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Tower Sassetti, the icon of an innovative Financial District.

A place to host professionals and foster technological innovation in the financial community, in the heart of the Fintech District in Milan. The renovation of the Sassetti Tower, designed by L22 Urban & Building, started from the glass curtain façade to the internal offices, a dynamic ecosystem created by Sellalab to promote cooperation and business partnership.

The renovation of the tower Sassetti at Via Sassetti 32 in Milan wanted to create an iconic building in the Fintech District area, recently become the financial and commercial heart of Milan.

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The L22’s design approach, as commissioned by Invesco Real Estate, which bought the property in 2015, is based around a cutting-edge vision where the efficiency and flexibility of the workplaces are combined with an innovative façade design, that literally opens the building to the city, emphasising the building presence in the square.

Starting from the original project made by the engineers Franco Morini and Emilio Pereira in 1990-92, the glass curtain facade is featured with an overlapping pattern of slender horizontal and vertical elements, a structural grid extended beyond the terrace to emphasise the vertical nature of the tower, while the Santafiore Lavagrigia stones and columns at the base gives a sensation of solidity and elegance.
The entrance gates facing the square have been completely removed to open up the first floor to create visual continuity between the outside and the interiors where the double-height hall announces functions both as a reception area and a dynamic rest area.

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The office spaces are designed by L22 Urban & Building. The first eight floors of the office building are taken up by Copernico with Banca Sella occupying levels 9-11. The 12th and 13th floor, instead, are designed as a co-working environment and the events space with the terrace.
Copernico has also chosen the professionals and the star-ups that will be accommodated in the office levels, renovated by Sellalab focusing on efficiency and flexibility, with a dedicated loggia at the rear for each floor.
The last floor hosts a 270 sqm spacious terrace with an events room incorporated in closed and ancillary spaces.

The renovation has also involved the energy efficiency of the building: chosen materials, low-energy lighting and the quality of the interiors has made the Torre Sassetti suitable for the platinum-level LEED certification.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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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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The Arcadis offices in Milan (D2U).

Implement the smart working approach and create more synergy in the working team through a smart design: that was the brief given to D2U to design the Arcadis offices in Milan. Furniture, materials and colours were chosen to improve an ergonomic approach, sound absorption and to create a comfortable and, at the same time, flexible environment.

The 1.500 sqm workplace chosen by Arcadis to join all the company’s offices in the same place, as the Managing Director Roberto Talotta says, represented the opportunity to “create more and more synergy within the working team and to efficiently implement group guidelines on smart working approach”. The architect Jacopo della Fontana has led the D2U architect team along with the Arcadis Project Manager Alberto Spacone.

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The project has been conceived with two big naves, accessible by both the two floors, connected by open stairs and separated in the centre with a mezzanine. The offices are divided into activity areas, separated by big conference tables and individual and private workstations, allowing, however, the required flexibility to embrace the possible company’s future needs and changes.

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These space, along with the reception area and the internal coffee bar, contributes to create a good balance of individual, teamworking and private spaces, in order to allow the workers to find the perfect setting for each daily need.

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As Jacopo della Fontana says, “working alongside with the client has allowed us to implement the brief with a creative approach, respecting schedules and costs constraints”, focusing on materials, colors and furniture, in order to create a communicative environment, where all the material, sound absorption and ergonomic parameters are thoroughly respected.
The furniture is most of all designed by the Dutch company Ahrend, with the adding of some other pieces as the moquette Interface.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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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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Creativity is already there: instructions for use.

Creativity is not a matter of being a genius, it is a matter of living in an environment and constantly adapting to it and at the same time modifying it.
So creativity can be fostered through space, enhancing well-being, flexibility and malleability of the furniture, accountability, communication and new technologies. That’s what WOW! has sustained at the conference “The boundaries of fantasy: is creativity in the office going too further?” at the  IFMA’s Facility Management Day 2017

Talking about creativity in an office environment is sometimes cause of anxiety. Workers feel like they have to do something extraordinary that they feel they can’t do, even if they don’t know exactly what and how. On the other hand, managers are struggling to create more and more innovative workplaces and ways of working, questioning, at the same time, their real effectiveness of them and trying to define where it is possible to draw boundaries.

