Vitra’s take on the future workplace at Orgatec

Three innovative workplace scenarios presented by Vitra at Orgatec in Cologne last month asked how new distributed patterns of work – with more people working in the public realm or in shared, flexible spaces – will influence the office environments of tomorrow. Curated by LA-based designer Jonathan Olivares and Swedish architect and designer Pernilla Ohrstedt, Vitra’s ‘WORK’ asked three designers to comment.

The shared office space by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

‘Our thesis is that the desk has had its day,’ said Jay Osgerby of the shared space concept, which showcased Soft Work, the duo’s modular upholstered seating system for Vitra that fundamentally rethinks office working practices. ‘The workstation is going the same way as the dining room,’ Osgerby claimed, ‘it’s disappearing as an archetype’.

Influenced by observation of work happening in public environments such as hotel lobbies and airport lounges, where large sofas often form the hub, Soft Work is an upholstered system that incorporates charging points and table surfaces as well as mobile elements and optional privacy panels for quieter, more concentrated work.

The modular Soft Work can be assembled into diverse arrangements, enabling architects to structure the internal spaces of a building, create specific focal points, or define flexible public areas. Available from July 2019.

The super-flexible office by Konstantin Grcic

A cast of moveable furniture elements populated this extra-agile office space, designed by Grcic to be occupied in a looser, more organic way. Divider curtains, mobile partition walls, furniture on castors and stacking chairs make it possible for users to quickly reconfigure spaces for myriad uses while maintaining a core identity.

‘For many new and existing corporate cultures, the ad-hoc way of working is attractive,’ said Grcic of the concept, which featured his new Rookie studio chair – a small, agile and, by office standards, simple approach to the chair.

As well as being equipped with the classic adjustable functions of the office chair, Rookie’s structure is ergonomic with a backrest that flexes subtly in response to the user’s movements and, in most versions, a flexible front edge. Available April 2019.

The company home by Sevil Peach

‘When you are conceiving an office project, it’s important to capture the spirit of the company,’ said UK interior designer Sevil Peach of her ‘Company Home’ scenario. The concept muses on setting the tone of a headquarters space, conveying what a company stands for to both employees and guests.

Values and aspirations can be communicated through a fusion of architecture, materials, furniture and objects with the overall aim of creating a harmonious environment that gives employees a sense of wellbeing and offers a variety of settings for concentrated work, meetings or rest phases.

Furnished with a collage of products, Company Home also formed the backdrop for the launch of the AC 5 Group of chairs, jointly developed by Antonio Citterio and Vitra. The new office chair family covers a wide performance spectrum and is notable for its distinctive angled backrest as well as the classic combination of aluminium components and Hopsak fabric. Available now.