The next thing isn’t for you”, it isn’t, because innovation must be based on the company’s culture, and design must fit with the actual ways of working and corporate policy of each situation, but at the same time it has to be open-designed, giving the chance of being reinvented in the future, following the evolution of the company itself and of the times.
Something too ahead, in fact, can scare people, while innovation has to generate engagement, fulfilment and happiness.

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Key Portilla, from Studio Banana, suggested some interesting approach, like co-design sessions, where managers and employee are an active part in the workplace’s construction or restyling, or university-campus-like offices, based on a different environment that supports different states of mind and activity.

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Finally, even in a new tech-workspace, nature can be the secret of a happy and stress-free office. Oliver Heath, from Interface, has talked about “biophilic design“, meaning the need to recreate the “sense of nature“, enhancing the presence of real natural elements, like light, plants and water, or a reference to them, using colors, patterns and materials that help to recreate visually and emotionally the feeling of really being in a natural environment.
Report by Mario Colombo (Herman Miller), editing by Gabriele Masi.

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Sofa system and lounge seating: are they the new workstations?

Collaboration, concentration and sharing” repeated over and over like a mantra, the keywords of the Workplace 3.0 that require informal atmospheres and dynamic and versatile furnishings to express themselves in the best possible way. That’s how the lounge seating and the sofà systems turn into very inspiring objects for the designer.
Here are some of the most interesting products launched at Salone del Mobile and FuoriSalone.

The perfect settings for smart working are those hybrid areas, borderline between relaxation and work; and also in the transit places of contract world like hotel’s halls; in the fluid in-between areas both public and privacy spaces, too.
So even the sofas have to be hybrid and they are often used as unconventional workstations.

What are the prerequisites for a sofa system?
First of all, they must be pleasant and comfortable to host a meeting in the better way; the look is also most important fore their task is to to liven up and lend a recognizable image to those circulation areas risking to be nondescript: unusual shapes and bright colors are a must.
And they should also be flexible, modular, and transformable, in order to easily change configuration to answer to the different needs.
They are versatile and customizable, sometimes involving the user in a co-design activity.
Sometimes look even like a cocoon and integrate acoustic and visual insulation solutions, to define undisturbed areas.
They are equipper with functional accessories (coffee table, recharge station for devices, fixed and rotating work tables).
As for all kinds of workplace, ergonomics should never be overshadowed.
Here are the amazing seatings for in-between areas launched at Salone del Mobile and Fuori Salone.

Sedus, se:work, Design by Sedus Design Team.

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An ergonomic and multifunctional upholstered furniture to make people feel at home in the office. To achieve perfect comfort when seated, specially contoured back padding provides optimal support for the lumbar region; an elastic membrane composed of cords gives further support under the seat upholstery.
Thanks to its modules, tables and power supply options, it provides unlimited combinations for all kinds of use while creating a flexible office environment. You can choose a standard formation such as a circle, S-shaped, face-to-face or bench, or your own individual layout. It is equipped with various tables and work surfaces.

Blå Station, Bob, design by Thomas Bernstrand and Stefan Borselius.

A sofa, which is supplied by the linear metre. As a result of its narrow construction modules, it is an extremely versatile and self-evident modular sofa in moulded polyurethane with built-in connection fixtures. Bob consists of ve unique, 26 cm wide modules which facilitate almost endless configurations. 

Estel, Dolly, design by Stefano Gallizioli.

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Dolly is a new family of modular sofas, armchairs and benches created to furnish public spaces. The sofa is available also in Privé version, with high backrest that has the function of privacy screen. It can be configurated with two sofas, facing each other and linked by a Privé panel. The Privé padded panel can be équipped with wired table and TV arrangement.

Nowy Styl Group, Tapa, design by Mac Stopa.

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A system of pouffes that combines a striking look with clever functionality.It is a modular solution whose basic element is an “island” consisting of mobile pouffes that turn on a pivot. It ensures different arrangement possibilities in one space using the same modules. The line is complemented with freestanding pouffes whose shape reflects the upper and third level of the basic modular unit.

True Design, DNA, design by Leonardo Rossano & Debora Mansur.

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A captivating piece of furniture, shaped after the helix form, inspired by the dynamic forms of DNA; it consists in a unique construction assembly which is created by a single section of curved plywood, that is mirrored in design to create multiple seating configurations. It is is also available in the upholstered collection, in fabric or leather.

