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Stored solutions to change

Author : Tim Fryer

31 October 2012

Bisley Be

As the workplace evolves so must the furniture and storage options that facilitate this change, themes that are central to the huge trade fair Orgatec, which takes place later this month. Tim Fryer looked at few companies who are adapting their offerings to suit and at the big event itself.

New ways of working are going to require a change in the nature and balance of the office furniture. While the standout consequence of flexible working is that there will be less desks, it does mean that what desks there are need to suit all potential employees that sit at them, and of course there needs to be more provision for separate storage for individuals. It seems to be perceived wisdom that everybody is going to take a cycle helmet to work with them, which, looking at the average fitness levels of a typical workplace might seem unlikely, but it does provide a good starting point to what an individual might want to store during the day.

Bisley has looked at storage as part of an overall furniture system. At the recent launch of the new system, called Be, John Fogarty, Director of Special Projects, explained: “Its not storage in its conventional sense, it’s a structural system for creating furniture. The back and the front are not defined and in fact are interchangeable. The logic behind that is that a cube has six faces and storage conventionally doesn’t use them particularly well. In the past we have made a feature of having plain backs on our cabinets but in a way that is an admission of defeat because what we should be doing is using the back for something else, particularly when people are trying to squeeze maximum utility from space, maximum facility from product.”

Despite this move for greater functionality, Fogarty believes that FMs are looking for more for their facilities: “Spaces have become so depersonalised and people are looking to bring some softness, a sort of humanity back into the workspace. I know you go there to work but if you are comfortable and happy in your environment you will work more effectively – and I think users are embracing that.”

Be is essentially a system that uses standard framework on to which a plethora of different surfaces and doors, all offering different effects and functions, can be fitted. The result is something completely flexible and easy to refurbish. Fogarty said: “Certain surfaces, like the top panel, always suffer more damage than others and it is madness to chuck the whole product away when one bit gets tatty. We are trying to make it ageless and timeless.”

An interesting feature of Be is that it is a powered piece of office furniture - simply a WIRED portal, which brings into play not just good and safe cable management, but modern lighting, communication and computing options. It will make its debut att Orgatec.

Another newcomer on the market is KI’s Unite - a workplace collection which unites its storage ranges with new personal storage solutions, such as SpaceStation and a versatile workstation system. The Unite workplace collection has already been supplied and installed at the world’s leading Online Retailer, along with Etihad Airways, Dana Petroleum, CMG Brands and many other companies since its launch at the beginning of the year.

The range is complimented by third space seating solutions like BreakOut, Faveo task and occasional seating range and meeting solutions like T4 Tables and the new Opt4 Seating range.

Launched at this year’s Orgatec will be an interesting, although quite specific, range of fixed seating solutions from Sedia Systems. The JumpSeat is aimed at auditoriums, theatres and public assembly areas.

The principles behind the design are based on the functions of cantilevered bridges and the human spine. JumpSeat uses thick, rigid compression elements with thinner, more flexible tension components to provide comfort. The compressive and tensile strength of the chair’s plywood slats and steel produce the folding mechanism within the structure. The cantilevered design allows support up to 600 pounds, and it automatically snaps closed when not in use.

ORGATEC 2012 itself takes place in Cologne at the end of October (23 – 27) and aims to provide an overview of the global market for furnishings, lighting, flooring, acoustics and media technology for the office and office facilities. In addition, it has a supporting programme that will also focus on the latest trends, developments and practical examples from around the world.

Highlights include the ORGATEC Trend Forum; "INSIGHT COLOGNE - the ORGATEC office and architecture night"; competence centres on the themes of (room) acoustics, lighting and media technology; a special show about the future of the workplace; and the ORGATEC Boulevard; and a diverse variety of other events.

The ORGATEC Trend Forum will feature a central stage for presenting discussions on current themes relating to the modern office environment. On all five days of the trade fair, experts from the fields of business, (interior) architecture, planning, consulting, and various consumer companies will be on hand to discuss current trends and present examples of best practices from the modern office and working world. There will be two series of lectures. One will have a particularly international orientation: "International Best Practice" will call particular attention to positive examples of how offices have been configured in other countries and on different continents. The second series, "Modern Working Concepts", will focus on global trends in working situations - for example, the presentation of the "New Work Order" study about the future of working.

The ORGATEC Boulevard not only acts as a central connecting element between the halls, exhibitors' stands and the communications programme; it also addresses the theme "Modern Working Worlds" - particularly from an architectural point of view. Here, according to the organisers, the emotional design seeks to relieve the tension caused by the need for flexible, dynamic working environments on the one hand and the need for quiet and relaxation on the other.

"Office visions already experienced" is one of the highlights of the ORGATEC supporting programme: INSIGHT COLOGNE - the ORGATEC Office & Architecture Night will be held for the second time on 26th October 2012. After the fair closes for the day, ORGATEC visitors and the general public will be able to explore around 16 offices in Cologne between 6 p.m. and midnight. In line with the slogan "Experience today how we'll be working tomorrow", guided tours and viewings will provide participants with insights into a variety of office and workplace concepts that would normally be inaccessible to the public. During their tour of these extraordinary offices, participants of INSIGHT COLOGNE will get an impression of the diversity of today's (office) work environments. Each of the individual stops or companies will represent their own world of experience in the categories: "New Office Concepts and Trends in Architecture", "Sustainably Developed Offices and Office Facilities", and "Top-quality Renovated Buildings".

One of the most important aspects of professional planning for work places and office spaces is lighting design. As a consequence, the Bartenbach Lichtlabor (lighting laboratory) will present a specialised exhibition with extensive information on the theme of light and illumination and suggest interesting points for further discussions. Equally there is an Acoustics Competence Centre that aims to make the basic technical concepts of room acoustics understandable. It will present this information in connection with various noise control solutions for walls, ceilings, floors and furniture.

The Competence Centre Architecture & Media Technology addresses the questions of how media technology can be harmoniously integrated into a modern, design-oriented office facility. It also takes a look at how media technology - in symbiosis with furniture, acoustics, lighting and flooring - can make working and communicating easier. In addition, the planning process for a real case study project - a conference room for a representative legal practice - will be presented.

The future_bizz corporate network at ORGATEC is presenting a special show focussed on the future of work. The motto of this event is "Future | Work | Space - 2030: New perspectives for tomorrow's working environment". It will be showing designs for space and workplace concepts, commissioned by future_bizz, which have been developed by the Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe as well as Hochschule Darmstadt Universities of Applied Science. "Work will change markedly in the next few decades. This transformation will also be strongly driven by technological advances. What effects this will have on workplace design or what space concepts will look like in the context of virtual worlds, will be only a few of the questions to emerge here. The "Designs of future working environments" project has set itself the aim of making these developments "understandable" and "conceivable", according to Dr. Friedhelm Böttcher von Böttcher Consulting, who is responsible for network management on behalf of the future_bizz members.

The basis for the project is provided by the studies produced by future_bizz in the run-up to the fair: "Scenario Future Living 2030", "Working environments 2030" and "Structures and processes of future working life", which form a comprehensive know-how basis through future images of working conditions, work tasks and requirements along with employee roles. In addition, the designs shown are based on fictional stories, which creatively describe the future everyday working routine of select employees. In these stories not only specific target groups are defined as precisely as possible, but fictional protagonists also created, whose characteristics are then representative of the employees of the future. In this connection, the aim here is also to provide a description of future roles and tasks for employees in companies, show typical work situations in relation to values, cultural aspects, everyday situations, needs, requirements and general conditions.

If a last minute trip over to Cologne to see all the above is still possible then visit for all the details about the show.

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