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There’s another way to think about creativity that helps to take the pressure off: creativity is already there, it is a part of our everyday life in every environment.
The American anthropologist Tim Ingold once said that “we don’t build to dwell, we dwell therefore we build”.
Creativity arises in a constant relationship within an environment that is made of space, objects, people and rules.
A set of rules is essential for creativity, which is our own way to move inside and bend their boundaries and to keep on recreating them, like kids playing a “what if” game.
Think about the workstation of a hierarchical old-style workplace: on each desk it’s owner create his own territory, piling up papers, adding photos or other kind of objects, positioning monitors or pens in different ways. This is what I call an “inner focused” creativity, and its aim is “survive the boring routine of each day”. The challenge is nowadays to make this “already-made” creativity visible, enhance it, and use it to improve the company’s productivity.

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If we think about the Maslow pyramid of needs, we can turn outwardly this creativity, by creating a space capable of satisfying the well-being, sense of belonging, engagement, fulfilment and safety, basic needs of everyone.
How can we do that nowadays? Here we give five practical suggestions:

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 1) A malleable and pliant space.
When it’s a matter of creativity, flexibility is not enough. We need a sensorial environment that people can touch, reassemble, and constantly modify and re-invent. A multifunctional space is essential, but it is not enough: it has to be open designed, thought not just for the today’s needs but capable of adapting to ten years ahead needs.

2) Objects are actions and relationships.
“Two empty chairs, one opposite to the other, are already a conversation”. Objects are both symbols of identity both a suggestion of an action. Through furniture, managers can transmit messages and influence the behaviour of the employees, creating a space suitable for the goal they want to reach, making it easily perceivable.

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 3) Accountability and trust
Social facts, like office’s life, has always something that is unpredictable and often the project you have in mind comes out in a totally different result.
We need to accept this unpredictability, creating a working environment where two smart working keywords like accountability and trust are perceived and put into practice constantly.

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4) Space as communication and learning.
As Birgit Gebhardt has studied, it is more effective to design space, not thinking about the material side of it, but like a stage where conversations, communications and actions take place. We need to shape communication if we want to foster new perspective and new ways of interaction, which are the foundation of a creative workplace. Moreover, we have to think about the office as a life-long learning environment, where people can exchange competences and knowledge, stimulating their personal growth.

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5) The key role of technology.
As a recent Sedus’s research shows, technology is having a strong impact on architecture and design, developing the concept of a “spacial happiness” based on the capability of the individual to dominate the environment, deciding the lighting, heating, humidity, acoustic conditions. Technology is also crucial to control the unpredictability we talked about before: IoT and sensors help to collect a huge amount of data that managers can use to design more effective and more engaging workplace, satisfying the needs of each employee.
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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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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The joy of a colored easy comfort.

New ways of working require increased flexibility, simplicity and ease in office furniture, for the times when workplaces were occupied permanently are long gone. Nomadic workers move a lot and are often on the road – and when they do come to the office, then it is at meetings, workshops and maybe even briefly at a workplace that happens to be free. This calls for a simple, comfortable and versatile chair. And Sedus se:joy, designed by Martin Ballendat is the answer.

“I was intrigued by the task of designing a competent and ergonomic net covering of a shell – instead of the conventional thick circumferential frame – with a futuristic support structure reduced to a minimum, which is fine, sensual and intelligent.” explains the designer Martin Ballendat.

Se:joy is a dynamic and fresh chair that boasts many features. The harmonious lines and adesign inspired by nature stand out. The delicate yet durable supporting structures reflect an independent character, which not only complements sophisticated surroundings. adds an inspiring, refreshing touch to any kind of office environment.

The one-piece supporting structure enables optimum pressure distribution along the spine without having to make any adjustments. The sophisticated construction adapts automatically to each user, regardless of shape or size.
The finely balanced swing mechanism (seat tilt 4° forward /7° behind) supports the user’s movements and depending on the situation enables a dynamic or relaxed sittingposition.
Innovative fabric structures in the seat and backrest provide a supportive seat as well as an adaptable backrest, which will not stretch over time. Sedus se:joy combines long-term seating and product quality.
The elegant adjustment lever on the underside can be used to adjust the seat height between 390 mm to 510 mm.
Fresh colour combinations for the mesh cover (six colours) and carcass (black and light grey) are available.

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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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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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Body, Mind and Environment: a 3D wellness in the office.

If anyone has to pick up a concept to sum up the nowadays evolution of the workplace, he would choose “feeling good”. As the biopsychosocial model has become used to defined wellness and health, the environment has been understood to have a fundamental role in shaping the different dimensions of employees’ well-being: physical, psychological and social.

