This summer, we’re seeing a lot of new office furniture designs that are getting us excited. 2019 has been the year of the flexible office, and the office furniture that overtook Neocon and other major design fairs this spring directly responded to the need for more flexibility in shared environments: more defined lounge areas, combined with a reclamation of ‘private spaces’ in the form of office phone booths, glass-enclosed spaces, and noise-insulating technology. While 2017 was the year for improving wellness at work, the flexible office trend directs its attention to office furniture and design as a primary way to decrease distractions and make working a better experience for everyone. In this blog, we will focus on some of our office furniture finds that best represent this growing trend.
The Office phone booth is an ongoing flexible office trend that seems to be here to stay. In increasingly populated urban centers (offices, included) there often seems to be no way to break free from the noise. Office phone booths provide a soundproof and consolidated space, much like the retro phone booth of earlier times, to perform daily tasks like call a relative or carry a private conversation with a client. Depending on the booth, it can even go a step further, incorporating technology ports, USB outlets, video conferencing equipment, or fit up to 4 people. It’s often underestimated the degree to which small disruptions like needing to leave the office to take a call can have an impact on one’s productivity. This summer, we are seeing many more cost-effective booths like the Private Island, which indicates a movement away from just the luxury market, and the increasing accessibility of these booths for the ordinary consumer.
Modular Lounge Seating
Echoing earlier posts this year about the Pasea and Nano, we saw an explosion of modular lounge furniture at Neocon. Offices are recognizing that collaboration works and are recognizing the fluid way people interact in a flexible office setting. Modular furniture is assembled by unit and can, therefore, be arranged in endless configurations without carrying the price tag of a custom piece. Lounge areas have migrated from simply being a waiting room for clients and have become integral parts of the office, the same way lounge areas in colleges have become synonymous with both studying and socializing. Technology ports enable one to plug in a laptop or charge a phone, with enhanced ergonomic adjustments that support longer periods of sitting. One of the new products that reflects these features is the LB Lounge series.
As offices move towards greater flexibility, there is an increasing trend towards furniture that carry “flexible” features. Nesting chairs are indispensable to flexible offices because they can be used when needed and then neatly collapsed and stored away. This year’s furniture fairs unveiled many different nesting chairs, each boasting better features than your ordinary metal folding chair. Combining bold colors and sleek contours, with ergonomic considerations, nesting chairs are shifting into the realm of functional utility and embellishment, as collaborative and private spaces are reshaped and redefined depending on the order of necessity. The Reset Nesting Chair is a primary example of this trend, recently unveiled at Neocon.
Resimercial Meeting Rooms
Popularly relegated to lounge areas, the resimercial trend has grown to encompass meeting and executive areas as well. An example of this is the Kasura chair, that won a Best of Neocon 2019 award in conference seating. The increase of space divisions in offices are creating the opportunity for more intimate spaces. Warm, inviting furniture, with residential elements, are providing an atmosphere of comfort that can lead to different kinds of interactions, whether during a collaborative brainstorming session, or during a one-on-one meeting with a client.
The flexible office is changing the way we work and posing a challenge for designers who are creating new strategies to help us work better. Semi-enclosed spaces offer a hybrid solution for offices looking to divide space without obstructing the flow of movement. Privacy screens, treated glass, and enveloping enclosures allow for divisions and sound reduction, providing some relief from chaotic open spaces. The LeanTo is an example of this new kind of furniture that might be the harbinger for new and exciting trends to come.
Today’s companies care a lot more about flexibility and wellness than in previous generations. As more repetitive tasks are replaced by technology, the necessity for creativity and innovation is being prioritized in each sphere. Companies are recognizing that innovation and talent can be nurtured and improved by better work environments that consider air quality, access to light, noise management, and personal health. The flexible office trend reflects the need for work environments to adapt to the needs of its occupants, and how to strike a balance. Companies are recognizing that improved flexibility is an asset that will prove invaluable going forward.