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At first seating comfort, now environmental comfort: 30 years of continued success.

Ares Line, Italian leading company producer of office chairs and contract seatings, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017.
A substantial history of continued success and strategies to react to market changes.
So far the focus was on ergonomic aspects and seating comfort, now the scope has been extended to environmental comfort through Fonology based on acoustic technological solutions. Ares Line could combine passion for handicraft and the power of an economic structure, focusing on finding next-generation materials and innovative applications.

Environment-friendliness, internationalization and lean thinking are three basic driving forces behind its growth, as explained in our interview by Nicola Franceschi, CEO and founding partner of Ares Line e di Fonology, and creator of Contract Design Network.

Which are the main steps in the increasing growing of Ares Line?

“In 2017 we celebrated our 30 years and, together with my partner Roberto Zuccato, I can proudly say that, starting from scratch, we are now a top-level organization!
In short, four major milestones:
In 1995, when we realized that the chair was underestimated in workplaces, together with the designer Giovanni Baccolini, we expanded our supply to seating systems for universities, auditorium, conference rooms and theaters. This choice led to the success of our brand worldwide.
At the same time we were the first manufacturers of office chairs in Italy to certify the company (standard ISO 9001).
The collaboration with Pininfarina, in 2002, led to the creation of several successful models, among them Xten chair, the chair system for auditorium Premier and the cool waiting sofa PF3.
Finally, Contract Design Network (CDN) was established in 2011, it is a network of companies that work together, to combine their research in order to offer ergonomic environments and cutting-edge design.

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At first seating comfort, now environmental comfort…Being a manufacturer of chair, why did Ares Line extend its applications to the field of acoustics? 

Seating systems for community have always been an integral part of an acoustic project, and we aimed to the supply of an increasingly complete and qualified service, so we have now Fonology, a division specifically dealing with architectural acoustics and with a new design approach based on several materials. Our team is steadily looking for innovative and refined acoustic materials.

Which iconic products are representative of Ares Line identity to the fullest? 

Xten Chair is our iconic product by definition.
However, the best-seller is the desk system Omnia with the following new model named Evolution, both designed by Giovanni Baccolini.
Finally, Papillon, acknowledged as the best folding chair for theaters with several attempts to imitate the product.

 

Captions
1, Xten Chair by Pininfarina for Ares Line.
2, Evolution desk system by Ares Line and acoustic panels Listen by Fonology at Auditorium della Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome.
3, 4 Different fit out equipped with Evolution in the multimedia rooms of Future Learning Space: UPO Campus Perrone in Novara.


5, Papillon Chair inside the multifunction hall Crosà Neira
6, Rossini arm chair: customized solution for Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
7, Customized chairs inside the concert hall of Carmen Würth Forum designed by Chipperfield.
8, Customized solution at BNP Paribas in Luxembourg.

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999 questions on contemporary living.

Well done, Stefano Mirti! His idea of contemporary habitation is free from stereotypes and immune to the seduction of the so-called tasteful settings furnished with design masterpieces. For the actual home is dynamic and messy.

“999 questions on contemporary living” is not a “cool show” as traditionally understood. It’s a chaotic souk, lively and ever-evolving, just like our home and how we feel living in it.

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A concept emphasized by its outfitting (designed by Petra Tikulin): scaffoldings that refer to a work in progress. Provisional structures to define areas meant for several projects: a journey across continents, both physical and virtual, material objects and immaterial services, technologies and rites. Perhaps the object is not to find 999 answers, but to generate more questions.

999 is a difficult and engaging exhibition, a collective workshop not to be enjoyed passively, it calls for energy, open-mindedness and an effort to enter imaginary scenarios, logics and cultures based on unusual home ideas. A new display format, started on social media a few months ago and expected to live also after the closing date.
The show spins out its plot on concepts of community, co-design and shared economy, involving schools, institutions and enterprises..
About 50 different projects, from co-housing to coworking, from temporary hotel to shared spaces. Many approaches to engage in a participating and interactive manner.

Edison is the main partner.

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Caimi Brevetti, partner supplied the sound absorbing curtain and ask” Do you know that an acoustic solution can decorate your home?”

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Manerba, technical partner, furnished an “Undecided Space” an in-between area and a new approach for a flexible conference room that changes identity, image and function.

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Memo and Naughtone: designing the Living Office.

The Herman Miller‘s Living Office approach means to see the workplace as it is lived day by day, focusing on the real needs and problems of the people and trying to solve them with specific, and not standard, solutions. The work system Memo and the Naughtone‘s products are an example of what Neale Vanstone, Vice-president EMEA Herman Miller, considers the mission of the company “creating an inspiring design to help people do great things.”

“We are a problem-solving company, so our approach to design is people-centred. We are a global company, but we think locally”, with these words Neale Vanstone describes the Herman Miller‘s view of the Living Office design approach in a recent interview for WOW!.

Resulting of a holistic approach research, that has envolved different professional figures as managers, anthropologists, sociologists, designers, the Living Office approach is based on the fact that the office is a dynamic environment, that change its needs and create new problems day by day. That brings to the conclusion that a fixed, standard and out-of-context design is to avoid.
“We are a design company: from 1968, when we introduced the Action Office, to 1994 when we introduced the Aeron chair, and more recently with the introduction of the Living Office approach. The design is inherited in what Herman Miller does. Our mission is to create an inspiring design to help people do great things”, Vanstone concludes.

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The working system Memo is an example of how the Living Office approach can be translated into furniture. Memo is designed by Tim Wallace with the purpose of helping companies to be more agile, through the change of the desk structure, using a simple panel as a central spine which replaces the traditional beam.