Do you want to improve the level of well-being of the employees working in your company? Start from the environment they live in. The environment, infact, as also the OMS has recognized, highly affects the physical, mental and social state of humans. In the office design, as well, this concept has become essential to build the scaffold of a healthy and productive working ecosystem.

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Bio
Today’s office design is taking a step forward, in order to keep the workers healthy and therefore more productive. Problems and diseases of the musculoskeletal system due to wrong, long-lasting sitting positions, for example, are prevented by dynamic ways of working, agile workstations, sit-stand working desks, or unusual seats like the Technogym’s wellness ball or the ones that Kinnarps has presented at the last Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.

Also, the arrival of the IoT has played a fundamental role, helping to improve the quality of the air, the lighting and heating system, allowing also to personalize them through personal smartphones.
Moreover, other services in the office are thought to encourage the employee to take care of themselves: company restaurants with healthy menus and fully equipped gyms come along with wellness rooms and dedicated doctor’s appointment.

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Psychic
If you’ve never heard about happiness at work at work, probably you have been in another planet for the last years. The working environment and HR management get inspiration from the marketing and advertising industries as “creator of experiences”, while it resembles more and more to a theme park, where anyone can try fun and different things. The keyword is “human experience”, a mix of engagement, fulfillment, and empowerment, capable of successfully leading the company through the future challenges.

A new interesting trend comes from the new findings from neuroscience that have brought in the office a new concept of equipped relax areas, music, and spaces capable of reducing stress and facilitate concentration, even in noisy and dynamic open spaces.

Hoofddorp, 19th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

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Casual meeting as the occasion of new and original ideas. The office design aims to increase the chance of encounter among employees (in-between, break and informal meeting areas) and between the inside and the outside of the company (co-working spaces attracts external professionals while more frequently curious customers visit the exhibition spaces, attend classes or use the services offered by the company’s environment).

The symbol of the social experience of the workplace is the ever-present foosball table and the Dutch Plantronics office’s rehearsal room, while couches, armchairs and kitchen spaces enhance the home-feeling that a working space nowadays has to give. A good work-life balance, at last, helps to live more easily the working environment experience: company’s kindergartens, pets in the office, agile and smart working strategies are just some examples of the more and more blurred boundaries between office and private life.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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Real Estate and the Human Experience in the office.

The workplace is more than a property, is a living ecosystem, where numerous experiences take place. The study by JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle’s brand name)Workplace powered by Human Experience” underlines three most important drivers: Engagement, Fulfilment and Empowerment. Real Estate is confirmed to be a powerful changing factor, leading a company through the present and future challenges.

“As workplace strategy moves from practical, design-based decision making to a more experience-led approach, expect an overlap with functions that have traditionally been the domain of HR teams. This will impact workspace design and decision-making”, with these words Marie Puybaraud, Global Head of Research di JLL Corporate Solutions, comments on their report “Workplace powered by Human Experience”.

The research was run over 40 client companies and 7.300 people (age 18-65), in 12 different countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, italy, Japan, India, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, U.S.A. and Great Britain.

The study has found that there are three priorities to drive the change: Engagement, Empowerment and Fulfilment. Engagement means fostering a sense of commitment and creating mutual trust and kindness. Empowerment, instead, is about giving people a sense of control in their working environment and the opportunity to take the initiative, while fulfilment can be achieved making sure work feels comfortable “beyond the surface level of happiness”, giving the chance to grow professionally in a challenging environment.

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Some key findings of the research are that spaces dedicated to collaboration and teamwork have the strongest impact on productivity, that agility improve performance, and that effectiveness is linked to a low density in the workplace.
The innovative offices are the ones that offer a mixture of collaborative and community spaces, support services and creative environments. Additionally, 28% of the companies provide an incubator, a dedicated space enabling colleagues and external talent to develop personal projects while making use of the company infrastructure, support and advice.

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70% of the interviewed people agree that happiness at work is the key ingredient for a good human experience, while the 54% see positively Chief Happiness Officer should be fully devoted to employee wellbeing. While large corporations are still attractive, employees crave an entrepreneurial culture: 46% of employees aspire to work in a start-up environment.
“A workplace that is powered by the human experience goes beyond a work-life balance” Marie Puybaraud concludes. “It drives how people feel about their place of work. How empowered, engaged and fulfilled they are, it’s the purposeful fusion of life and work based on authentic human experiences”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

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“Be”, being well: a human-centred redevelopment.

