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Designing the Living Office: Memo and Naughtone.

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,  “Come together” by the partner company Naughtone, 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.

Captions
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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Bespoke furniture: fashion, new aesthetics or a real need?

“Bespoke furniture” used to be for luxury environments only, executive suites or middle-class houses. Then, the “special” alteration was necessary to adapt too rigid systems to the building, or to prevent from slipping into standardization.
Still now that industrial design has accepted the concept of the design of options, the “custom-made” furniture can be found  in coworking settings and turns into “shabby mannerism”. Is it less expensive? Or does everybody want to create their own aesthetics?

The new production systems provide for maximum product customization, yet it’s not uncommon for the major bank groups to rely on the architect for the design of their desks; how can it be that none of the hundreds of products on the market could meet with their requirements?
The beskpoke “virus” also hits the smaller workplace, that aims at a domestic mood (Plantronics, Digital Entity, Clubhouse Brera, for example).
It may be less expensive, but do the standards of quality, ergonomics and strength  match the industrial products, engineered and tested in accordance with the regulations?

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Also, the coworking world is ever-expanding with its “raw design” aesthetics, made of shop tables, chairs found in the attic and the do-it-yourself trend to recycle  the wastes of a consumer society.
However, this vision is becoming a new form of standardization. Its rule-breaking spirit has gone.

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Some companies are also launching this kind of “garage spirit” furniture systems (Hack by Vitra,-up photo- Pakiet Zieta, PlayWood by OSB, Pixel by Bene – photo below) but, in my opinion raw wood and rusty iron are becoming really boring.

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Among the “shabby manierism” lovers there is Carlo Ratti that designed the desks and the mobile partitions of Talent Garden Calabiana Coworking;

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while another coworking, Cowo, created a project team to design his own “perfect desk”.
I can’t come to a conclusion, I have no answers, I’ll just wait for remarks and different opinions.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine

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A desk system in the genuine spirit of Mondrian.

20.venti takes its name from the size of its thin metal frame (a 20x20mm profile), that features an elegant graphics referring to Mondrian’s works and lending distinctiveness to this MDF Italia office system designed by 967 arch, to get into the office business with a targeted product.

We are facing a new step in MDF Italia growth, that after the home and contract sectors is now entering the office world with 20.venti desk system.

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Can a desk be groundbreaking?
“It can certainly be “evolutionary”, when the fittings are well and truly an integral part of the desk system” the designer Cesare Chichi quoted.
The modular 20.venti desk system features a linear iconic design typical of MDF Italia’s “dna” creates a flexible, itinerant workplace and responds to the new trends of contemporary office enhancing sharing and communication.
A reflection on the desk, the archetypal workstation, proposes to create a workplace with a contemporary mood.
The contrast between full and empty volumes, the carefully studied combination of various finishes and the cables built into the bearing frame define an renewed proposal for office furnishings. The technical challenge starts from the use of a slender frame generated by a 20×20 profile.


The collection 20.VENTI includes both individual tables and double workstations, which can be aggregated, and a wide selection of screens and accessories, including sound absorbing panel made by Snowsound Technology.
Every workstation has a structural wireway that can be accessed by sliding the top. It can be used for electrification and cables, or simply as a small storage compartment for daily usage.

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Desk systems: is a really groundbreaking desk possible?

Can a product design make a desk “groundbreaking”? While I’m asking myself that question, the video, posted by Curioctopus, about the desk of the future enabling us to perform any task by using very simple intuitive gestures is raging on Facebook. But maybe that’s not the only possible way to breathe new life into a furniture unit, that still remains the archetype of the office.

The video picture of the lively and interactive worktop by Curioctopus is the opposite of the emptying out shown in that “Evolution of the Desk posted a couple of years ago.
In the hybrid domain of the Workplace 3.0, the desk should still be an analogue unit made for comfort or should it turn into a digital object?

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The first outlook, generated by Internet of Things, refers to an intangible desk, to a smart and interactive technological tool, provided with information systems, where what matters is software design rather than industrial design.
The second concept means a tangible furniture unit, increasingly pleasant and versatile.
A comfortable, ergonomic, equipped, customized piece of furnishing … maybe inspired by the San Girolamo’s Studio painted by Antonello da Messina …

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The distintive features are fittings that become an integral part of the system and the perceptive and design components, in particular colours, finishes and materials. Last but not least, the functional performance: customisation, both aesthetic and anthropometric; sit-stand, easy wire management and installation, versatility and disposition to fit different requirements and jobs and space organization.

WOW selected some of the more innovative desk systems launched at Workplace 3.0 and during Milano Design Week.

 

Estel, I Pianeti – Evolution.
A versatile and integrated desk system that allows to create different and extremely customized configurations for the workplace. From the single desk to the 3 or 4 cluster stations, available with sit-stand with height adjustment devices harmoniously inserted inside the wooden frame. The range of accessories also includes Lockers that houses personal boxes and Chairboxes that accompany the user moving in the different working areas.