“Customers don’t value the basic function of a fixed desk in the way that they used to. Typically, offices accommodate groups of workers in clusters of benches or desks, which provide one basic function regardless of what you’re doing.  I saw the opportunity to design a better type of bench, still providing the end-user with a pleasing work experience.” Tim Wallace says.

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As the name itself says, Naughtone‘s “Come together” is an eclectic and free-standing range of furniture, designed for a dynamic and agile working environment and for being used and composed in different situations and along with various kind of furniture.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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1-4, Memo, Tim Wallace, Herman Miller.
5, Hatch, Naughtone. Hatch is designed to be plan into one, two or three seat units configuration, with a firm upright sit and compact dimensions, suitable for a modern commercial environment.
6, Knot Table, Naughtone. Knot table is designed to fit in the multi-purpose seating landscapes that are becoming more common in the workplaces. It is lightweight, and uncluttered making it intuitive to mediate between different products.
7, Softbox, Naughtone. Softbox is a fully upholstered storage units, thought to provide a flexible solution for different types of compositions. It can be completely customised and thanks to its sound absorption characteristic can be used also as a divider to create ad-hoc zones in the space.
8, Cloud desk, Naughtone.  The table is part of the Cloud range, “a visual and acoustic heaven”, a place to sit and concentrate.
9, The Symbol, Naughtone.  The Symbol seating range is designed to feel like part of the architecture, with a firm upright sit and compact dimensions, that allows to insert it in a modern and dynamic working environment.

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wellness at work: Italy is increasingly sit-stand!

Smart working by now is an expanding working mode. In Italy as well – at last-  it has been regularly inserted into a regulatory framework thanks to law 81/2017 that deals with key subjects, such as job duration, terms of notice, control methods and so on. And furnishing as well is adapting to this trend; for example with “agile” sit-stand workstations as Linak demonstrates.

“Sons” of smart working are widespread working and coworking. Since work is increasingly itinerant, fast, smart and agile. Meetings are more and more stand-up meetings, but they are also held in lounge areas and in common spaces. Just to make an example, in Milan, the Porta Nuova district is a bulwark of widespread work and coworking. There are many areas that rent workstations in exchange for affordable fees. Getting connected in every place and at any time of the day has become a life habit and new technologies enable us to fully live this change.

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Furnishing as well is adapting to this trend.

Pieces of furniture are designed to make our work simple and healthy wherever we are. From insulating panels to ensure a certain privacy though among people, to “variable” workstations, changing according to Activity Based Office to answer to different activities (for instance the focus room or the phone booth).
Up to sit-stand tables that are so popular  in North European offices and that are gaining ground in Italy as well, in prestigious head offices and in coworking areas. And the sit-stand trend perfectly integrates in the smart-working context.
Media have already highlighted, in different articles, the importance to keep a proper posture at work and to alternate sat down work to standing moments. This behavior enables to prevent disorders such as cervical, backache, dysfunction of the spine, thus reducing discomfort and absenteeism from work. Sit-stand desks, driven by Linak lifting columns, are gaining popularity in many offices and working places in Italy.
Plenty of Italian design companies are following this furnishing trend for office furniture to keep up with remote working, coworking, home office and everything makes a job highly smart. Italy is increasingly sit-stand!

 

Photo gallery:
1 Sit-stand desk by
Manerba  equipped with linear actuators Linak.
2 Sit stand table with central column by 
Emmeitalia equipped with linear actuators Linak.
3 Sit-stand desk  Estel equipped with linear actuators Linak.
4 It is designed by Tine Mouritsen and presented at Danish LIVINGroom the first sit-stand desk that integrates a power napping pillow. It is equipped with linear actuators Linak.

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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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From Wild to Glam: sustainable and trendy finishings.

Glam City, Time Out, Treasured Light and Wild Nature are the new evocative themes for Collection Futura 2018-2021 by AkzoNobel’s Interpon powder coatings brand. Architects, designers and developers have an exciting new source of inspiration for cool interiors and expressive green buildings.
Full of the latest material and design global trends, the collection features an extensive range of highly durable and sustainable colors and finishes developed by AkzoNobel together with trend experts PeclersParis.

Each theme in the Collection Futura – which is updated every four years – includes a unique range of colors, textures and effects that reflect the design and societal trends seen throughout the world. Innovation is also highly visible through two completely new finishes: silky texture and cotton.

“Our color expertise and continued development of durable and sustainable solutions drives the creation of our Collection Futura. It includes a range of special finishes for use on exterior architectural metal components; products which are innovative, sustainable and always on trend.” explains Jean-Paul Moonen, AkzoNobel’s Powder Coatings Global Segment for Architecture. 

It’s now 20 years since AkzoNobel launched the first special finishes collection for the powder coatings market worldwide. This is also the 15th year that the company has worked with Peclers to create a new trend collection for architects and designers as the global leader in powder coatings. In addition, AkzoNobel was the first powder coatings producer to launch the fine texture Sablé finishes, which have since become a major success in the powder coatings industry.

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Sustainability and green building development.

“The new range of finishes will enable customers to achieve just the right effect in any environment while helping them contribute to the future of green building and sustainable development.” Continues Moonen and adds “The company’s Interpon powder coatings have achieved a third party Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) certification, which includes a lifecycle analysis of the raw materials used in the product itself, the manufacture of the product, its shipment and application”. 

The new themes of Collection Futura 2018-2021.

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Glam City
includes modernist influences and baroque trends with intense, dark tones centered on reds, blues and greens.

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Time Out
provides inspiration for soothing living spaces, with light tones based on colored whites and soft neutrals.

