We hope we don’t sound too smug when we say that we could have told you (months and months ago) the majority of the major trends we’d find at this year’s Orgatec.
To be honest, it doesn’t take much of a genius to work out that the latest edition of Europe’s leading furniture fair would be dominated by a mass of new phone booths, acoustic products, high-backs, soft seating landscape products and swings. What’s that? Swings? Yep, there were plenty of swings on show, as the good and the great of the German furniture market took their soft seating on to the next free and fancy level. Wheeee! We wonder who sent the memo.
Another trend we might (and should) have anticipated was that there would be many a non-exhibiting Brit casting dispersions on the show. We’re not sure why. Oh, and for the record, simply saying that the show was ‘too German’ is not good enough. You’re in Cologne!
There was, as ever, plenty to see – some good and some not so good – but if you took a bit of time, you could certainly find some genuinely impressive new product introductions.
Take Brunner’s beautiful new extensions to its already brilliant RAY collection; simple, elegant, modern – this is a perfect example of how to build a collection and enhance a brand. Hats off to Jehs + Laub – and to Brunner for knowing a winner then they see one.
We were also impressed by the new Pure chair from Interstuhl. The swivel chair supports the user’s movements in all directions. This 360-degree manoeuvrability is all down to a new and unique material – a special composition of polyamide and glass fibre, which has been meticulously developed and extensively tested by Interstuhl. The result is a dynamic and agile chair that adapts intuitively to anyone who sits on it, while there is also a welcome absence of a mechanism and tricky adjustments – and, we’re assured, it comes with a surprisingly attractive price tag.
Once again, Vitra (and friends) flexed their muscles with a full-hall display. We were slightly taken aback (but actually quite liked) to be chaperoned into the zone where you could actually test the latest products. Although we received no official line of why this was, we did hear that it was to detract certain foreign bodies from getting a little too close with their screwdrivers and cameras.
Anyway, we did like Barber & Osgerby’s Soft Work, which can be easily assembled into diverse arrangements, enabling you designers to structure the internal spaces of a building, create specific focal points or define flexible public areas. It just looked like a really elegant, flexible seating solution to us. Think Joyn in seating form. It will be available from June 2019.
Also catching our eye was Rookie – a small, agile and unconventionally simple chair, designed by Konstantin Grcic. It provides a high level of immediate comfort with a minimal number of adjustments. Furthermore, Rookie is extremely budget friendly, and will be available from April 2019.
We’ve come to expect crisp, smart storage solutions from werner works, but were (very pleasantly) surprised to find an entire new direction at this year’s Orgatec, in the shape of Parkour. The series of multifunctional, flexible ‘bunks’ is the brainchild of Kinzo from Berlin. Like parcour, the design follows possible sequences of movement, with human proportions dictating the layout. You can work, meet, store and chill. We like.
We were especially taken with Actiu’s latest offerings. If we were to pick just one, Talent is a mobile, foldable, stackable table system that offers great versatility to multi-use spaces. The tables also provide an ergonomic solution, as their height adjustment system does not need an electrical connection. Clever stuff from Spain’s finest.
Humanscale introduced a redesign of its best-selling line of its M2.1, M8.1 and M10 monitor arms, now manufactured with the fewest parts, pieces and packaging possible, to minimise the amount of energy and materials needed. There really is plenty of bang for your buck here!
It was also good to see Summa, Humanscale’s first executive boardroom seating, in Europe for the first time. Summa exudes luxurious simplicity, presenting a clean aesthetic from every angle. With auto-recline and tension automatically established by the user’s weight, it offers seamless support and comfort for the boardroom.
It was curtains for BuzziSpace in hall 10 – in a very good way. We were particularly taken with BuzziBracks, which is a modular system that can be combined in numerous ways to create different areas – to work, focus, relax or meet. The curtains, available in a wide color palette, act as a visual as well as acoustic shield from the surroundings, separating one zone from the other. Designed by Alain Gilles, BuzziBracks allows users to continuously create and recreate microenvironments within open workspaces. Think coworking!
Just for the record, we spent far more time than we expected to in halls 10 and 11 at this year’s show. Slightly removed from the main new boulevard, where the Germanic giants largely dominate, we were pleasantly surprised to find so many brilliant brands with brilliant displays and brilliant product introductions – including the likes of Arper, Walter Knoll, Fritz Hansen, Kettal and Poltrona Frau.
We’re big fans of Italy’s Tecno, and, for this year’s Orgatec, the company’s stand was designed to represent the ideal office building floor, offering multiform solutions that promoted free movement, collaboration and meeting options.
Among these impressive, diverse environments, we really liked Linea, a new reconfigurable micro-architectural system designed by Zanon Architetti Associati and the Centro Progetti Tecno – while the Aura armchairs also turned our heads.
Thinking Works seldom disappoint. The Screenliner system incorporates human-centric lighting technology to maximise productivity in the office. Running on a central control panel, workstations equipped with the Screenliner acoustic screen system will emit a measured amount of blue and yellow light. Following a programme that has been engineered to maintain focus over the course of the workday, cool light keeps employees engaged throughout the day before smoothly transitioning to a warm light as the workday ends.
With additional features including integrated storage for phones, glasses, headsets and other personal effects, Screenliner provides built-in power and inductive charging facilities as well as concealed power management. Screenliner will be available in 2019.
Finally, although the number of UK manufacturers was low compared with previous editions, it was good to see neighbours (for the week at least) Camira and CMD, who both delivered impressive displays.