Fantoni, Woods, design by Metrica.
The key feature of the design is the use of solid beech or oak wood that gives a natural mood to the system. It includes large executive and meeting tables, fixed office desks and sit-stand workstations.The sloped design of the leg gives the table a simple yet sophisticated look, comprising two telescopic cylindrical elements, one of which is in wood. Inside it is an electronic mechanism that effortlessly adjusts the height of the table top.The table’s electrical connections are hidden under the top, while the modesty panel can be fitted with storage accessories and with a USB socket for recharging electronic devices.

Herman Miller, Atlas Office Landscape, design by Tim Wallace.
A work system which brings together height-adjustability and collaborative working in one elegant solution. The ‘no beam’ structure, frees the workspace from clutter so people can sit or stand in comfort, adapting postures to their activities. The desk system includes sit-stand height-adjustable desks, screens, tables and storage elements to create a whole office environment. “To me the problem wasn’t in creating a single desk, there are plenty of examples of those- the designer explains-The real challenge comes when that single desk needs to be multiplied and then fitted into a space. I saw the opportunity for a system that really benefitted the working environment, both today and in the future.”

MDF Italia, 20.venti, design 967.
The technical challenge starts from the use of a slender frame generated by a 20×20 profile. The collection includes both individual tables and double workstations, which can be aggregated, and a wide selection of screens and accessories. An intentionally iconic system that renounces unidentifiable stylistic solutions.

io.T (intelligence of Tecno), design studio Gtp and other partners.
io.T is a smart system of connected furnishings with the capacity for integration with IT systems, devices and hubs, designed to offer information and real time solution to owners and managers of smart buildings and end users. A project combining the tangible, analogue world with the intangible world of digital through a smart furnishing system designed to improve the well-being of the end user. The missing link that transforms users into recognized people.
Tecno picks up on studio Gtp’s intuition and creates a working team of experts such as TIM, STMicroelectronics, Digitronica.it, Ilevia, InfoSolution and Videoworks who have worked for the past two years on developing and optimizing the io.T furnishing system.

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Home Sweet Office Home: Plantronics’ offices in Italy.

Plantronics will open on April 6th its new offices in Italy at the LEED Platinum Energy Park building -by Garretti Associati– in Vimercate, close to Milan: a 400 sqm space to experience smart-working now and into the future, where the concepts of “work elsewhere” and “work-life balance” lend greater comfort and harmonized mind-body ergonomics to the environment.

Plantronics, pioneer in Wearable technology, was one of the first firms to theorize and implement smart-working, but our work and life styles have changed a lot in the last few years.
I need an office, but I don’t want an office” Daniele Andriolo, Global Manager of Facilities and Workplace Services di Plantronics, asked to architect Daniela Carta, founder of MQA Metro Quadro Architetti and her team -Irene Pacioni and Marianna De Vivo architects. They accepted the challenge.

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The concepts in the lead just a few years ago are no longer relevant and the key words pinpoint the current trends of the creative jobs: Liquid Worklife, Café Co-Working, Pop-Up Workplace, Hacker Culture, Meetings Without Borders, fino a Fighting the Tech Fatigue and Wellness is the New Green.
The result is a non-office-office, designed as a welcoming and comfortable Great Place to Stay.


“We were fascinated with the idea of opening fluid spaces so that everyone feels right at home, welcome, thanks to a comfortable and flexible environment –quoted Ilaria Santambrogio, Country Manager Plantronics Italia– the Italian headquarter is today an open office, designed to host customers, partners, resellers, so that everyone feels at home, thanks to the comfort and flexibility of the spaces”.

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No more rooms specifically meant for concentration, communication, contemplation and collaboration, so the whole environment is suited to be lived in a free, at all times and in whatever manner.
The 80% of the office does not represent the standard office. There are spaces that can be experienced and exploited, in different way, with no fixed positions for the employees.
To encourage the conviviality and the welcoming atmosphere, the office includes several areas: an area with sit-stand desks, a kitchen area, a relaxation area with elegant couches of design and polished wood tables. A unique and innovative concept in the European and global context and not only, which allows to the Italian headquarter to improve the wellbeing of the team, encouraging greater productivity and pursuing its growth goals in the world of the headsets in more targeted manner.


Into the new offices there is not a strict division of the areas, so that employees, guests, partners, customers can experience the Smart Working space in a free way, choosing to work on the table of the kitchen, in the relaxation areas, on one of the tables , scattered in different areas, or in one of the meeting rooms.
During the planning phase, Plantronics highlighted primarily the need of ergonomics and acoustic comfort: each element is an expression of a different way, smart to work. The heigh-adjustable desks (by Sedus) can be changed from time to time.
This reflects the freedom to decide the workstation, depending on the type of activities: focusing, brainstorming, connecting to a conference call.
The whole office presents itself as an open space everywhere, with monitors in each room or blackboards glass on which to take notes during an informal meeting or during a coffee. At level of lighting design, maximum attention also to the use of natural light and use of LED 100% .