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Treasured Light
offers sensual and more refined versions of metallic brilliance including brass, pink gold, pale copper and silver.

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Wild Nature
explores more primitive, wild expressions of nature and features earthy browns, peaty khakis, anthracite greys and charcoal blacks.

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The Better Effect Index: make sustainability simple.

Raw materials and resources, climate, pure materials, social responsibility, reuse and ergonomics: these are the parameters that make a product sustainable, according to the Kinnarps’s protocol Better Index Effect. The eco-label, designed following the designer, architects and consumers’ needs and the UN sustainability goals, is open source and can be freely downloaded

“More and more people want to make sustainable choices, so we have to make it easier to choose”, says Johanna Ljunggren, Kinnarps’ corporate sustainability manager. That’s why Kinnarps, despite the different eco-label out there, as Svanen, Möbelfakta, Blauer Engel, NF Environment and FSC, has chose to create a new one focused on important, but too often neglected, factors, like social responsibility or ergonomics, aiming to guide and change the production process and redefine the concept of sustainable object.

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Every object is indexed in 6 different areas, on which the Better Index Effect is based:

1, Raw materials and resources
2, climate
3, pure materials
4, social responsability
5, reuse
6, ergonomics.

“Every product is ranked in the various area, and you can see exactly which criteria they have, or haven’t, fulfilled. This is important. We report not only our good products but also our shortcomings”, Johanna Ljunggren continues.

The first parameter examines where the raw material come from, the condition of the process production and the resources optimization. To increase the evaluation companies have to choose FSC certified products and tissue.
The second one is about the environmental and climate impact and is based on the carbon dioxide emissions, the reduction of packaging and the use of renewable energies.
Thirdly the use of pure materials means also to avoid dangerous chemicals: phthalates, use as softeners in plastic and rubber, flame retardants, bisphenol A, used in plastic, lacquer and glue, formaldehyde, allergenic in contact with skin and carcinogenic, and VOCs, volatile organic solvents. Eco-labelled products and fabrics, water-based lacquer and laminated top are, instead, indicated for increase the air and environmental quality.

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Social responsibility concerns the company’s code of conduct and the control on the suppliers and over particular attentive situations, as the method of working in the BSCI’s list of risk countries.
The reuse, instead, follows the motto “Re:use, Re:fresh, Re:cycle”, so the possibility to redesign, repaired, and reused the object or the percentage of recycled materials in it. Reuse is the core of a sustainable object life circle: the 80% of the environmental impact of furniture is dued to materials, and therefore is crucial to make a difference to create a virtuous production process without any addition of energy and materials.
Finally, Kinnarps believes that sustainability is not just about the environment itself but also about the ergonomics and the well-being an object is capable of guarantee: furniture must encourage movements, control the acoustic impact, be easy to use and give the right light in the right place.

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These parameters are not just an instrument of analysis, but a guideline for the company transformation: Kinnarps, for example, has decided to cut off the 10% of the energetic consumption and to use only wood coming from FSC certified forests. Furthermore, Kinnarps has decided to open source the Better Effect Index in order to give to architects and consumers the change to make valuable choices and to cooperate in order to design a more sustainable production cycle.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Will technology create happy workplaces?

Augmented reality, cloud services, wearable devices, IoT: these are the four technologies that are changing our ways of working and living, and these are the tools we can use to start to build a happy office: they increase our ability to manage our time, our relationships, the environment we live in, our professional growth. These are the main findings of the research i-Enjoy by Sedus, presented with the app se:connects for agile and smart working spaces.

Technology can give a crucial support in the office, either it is “passive”, meaning as a tool for a better environmental comfort, either “active”, for an implementation of the working activities. Technology really has several advantages like a better organization of the working time and space and a better “ergonomics” of the intellectual work, leaving all the repetitive stuff to the machines and leaving to the humans the creative part”, Daniele Andriolo of Plantronics says in the main interview of the Sedus’ s study i-Enjoy. “But we have to be careful that the massive data we continuously collect, won’t let us lose the sight of what really counts”, he concludes.

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The fast development of technology in the working spaces is rapidly changing our working culture, making employees a more active part in the organizations that, on the other hand, has increasingly focused on the individual wellbeing.
If talking about happiness at work means also talking about engagement, fulfilment and empowerment, therefore technology can have a key role to turn the office in a place where a big part of our happiness can be pursued.
Already nowadays we can see augmented reality tools or cloud servers creating a faster and more transparent communication, while dedicated apps and software as Happify Health or Awesome Boss take care of the people, giving to employees tools to motivate themselves or to effectively manage the teamwork.

Space and time are very much affected by the technology and most of all architecture and design. New concepts like “environmental happiness” leads to build spaces that are easy to control in every aspect: heating, lighting, planning, scheduling,… On the other hand, IoT and wearable devices are perfect to collect useful data, intercepting and elaborating people’s preferences, and helping to design offices that are capable of satisfying employees’ needs.

A good example is the Sedus’s app se:connects, especially designed for helping to solve some of the main problems of the changing towards agile and smart ways of working: using their smartphone, employees can easily find a free workstation, register their position and be able to find their colleagues. These data are collected in a complete and updated report that gives all the information to optimize the usage of the space, making the company and the workers both happier.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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4 prizes to Kinnarps by German Design Award 2018.

Kinnarps with its brands MartnStoll and Skandiform, was awarded by German Design Award,  the authoritative competition acknowledging products that represent pioneering contributions to the international design landscape.
Among the winners of the 2018 edition there are Collection S collection family chairs, Space system, Matsumoto table and Phase armchair.
The prize-giving ceremony will be held on February 9th in the context of  Ambiente fair in Frankfurt am Main.

