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Office Futures

18 December 2008

No longer the mammoth show it used to be, Orgatec, the international Office show in Cologne, held every
two years is still important for specifiers and purchasers of office furniture and related products. B Jane
Dickson points out some highlights

THERE WERE FIVE HALLS FOR ORGATEC (about two-thirds of the exhibition complex) as well as special
displays of lighting, flooring, acoustics, AV technology and mobile working spaces. Facility Management has been an integral part of Orgatec for many years and this year the 5th Orgatec FM Congress was mounted by the organisers, with the assistance of the International Institute of Facility Management.

What of the products on show? There was a proliferation of seating, of course, as this is the most personal item of office equipment. According to the Herman Miller Research Group’s research office workers spend on average, 93 per cent of their time sitting in their chairs.

Leading the innovations was Herman Miller’s Embody chair giving a ‘health-positive seating experience’. With the technology on show, it moves and adapts to the individual sitter, and accommodates most dimensions in one size. I found it very comfortable to sit in.

Seating specialist Interstuhl, who offer a range of chairs to suit most budgets, found that the star of the show was Fit, a cantilevered easy chair offering an unusual seating experience. I thought it would be difficult to get up from the 60o slant, but it was quick and easy. Fit benefits from modern fibres and new weaving methods and comes in a range of colours.

Desks, storage and screen systems abounded and there was a noticeable increase in benching systems. Vitra’s answer to the open office is their new system, Playns. This offers workstations which can switch between sitting and standing height at a touch of a button – ‘Nesting’ and ‘Netting’ in the same location.

The ‘sit/stand’ concept is well accepted on the continent as a healthy way to work but not much exploited in the UK. Assmann Büromöbel (now active in the UK with a Clerkenwell showroom) introduced Canvaro, a slender C-leg workstation offering both manual adjustment to standard heights (620–850mm) and motorised adjustment between 650 and 1250mm.

UK storage specialist Bisley launched Bite, a 1.2m tall mobile storage unit which wraps around benching to create a sense of personal space within an open working environment.

Acoustics in the office were highlighted at Orgatec, as increased noise levels are now common in open plan offices. Assmann was one of the companies addressing this issue and showed a range of solutions such as soundabsorbing pictures, storage with acoustic fronts and acoustic panels for ceilings and partitions.

Finally, amongst König+Neurath (K+N)’s new products was a multimedia presentation wall from its Plenum.K conference system which will fit into any existing conference setting. The compact wall has a melamine surface and provides an unusually large 80 inch presentation area. With the latest beamer technology positioned directly in front, presentations are shadow-free.


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