We were really on the go this past week here at Formaspace. Greg Casey, VP of Engineering and Design, and Aaron Stoneburner, Lead Design, were covering all the latest developments at the annual NeoCon contract furniture trade show held at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Meanwhile, Formaspace VP of Sales and Marketing, Chris Andrews, flew to Germany to attend ACHEMA 2015 in Frankfurt. ACHEMA is the world’s largest laboratory equipment and process engineering show; it’s held every two years.
Let’s Start with the Developments at NeoCon in Chicago
Greg Casey reports that the trends we reported on at NeoCon last year have continued to gain momentum. According to Greg, more and more open space products (benching solutions) are being designed to promote collaboration and ease of communication. However, while these open office furniture solutions can help people work collaboratively in an ad hoc fashion, there’s a need to provide short-term privacy so people can focus on work or make mobile phone calls without interrupting others. Steelcase generated a lot of buzz and excitement at the show with its novel furniture solutions.
In the video below, their new Brody seating system provides a cocoon-like pod environment for work and study. It has the appearance of a first-class seat module on a long-haul jet aircraft. The fully-adjustable tray table is designed to hold a notebook computer or tablet, and the seat itself, according to Steelcase, is their first ergonomic lounge chair design. Power for electronics devices is built-in of course. Interestingly, the Brody system is not only targeted at the Business Office market, it’s expected to make inroads in the Education market as well. Greg noted that many manufacturers are now pursuing a dual use strategy, targeting Education or Healthcare in addition to the traditional Office market.
Steelcase is also addressing the increasing need to provide power to electronic devices, especially at desks or benches located in the center of a larger space away from wall outlets. They presented their new Thread power system, which is a very clever low-profile design that mounts on the floor rather than relying on dropping power supplies from the ceiling. At only 3/16 of an inch thick, it can be placed under thin floor coverings, like carpet tile. It’s ADA compliant so wheelchairs can roll over without a problem. In fact, it seems barely noticeable in a room.
Aaron and Greg also noted that “all things old are new again” in design at NeoCon. Many of the finishes and fabrics on display revived colors from the 1950s through the 1970s, including avocado green and burnt orange. Chrome is also back in a big way. Greg notes it was very visible at the show, particularly on table legs and seating bases. Dallas-based Coussons Group, which represents Nienkamper and other high-end furniture manufacturers created video (see below) of their display at NeoCon that illustrates the return to these mid-century modern design aesthetics.
Of course, the designers and product planners at Herman-Miller have a furnishing catalog that stretches back decades. They say that during a planning meeting — held to brainstorm on a new line furniture to address the current trend toward collaboration and easy communication — they realized they already had a solution in their back catalog. So at NeoCon, Herman-Miller reintroduced a revamped version of their Chadwick modular system from 1974. The fabrics are new, the seating height is increased to make it more comfortable to get up and get down, and, of course, power for electronic devices is incorporated into the 2015 edition.
Mobile telephone calls seem to be the bane of the open office. It’s hard not to get irritated with your coworkers when they suddenly have to take an important call, and they start yelling when there’s a bad connection. Likewise, it’s often difficult to hear on a cell phone when you’re in an open office, so people are constantly looking for a place of quiet refuge.
Furniture manufacturer The Framery has addressed the issue head-on with the ultimate retro solution: a phone booth for the office. Its humorous styling either looks like a Dieter Rams design blown up 8 foot tall or a cast-off set design piece from Woody Allen’s film Sleeper. Nonetheless, who wouldn’t want a phone booth like this? It’s marvelous. Now we fly off to Germany with Chris Andrews.
What’s New at Alchema 2015 in Frankfurt?
Chris Andrews sends back word that the laboratory equipment and process engineering manufacturers were out in full force at the biannual ALCHEMA 2015 show in Frankfurt. One of the highly anticipated exhibitors is Festo. You may recall they displayed supersized auto-controlled butterflies and collaborative robotic bionicANTS at the Hannover Messe. This time, Festo launched self-propelled flying “Emotion Spheres” that flew over their trade show booth. These flying spheres demonstrated autonomous objects working together up in the air. Check it out in the video above (the Emotion Spheres sequence starts at 2 minutes 30 seconds in).
To help you get a sense of the wide range of laboratory equipment and process manufacturing devices at the trade show, we selected this video hosted by German news reporter Wolfgang Krauesslich. Herr Krauesslich races breathlessly through a wide variety of different product demonstrations showing off the amazing ingenuity of the engineers from around the world. Even if you don’t speak German, you can get a sense of the broad scope of the laboratory and process equipment on display at ACHEMA 2015.
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Give us a call today at 800.251.1505 to find out more about the Formaspace line of built-to-order computer workstations, industrial workbenches, laboratory furniture, lab benches and dry lab/wet labs — as well as our design / furniture consulting services. Like all Formaspace furniture, it’s backed by our famous 12 year, three shift guarantee.