More than 5000 entry products were presented to participate to the final selection for the German Design Award 2018. Following the rigorous selection by the jury, were awarded only those that represent the highest standards in terms of quality and innovation at international level.

“We are very proud to receive such a highly prestigious award and we thank the jury for acknowledging our design and awarding two products work where the aim was to combine comfort and top quality in the best possible way says and develop solutions for the office life of today and tomorrow, offering endless possibilities.” says Elisabeth Slunge, Director Global Range and Communications at Kinnarps.

To win the German Design Award is very attractive since you are nominated and can not apply for the award. This of course makes the award even more desirable.” says Maria Lehmann, Sales- and Marketing Manager at Skandiform.

Kinnarps is proud to receive the prestigious award for four products:

Collection S, by MartinStoll (brand of Kinnarps Group).
The Collection S executive chair family, designed by NOA Intelligent Design, is rooted in the heritage of the brand and consists of task chairs, meeting chairs and lounge chairs, which offer various functional features and share the high level of quality and the common design expression.
“The chair family has thought-out material choices and a high level of craftsmanship that well suit the executive environments
” quoted Martin Rau, International Product Manager for MartinStoll.
“It is based on sophisticated performance like perfect ergonomic functionality, high quality and durability. Where heritage and craftsmanship meet modern lightness and sculpture-like design. The series is created to fit ideal into modern advanced office life” explains the designers Michael Lammel and Markus Heller from NOA Intelligent Design.

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Space furniture/storage system by Kinnarps.
Space is a furniture concept designed by Stefan Brodbeck (Brodbeck Design) for today’s and tomorrow’s way of working, meeting and storing. The range is based on a large number of storage modules which are connected and combined depending on the functionality and look you want. The flexibility of the range enables both concentration and discussions as well as space for group and private areas.
Design creates differentiation as well as orientation. So does the storage system Space, which has exciting features and options to create functional but also emotional and inspiring office space solutions” explains the designer Stefan Brodbeck.

 

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Matsumoto, by Skandiform (brand of Kinnarps Group).
A table named after the Japanese city Matsumoto, where Claesson Koivisto Rune has designed a flagship store with a café. It is a completely new table with a different design made for cafées. A table for two was developed, which when lined up edge-to-edge forms a kind of long café table. The tabletop comes in white or blackstained ash, pillar and footplate in white or black lacquer.

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Phaze by Skandiform (brand of Kinnarps Group).
An armchair that embraces you, providing generous personal space. Several linked together create a beautiful, undulating shape.
I was thinking of a design that embraces my philosophy of sensual minimalism and repetition.” said the designer Karim Rashid.

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Thinline by Ai Weiwei at Amsterdam Light Festival (30 november/21 January).

Amsterdam Light Festival is coming again from the 30th of November 2017 until the 21st of January 2018 and the city centre of Amsterdam will be transformed into the biggest open light museum with artworks and installations made by contemporary artists, designers and architects enlightening the canals and the Marineterre in Amsterdam.
35 artworks, among them is ‘thinline’ the site-specific by Ai Weiwei, who questions the concept of borders by creating a seven kilometers long light line representing a border through the city.

“We are very proud of the international line-up of Amsterdam Light Festival. Every year we welcome the international top on the art and design spectrum. Most of the Dutch participants are also active on an international level as well.” quoted Lennart Booij, creative director.
Star of the 6th edition is the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei; his artwork will span over a distance of 6.5 kilometres and encompasses the entire water exposition.
With ‘thinline’ Ai Weiwei challenges viewers to think about the meaning of borders, figuratively as well as literally. Who determines a border? Do they protect or exclude?

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Thinline limited edition
Ai Weiwei created an artwork especially for Amsterdam Light Festival in a limited and signed edition of 100 pieces. Available through Amsterdam Light Festival. The profit of the series contributes to the realization of Weiwei’s artwork ‘thinline’ that has a prominent role during the festival. On the 29th of November there is a special meet & greet with the artists, who delivers the series after the festival.
The dimensions of ‘thinline, limited edition’ are 60 x 45 x 15 centimetres. The artworks will be signed and delivered with a certificate of authenticity. With pre-subscription the price of the artwork is € 2.500, including VAT + shipping costs. (For more information jorna@amsterdamlightfestival.com ).

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Artworks on the water.
English participants of the water exposition of Amsterdam Light Festial are artist Rona Lee and Studio Balmond. From Kosovo there is Driton Selmani and also Bagus Pandega from Indonesia contributes. Dutch artists and studios are Lambert Kamps, Floriaan Ganzevoort, Viktor Engbers, Paul Vendel & Sandra de Wolf, Claes Meijer, Lynne Leegte, VENIVIDIMULTIPLEX, Lighting Design Academy, VOUW, HOH Architecten and Gerard Slokker & Ludy Feyen. The United States are represented by Lauren Ewing and Ben Zamora, from Belgium design agency ACTLD from Koert Vermeulen creates an artwork and work of the German Claudia Reh is also to be admired.

Artworks on land.
From The Netherlands Peter Vink, Vinny Jones, Helmut Dick, Lidy Six, AlexP, Nick Verstand & Sjoerd Ter Borg, Bas Peeters, Verena Hall, Hanna Betsema and the Amsterdam Creative Industries Nework participitate on the land exposition on the Marineterrein Amsterdam. From Japan there are Takeo Sugamata and Yasuhiro Chida and also the Italian ATI Suffix delivers a contribution. In addition there are artworks by Reanne Niceforo & Phil Sutherland from Canada, Moritz Waldemeyer and Liubov Moskvina from Germany and there is work by the Iranian artists Shima Jahani, Zoha Khaniki & Sina Hasanlou.