Being well, productive, connected, innovative: the verb “to Be” is the centre of the contemporary workplace. The requalification of the business district in Cassina De’ Pecchi, next to Milan, by InvestiRE, design a modern vital village, thought to promote a productive interaction and wealthy working environment, through different services and integrating the outdoor and indoor space in the same concept. CBRE is the exclusive agent.

Nowadays revitalizing a working environment can’t be just about re-designing spaces and furniture. Evening if the “packaging” still plays a fundamental role, the core of the Real Estate project must be the “human experience” created by integrating internal and external spaces and services given by the company.

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That’s the concept that has driven the project of the requalification of the 40.000 sqm of the business district in Via Roma 108 in Cassina de’ Pecchi, few kilometers from Milano: productivity, engagement, and collaboration, good health and well-being practices for the people, all these key concepts of the modern workspace are expressed in the simple name that has been chosen: “Be”.

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The main building, re-designed by Park Associati, is created to promote socialization and collaboration, balancing private spaces with different environment to share among the companies and external professionals: co-working, meeting rooms, temporary offices and event rooms (up to 110 people).

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The peculiarity of the project, however, is the focus on the wellbeing and on the work-life balance of the workers. Along with dedicated space and services such as an healthy restaurant, a full-equipped gym and a nursery school, outiside pedestrian walkways pass through a private green park, with movable and fixed facilities, that aims to create a “continuum” between the space indoor and outdoor, recalling the idea of “The Walk by De Lucchi of a “peripatetic office”.
Text by Gabriele Masi.

 

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Neocon: hub of inspiration for new workstyles.

Neocon at its 49th edition confirmed itself as an amazing hub of inspiration for solutions and trends: workplace design is becoming essential for attracting and retaining workers of the Gig economy, Millennials and Generation Z, new faces of this modern work style dominated by the “sharing culture”. Pleasant, warm and healthy interiors answer to the new co-officing, co-creation and collaboration norms.

Adaptive furnishings, privacy on demand, acoustic comfort and sound control, biophilic design and new technology for wireless charging device and immersive visualization experiences are inspiring the new workspace design.
Versatile, modular, reconfigurable, multi-use, highly adjustable products offer flexible and dynamic solutions enable the maximization of different workspace settings: from privacy when desired for one or two users, to collaborative work sessions or impromptu meeting areas.
Lighting, wall partitions, desking and seating, all the components can be reconfigured time and again offering virtually endless configuration options for inspiring and supporting the work, from formal to casual. Serpentine shapes, straight models, transitional units are the new geometries.

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Floors, wall partitions, products in general are incorporating natural materials, nature views and other experiences of the natural world, drawn by the biophilic design trend.

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“The office is unoffice
is the evocative proposal by West Elm, an home furniture brand based in New York expanding innovatively in the workplace solutions.
Neocon always deserves the trip especially this year with the celebration for 100 years of Florence Knoll, legendary and visionary designer, former President of Knoll and founder of KnollTextiles, and the master lecture from Antonio Citterio at the MCA in Chicago, considered one of the most important appointments in the Windy City, together with his month-long retrospective hosted at Luminaire.
Looking forward to see what the 50th Edition will be, it is better to book the trip on time!

Text by Silvia Fattore.


1. West Elm, Haus, design by Qdesign.

A private workstation, inspired by traditional architecture and first-class airline cabins, designed for individual and small group work. Clustered together, the three Haus configurations transform an open office into a dynamic village, a creative community landscape.

2. Buzzispace, BuzziPleat, design by 13&9Design.
Vnner of Best of Neocon 2017 Gold.
Category: Acoustic Panel & Solutions.
BuzziPleat reinterprets ancient techniques used in fashion design, like smocking and pleating, to create large-scale, yet lightweight sculptural forms, made of sound-absorbing BuzziFelt. It combines the hanging acoustic pendants with a light source to marry sound control and illumination in one multi-purpose product.

3. Arper, Parentesit, design by Lievore Altherr Molina.
The bold, graphic forms are available in three shapes a circle, a square or an oval that can be further customized with the addition of a speaker or ambient light, to create a visual element that is as functional as it is modern. The collection is now complemented by the freestanding version, a modular stand alone system for concentration or quiet conversation in shared workspaces or collaborative environments.

