By now, the concept of “spontaneous collaboration space” in the office is starting to fray around the edges.
Despite the proliferation of zany themed meeting rooms, sofas, and bars in the workplace, there’s still no recipe for engineering the random encounters and unplanned work that can lead to breakthroughs.
Antenna’s collaboration with Knoll aimed to create a flexible, affordable, attractive furniture system that could accommodate shifting flows of people and data in the contemporary workplace.
“Architects will often specify residential furniture like coffee tables and couches,” says Sigi Moeslinger, one half of Antenna Design. “But spontaneous work still requires work space.”
From Florence Knoll on, most workplace design has been architecturally driven. Antenna flipped that on its head and worked from the inside out, delivering an industrial design solution for a largely architectural problem.
Moeslinger and Udagawa, have designed Bloomberg terminals, MTA New York City subway cars, and JetBlue check-in kiosks.
But for their latest project, the Japanese-Austrian duo bypassed screens and addressed the people who use them ….. “Many people don’t have a main computer anymore,” says Udagawa. “But generally, we still need a place to sit and put something.”
Introduced last year at Neocon 2012, the Toboggan chair designed by Antenna Design for Knoll challenges our perception of the archetypal office chair and makes us wonder why office chairs weren’t made like this in the first place.
Thanks to smartphones and tablets, many work-related tasks can now happen anywhere. Knoll Activity Spaces is designed for these quick, often spur-of-the-moment interactions with a number of lounge, power and office designs that support virtually any task at hand.
Knoll Activity Spaces are designed for mobile employees who are no longer tied to a desktop, relying on tablets or phones instead.
“It’s a kind of strange object, and we weren’t sure how people would interact with it” says Moeslinger. “People would just intuitively take breaks to check their phones,” she remembers. “They got into it right away.”
Want feedback on a presentation? Meet at the Media Enclave and connect your iPad to project onto a mounted display. Need to brainstorm? Grab a few Toboggan Chairs and jot your ideas down on the Mobile Markerbards. All while recharging your devices with Interpole and the Power Cube.
The curved backrest has a dual functionality; as well as offering back support, you can turn around and use it as a work surface for jotting down notes or typing on a laptop. As a result, this hybrid office chair has no set direction or function.
The design demonstrates how working environments have become more relaxed, collaborative and flexible. Made from molded plywood and bent steel tubing, Toboggan is lightweight, movable and intuitive.
Udagawa and Moeslinger wanted the Toboggan to promote social interaction, making it the perfect chair for conducting impromptu meetings in a shared workspace
The lightweight Toboggans are designed to be moved and rearranged throughout the office, which introduced another problem: the inevitable lack of power outlets. So they designed a stainless steel pole dotted with outlets that supplies a charge wherever it’s wheeled.
Other pieces, like a rolling whiteboard and small tables that also provide a charge for laptops, also promote mobility within the office.
The idea is to create a spectrum of spaces within the office, rather than the conventional binary of being at your desk or in a meeting.
In an unexpected way, Antenna’s expertise in interaction design is what makes these plywood-and-plastic objects so intelligent. It’s not so much about the screen, but rather how and where it’s being used.
“We approach furniture as an interface,” Udagawa told me. “It can modify behavior, and help people make the transition into more open space.”
Written by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan via FastCoDesign