Offices are more collaborative than ever. For Teknion, that means making changeable work environments that fit every need, starting with their own.
Over the past decade, the buzz in the contract furniture world has been for breakaway spaces that bring about freestyle collaboration, with open concept offices providing the perfect stage set. But another shift has been gaining ground: the need to re-include some modes of privacy that cubicles once afforded.
In response, Teknion has opened a showroom in Toronto that acts as an observatory for the ever-evolving office culture. Spread out over 1,000 square metres, the column-free interior, designed by San Francisco’s Vanderbyl Design, incorporates zones both large and small for various styles of work. Along one glazed wall sits a row of high-backed upholstered chairs, overlooking the city’s harbour and providing sound-buffered seating for employees to make a private call or take a break. In another area, a grouping of colourful ottomans on hidden casters serves as an inviting place to meet informally. Conversely, there are high-tech boardrooms behind glass partitions, and a desk-free office with lounge-like settings kitted out in facing sofa sets, floor lamps and coffee tables.
“It’s a transparent environment,” says sales president David Patterson of the new showroom. “It’s a testing ground for answering the question, If there are no barriers to where you work, how do you work?” In fact, like many early adopters of the mobile working environment, the staff here have no fixed workstations. Instead, they move about freely with smartphones and iPads in hand.
The move downtown, to the 20th floor of Bremner Tower, also follows the trend of office furniture manufacturers bringing their product to where their clients work, and making room to display it in ways that can be digested and understood. Corporations, after all, are not always ready to stress out employees by taking away their desks. However, when they enter the show-room and the first thing they see is not a reception desk but a harvest table surrounded by bar stools and lounge areas, it can change their minds. It’s definitely a less stuffy, more inviting way to arrive at work.