The architectural studio has used wood everywhere: in addition the use of sound-absorbing materials makes the environment already soundproofed.
In line with a sustainability choice, Plantronics has selected the Interface modular carpets, made with 100% recycled materials , it reclaims the typical pavement of the European roads.
The kitchen corner includes an authentic italian kitchen, which is also a meeting place, and point of connection thanks to the Watercooler videoconference system, an open window with the other Smart Working offices, with the purpose to favor the collaboration with the colleagues from various European Plantronics offices.
The use of natural materials and warm colors, the high acoustic comfort, the variety of furnishings of valuable finishes and the curved surfaces make the room pleasant and comfortable.
The criteria of environmental sustainability taken into consideration in the planning are most appreciated by employees and guests, whom are received in the central kitchen, where “But first… coffee!” is written in big letters.

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Furnishings for task area at Orgatec..

The desk systems launched at Orgatec 2016 allow to bring people together around a table or separate them with small screens; they are ergonomic and very often height-adjustable for sit-stand work.
The storage systems become interior design elements: useful modular dividers in open plan offices. High customization and space saving are the common elements to the desking and storage system selected by WOW!

Sedus, Grand Slam + se-Wall.
Clever combinations of desks, storage system, screens and transparent elements, to create a functional storage and working area in open-plan landscapes. The multifunctional elements can be configured as required with a wide range of flexible options, which can also be expanded into corporate communication areas.

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Estel, I Pianeti.
This desking system removes the classical rigidity of the office. It is constructed along a horizontal along a central point of sequenced containers that supports cabling functions for the desks, interspersed with sound-absorbing wall partitions.

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Unifor, Teamer, design by Michele De Lucchi + Cases, design by Jean Nouvel.
Configuration of four facing workstations with ends fixed and designed to accommodate brief informal meetings. It is supported by a central steel column that taper down from below the table to the base plate fixed below the raised flooring. A freely composed group of Cases modular containers and open storage elements in natural wood provides the workstations with filing and storage space.

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Haworth, Be_Hold.
A storage system to support different work styles – from highly collaborative to focused – while leveraging design elements(perforated metal, colors, fabric element, lockers, sliding cabinets…) create functional workspaces with an individual personality.

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Vitra, Cyl, design by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.
The Cyl system encompasses a variety of different sized tables. Solid wood emphasises the clean lines of the system with its smooth planes, structural frame and cylindrical elements. As an intentionally ‘analogue’ system, Cyl dispenses with integrated power solutions. “It was originally conceived for the home… I think the simplicity of Cyl responds to a demand for clarity and fosters a welcoming atmosphere in the office world”, explains Ronan Bouroullec.

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Sinetica, Stay, design by Paolo Mantero + Use Me.
A complete abacus of modular surfaces with nicely rounded shapes to create endless compositions, stand alone   or integrated, with cabinets and libraries  from the Use Me collection. The table in all its functions and forms, from the operative office to managerial, from the meeting room to collaborative environments. Wood and fabric suggest residential and contract situations.

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Ersa, Edge, design by Claudio Bellini.
In addition to the different leg design, the metal construction of the system and the recyclable felt-covered partitions also make the system stand apart with its style, function and acoustic capabilities. It can be fitted with cabling, planters and lighting.

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True, Wing, design Parisotto + Formenton.
The table was born for workspaces, but is also suitable for home-office and residential. The light structure, is inspired by the work tables stands, the top has rounded “soap bar” shapes.

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Vitra, CDS, design by Antonio Citterio.
A desk system with an industrial aesthetic. it is available in a variety of configurations and models, including the sit-stand one. Structural sophistication and logistical efficiency are the plus.

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Kokuyo, Rolling Workspace, design by Nendo.
.Circular whiteboards can be freely rolled around in the workplace and leaned against the wall. Desks, benches, and high counters that match these circular whiteboards were also designed with slits cut into them, enabling combinations with large and small boards.

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Hack: the desk by Konstantin Grcic with a garage spirit.

A creative and practical system of desks, capable of joining rest and work, formal and informal: Hack designed by Kostantin Grcic and produced by Vitra, fits into dynamic working environments, of which its unfinished and experimental raw design is a perfect image.

Hack is a challenge to the modern conception of working desk and the symbol of a new way of thinking about the office furniture: design has to anticipate the needs of companies and workers, proposing different solutions, concentrated in one object.
Hack is a manual adjustable height desk (form 200 to 1250 mm) easy to close and move, thought a simple manual system, that improves its versatility.
The panels on the back and on the sides allows a better privacy and helps concentration.

At the bottom level the desktop can be covered with cushions and turn into a couch for a quick break or informal discussions.
The sensations of an experimental project, a “not yet finished” design given by the the simple and raw wood and metal structure, is thought to fit with the mentality of nowadays companies, dynamic laboratories of innovations.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Cardboard and Wood: #din2016.