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A major International corporation with 100 years of history.

Born in Como and a cosmopolite by vocation, Mario Colombo likes to establish relations with customers and retailers from different cultures and countries, for he believes that understanding diversity can be the key to a stable growth in all areas.
Now sales director for Herman Miller, a fitting role, as this International corporation was established in Michigan over one century ago and is worldwide renowned as  an example of innovation and excellence in design.

What are Herman Miller’s hallmarks?

Its acknowledged guidelines could be summed up in one sentence: “Design doesn’t mean business only, but it’s also a moral duty”.Herman Miller’s mission is the creation of design solutions to help people to do great things.That sums up our attitude in the approach to workplace and product design, always highlighting the central role of the individual. Along with this principle, there is an on-going commitment to the environment, a focus since the 50s.

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How do these values become a driver for your strategies?

Each product must be carried out through the so-called “Human Centric Design”. If it serves no purpose useful for the user, the objective has not been met. This modus operand is woven in the company’s genes and we work together with designers such as Yves Behar, Studio 7.5,Tim Wallace and more, who share our attitude and our passion.
Our environmental objectives go hand in hand with the design process. Each item is assessed for its recyclability at its end-of-life, but it’s likewise important to carry out products meant to last. For instance, the chair Aeron now available in the new version Remastered, up to 91% recyclable, carries a twelve-year guarantee, 24 h a day.

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Herman Miller has always been innovation-oriented, offering novel visions for the office (for example Action Office or Aeron). Such extraordinary evolutions are still possible today? 

The office scenario is constantly evolving, therefore it’s difficult to foresee how things are going to change over five or ten years.
Home office is now spreading in Europe and the Mediterranean area, flexibility is a guideline for many organizations, which could suggest a progressive and radical reshaping of the office. I think that teamwork areas are going to be more and more prevalent, hence companies like Herman Miller will try to find the best way to support the people, who work there. We have designers all over the world, who are developing new products, and new things are expected in the European and global market.

As a Sales Director for the vast area that stretches from Portugal to Israel, including Italy, do you find any difference in the culture of work, requirements and ways of working in the different countries?

Obviously, in such a vast area I can see a culturally diverse context and I’d rather make a distinction between an International consumer base and local organizations. The multinational companies have often standard operational guidelines throughout the world, for the choice of design as well, irrespective of the country in which they operate. Those organizations affected to a lesser extent by the global chain can still have an individual approach in their choices. The architects dealing with interior design, fit-out and design of new models are always the best ambassadors of the trends of modernization, because customers, both global and local, rely on them for advice. That’s a common denominator in all countries I work in. So diffusione through the architects is central for a company like ours, in order to expand our studies and the results achieved by observing the ways of working contained in the Living Office project.

Studies on issues and new prospects of the workplace that Herman Miller is developing in the US ares also applicable to the Mediterranean countries?

Many studies still come from the US, but we take into account that some trends are developed all over the world. We see the same trends in Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean area, open space and cooperative rooms.The Uk and Europe have been following this direction for many years and are moving even faster than the US. Another example is the request for sit-stand and height-adjustable tables in Scandinavia, and long before the Mediterranean area. Our latest studies concern “Happiness in the office”, a theme revealing how the dynamics of the approach to the office work are the same throughout the world, hence we are trying to understand the nature of our customers and the personality of workers, so that we can supply a holistic approach to the design of an office. This study is focused on the already mentioned Living Office project.

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In the last few months, the Italian branch has changed in a lot of ways. What are the strengths and strategies planned to cope with the Italian market?

After working several years in the Export area, I’m very happy to do my part also for the Italian market. The Showroom Herman Miller in Milan is a European Hub that, along with Paris and London, makes even stronger our presence in the EMEA area.
My priority is to keep and, where necessary, step up an efficient distribution network, in line with the view of growing in the Mediterranean area, where we work through long-standing executives and also a younger generation, now part of a matrix form of organization like ours.
Some colleagues belong to reporting lines, that are not related to me but to the UK branch. The company has consolidated the South Europe region, including Italy, Iberia and East Med, to conform the strategies to such different areas, some of them already working with established markets – like Italy, where we have showrooms and offices – while others are working off site like East Med and Iberia. The spread of our studies is an asset we use gladly in the whole EMEA region – also in areas we deal with from Italy – which gives us visibility with customers and architects, who play a key role. The diffusion occurs through workshops events and conferences, carried out together with our Insight Group and run by colleagues mostly dealing with R&D.

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With an 80-year-old history, Italian Smart Office looks ahead.

Interview with Massimo Stella, 42 years old, third generation in Estel Group. Since 2012 he has been Sales Director, but he attaches greater importance to teamwork rather than to his role. So, no conflict with the previous generations and maybe right the dynamic balance and also a daily debate on strategies, communication, people and products are the reasons for the success of this company, now in the top 20 in Europe, that celebrates its 80th anniversary.

Since it was set up, what are in your opinion the key steps that brought Estel into the top 20 companies in Europe? Would you follow the same path now?

The turning-point coincides with the entry of the second generation to the company in the ‘70s, when this craft firm changed into an industry; another key moment was the entry into the office furniture industry at the beginning of the ‘80s.
In the early 2000s the company has further developed through an in-depth analysis of a design-oriented culture and the ability to carry out tailor-made approaches, mainly demanded by the major customers. The forthcoming path will be marked by an even higher travel speed.

