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ORGATEC 2012 was the place to discover new trends and innovative products for the workplace. Mandi Keighran reports.



November 9th, 2012

Every two years, the Koelnmesse in Cologne plays host to ORGATEC, the tradeshow that puts the focus on the latest products and trends for the workplace.

Whereas Milan is the place for new product launches, ORGATEC is where business is done and the business of business is discussed. And, from the 23rd to the 27th of October 2012, thousands of retailers, distributors, architects, designers, and media descended upon Cologne to network and discover the latest developments in workplace design.

The fair was much smaller this year than in previous years – with noticeable absences from major brands including Herman Miller and Steelcase. But there was still plenty to take in across the six halls at Koelnmesse and the neighbouring Design Post.

Acoustic privacy was one of the key trends at this year’s fair – continuing to develop as a major area of workplace design. ORGATEC addressed this through the Acoustics Competence Centre – an exhibition space that showcased information and acoustic products.

As the workplace becomes increasingly open and flexible, these kinds of products become more important and whereas at ORGATEC 2010, the main trend seemed to be the introduction of flexible, private workspaces.

BuzziMe, Buzzispace

BuzziWings, Buzzispace

So, not surprisingly, acoustic and visual privacy was an area addressed by many brands. Buzzispace launched the ’BuzziMe’ chair and the ’BuzziWings’.

Oof Box, Oof

Oof’s ’Oof Box’ was another elegant solution, which also addressed concerns over maximisation of available space with its small footprint.

Megaron, Koleksyon

Koleksyon exhibited ’Megaron’ – a flexible acoustic product used to break up open spaces.

Workbay, Bouroullec Brothers for Vitra

Over at Vitra’s enormous stand visitors could experience ’Workbay’ by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, which follows on from their iconic ’Alcove’ range. Vitra also launched the ’ID Air’ chair by Antonio Citterio.

ID Air, Vitra

Privacy was also a key concern at Haworth, where ’Meet You’ provided another solution for the workplace.

Meet You, Haworth

LTB, Haworth

Alongside these small work ’pods’, other flexible solutions were abundant. Sit/stand tables – such as ’Mobility’, which was showcased at Actiu (who also stood out for their sustainability commitments) – are leading the way in this area.

Mobility, Actiu

Humanscale was notable here for their table, which relied not on electrical or mechanical means for its movement, but a patented counter-weight system.

Connectivity is another trend that ties into the increasingly global workplace. The ’Together’ media bench by Senator is an elegant solution to meet this need.

Together, Senator

At a more local level, connecting within the workplace was another key area of interest. As previously discussed, small, private meeting spaces were everywhere at this year’s event, but there was also a noticeable increase in soft furnishings – with many brands who had previously not entered into this area launching new product. Wilkhahn launched the ’Asienta’ break-out chair and sofa range.

Asienta, Wilkhahn

They also launched the hugely successful ’Chassis’ chair by Stefan Diaz in a range of new finishes, including a sophisticated black leather.

Chassis Chair – Leather, Wilkhahn

Bene increased their offering with the addition of the ’Bay’ chair, a new type of chair for teamwork, informal meetings, and temporary focused work – addressing the need for products for the workplace to address multiple needs.

Bay Chair, Bene

Billiani launched the ’Inka’ group of upholstered break-out seating – a fresh take with graphic architectural forms.

Inka, Billiani

Pedrali extended their ’Gliss’ range with a new rocking version – which should fit perfectly into some of the more playful break-out areas in new workplaces. It also addresses the crossover between the commercial and residential markets, which has continued to develop since 2010.

Gliss – Rocking, Pedrali

Task chairs are also continuing to become more ’residential’ in their aesthetic – a perfect example being Walter Knoll’s ’Lead Chair’, with it’s padded, leather-upholstered back.

Lead Chair, Walter Knoll

Products such as task chairs were also becoming more intuitive. K+N launched the ’Jet II’ – a redevelopment of the ’Jet’ that incorporates an i-synching mechanism that automatically adjusts for the user.

Jet II, K+N

True innovation was to be found at Design Post, where Leo Schouten and Jurgen Bey showcased their ’Side Seat’ chair.

Side Seat, PROOFF

New brand Mobica was another manufacturer embracing innovation. With the full range designed by Martin Ballendat, Mobica’s most interesting product was the ’Cango’ mobile drawer, which worked as a drawer and briefcase, providing the ultimate mobility.

Cango, Mobica

Sharko, Mobica


All in all, it was another great year at ORGATEC.

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