Nowadays, even the most corporate jobs don’t require a pantsuit as the go-to uniform. The same is true for our workspaces. We’ve traded the cubicle for open workspaces to accommodate more flexible, nomadic office structures.
At the premiere event for contract furniture and design, this year’s spectacle at NeoCon surveyed a range of worktops, textiles, office systems, acoustics, seating, and partition systems with one thing in common: ambidextrous design, or a smorgasbord of residential, hospitality, and contract typologies. From a conference table that looks more like casual family dining room table to a rocking chair that stimulates productivity (versus relaxation), AN brings you the newest products that pairs the comfort of residential design with the productivity of the workplace.
Dutch designer Aliki van der Krujis worked with textile purveyor Wolf Gordan on conceptual textile that employs a simple grid motif inspired by an antique Kimono the designer found in Artia, Japan. The collection comprises three patterns—FLOAT, TURN, and SLIDE— that explore the concept of “breaking the grid” with overlapping lines, asymmetry, and non-linear composition.
Inspired by military epulat tapestries from 19th-century Germany, Zürich-based textile designer Sonnhild Kestler took traditional Alpine patterns and simplified them to a brightly colored configuration of layered teardrops. Maharam offers the tectile in just one size: at approximately 8’ x 10’, each tapestry is handwoven by local artisans with environmentally sourced fibers based in India.
Modular Office Systems
Barber & Osgerby for Vitra
Given the growing shift to working remotely or in openly configured office spaces, Barber and Osgerby designed a modular office system that responds to the needs of the nomadic worker. Beginning from a set of infrastructural connecting tracks, the system links together more typical workstations and lounge seating with atypical, yet practical work surfaces, power outlets, and charging stations. The network of connected areas challenges typical working typologies with spaces that are no longer prescribed to one specific function, location, or behavioral patterns.
Paravan Mood is a geometrically-shaped, robust collection of accessories that add storage, functionality, and personalization to work spaces. The addition of modular curiosities designed for the colorful partition system includes a whiteboard, hooks, mirrors, wall-mounted or panel-mounted magazine carriers, shelves, charging stations, and privacy screens.
Glass Partition Systems
Oblique & Chevron
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Skyline Design
Using a software developed to manipulate color from photos into a pattern of translucent layers, the Bouroullec brothers conjured a glass collection that epitomizes the venetian-blind lighting effect. As light passes through a series of shapes and dark outlines, it reinforces the contrast and transparency of the panel, refracting into illuminated linear patterns.
Modular by design, this collection of interior wall partitions configures into a system of connected micro work environments. The new freestanding pavilion application creates visual boundaries in open floor plans to foster productivity without compromising building infrastructure.
Alain Gilles for BuzziSpace
Belgium-based designer Alain Gilles challenges conventional tropes of the traditional meeting table with this soft, elongated volume that is, so to speak, soft around the edges. Offered in solid wood or cobalt linoleum, BuzziTable pairs an austere silhouette with a playful material and color palette to bring spaciousness and comfort to the workplace.
Studio O+A for Dfm
San Francisco-based design firm Studio O+A outfitted Blend Workstations with wireless charging and/or integrated plug-ins and a metal framework divided by fabric screens. Meanwhile, the OSB work surface looks more like sumptuous marble than plywood.
These terrazzo tiles feature an aggregate of rosy-hued and snow-faced granite flakes frozen solid in concrete. Available in various standard sizes and thicknesses, the Rose Quartz collection can also be custom cut, mitered, and laminated.
Taking inspiration from traditional Japanese tatami mats, this carpet system deconstructs the typical structure covering the entire floor with broadloom carpet. By breaking up open spaces with networks of small woven textiles, this modular flooring lattice brings the flexibility to reconfigure spaces and dampen noise, simultaneously.
Known for their attention to ergonomics, Humanscale teamed up with industrial designer Don Chadwick (who is most notably associated with the design of Herman Miller’s Aeron chair) on a new backless stool. The flexible convex-shaped shell supports the lower back to alleviate stress on the backs of the thighs. It will be available early in 2020.
Who doesn’t love the idea of a rocking chair that stimulates productivity? By making a few minor adjustments on a typology typically associated with relaxation, Gimbal Rocker’s design rocks and swivels with short boosts of movements to energize the user.
Bryndís Bolladóttir for Unika Vaev
Known her use of vernacular Icelandic materials, Reykjavik, Iceland-based textile designer Bryndís Bolladóttir takes wool harvested from sheep and applies it to cushioned surfaces to create devices for better acoustics. In this case, she takes glass partitions that have no sound-absorbing properties and attaches playful baffles on either side of the panel to dampen noise.
Swathed in noise-dampening fabric, this pendant fixture reduces the amount of reverberated noise in open spaces. It is offered in 12 colors, in a variety of heights, on height-adjustable suspension cables that allow for easy modifications.
Header image: Hightower’s Chicago showroom. (Courtesy Casey Keasler of Casework Interior Design)