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What are the company principles, which lead and mark out Estel worldwide?

Estel is steadily in the making, watching and analyzing the actual facts and the evolution of the market on a global scale, in order to find the right answers as regards the product. We are now a leader in the office furniture sector in a quite different context: the static condition of the workplace has been questioned in companies of all sizes; the possibility to work anywhere entails the necessary adjustments of the whole working environment. Technology is the driving force behind this major evolution and that’s why Estel has increased its investment in R&D.
Design is no doubt another crucial aspect: we don’t consider ourselves just “mere” furniture makers, we can also offer comprehensive, space-planning solutions.

 

First-rate design and research are also Estel’s success factors, how many energies and resources, in per cent, were necessary to achieve the intended purpose? 

The new ways of working dramatically changed the design approach and the office space planning.
Research has always been a strategic factor for Estel. In our planning approach the worker is at the core of the creative process, that’s why our range of furniture is no longed divided “hierarchically” (executive, clerical, etc) but by function.
By the collaboration with architects, interior designers and a professional team, Estel can be a leading company in the Smart Office sector, with high quality level products bond in terms of materials and design.

Estel has also launched the “pleasure of agile working”, through the claim “Italian Smart Office”; how many of your costumers in Italy and abroad follow the Smart Working approach and how many have a more traditional attitude?

Compared to the United States, the pioneers of smart working, our country is definitely limping along, but 2016 was a turning point thanks to the new law. Among UE countries, only England, German and the Scandinavian countries are far “ahead” but just in numerical terms.
It’s a meaningful change of mentality. Workers are becoming flexible and “nomads”, willing to “give up” habits that were once rooted like personalization and dimension of their own territory.

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You fit out some of the major Headquarters all over the world, how is your view of Italian Smart Office accepted? Which differences do you find in the culture of work and ways of working in the other countries?

In countries, where there is already a “smart” approach, you deal with stakeholders already fully formed in the subject, while in other countries these theories are still little known and arouse curiosity and interest. So, the commercial approach changes considerably, for instance, in the US the design of products is more emphasized while in the Far East they are rather spreading a more complex concept.
Companies like ours cannot do without flexibility, for it has an impact on our identity: we can offer serial products yet with customized measures and finishes. It is essential in an international context where taste and ways of working may differ a lot.

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The colorful future of the office.

Color can be several things in a workplace: food for our mind, an effective and immediate way of communication, a trigger of sensations and emotions and a powerful identity totem. That’s why color matters in every trend we can trace about the contemporary office, from agile and smart working to wellbeing and creativity, from flexible design to brand and corporate identity.

While the workplace has become a more stimulating, multifunctional, agile and communicative space, color is getting the attention of every interior designer and architect.

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“Colors are the food for our mind”, Christina Wiklund, CMF Manager in Kinnarps, said during the presentation of the Kinnarps Color Studio: a mind that has to remain creative, open and enough flexible to face the new and dynamic challenges of an ever-changing market.
Therefore color, as food, has to keep our mind healthy and “fully charged”, creating a landscape where the employee can find what he needs at every moment. It has to be also a simple and easy to digest kind of food, helping to orient yourself in a space shaped by nomadic and mobile ways of working, tracing a visible map.

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Most of all, color shares with food the fact of giving a connotative and perceivable identity feeling: from the face and body painting of the ancestral populations to the medieval coats of arm, to the flag of the countries, till the nowadays expression of the corporate identity on the office walls.
Color is a very effective way to create a banner to follow, to communicate with people, to transmit through space sensations, rules, required behaviours, and messages, as it is shown by the AzkoNobel’s Heart Wood, Color Future 2018,  chosen to transmit a welcoming and reassuring feeling to the people living in the workplace.

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So, what is the kind of color we need for the new architecture of communication (as it was defined by Birgit Gebhardt during the conference at the Dieffebi‘s Showroom in Milan at the last Fall Design Week)?
It’s a color that takes inspiration from reality: like the ones used in traffic lights, it it has to direct the constant flow of people, communication, and information; like an heraldic symbol it has to create a sense of corporate membership; finally has to be scenographic, capable of creating the perfect stage where a free and creative play can take place, evoking, at the same time, more intense and meaningful emotions.
Text by Gabriele Masi

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Communication via architecture for a new WOW-effect office.

“The design of the office space has to focus on the structure of the human collaboration and communication”. The idea of workplace presented by the trend expert Birgit Gebhardt at the showroom Dieffebi is based on a “landscape of learning”, where networks and data will allow every individual to find his own way of expressing himself, through constant development and self-organization.

Will the office loose its WOW effect in the future, replaced by different spaces more suitable for a more creative, convenient and flexible kind of job? It is a pretty ongoing question that Birgit Gebhardt has studied for the last years, focusing on how we have to rethink the office space in order to let it have an important role still to play.

That was the topic of the lecture “The evolution of Smart Working: Rethink human work, redesign your office”, held by the German trend expert during the Brera Design Days at the Dieffebi Showroom, that celebrates for the occasion the first year of opening. Our society, as long as the economic world, is going through a radical structural change: from an industry-focused system, based on concepts like massification and standardization, we are moving toward the digital era where network and data produce a massive layer of information that help us to focus and produce at an individual scale.
If once the motto was “bigger, faster, further, cheaper”, nowadays is more like “unique, on the spot, feasible by anybody, as many as needed”.

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Communication and collaboration are becoming the core of this new structure and therefore they are changing also the way of designing and living the workplace.
The office can’t be anymore the stiff and hierarchical environment, where the inside is hidden from the outside, but it has to be a transparent, intelligent and malleable space, a stage where competences and performance can happen freely.
A communication via architecture is therefore fundamental, enhancing the different structure and social and psychological features of the collaboration and communication processes, offering a variety of codes and sensual stimulations, that allow the people to build a profitable learning culture.