150 designers, more than 100 thousands visitors and different workshops and events: Din-Design In 2016 by Promotedesign.it has hosted successfully the best of self-made produced design and industrial at FuoriSalone 2016, where two antithetical materials like cardboard and wood stimulated creativity, versatility, experiments and innovation.

“This edition had very good results: very positive is the feedback I received from the exhibitors telling me that they met different buyers coming from different countries”. With these words Vincenzo Carbone, founder of Din-design In, has shown his satisfaction about the fourth edition of the exposition dedicated to the best of self-made produced design.
An exhibition that expresses the will of investigate the potential of a flexible, light and poor material like cardboard, of which all the set-up is made, and in particular the temporary shop by Carton Factory and the Conference Area and the InfoPoint by A4Adesign.
The company has also presented different products like the bookshelf Bookstack, the dish Plato, the chair and the couch Heaverest. Cardboard finds his way also in the office, where helloStandy has designed a practical and easy-to-use “extension” to turn every normal desk in a standing one.
While this material needs to be still fully experimented, wood is the classic, but still always open to new solutions and capable to stimulate the designer’s imagination.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Captions.
 Opening. Area Conference, A4Adesign. A Conference area made entirely by cardboard.
1.
Havearest armchair, A4Adesign. The Havearest collection includes also a two-seats  sofa and a three seats one. All the objects were realised using recycling cardboard.
2. Standy +, helloStandy. The first standing desk made by cardboard, easy to open, close and place.
3. Playwood, Stefano Guerrieri. A wooden easy-to-use and practical modular furniture system.
4.
Bookstack, A4Adesign. A Bookshelf made in cardboard, allowing a free configuration over four different levels.
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The 10 most innovative tables.

Dinner table or desk? Private or public environments? Trying to lay down these differences or to define strict furniture classes is hard and probably useless, as proved by the new products presented at Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone 2016, which are more and more versatile and fit for all kinds of spaces, customized and structured systems to be developed and meet different needs.

WOW! selected the most interesting tables fit both for the home and work environments, a novel product design and pieces not only meant for a space but taking into consideration also the life that animates those spaces. Tables for new ways of working and ways of living.
Among the 10 best tables we confirm the two products we talk about in two previous articles: Pillow Table, the sit-stand-nap-desk designed by Tine Mouritsen and looking for a producer, and Coffice by Estel, a double desk connecting meeting table and kitchenette equipment.

WOW! adds to these the products the following presented at Milano Design Week 2016:

Brut, Magis, design by Konstantin Grcic.
The starting point of this tables collection is cast iron and the archaic rawness, solidity and physicality of its manufacturing process the material has two distinctive characteristics: it is heavy, and strong. The name stands for raw and untreated, but also calls to mind an high-quality sparkling wine, inherent to the refinement and sophistication of this project.

Zero, Alias, design by Ron Gilad.
An abstract and geometric shaped collection of tables and coffee tables in different sizes and heights. The table corner is interpreted as a structural element and magically emptied and almost stripped of its consistency, giving way to an enigmatic shape, an empty space outlined by colour.

Clavis, Tecno, design by Centro Progetti Tecno with Daniele del Missier.
A flexible table system which by means of a patented coupling and a limited set of industrially manufactured components allows an immediate “tool-less” assembly to be carried out and configured for a wide range of applications, from single desks to multiple workstations, to the heigh adjustable top for standing work positions.

Copenhague Deux, Hay, design by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
A new collection of desks, dining tables, coffee tables and benches in 12 different sizes.The top surface is made from a new laminate based on Nanotechnology providing an anti-fingerprint and easy-cleaning matt surface with a soft touch.

Add, La Palma, design Francesco Rota.
The multi awarded system launched in 2014 has been continuously improved , the last step t is a new table characterized by a frame of aluminum profiles continuing in die-cast aluminum legs.  Technically, the corner leg connects the beams forming a 90° angle, whereas the connecting leg forms a 180° angle with the beams, so that two or more tables can be jointed. Tt is perfect for foodservice, office, break areas and hospitality market.

Pegaso Infinito, Caimi, design Angelotti & Cardile.
The Pegaso collection expands with the new “Infinito” version, a modular table for linear compositions, allowing unlimited length. The formal simplicity and geometric line of the table top contrasts the sinuous fluidity of the polished aluminium base. The perfectly symmetrical base makes Pegaso Infinito seamlessly and infinitely join together.

MadeTerraneo, Lago, design by Daniele Lago.
A table system with top in hand-painted ceramic tiles, made in collaboration with the Caltagirone-based company Made a Mano. Craftsmanship and industrial processes to create this non-orthogonal plane, a sort of irregular patchwork composed of large pixels that carry the heat of the Mediterranean inside our living environments.

MovePlace, A.R. Novate design by Anastasia Gavrilova and Rafael Gaynullin.
The prototype of this foldable work was presented at Salone Satellite, it is designed by two young Russian designers, it is easily transportable and equipped with some functional accessories.

