Belgian designer Alain Gilles tells us the thought process behind his newly released chair, BuzziFloat, and his views on co-working.
November 15th, 2016
At Orgatec 2016, Belgian brand BuzziSpace presented its vision for the workspace as a place of ‘No Boundaries’ – where design is adaptable and work happens interactively alongside relaxation. We caught up with Belgian designer Alain Gilles at the BuzziSpace stand to talk about one of its star pieces – the newly released chair BuzziFloat.
Introduce us to BuzziFloat.
It’s all about the idea that this U-shaped part goes underneath and supports the seat, which seems to float. The original idea was to play with what I call ‘new simplicity’. Sometimes I refer to it as ‘simplexcity’, meaning it’s simple but it’s actually more complex than it looks. It’s not minimalism, because to me minimalism is a bit dry. It ends up all looking the same. I strive to do something with a strong personality but that nevertheless doesn’t use too much material.
Why is a strong personality important?
I like my products to have an outline that you can recognise – even if it were printed on a small stamp. It’s a way to make sure a product can last. People see so much in magazines. As you’re flipping pages, if something is clear enough, you’ll remember it. You’ll be able to picture it because you can understand it easily. That’s the whole idea of ‘new simplicity’.
Did you imagine this as an office chair specifically?
It’s an in-between chair. It’s not an office chair in the sense of an ergonomic task chair, although it does allow some movement. It supports the back and follows the curve of the back. There’s a lot of room to move your bottom, so you can find your own comfort zone in a way. The structure allows for slight movements. Originally my thought was that the joints would play a big role in that, but when we made the prototypes, we noticed it’s the plywood parts that create most of the movement. We played with the orientation of the different ply layers during prototyping. Depending on whether we put them all at the same angle or at a different angle, we could strengthen or loosen the chair. The difference was 15-20 per cent.
What was the biggest challenge in the making of the chair?
The difficulty was making the chair with so little material, and making sure that the back would still be comfortable even when you put your arms here [on the armrests].
BuzziSpace is placing a lot of emphasis on co-working at the moment, and how design can be adaptive to different working and collaboration styles. How do you define co-working?
There are a lot of ways to look what co-working is. It can’t just be people working next to each other in a space instead of being at home. A really good co-working space is one where there’s also animation, so somebody is actually paid to manage it and make sure people interact. Different know-hows come together and people might notice that they can do something together even if normally they wouldn’t. To me, that’s a good co-working space – one with interaction and the sharing of knowledge, which is very much what today is about.
You previously designed a round table for BuzziSpace that would be ideal for an environment based on sharing.
Yes, it’s called BuzziPicNic Round. The centre is a bit like a lazy susan. The idea was a table that can generate interaction. It’s funny – some friends told me, “We did one or two meetings around the round table and we noticed that people tend to speak one after the other; there’s no confrontation between people.” We tried to encourage a spirit of the togetherness – the way you exchange ideas during the weekends with friends. I wouldn’t say a chair could make such a difference. The main difference with BuzziFloat is that it doesn’t look like an office chair. It’s a more homely chair.
This interview is presented by Zenith Interiors.
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