Offect, Dune, design by studio Front (Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren).

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Dune is an oasis that comes to life when it is used, it is so airy it almost appears to levitate; it is a large piece of furniture that easily can seat up to eight people”. Despite being so delicate, Dune stands firmly on the ground. Its legs not only support the asymmetrical seat, they also rise above it to hold four table tops that are all equipped with the latest generation usb-sockets.

Segis, Longway, by Bartoli Design.

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New names and new endless configurations the masterpiece of the sofa-system. It is a modular system of narrow and wide ribbons of upholstered seating which undulate to form seats and armrests creating large. The collection includes single and modular elements and creates results never seen before, the alternation of horizontal planes and curves offers a marked visual impact.

Lapalma, Plus, design by Francesco Rota.

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Soft form and easy modularity are the characteristics of this modular system. The seating is wider, deeper and more generous, the structure loses its fine outline and elegant linear design; the new concept is about softness and big-heartedness rounded shapes. It offers a variety of units, and can be used in combination with the Screen partitions that can act as a backrest to the piece, providing welcome intimacy and a feeling of exclusion from the surroundings, with the added possibility of sound absorption.

Manerba, Undecided Sofa, design Raffaella Mangiarotti e Ilkka Suppanen.

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It is created for the perpetual redefinition by changing height and colors: the high upholstered backrest is an invitation to carve out a private corner where to meet without formalities; an acoustically comfortable and isolated place to talk vis-à-vis, leaning on the soft pillows.

Luxy, Puzzle design by Itamar Harari.

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It is a waiting system available in three different modules –one, two seater and an ‘L’ shaped three seater– that could be combined to fully exploit the qualities of the space, decorating with modern style the environment.The geometric modularity of the infinite combinations is enhanced by the design of the seams chosen.

Ares Line, Base, by Frigerio Design.

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A modular sound proofing screens system to create protected individual or relational spaces; places to meet up, focus, relax or participate; affording privacy when necessary, or room for interaction and sharing as needed. It can be used as a simple sound screen, as a seat or a meeting space, since it is versatile by vocation.

Moroso, Bell Lab, design by Ron Arad.

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It was originally a site-specific design for the Bell Lab technological research and development centre, located in New Jersey, and designed by Eero Saarinen. Ron Arad’s idea sets out from the pattern on the hall floor, which is made up of large, rectangular slabs in black, white and grey. The sofa is instead made up of large grey and black cylinders positioned horizontally and overlaid to form the seat and back, creating a flexible interaction with this extremely striking space. 

Alias, Okome, design Nendo.

Ci aveva già vaffacikato a Orgatec questa famiglia di sedute e schienali caratterizzati forme morbide e naturali e curve di ampio raggio caratterizzano questa armoniosa famiglia di sedute che evoca i ciottoli levigati dall’acqua. I diversi elementi possono essere uniti tra loro in configurazioni diverse, grazie a un sistema di aggancio sofisticato.Okome-alias-nendo-wow-webmagazine

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Co-design and graceful design for an Undecided Sofa.

Undecided Sofa is a graceful lounge seating designed by Raffaella Mangiarotti and Ilkka Suppanen for Manerba. The talented Italian-Finnish designers intrigue the user with sensitivity and irony, by enabling them to “decide” on the final looks of the sofa by choosing colour and size.

After the colour code system, that lent new moods to Manerba’s furniture systems, the clear vision of the sisters Grazia and Elisa Manerba -heading the Mantova based company with the art direction of Raffaella Mangiarotti- could construe the looks of the workplace and carry out an original soft product.
Undecided Sofa was successfully launched during Milano Design Week at Palazzo Litta and at the showroom Manerba inside the concept store Jannelli & Volpi.
The attractive cushions it’s made of provide for the adequate sound insulation to satisfy the need for relaxation or informal meetings by carving out a privacy area within in-between areas and public spaces.

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Most of all, what arouses emotion is the ability to render the concepts of fluidity and transformation in a poetical manner, which underlies today’s living and working environments.

