Back in late March, as countries across the world headed into what would become several months of COVID-19-induced lockdown, design manager and CEO of Swedish furniture-maker Blå Station Johan Lindau reached out to longtime collaborators Thomas Bernstrand and Stefan Borselius with a succinct verbal brief in the form of a question: What does BOB-19 look like?
The BOB he was referring to is, of course, the award-winning modular seating system by the two that Blå Station first introduced at Salone del Mobile in 2017. Initially comprised of seven different modules each measuring 26 centimetres at their widest point, BOB has since grown to become an extremely flexible and cohesive family of seating that can expand and contract, turn hairpin corners, form perfect circles – basically meeting the demands of any space it finds itself.
When first conceptualizing what BOB-19 would indeed look like, Bernstrand and Borselius took into consideration the current regulations for physical distancing, hygiene and easy cleaning. What they developed is minimalistic, flexible and smart – much like BOB itself. Made from tailored sheets of transparent Plexiglas, BOB-19 simply slides in between the modules (even in existing setups) to form an appropriate, and at the same time attractive, barrier. “We don’t want to divide and separate people, we only want to prevent the virus from spreading,” Bernstrand and Borselius say of the material choice, “with Plexiglas, you still see each other.”
Available in two transparency levels (clear and smoked, possibly with more to come) and a variety of colours, including pale blue and green, the BOB-19 dividers are easily added and removed in order to adapt to fluctuating needs, and their ultra-thin design means they can be stacked and hidden away when not in use.
Bernstrand and Borselius designed three widths “to cover all possible configurations of BOB,” each with a standard height of 128 centimetres to offer both safety and visual consistency; the panels protrude 10 centimetres beyond BOB’s front edge for a near-seamless installation. In the end, it’s a well-executed and elegant solution that demonstrates the merits of simplicity, quick thinking and flexibility.
Sweden’s Blå Station enhances its BOB seating system to attractively accommodate current regulations.