4. Fluidconcepts & Design Inc., Orbit, Inline Systems.
Orbit workstations conform to how people actually work by providing single location access to a user’s work area in one continuous ergonomic circumference. They can be complete circular workstations or partial segments. Workstations can be linked in various configurations in snake like configurations, tangents, or as independent pods. Orbit can be specified in multiple diameters, radii and heights. Curved dividers are available in a variety of materials such as laminate, fabric, metal printed and acrylics. Circuit electrical and date system can be specified. The system offers installs extremely fast to create flexible and dynamic workstation environment.

 


5. Steelcase, Surround, design Steelcase Design Studio.
Winner of Best of Neocon 2017 Gold.
Category: Healthcare Guest/ Lounge seating.
A collection of healthcare furnishings designed to support family members in healthcare environments. Surround with 3-seat sleepers, available in 2-seat and 1-seat options supports the family’s dynamic role and involvement, eases their burdens and fosters their wellbeing. Surround supports the activities and moments that matter most from rest and rejuvenation, to productivity, hosting guests and communicating with clinicians.

6. Davis, Q6, design by Jonathan Prestwich.
Winner of Best of Neocon 2017
Innovation. Category: Furniture Collections for Collaboration.
Inspired by how people work today, Jonathan Prestwich has created an all-inclusive line which addresses the need for different kinds of working spaces. Comprised of open seating, screens, benches, tables, and ottomans, Q6 provides a versatile line of stylish and highly functional pieces. 

7. Snowsound USA (Caimi Brevetti), Snowsound Diesis, design by Alessandro Mendini, Francesco Mendini.
Winner of Best of Neocon 2017 Silver. Category: Acoustic Panels & Solutions.
Diesis is a sound-absorbing element with steel base and drapes based on Snowsound-Fiber technology. These pieces feature steel frames at the top that create the sound-absorbing drape, thus assuming precise rays and layers, designed to optimise acoustic performance. Diesis is available in both ceiling mounted or free-standing versions.

8.Interface, Global Change. Design by Kari Pei, Interface Lead Product Designer.
It is the most versatile collection to-date, pairing nature-inspired biophilic design with Interface’s modular flooring system expertise. The collection offers an integrated range of design options that can be composed in a custom-made design. It evokes foliage through artistic interpretation of tree and leaf shading patterns. Biophilic elements and references are also reflected in random patterns and fluid transitions inspired by textures found in nature.

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9.Herman Miller, Prospect, design by Richard Holbrook.
Winner of Best of NeoCon Gold. Category Furniture for Collaboration.
Collaborative and individual creativity in today’s workplaces and learning environments need just the right amount of privacy, Prospect is mission control for individuals and small- to medium-sized teams replete with whiteboards, tackable surfaces, and media display. It’s an ideal place for brainstorming, pinning, and visual thinking that allows people to easily transition between working together and alone.

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Smart working between physical and virtual space.

The success of smart working is driving organizations to design different scenarios for work and workplace. A large number of companies welcome smart working while leaving the collaborator the freedom to work in the office or anywhere else. Finally, more and more companies, called “location-independent“, have decided to not have an office and to make their collaborators only work remotely.
The last trend is the online office thanks to software that simulates the physical workspace that still many people feel the need.

Some companies reject smart working by postponing the change at a future time that will sooner or later come. But those companies that decide not to have an office make a bold choice, but it is not without sense. In most cases, it is a shared choice with their collaborators. Recently, Automattic, the company that develops CMS WordPress, has decided to sell its offices in San Francisco: 1400sqm of open space offices with many attractions. The reason for the sale is simple: 5-6 collaborators go to the office, while everyone else prefers to work remotely.

 


Buffer
is another company that after a few years of working in an office has decided to leave it to let its collaborators have the freedom to work where they prefer.
The “location-independent” companies have made their choice an extra reason to invest in corporate culture and create a strong team sense. They also have perks and benefits to capture new talents remotely and keep those that are already present, for example they reimburse those who decide to work in a co-working.
When we talk about working in an office or working remotely, people can be divided into two groups: some prefer to work remotely and gladly give up the office; others need the office as a place of aggregation and relationship that give meaning to the word work.
Millennials and even more the generation Z usually approve remote working and often require it. Previous generations are opening up to smart working thanks to higher quality of life and work.

A new trend: the virtual online office.