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No space for boring offices at #VL16.

Office as inspiration and innovation but also as a stimulating, young and dynamic habitat for creative talents. Ventura Lambrate, the FuoriSalone 2016’s area dedicated to new designers, offered some interesting ideas about the way the new generations see the working environment. From the innovative cardboard standing desk helloStandy, to the furniture of the In Our Office project by MA Lund University’s students, to Space Encounters’s Boring Collection, Milano Design Award’s Best Concept prize.

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Ergonomics and Wellbeing
are a priority for the Millennials, but often the offices of young designers or companies seem to be too small to become a productive a enjoyable working environment. To solve this problem the MA students from Lund University (Sweden), School of Industrial Design, has developed In Our Office, a concept of 12 pieces of furniture designed for young creative talents’ offices.

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The furniture itself create a cooperative and funny way of living the working environment: bunk or roll-away workstations, pop-up furniture landscapes, innovative solutions to increase either acoustic insulation and the need of privacy and concentration, blurring the line between informal and working environment and at the same time allowing to maximise the space.

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Healthy and capable of promoting dynamic ways of working: standing desks are a new trend in the office. Sometimes, however, it is impossible to change all the furniture or the interior design of a working environment to make space for them. That’s why Matteo Cracco and Federico De Megni created helloStandy, a simple and easy-to-open 50x50cm foldable cardboard square, 5mm thick, that allows to turn a normal workstation into a standing desk in few seconds.The synthesis of these projects lays in the concept behind the installation-happening Boring Collection, designed by Space Encounters for Lensvelt: sometimes it is not only about furniture, but about the vital energy that a workspace can emanate.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

Captions:
Opening Zip it, Rae Bei-Han Kuo. A workplace always have distracting noise or annoying colleagues that don’t allow to concentrate properly on work. Zip It! is a sound insulator chair that can assume different configuration, allowing to live freely the interaction with the working environment.
1. Umbrella, Malin Yngvesson. A lamp created to facilitate privacy and concentration in the workspace, a shield from distraction.
2. Bunk Desk, André Gunnarsson. A smart solution for small offices with chatting problems: a “bunk desk” for new perspectives.
3. Workaround, Sofie Aschan Eriksson. A plastic and wood system, pop-up furniture landscape transforming along with the different activities and needs within a small scale office: a tool for creating trust and relations within a space.
4. helloStandy, Federico De Megni and Matteo Cracco. Presented at FuoriSalone 2016 the “desk extension” was designed to promote a new, healthier and more dynamic way of working”.

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The kitchen in the office, the office in the kitchen.

No more boundaries between kitchen and office, that was confirmed at Salone del Mobile 2016. The office is a dynamic set to foster social relations and if it gives the possibility to share a drink or a bite it gets convivial and cheerful; but even the kitchen turns into something new when it contains some components of the working environment.

The office is changing and enables conviviality in an informal meeting, a snack break or during lunch-time. So the kitchen, too, is planned to allow a smart worker to use their devices while preparing dinner and to suit the new ergonomic and functional standards; so we have a height-adjustable worktop, just like a desk, to fit the user’s height, to be either dinner table or workplace.
At Eurocucina Estel has applied these concepts in the lively units of Coffice and Work in Casa. Different settings designed with SmartOffice-SmartLiving collections.

Also, the new line “Isola” was specially carried out for the purpose. To meet two functions: quick snack and meeting. Formed by two tables (desk + table available in different heights 75 or 90 cm), spared by a central volume equipped with small appliances such as toaster or microwave, coffee maker and top access for recharge your devices.

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A perfect kitchen-workplace integration could be seen at String’s, the Sweden company presented at Salone del Mobile a wide range of minimal and strict shelves and storage units.

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The Danish company Hay, too, has displayed at Pelota an iper-modular system of shelves, with horizontal or vertical development, completed with tables, brackets and other components suitable for all kinds of environment, from the office to the kitchen.

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Pillow Table: sit-stand-nap desk.

Displayed at Salone del Mobile,at Danish LIVINGroom,(hall 10 stand B03) the very first height-adjustable desk (linear actuator systems by Linak) coming with a cushion for a comfortable power nap at work. Tine Mouritsen, inspired by new WOW, designed it.

A lot has been said about how healthy the height-adjustable desks are, a real symbol of a new dynamic ergonomics, and this trend is spreading in Italy, too, where  companies more conscious of the employee’s wellbeing don’t give up the pleasure of a sitting standing workstation.

The benefits of a nap are also well-known, especially after lunch, a real drive for multitaskers. Not accidentally, nap rooms are often considered in smart offices and several major companies have already started to study functional furniture allowing to take a nap.
Yet, we’ll see something original at Salone del Mobile that combines these two must-haves to feel at ease and way happier in the office.

