No doubt: the bench desk is dead. I’m writing this death notice, as I would do for someone I respected and I feel the need of finding new answers to the new ways of working and what the market asks for: customized and flexible tables together with a wide range of options for in-between areas. Smart working needs a smart design and the latest trends are addressed to the “third spaces”, as we could see at Orgatec 2016.
In 2002 Vitra launched Joyn, the very innovative bench system designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and inspired by the memories of the happy get-together in the French countryside where the whole family gathered for lunch.
The bench desk was eagerly welcomed (mainly to cut back on, not to be sentimental).
So all the big companies have chosen this typology to equip the huge open plan offices in their headquarters. A new standardization in the interior design of workplace has been applied for over ten years.
But then they realized the office isn’t a joyful countryside and workers are not happy table companions.
So the drawbacks of the bench desk started to be evident: no privacy and irritating noise are the first signs that caused the proliferation of all kinds of acoustic panels. Even the excessive static condition of 6/8 linked workstations causes some significant problems in terms of flexibility, while the static desk tops cause ergonomic problems.
Hence, urban fancies, even somewhat plain (for instance the Garage by Vitra), and new aesthetics have replaced the bucolic visions.
The number of desks decrease, yet with a higher performance (free standing structure to allow a simple and flexible management, sit-stand tops a.s.o).
And most of all we explore the new-nomadic worlds changed by those mobile technologies -smart working, coworking, cloud computing, traveling working- typical of the places we live in and that affect design, too.
And innovation for the workplace probably comes from the approach to the nomadic design.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine
Bench system Joyn, design by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, launched by Vitra at Orgatec 2002.
Hack, garage-style system, design by Kostantin Grcic, launched by Vitra at Orgatec 2014.
Mastermind High Desk, organic and flexible system for creative areas launched by Sedus at Orgatec 2016.