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These concepts turn into a co-design tool and intellectual game involving the user’s active participation, to create their own Undecided Sofa according to their requirements.
Three steps to create the Undecided Sofa:

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Choose the height: two pillow cases for the lower version, three at headrest height and four for the “meeting setup” that transforms it into a charming and comfortable mini-meeting room with high acoustic absorption.
Choose colors: make your own “chromatic playlist” – monochrome, bicolor, for nuances or random – is the atout of this couch; and the plus is that the composition can be updated at any time, removing or replacing the pillows, even in a corner or a delimited area.
Make a decision: sit back, breathe, think; deciding it has never been so simple, beautiful, and comfortable.

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A feminine colour research.

The Manerba’s products have been revised over the last five years in terms of materials, colours and finishes by architect Raffaella Mangiarotti, art director of Manerba.
The result of this research was presented during the event “A Little more Human, a Little more Woman” organized on the occasion of the opening of the new showroom in Milan inside the Jannelli & Volpi Building.

For 10 years Manerba has been led by two courageous and competent women. Two sisters who have taken over the family business. Elisa Manerba, economist, who manages the marketing and sales departments. Grazia Manerba, engineer, who manages the technical department and production.
A soft, in-progress project, developed since 2011, born from the idea of renewing office aesthetics by intervening on colours and finishes. Moving from strictly office to a more human, domestic workplace, with a touch of femininity.

Thanks to the research by Raffaella Mangiarotti, now all the colours of the palette are available on all surfaces defining a broad scope of chromatic moods.
Those working with color know how difficult it is to obtain monochromes on different materials.

 

It sounds easy, but just look around and you will see this is not the case.
From neutral, light colours inspired by Scandinavian taste to lively Mediterranean moods, then techno, with fluorescent and electric shades and finally the more classical.
The same commitment was also called for on the metal finishes: from classical chrome to the entire spectrum of finishes which simulate the more noble metals, both new and aged. Equally fine research was devoted to wood types, laminates and fabrics.

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The result is an extensive database of combinations and scenarios, available for architects.
Manerba sees the study of colours, materials and finishes as a path which evolves continuously and involves architects and clients in a sort of co-design.
The meeting between design and colour implies the selection of materials, suppliers (among these Akzo Nobel and Linak) and the attention to high levels of quality, technical content and standards, ensuring environmentally sustainable products.

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From New York to Milan the past and the future of Design.

The history of design is online free of charge: the heritage of pictures and details from the MoMa, New York, from 1929  until today (Museum of Modern Art Archives).
Instead, Milan – after the closing of XXI Biennale- looks ahead and stands out once more with the groundbreaking format Design City Milano (October 1st to 9th): a selected program of events focused on the today and next design culture.
The program includes two workshops on workplace: Green Office Design (by Assufficio on October 6th) and Office Design Ibrido (by WOW! Webmagazine with Dieffebi on October 7th).

Design Weeks are spreading all over the world: they are mostly boring, as well some exhibitions, planned as business events, and follow the same old pattern; maybe they are good for doing business but don’t cause surprise and don’t grasp the change of scene.
Something got stuck in that settled and consistent System that, as from the postwar period, has produced the cult of Design Made in Italy and the Compasso d’Oro -the oldest design award- made the Salone del Mobile the major fair in the industry on an International plane and gave rise to the incomparable and extraordinary event known as Fuorisalone in an almost spontaneous way.
Now Design needs to feed on something else. The debate is focused on the ethics of design, placing emphasis on the sustainability of a system still producing more than it is needed, on the social role that design should play, on the potential in shaping a better future and its impact on people’s life quality.
These key themes have been expanded to the architectural project at the Biennale di Venezia by Alejandro Aravena and brought to the attention of the world.
The wave of innovation now arousing the interest of the design community was also catched by the British Council that launched in Milan the platform Invention in Design, stressing the need to collaboration between designers and producer with scientists, technologists, and researchers.
In Milan you can feel the need for an actual and constructive discussion; it is no coincidence that contamination, hybridization and co-planning are the keywords in the Design City Milano program.
The basic levers for a creative industries are to open the planning process through the collaboration with different sectors and offer opportunities to ideas that are the catalyst for invention are the basic levers for a creative industries.
Yet the design industry still feeds on famous designers’ and star architects’ griffe, self-regarding events, copies, forms without contents, meaningless objects… thus risking death from indigestion.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.

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