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Pillow Table is a sitting-standing desk equipped with integrated pillow in its top.
Linak Danmark A/S has been invited to participate on the Danish LIVINGroom booth –  stand B03, hall 10 – at Salone del Mobile in Milan. The Danish manufacturer of linear actuator systems is the only sub supplier on the Danish joint booth, as the other participants are well-known Danish manufacturers of furniture and famous designers. The company presents a range of solutions featuring top design, comfort and ergonomics, including a sit-stand desk, designed by the Danish architect Tine Mouritsen, who took inspiration from the thoughts behind New Ways of Working into consideration. The desk shown at the exhibition is therefore mounted with a pillow intended for a powernap.

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Adjustable height desk trend is spreading in Italy.

The “sitting-standing” desk trend is spreading in Italy, too. As confirmed by the turnover of the companies producing it and by Linak, leading producer company in electric linear actuators. Italy is discovering the advantages of the adjustable height desks, which was the theme we already dealt with in some of our previous articles.

A few companies- Kinnarps, Estel, Sedus, Emme Italia- have recorded a rise in sales ranging from 10 to 30% and their remarks help us investigate this new request coming from the market.

In the pictures electric linear actuator by Linak.

The sensibility to the wellbeing theme is the most interesting fact, a real “cultural swing” in Italy.

In the pictures high adjustable desks by Sedus.

When we speak of Ergonomics, today we think of the workplace in its entirety, not just of the task chair. Actually in desk sharing offices and in companies focused on the employees‘ wellbeing.

In the pictures high adjustable desks by Kinnarps.

Now let’s come to the drawback pointed out by Gensler: to what extent does the electrical control affect the cost compared to the fixed desk?

In the pictures high adjustable desks by Estel.

The percentage increase for a standard desk ranges from + 38% to more than the double.

In the pictures high adjustable desks by Emme Italia.

In Italy the prices for a standard adjustable height desks (no accessories included) are:
From 700 to 900 euro Kinnarps.
From 1000 to 1500 euro Emme Italia.
From 1000 to 1700 euro Sedus:
Up to 1300 euro Estel.

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Adjustable height desks require a new office design.

Adjustable height desks are becoming more and more popular and soon they are gonna be the new standard in the office. The Gensler’s interior designer Amie Keener has defined them a new challenge for the workplace design that has to rethink the space in order to include these agile, dynimc and “well-being oriented” workstations in the best way.

“Sitting-standing” desks, as any other innovation in the beginning, offer indisputable benefits, has we already talked about, but they also need some change to give their best.
The downsides, has we are going to see, are not about the object itself, but problems that can be easily solved with a different office design, capable to give an answer and integrate all the new working environment’s trends like flexibility, smart, activity based, hybrid, sharing.
Amie Keener, on the magazine GenslerOn, has counterposed the ergonomic, physical and psychological benefits of the dynamic posture (that supports a flexible use of the workstations and helps to prevent health problems) with some downsides, she has personally experienced in her everyday’s office life, mostly linked to wires and power sources, noise and eyesight.

First of all, Amie Keener had to deal with length of wires problems and the need of having the power sources in the proximity of the desk. This, of course, has a strong impact on the position of the desk in the space: motorized adjustable desks and mobile devices, as laptop, needs power to work properly. So, as the designer said, it is useful “to consider a neat wire management spine or enclose to hide wires and cords”.
An interesting issue is the relationship between adjustable height desks and acoustic comfort. In fact the acoustic design of the space need to be changed, because an higher position requires different solutions to avoid the voices and the noises of the office to disturb.
Dealing with a new position of the subject in the space, it is necessary to rethink the partitions and the dispositions of the workstation and of the sound absorption elements.
The last problem Amie Keener has pointed out is the terrible eyesight given by a messy high desks, striking more at a glance due to the fact that it is closer to eye level than a standard desk height.
“Even the most elegant workspaces can quickly come resemble barely organised pig sites”, she writes.
That’s why adjustable height desks require an higher level of responsibility from the workers, something, however, that is  already required by the new ways of working, that are based on the concept of space and object’s sharing.
As also Keener has to admit, adjustable height desks are growing more and more popular in the office, and they are becoming the standard that the office design and the management need to consider in order to create spaces where they can be perfectly integrated.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Grasshopper and co.: objects for a multipurpose desk.

Grasshopper, Neverfoget and Carrybag are the accessories designed by Sedus to answer to solve some everyday working life’s small needs, giving the desk a decorative element, with a touch of color.

Sedus has thought three Christmas presents for a multipurpose desk.
Grasshopper is a decorative element, easy to apply to a desk or a shelf, that can be used to insert pictures or memos as well as adding a touch of color and brightness to the working desk. Available in 3 pieces sets, it is recommend for 12-19mm and 25mm surfaces.
Carrybag is instead Sedus’s reinterpretation of the bag-hook. Thanks to its velvety surface, warm to the touch, Sedus Carrybag it is not only a useful accessory, but also something that catch the eye.
The magnetic board Sedus Neverforget with its colorful sedus mag dots (5 pieces per set) that allows you to have at your fingertips postcards, small papers, picuters, notes or other important sheets.
For all the selling information sedus.it@sedus.com (or ph. 031.494136), at 12 euro prize for Grasshopper (Codice 60799), at  29 euro for Carrybag (Codice go-401) and at 55 euro for Neverforget (Codice MP90AC-MAGBO / go-402).
Testo di Gabriele Masi.

