Our guest blogger Helen Parton takes a look at current office furniture trends.
Orgatec, the biennial exhibition championing all things workplace, is rapidly approaching. Before you all head to Cologne, let’s consider how the office landscape has changed in the last few years.
Now that even those so staunchly resistant to the open plan working concept such as the legal profession have wholeheartedly embraced it, what office workers are now crying out for is somewhere to think and be contemplative. Private phone booths, high back sofas, noise absorbing panelling, you name it, it’s all about finding a way for concentrated work to take place.
Collaborative working still remains at the heart of how we work today but the break out space has to aesthetically please and sustain a number of functions nowadays – a few mismatched pieces of furniture will simplify not cut the mustard. When myself and Kerstin Zumstein wrote our book, Total Office Design, (published by Thames and Hudson in 2011) offices such as Microsoft’s Amsterdam headquarters by Sevil Peach introduced the idea of ‘activity-based working': work wherever you like in the building or even at home as long as long as the job gets done.
Now in, increasing numbers of forward-thinking companies, you’re just as likely to see the CEO perched on a bench in the cafe as the boardroom and hardly anyone, apart from finance departments who need designated desks to crunch those all important numbers and print confidential documents, working nine-to-five at the same workstation day-in, day out.
Another important trend in workplace design is a reaction to our continually wavering outlook to the economy. It seems that almost daily another report from another institution comes out saying we’re either teetering on the brink of economic collapse or actually it’s not so bad after all. Little wonder businesses are confused, which is why interior designers and facility managers are opting for furniture and fixtures that can adapt to a changing number of staff. Lots of the projects we featured in the book adopted this principle from the PostPanic production studios in Amsterdam to the Student Loans Company in Darlington.
Flexibility, whether that’s in terms of where your staff are working or how many of them you employ at once is where it’s at in workplace design in 2012. Let’s see what solutions Orgatec presents to meet these demands.