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Among these new ways of working and generational incentive there are companies that work in an online office. This means that employees use software that simulates the physical space of an office. For now the spaces are drawn in 2D, but the 3D step is close because companies like Facebook are already integrating Oculus Rift technology.

These softwares have nothing to do with second life or ludic use of virtual spaces.
The purpose of an online office is to recreate the personal proximity and functionality of a physical space that is needed for teams to work together remotely. Teams are co-localized online in an office designed on a visual map with avatars representing people within virtual space.
The rooms and common spaces of this virtual office simulate the kitchen, the space with a relaxing couch, the rooms where you are very focused and do not want to be disturbed. The concept is very similar to the design of the spaces according to their function. The policy of such a space describes how to behave internally.

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My personal experience has improved a long way since I joined Virtual Team Talk, an international co-working space where different professionals meet and work in the space created by the service sococo.com.
In this space it may happen that I am in the “casual” room together with a person and I take the opportunity to know him or her.
Or else I am in the “very focused” room where everyone is very focused and I will not venture to disturb my colleagues. I can go to the “open discussion” room for a remote brainstorming where all the colleagues have the webcam on.
In the “after party” room I can informally get to know my colleagues after work.
With the passing of time the feeling of closeness of your colleagues is undeniable. Working in a remote team often gives the feeling of not knowing what your colleagues are doing: whether they are working on computers or are out for a commission.
Integration with tools that facilitate communication is already advanced. Also with this work mode, people are free to go and come into virtual space by communicating their presence to others.
The global movement of remote workers is growing constantly and an online office can help simulate a physical space that still many people feel the need.
Choosing to adopt smart working so that a collaborator can choose when to work in the office, and when to work remotely, following a clear company policy, it looks even better with the use of an online office.

Text by Giovanni Battista Pozza, Digital Entrepreneur.

Photo Automattic: credit Scott Beale https://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/ 

Photo Office online: Virtual Team Talk Sococo 

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Take Your Dog To Work Day 2017 (June 23rd).

Take Your Dog To Work Day 2017 is an event created to experiment the benefits of a dog-friendly office. Different companies are nowadays opening their spaces to pets in order to promote social interactions and to improve the wellbeing of the workers, allowing a better work-life balance. An example is Kurgo that has designed its own workplace as a creative environment, perfectly suitable for “dog colleagues”.

Born in 1999 form the idea of Pet Sitters International, the event Take Your Dog to Work Day encourages companies worldwide to allow their employees to bring their dogs and pets to work with them.

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Several studies, as the last one by the Banfield Pet Hospital and Mars Petcare, have proven so far the beneficial effects of pets in a working environment: reducing stress (85%), improving socialization (79%), work-life balance (85%) and productivity (67%).
An example of a total dog-friendly company is Kurgo (Salisbury, Massachusetts) that following their mission, has designed their office in order to create “the best doghouse ever”, using recycled materials as wood and steel shipping containers.

“Allowing people to take their dogs with them at work improve their life quality, creating a more relaxing atmosphere and improving the level of interaction among colleagues”, Marco Travaglia, Regional Director Southern Europe of Purina, another company following a pet-friendly approach.
Even if it seems just a matter of attitude, allowing animals in the office requires a good planning. An efficient example is the PAW (Pets at Work) project by Nestlé: after a selection process, made by a specialist, through observations questionaries about the dog’s behavior, the pet undergoes a three months trail period before he is allowed to freely enter the working environment. However, there are several environments where they are not permitted to go, as formal meeting rooms or eating areas. During the day, employees can decide where to leave their puppies, either in dedicated dog-friendly rooms or small garden or keeping them on a leash next to their desk.

For the companies and the workers willing to join the Take Your Dog To Work Day 2017 on the 23rd June here are some advice given by the promoter of the event, Pet Sitters International:
1. Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your dog to work.
2. Puppy-proof your work space, removing poisonous plants, hiding electrical cords and wires and securing toxic items such as correction fluid and permanent markers.
3. Consider if your dog can easily adapt to the office environment: if he is aggressive or overly shy, it’s best to leave him at home. Consider also how he has behaved in the past around strangers.
4. Prepare a doggie bag, including food, treats, bowls, toys, a leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant.
5. Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully.
6. Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog and remember to colleagues that chocolate, candy and other people food should not be shared with dogs.
Text by Gabriele Masi.
Opening: picture by Purina’s gallery.