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Pop Series: humor and a playful touch on the desk.

Camera and radio shaped pencil holder, clocks with morset, piggybank, a candleholder fruit and paperweight wooden animals: the Pop Series collection by Incipit, presented in occasion of Christmas 2015, gives an original touch to the working desk, in the office or at home, with a smile.

The Pop Series by Incipit is the perfect Christmas present to personalize your desk: a line of six objects characterised by vivid colours and soft shapes. The Pop Series includes the wooden animals Chip by Tommaso Caldera: starting from the same oval wooden block, the designer has created a penguin, a whale and a owl; the piggybank Louis by Philippe Tabet, designer with French origins that wanted to paid tribute to Louis XVI, King of France, with his ironic object; Clip, by Sovrappensiero, clock enriched with a morset; ceramic candleholders Pomo that recalls a rounded fruit by Maria Jennifer Carew and the wooden desk accessory Buzz and Click that look like a pocket radio and a camera, by Raul Frollà. The collection is for sale only on the Incipit e-commerce, at the prize of less then 50 euro each (Chip 22 euro, Louis 28 euro, Clip 48 euro, Pomo 35 euro, Buzz 35 euro, Click 35 euro).
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Estel: furniture and strategies to come up to Smart Working.

The meeting organized by Estel at Intesa San Paolo Pavilion in Expo Milano, proved that Italian firms, too, can adopt new approaches of Design Thinking to meet the complexities of Smart Working. In a lively and dense stream of presentations, interviews, videos and new installations, Estel hasn’t just shown products, but also a clear and consistent strategy.

Established 80 years ago and always working in the field of both home and office furniture, Estel is in a position to bring a domestic mood into an office, according to the Smart Working mode, and to supply a complete range of advanced ergonomic furniture like the height-adjustable desks, units provided with recharge points and acoustic comfort components.
There is no unambiguous answer to meet the challenges posed by the Smart Working. Explains Alberto Stella, CEO Estel “From our side, the strong belief of being what we have always been Flexible, proactive, open. We must know how interpret, decline, accompany, dialogue and often suggest by means of skills acquired on the field. In a word, we must be Smart, as the phenomenon to which we refer. To face the challenges of the Smart Working, translating Smart Office when it comes to interior design, it is a complex, articulated topic that affects us directly as design producer”.
Among the products that reflect this approach, there il EVO Sitting-Standing Desk System (electric linear actuator system Linak) that responds to the most recent indications on ergonomics by providing a tool that ensures well-being, efficiency and quality to the work day.

What benefits can be derived by alternating the two postures? Professor Francesco Marcolin, Professor of Ergonomics at the University of Trieste and Udine, explains “Both a seated and a prolonged standing posture cause discomfort and possible risks for cardiovascular disease. Alternating between the two seated and standing postures has proved to the best solution for office work, even better if also associated with moderate movements. These are the ideal conditions that can certainly help the operator to work and feel better. Moving around while working, not tiring the osteo-skeletal structures like the lumbar spine or lower back, and not tiring the legs, but alternating positions, allows a natural regulation of breathing and heartrate.
This results in greater oxygenation, without compressing the chest and therefore better cognitive efficiency, performance and a general sense of well-being. For this reason, alternating the standing and sitting positions with desks that raise and lower to the correct height is necessary and absolutely preferable”.

How can you transform your employee’s needs into opportunities and “energy” for the business? How can you apply the concepts of Smart Working in the real office? These are questions we find the answers for in the recent BPM experience. At the end of 2013 the credit institution started investing in a rethinking of the spaces, including a concentration room, unassigned but bookable work stations, phone booths, areas for relaxing and socialization available for the employees.
The extraordinary results that have been obtained from the first project oriented towards the Smart Office, coordinated by
Progetto CMR with the Estel being involved for the furnishings, open the doors to a pathway that will also be applied in the head offices of the Group.
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Secretair Sedus: an oasis of privacy.

Sedus cultivates the renaissance of an old type of furniture for casual work places, as a retreat in the open space, a cosy solution for the home office or useful desk in common spaces like university and library. It underlines the effect of productive well-being and close the gap between “main office” and “home office”.

This single workplace created by designer Rüdiger Schaack is small (1200 x 700 mm) but beautiful and easy to position thanks to its castors. A screening textile element and conscious avoidance of conventional table legs contribute to the special character of the versatile piece of furniture.
5-sedus-secretaire-Rudiger-Schaack-wow-webmagazine.The supporting structure consists of a tubular frame construction with a net-like fabric cover, which also functions as acoustic and visual screening as well as supporting the table top. This creates a small haven of well-being that allows concentrated working and further reinforces it with the slanted flanks of this screening.