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“Learning” is another keyword of the future office. In fact, communication and collaboration are not sterile events, but their main focus has to be the developing of personal and group competences and creativity.
The workplace has to become a blended learning space, where like in gaming, everyone is free to try and experiment, where, as Gebhardt suggested no one should be afraid of thinking in a totally different direction”. We need to create, therefore, a “landscape of learning”, based on a free and constant process, and on a good self-organization.

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At the same time, it is necessary to create an environment where design and people are strictly connected, entangled, and capable of freely modifying one another. “A space that can’t be too designed: you need to touch it, to change it. If it is too designed, people won’t touch it”. So it is not just the human being to adapt to the situation, but it also the other way around. A stimulating space, finally, is a workplace where people are allowed also “not to focus”. As neuroscience shows, to be creative we need alpha waves that our brain produces when we are not too concentrated on one particular task. That’s why another catchphrase of the future office might be “Let it happen”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures from New Work Order by Birgit Gebhardt
Captions:
1. The School of Athen, Raphael: a model for the nowadays office space
2. The metaphorical pictograms used by Rosan Bosch
3. Ørestad Gymnasium, Denmark, picture by Adam Mørk.

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The iconic orange scissors by Fiskars are 50 years old.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, the Helsinki Design Museum dedicates an exhibition to the legendary scissors created by Olof Bäckström, the first with plastic handle, a masterpiece of Scandinavian design part of our daily scenario and present in the design collection of MoMa in New York.
The success orange color, now patented and become corporate color, was a fortuitous choice!

The history Fiskars steel mill, based in the homonymous village in Finland, started in 1649.

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During the following centuries, it marked a constant evolutionary path; among many important steps, a fundamental one was in 1967 when the first scissors with plastic handle were created, this material was innovative and particularly ergonomic, too.

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Fiskars Orange, a successful random choice.
Three colors were proposed for the handle (red carmine, black and green), but when the prototype was sent to production, in the machine remained the orange color of another product.
So, this bright color was added to those already selected and a democratic poll among the factory workers led to the final choice: 9 votes in favor and 7 dissenting.
Thanks to that choice, Fiskars Orange® has become a registered trademark and the corporate color of the company.

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Design for all, ergonomics and constant innovation.
Today, Fiskars expands its design, engineering and production to a wide range of professional and amateur tools, for home and office, for tailoring and hairdressing.
The concept of design to all inspired scissors for left-handed users and scissors equipped with a patented effort reduction mechanism to assist users with reduced hands skills.

 

Thanks to the steering of Olavi Lindén, Chief Designer at Fiskars since 1984, innovation is constantly in progress; research, development and production cover nowadays a wide range of knives, kitchen tools and pots and gardening tools.
Design and ergonomics remain the main concepts and the focus for all production.

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Colour trends for an unstable world. Hearth Wood, Colour of the year 2018.

Since 25 years the AkzoNobel Global Aesthetic Center, based in the Netherlands, has been conducting an extensive global analysis based on the general mood and the social, cultural and artistic trends in order to capture the mood of the moment and the colour that better reflect it.
Heart Wood is the Colour Futures 2018 and it was declined in four different palettes to inspire a Welcome Home or a Welcome Workplace.

We live in a time of unpredictability. We have access to more information and more choices that ever before. There are more expectations and more demands on our time. We have seen evidence of division within our societies. Our usual sources of reassurance can’t be relied upon”. This is the mood of the moment identified by the experts -11 international designers and trend watchers led by Creative Director Heleen van Gent.

What we need in the current climate of instability?
As life gets faster, now is the time to choose to press pause. conversations, we need to give ourselves permission to take a step back. Our home needs to be a place where we can turn down the noise, where we can nurture our values and recharge. This can be our sanctuary where we can all look forward to…”

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To better understand the different ways consumer are responding to emerging sentiment, the Akzo Nobel’s experts considered three kind of person: Warm-hearthed; Open-hearted; Lighit-hearted.
We need a Welcome Home or a Welcome Workplace
that makes us feel welcome and at ease.
Hart Wood is Color Futures 2018: a soft and dusty pink tone that expresses the tactile qualities of natural wood and captures the essence of ‘A Welcome Home’.

The four Color Futures 2018 Palettes
The four Color Futures 2018 Palettes reflects four different moods: The Heart Wood Home, The Comforting Home, The Playful Home, The Inviting Home.

Download here the Colour Trends 2018 book.

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Turning restrinctions into opportunities: CBRE, Rome.

A variety of layouts and settings that found a common mood in the corporate and smart working culture: that’s how the studio e45 has designed the CBRE office in Rome, personalizing a rigid working environment and, at the same moment, optimizing its peculiarities.

The main challenge the e45’s design team had to face when they started to design the CBRE office, next to Rome’s central train station, was how to manage a space with a stretched layout, structural partitions along the corridors and several other constraints, in order to create a suitable environment for the smart ways of working, where it was possible to place into a thin slice of floorplan a reasonable amount of desk to fulfill the clients requirements.

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That allows e45 to experiment some original solutions, offering a variety of work settings.
The reception desk has been replaced by a welcome coffee area where clients can sit on a touch down table while preparing a meeting or relaxing on a stylish Italian couch, under the CBRE logo, carved into a two-color wall of moss, that has also the function of noise reduction.

