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Activity-Based Working at Orgatec 2014

Aside from fresh product, the stand-out at Orgatec was the innovations in activity-based working. Words by David Granger.

Activity-Based Working at Orgatec 2014

Above: Patricia Urquiola, Openest for Haworth

Although labouring in a local landscape of ever more economic gloom, European suppliers we spoke to at Orgatec 2014 had a very positive international outlook (ie they revealed that their order books for the local European market were “soft” but their international order books were strong). And with 105,000 of square metres of exhibition space focusing on quality rather than quantity it was very easy for the visitor to feel upbeat too.

Above: G-Star Raw installations by Jean Prouvé for Vitra

Every two years Orgatec in the German city of Cologne is the planet’s epicentre of workplace design. This year between 21 and 25 October thousands of manufacturers and distributors – 600 companies from 40 countries – attracted legions of architects, designers, facility managers and media to discover the very latest concepts and integrated solutions for the contemporary work space.

Although there was plenty of fresh product and designs to get excited about the big highlights of the fair meanwhile were in innovations in the “open office” and activity-based working (ABW).

Above: Grand Executive chair by Antonio Citterio for Vitra

As each generation of worker becomes ever more adapted (and adaptive) to mobile technologies and collaborative technologies the work space and the workplace needs to be a creative and versatile landscape that can adapt and morph with the dynamic, ever-shifting preferences, needs and demands of the individuals and groups that work and collaborate there.

On this score Vitra presented some truly unique “industrial chic” ‘workstyle’ installations by Konstantin Gricic as well as a special re-edition of G-Star Raw installations by Jean Prouvé.

Above: Patricia Urquiola Craft of spacemaking for Haworth

Haworth were also a clear standout combining the “can-do” strengths of their North American roots now boosted by creative oversight by Spanish, gun-for-hire design superstar Patricia Urquiola and the sophisticated eye of Julio Cappellini (CEO of Cappelline/Poltrona Frau Group that was recently acquired by Haworth).

Above: Haworth

Speaking at the fair Haworth president Matthew Haworth said that his company, over the last two-and-a-half years had been “crafting its own cultural revolution” and that its creative team, headed by Urquiola, had reflected on “new furniture solutions that respond to modern ways of working”.


Above: Haworth’s booth at Orgatec

Highlights of the Haworth offering include Openest work lounges by Patricia Urquiola, the Cappellini collection, and the European release of Intuity universal workstation.

Intuity (know as Infinity in the Australasian marketplace) is the first Haworth product from its Asia-Pacific division to become a global Haworth product/platform and was designed by Sydney studio bangdesign in collaboration with Haworth Asia-Pacific.

Another new release for Haworth is the multi-solution and “multi-mood” system for various work styles called “YourPlace” designed by Munich based designer Stefan Brodbeck.

David Granger is a director of Sydney-based design company bangdesign

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