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Neomobile: different layouts for different activities.

Passion, innovation, transparency, and beauty”, according to the CEO Gianluca D’Agostino, these are the ingredients of the new Neomobile headquarters in Rome, designed by Salvatore Marinaro and Antonio Borghi of Unispace, who presented the project in a Jelly Session at the WOW! Island Work Agile at pool Cozzi. “Behind the striking brick façade, a world-class, four-story work space, modern, flexible offices support our growing team and inspire us to drive forward the mobile monetization technology”.

Established in 2007, today Neomobile is a mobile monetization enabler for app developers, adnetworks and digital companies such as content providers, merchants and stores.
“We are talking about an international company, with a clear concept of smart working and we didn’t have to work on the change management”, Antonio Borghi, the Unispace’s architect who followed the space planning of the new Neomobile’s headquarters project at the Rome’s district EUR, said.
“We had to deal with a complex building, the architecture of a former monastery and its close relationship to the surrounding garden. We immediately understood our project as the capacity to establish a lively dialogue between the company and the existing building and we are very happy about the result”.
The four floors of the building were designed in four different layouts in order to answer to different needs.
Starting from above, on the second floor, where the tech sector works, you will find teams of engineers working in dedicated spaces, all connected with a large circulation space. The spaces are separated from each other by glass walls that can be also used as board to attach film packs, papers or notes. On the same level there are also some more dedicated meeting facilities.
On the first floor you can find the top management and board room, along with the departments which have a closer collaboration with them.
The main space is the ground floor, a spectacular open space, hosting the most collaborative functions, with large windows on the garden, few enclosed offices, meeting spaces, phone booths and access to the open air terrace.
“Since the building didn’t have a classical central aligment of pillars we decided to create a central spine of desks” Antonio Borghi explains . “The light is high and it is a bright room and this make us choose a solution with a single nave and a dense “tree configuration”, which will probably change and evolve over time. Since the company removed the landline for every employee, we also thought to create some Phone booth, for quick calls”.
The basement is a big open space, as well, with large windows and direct access to the garden, and represents the so called “comfort zone”, a place to break out, meet up, enjoy and exchange.
“Trying to sum up the Neomobile headquartes’s project in just 3 key words I would say that first of all it is an efficient and fit for purpose workplace”, Antonio Borghi concludes. “No space is left unused and no function exceeds its space requirements. Then I would say it is extremely dynamic, with every space flowing into the next one, reflecting the attitude of the company. And of course it is a smart space, supporting various kind of activities with an unconventional architectural language, thinking out of the box”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Star: the smart revolution of a traditional company.

From fixed workstations to free and not personalized desks, from a work environment organized in a hierarchy to the open space. How can we bring a traditional company into the smart working era? During the second jelly session of WOW! Island Agile Working’s week, Matteo Melchiorri, HR Star and Antonella Grenci by Il Prisma, presented the Star’s new offices in Milano.

Star, the famous italian food industry, has just moved its offices to the new MAC7 center in Milan. The new interior spaces, designed by the architect Antonella Grenci of the firm Il Prisma, were built following the new concept of the “chance encounters” work environment.
“We have chosen an open space without any fixed workstation”, Matteo Melchiorri said. “We didn’t aim to a space optimisation. All the workstations are traditional, but there are no partitions and, as our new paper-less way of working required, the room for archiving was strongly reduced. To help our employees towards this change, we gave to each of them a limited capacity locker (35x60x60cm)”.
What really identifies the project is the strong company’s imprint given to the environment.
“Everyone can recognize our office at first sight”, Antonella Grenci said. “The moquette on the ground is green like a field, and yellow and red soundproof-panels clouds hang on the white ceiling and walls: Star brand’s colors are everywhere”.
A strong architectural element is the agorà, the core of the project.
“The offices’ structure is oval”, Melchiorri explained. “At the centre there is a common space that recalls a familiar kitchen environment, with a kitchen table, a fridge, vending machines, tables and settees. A flexible and multifunctional break area that can be easily used to chill out or to arrange informal meetings. We wanted a space capable to encourage the employee’s socialization. We also have a real and professional kitchen where we organize show cookings and events for the press, students or customers, etc…”.
What is the most important step to lead a company towards the smart working?
Melchiorri has no doubts: “ It is the change managment, a mix of a guidance and the explanation of the sense of the new way of working.
That’s why we had decided to show the different steps of the realisation of the new spaces in a dedicated website and we organized an internal focus group to pay attention to all the doubts and ideas of our people. The fundamental thing is to take nothing for granted and to answer to all the objections.
As Melchiorri underlines, the transition to smart working is something that needs time and it has to be made step-by-step.
We are not a totally agile company, but for now we have chosen a more flexible working time, starting between 7:30 to 9:30 and with a free time management during the day. Most of all we have eliminated the clock in system, in pursuit of trust and accountability. In this phase we decided not to allow the home working, maybe in the future…”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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