Everywhere you turn at Europe’s largest office furniture fair, manufacturers are showing off plush nooks, lounge pieces and sound-absorbing accessories geared toward privacy and relaxation.
The trend toward creating acoustically insulated alcoves for the open-concept office – for those one-on-one conversations, private phone calls, or a bit of alone time – is still going strong. Almost every major manufacturer is making a statement in this area, whether in a grand way, with massive felt-covered partitions (Vitra), or in measured doses, as seen in the brightly hued sound dampeners accessorizing an assortment of workstation pairings. The many halls at Orgatec, held every other year in Cologne, are also brimming with vibrant soft seating and inventive types of nooks. Together these trends demonstrate a growing push toward increased productivity through the happiness and fulfillment of workers themselves.
Here are just a few pieces that caught Azure‘s attention while walking the show floor:
One of the most prominent purveyers of felt-encased alcoves (such as BuzziBooth and the BuzziHub), this Belgian company debuts Buzziwings by the studio Couvreur.Devos. Shown here in a large installation and topped with lighting, the panels can also be used to soften the ambient noises of smaller zones, like cafe nooks.
As far as creating comfortable seating in contract areas goes, Monica Förster’s new line for Tecno is perhaps the most playful and elegant in a long while. Eschewing the bulky feel of even some of the most sophisticated modular seating systems, her piece encourages designers to mix sofa-style seaters in a variety of sizes and colours to brilliant effect.
Vitra’s stand at Orgatec is a sight to behold. On the show’s opening night on Tuesday, the huge space was crowded with showgoers exploring an impressive range of new designs, including the Workbays by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, who are also presenting new versions of their Alcove sofa, updated for the work environment. The brand truly embraces the idea of giving office dwellers breathing room, especially as seen in its massive green display partitions that were created just for the show.
Haworth goes one further, inventing the ultimate privacy pod. Called CalmSpace, this “power nap capsule” is perhaps meant for the most progressive office culture. Programmed with customizable sounds and coloured lights, the piece consists of an acoustic curtain and a fabric-upholstered mattress. Employees can select the duration of their nap, from 10 to 20 minutes.