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The open space area was kept simple, with Kinnarps’s high adjustable desking system, Cardex’s furniture, Caimi Brevetti’s soundproof panels and personal numbered lockers for desk sharing. The corridor becomes a meeting point with whiteboards where people can share thoughts and ideas spontaneously, just beside written text of songs about Rome, reproduced on metal shelves, also all over the office space. Furthermore, as any contemporary office requires, all the meeting rooms, informal spaces, huddles, phone booths are equipped with video conferencing devices. Finally, a kitchenette area, as well as relax room, find a place into the project, inviting people to sometimes take a break.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Matteo Zanardi.

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Which kind of music does the office play?

Rock, Funky, Indie or Techno: which kind of music do the contemporary office play? We ask it to the architects-DJs of the DJarch2017 at the Herman Miller showroom in Milan: Davide Cumini (iarchitects), Bruno De Rivo (e45), Antonina Gucciardi (Unispace) e Massimo Roy (Progetto CMR). Mario Colombo, Herman Miller’s sales director of the Mediterranean area, introduces us to the link between music and design, suggesting the great director’s cinema as an example to follow.

“Music is a very simple thing. How to position the music in the office space is a much more complicated thing”, says Mario Colombo. “This is a field where architects can explore more, becoming “architect of the sound”.

What if we compare the office layout and project to a kind? Which one would it be? Every architect has his own answer.

Bruno de Rivo (e45): office as indie and techno music.

Massimo Roy (Progetto CMR): office rocks!

Davide Cumini (iarchitects): a funky design studio.

Text by Gabriele Masi.

Prysmian Hq: a workplace to make new WOWs grow.

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An efficient layout between the historical memory and the future: the Prysmian HQ in Milan, by the firm Maurizio Varratta Architetto (architecture) and DEGW (interior design) is conceived as an outgoing” space, dominated by the hierarchy-breaking open space design. The sustainable requalification of the building is centred on two bioclimatic glasshouses that link architectonically and socially the structures, the activities and the people of the four former factory blocks.

12.000 sqm office area and 1200 sqm glasshouses: these are the numbers of a smart working revolution that is taking place in the Italian headquarters of Prysmian.
In 2011 the world leader company for the production of cables for the energetic, telecommunication and optical fibre industries, begin the project to renovate the old factory complex in order to create a modern office space.

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The design by the firm Maurizio Varratta Architetto and DEGW has its core in the two bioclimatic glasshouses that link the four open space blocks of the building. These green oasis are not just a symbol of some of the most important smart working features (connectivity, well-being, sustainability, meeting, relationship, mobility), but also fundamental architectonical elements that allows a better natural enlightenment, energy saving and a better regulation of the internal microclimate, thanks to the sloping pitched structure of the covering capable of optimizing the solar radiation. 

The roof pitches facing north allow natural light to flow into the office blocks facing onto them without bringing in any extra heat and are fitted with shutters. Instead, the roof pitches facing south have adjustable mechanically-controlled shutters to provide natural lighting and, at the same time, keep out some of the direct sunlight and any extra inflow of heat.

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“The Prysmian HQ in Milan is a building complex with an apparently simple but technologically cutting-edge architectural form, which follows the very latest principles of energy sustainability, environmental quality, and respect for the environment. The old building was completely knocked down and all its constituent materials were recycled. It guarantees its occupants enjoy a good quality of life in accordance with the highest international standards”, the architect Varratta says.
Three of the factory blocks host on three levels the open space offices, meeting rooms, relax areas, and in a slighlty elevated area, the top management offices.
The fourth block, instead, is thought for hosting open and private events and activities, as congresses or training courses.

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The interior design by DEGW is inspired by the “Workplace change management” methodology, developed in collaboration with Methodos. According to this, every changing is a process that comes from the interaction and the participation of the people that live daily the environment, meanwhile, the design has to be a driver for the change.
Another brand of the Lombardini22 group, FUD Brand Making Factory, with Interbrand, has developed the space branding project.
Starting from the Prysmian logo on the bench of the reception, all the spaces tell about the company through some significant sentences, infographics, and products. Corporate values, such as ‘linking the future’,  are physically embodied in glass film showing infographics about the company’s worldwide operations in the form of words written in thick white plexiglass.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Pictures by Dario Tettamanzi.

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Sit-stand and user-friendly workstation.

A user-friendly multimedia workstation with a light design, and without any cable thanks to the use of Linak‘s bluetooth technology: these are the features of Tecnus Evo -evolution of the height-adjustable table Tecnus- designed and produced by Emme Italia, a company that since 1995 marries innovative technologies with Italian handicrafts to offer customized and constantly in progress solutions.

The growth of Emme Italia continues with the usual passion: from the traditional drafting tables to the electrified sit-stand version using linear actuators by Linak and, recently, the most advanced step Tecnus Evo.
Tecnus Evo is a new result of the collaboration between Emme Italia and Linak: a multimedia workstation inspired by a common vision of dynamic ergonomics, well-being and IoT in the workplace.
It is featured by clean design and high performances:
the integration of Linak’s new bluetooth technologies allows the elimination of wiring and a user friendly approach;
the rechargeable Battery Pack makes the table independent by power supply;
height adjustment can be controlled either by the traditional push-button panel housed into the column or by a smartphone (for iOS or Android App).

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The App Desk Control allows the adjustment of the table with a touch and also to save custom settings and set personal goals for wellness.
Standard height adjustment from 72 to 112 cm is perfect for workstations and informal meetings, other adjustments are available on request.

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Height-adjustable table, structure in painted steel column (black, white or RAL tailored colors), desk top in melamine.
Dimensions cm 100 x 200; height cm from 72 to 112.