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A skillfully planned acoustics.

Mascagni, manufacturing office furniture since 1930 and also working in the field of home and contract now for many years, has addressed the unavoidable issue of acoustic comfort thoroughly and in a structured manner, like a path that has developed consistently, by tackling the acoustic problem through customizable solutions of interior design, which have no competitors on the market.

The unique features of the products supplied by the Bologna-based company come from the adopted approach and find their roots in the company’s experience and know-how made of testing, synergies with suppliers who work in different industries and technologies never used before in furniture design.
The product presented at the last edition of Workplace 3.0 in Milan perfectly explain how Mascagni creates its products with love and care for the tiniest detail.

TréS is the new versatile, comfortable interior decoration range of modular soundproofing panels, easily and quickly rearranged.
The vertical wired metal partitions of TrèS spine, with their overlapping modules, divide space creatively and efficiently, without preventing communication from going on with its flows, through different levels and plain modules, made up of cabinets, metal, melamine or upholstered panels, and special tops. The last evolution is TrèS Screen: the panels structure are enriched through panels or courtesy, to create a personal space reconfigurable with extraordinary acoustic performance.

By partnering with 3F Filippi, a leader in lighting located near Bologna, was born Lux Sound, the sound-absorbing panel which turns on a feature essential for a comfortable all-round, light.
TréS Sound Sky System is like the beefed-up version of the Sound panel. Using modular and changeable articulated joints, the triangular ribs of the sound absorbing panels, in wood, melamine or textile, come to life and mould the space into peaceful areas that can be turned into extensive workplaces.

ALLinONE Slim is the range of partition walls that hides the secret of its polymorphism and adaptability inside its extruded aluminium sections. The construction can accommodate the panels of single, double or solid glass with an inner steel frame, regardless.
ALLinWOOD is an exploration that brings the natural products, again, in the insulating dividing partitions, a solid wood profile which welcomes in its quarries either single, double glazing or full façade.

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When design-bulimia replaces innovation.

I’ve now fully recovered  from the usual indigestion from design in April, so a few considerations on the Milan Design Week are almost de riguer. I must admit it: after attending 40 of them, my enthusiasm and curiosity are beginning to wane, but my impressions have been confirmed by the comments of WOW! reporters and some practitioners I hold in high esteem; to mention just one of them, the sharp “Perlina” posted on Facebook by Enrico Baleri, which I find incomparable.

First of all I’d like to congratulate the Salone del Mobile on its new attendance record (343.602 visitors!).
Many exhibitors actively contribute toward this success through their luxurious stand booths, conceived by important designers as temporary architectures, able to attract visitors and emotionally involve them.
In many cases the design of the container seems to be prevailing over the products, that hardly palpitate with true innovation even if their quality is top-notch.
Many companies stop to invest in technological research.
Kartell should be mentioned as one of the exceptions: under the title “Contaminations” ( upper photo) it presented many nice and innocvative chairs… and it is not easy to offer quality and quantity!
The dangers lurk when the company has run out of ideas and dusts off the look of the fifties, or penetrates fields that defy common sense and ergonomics, bordering on ridicule.

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And I’m sorry I have to say that Alias is following this trend. Hybrid design is okay, but how can you even conceive a chair -uncomfortable- integrated inside a bookcase?
That could be explained by the obligation to present something new at all costs.
Maybe we should also reflect upon the very format of the“Fair”: is such a rigid subdivision in different furniture sectors still relevant? Isn’t it anachronistic compared to the fluid way living, working and recreation environments are blending?
For example why Lapalma presented its “Light Office” collection at Salone del Mobile instead at Workplace 3.0?
If the office is increasingly fluid –as the installation A Joyful Sense at Work confirmed- changing a somewhat outdated format might increase its attractiveness: what do you think about a more dynamic Salone Contract & Workplace?

And then there is the festive occupation of the Fuorisalone… son et lumière everywhere in the city, amazing installations that can enhance disused locations, yet also damage historic buildings with ugly setups fit for a funfair.

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I’ve asked about dozen people lying on sofas inside the Orto Botanico in Brera: “Excuse me, do you know the name of the manufacturer of these sofas?” Answer: eyes wide open and an uninterested “no idea!”.
Unfortunately that company (who was it?) invested money for attending that location…
I’m considering writing a “Guide to prevent design-bulimia”. It could be useful.

Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine