News + Research

Wheels from Keilhauer

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Wheels is a 7-piece collection of mobile seating & tables designed to support an idea lab, where the spontaneous exchange of ideas fosters creativity.The designs take inspiration from Building 20, a structure erected on the MIT campus during WWII that was known as a “magical incubator” because of the fundamental advances in physics made there.

As its name implies, Wheels is entirely mobile  and was designed for flexible, on a whim, collaboration.  a is entirely mobile. Every piece – chair, stool, chaise, idea divider, and tables – is equipped with large casters and built with light wire structures to make the collection movable in an instant. Rather than search for a place to collaborate when the creative energy erupts, participants can bring the furniture to the meeting place. Design is minimal, deceptively raw, with only essential elements included.

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Knoll Horsepower: Serving All Sides of the Adaptive Office

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Horsepower by Antenna Design is a visually light technology channel, spirited in form and steady on its feet. The independent, cord-set module serves as an on-demand, mobile power source suited to a range of Activity Spaces: optional seat cushions create an impromptu bench in community spaces and video display, whiteboard and open storage options equip flexible, shared work areas.

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Configured Horsepower modules can also furnish dynamic open plan environments with hardwired, multi-circuit power, cable management, suspended storage, desk supports, modesty panels and privacy screens.

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Barber Osgerby Stool

Taking notes from the modernist age. The Barber Osgerby Stool, resembling the Barber Osgerby Table,  embodies refinement, comfort, and exceptional craftsmanship. Its tripod-like structure from die-cast material is equally resilient to abrasions and dents, making it a cost-efficient option for start-ups. It features a robust cast aluminum base finished with a highly durable powder coat paint in a variety of colors. The height adjustable seat comes in a range of fabric and leather coverings ideal for residential and office settings.barber-osgerby-adjustable-stool-knoll-2

The “Hack” of the Office

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“They don’t spend anything on office furniture,” says German designer Konstantin Grcic about the tech companies of Silicon Valley. “It is something that has to be cheap and has to be quickly accessible. They buy a lot of furniture on eBay because they can have it within 24 hours.” (‘Hack’ Designer, Konstantin Grcic )

This attitude was what inspired the designer, Konstantin Grcic, to develop Hack. The culture within start-ups is one that is easily adaptable to change, where furniture for them becomes a commodity.  Hack’s raw wooden panels deliver an unfinished aesthetic at first glance that is flexible in use and easy to ‘hack’. “If it is a piece of wood, I can drill into it and add a hook or a shelf to it myself. They (start-up tech firm employees) call that hacking the product as they do with hacking a programme. ” (Konstantin Grcic)

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While not necessarily created for  the big tech companies such as facebook, Hack represents the manufacturers response to scrappy, D.I.Y., “hackable” office trends that strongly lends itself to a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done, start-up ethos.

Hack is unlike anything Vitra has designed before, and that stems from the culture and inspiration in which it was developed. In Designo’s interview with Grcic, he takes us on a journey into the atmosphere and learning environments within Silicon Valley’s start-up culture. “If you do it the Californian way, then it’s ‘That’s an interesting idea, lets do it.’ You do something and maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t work…” It is this mentality that gave us Hack. At Vitra, producing a new product takes a long time because everything is scrutinised and analysed, but taking notes from his visit to Silicon Valley, Grcic produced Hack within a year. He released it with the expectation that even if the product is ripped apart and criticized, it would still be learning experience, just within a quicker time frame.

Allstar: Studio or Office Chair?

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“It was exactly what we were looking for, creating a chair for an office environment that is changing from the corporate nine to five routine.” (Konstantin Grcic – Designer of Allstar)

Equipped with a complex, but highly employed mechanism in office seating – Konstantin Grcic set out to design a low-cost task chair for a student at a college campus. The synchronized seat and backrest mechanism proposed by Vitra is not new to task chair design, but with four years to develop and learn, Konstantin and his team designed a chair that performs all the functions of an office chair, but has a different grammar. It looks recognizable, but not necessarily recognized as an office chair.

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In a recent interview with Johanna Agerman Ross for Disegno Magazine,  Konstantin admittedly states that some of the other more challenging chairs in his repertoire may be harder to like. However, Allstar for Vitra is easily likable. It’s prominent feature, the large loop armrest, makes it very inviting and easy on the eye. “Because it looks familiar, it makes it very simple. It is a chair that you can read immediately, you know what it is.”

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Still, even this statement masks its attributes. Konstantin points out that most people readily mistakes Allstar for a studio chair that is capable of performing limited functions that don’t match up to other tasks chairs. Its most characteristic feature, the elegant loop armrest, that gives it its simplicity is also what houses its function. Aside from adjustable armrests, Allstar behaves like any other task/office chair, therefore defying the typical stereotype of how a task chair should look.

Read Disegno’s interview with Konstantin Grcic to learn more about the design of Allstar.

Contract Magazine – The Whitney’s Curatorial Offices

 The buzz surrounding the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new opening on Gansevoort Street continues. Contract Magazine joins the conversation about how today’s museums should function while highlighting the intuitive relationship of its curatorial offices, where Arenson played a huge role. Designed by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with New York firm Cooper Robertson, the new Whitney Museum extends the pedestrian activity from the Highline to the satellite gallery/bookstore on the lobby floor and up through its open floor galleries and outdoor terraces, which were also furnished by Arenson. This relationship between pedestrian and museum reflects that of the museum and curation at the Whitney, by establishing an ongoing exchange between the artwork and its curatorial offices.

The curatorial offices, inspired by the artwork of Donald Judd, were designed by the architects as branches of the galleries in order to provide a direct conversation with the artwork and galleries. Arenson devised a millwork-type solution using systems product within Knoll’s standard product range: Antenna Workspaces and Reff Profiles. The custom gallery-like panel creates the atmosphere of walking through a gallery. John Czarnecki, the author of Whitney Museum of American Art in Contract Magazine, and Scott Newman, FAIA, a principal with Cooper Robertson, eloquently explains the new Whitney’s relationship between gallery and office.

“Offices and meeting areas for curators, conservators, and preparators all have enviable views and are located along the north and northwestern portions of upper floors, within close proximity to the galleries. “The offices and staff areas were designed to reinforce the museum’s commitment to artists and art,” Newman says. “Design of the workspaces also reflects that essential relationship with a vocabulary of simple materials, such as plywood, and the straightforward expression of building elements, such as structural cross-bracing.” – John Czarnecki

Read more of Czarnecki’s article on Whitney’s success a museum of the 21st century and view our project profile of the Whitney below to see more images of the curatorial offices and our contribution.

Related Project

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Pixel by Marc Krusin for Knoll

Pixel was designed to meet the needs of multiple tasks and audiences and can be quickly and easily reconfigured by a single user, saving time and maximizing productivity.

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This year at NeoCon 2015, Knoll introduced furniture solutions that encourage the evolving relationship between social and technological use in the workplace. The office network recognizes that today’s workplace is a direct reflection of this dynamic relationship and office settings that encourage mobility and varied forms of work are ideal. Pixel was designed to meet the needs of multiple tasks and audiences and can be quickly and easily reconfigured by a single user, saving time and maximizing productivity.  High-performance design details ensure continued performance in the most active, demanding environments. Pixel features the intuitive Pixel Connect system and a patent-pending flip mechanism that makes it simple to attach, separate and nest tables for a virtually limitless range of meeting and training applications.

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Awarded Best of NeoCon Gold

Pixel and the idea of an office network was well-received  this year at NeoCon, where it received the Best of NeoCon Gold Award for Tables: Training & Work.

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Proximo Spirits

Proximo is a privately-owned, premium spirits importer based in Jersey City, New Jersey. With just over seven years of business, the company’s portfolio has already grown to hold twelve premium brands. Its office space struggled to keep up with rapidly growing storage needs. In addition, high workstation panels were obscuring the unique architecture of the building, which was built in 1890. Proximo was committed to creating a new layout that provided a cleaner aesthetic with full functionality and less visible clutter.


Drivers

Streamline Aesthetics

After two years of using affordable refurbished and rental furniture from Arenson’s Rental department during their growth phase,  the firm sought a streamlined aesthetic to help attract and retain future and current employees.

Provide More Functionality

The needs of Proximo had begun to outgrow the amount and type of storage that they currently had, and they wanted storage that reflected the large body of work they were accumulating. “There was not enough storage particularly for the type of work we do… we had tons of bottles and mock-ups,” says Dylan Beyer, Assistant Brand Manager of the whiskey division.

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Because of the odd shapes and sizes of items that needed to be stored, many of the employees ended up putting their items on their worksurfaces. As a result, almost a third of their worksurface was being used for storage. In addition, many employees did not utilize their filing drawers because it was not the right size for their materials.

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Encourage Collaboration

Proximo’s layout had consisted of private offices, 2 conference rooms, workstations, and a kitchen/break area. They wanted to create more areas for collaboration to provide greater flow of synergy.


Process 

After providing rental furniture to Proximo for 2 years, Arenson was made aware of the need for change. The Rental department collaborated with the Arenson’s Office Furnishings division and from there, a solution was delivered.

“He had a lot of industry knowledge in terms of what to recommend, etc. It was a long process… there were a lot of changes; overall, it was a great experience. Every question we had for him, he had answers. He’s very on top of it,” Vera Soto, Manager of Financial Planning at Proximo who led the project, said of John Lawler, Arenson’s point of contact for this project.

After walking through the space and discussing the current concerns with Proximo, Arenson realized that employees had storage that was inadequate in both type and amount. Many of the employees did not use their filing drawers and ended up putting storage on the worksurface. In addition, the space had unique architecture and windows that were being obscured by high panels.

Meeting Storage Needs

Arenson chose Knoll’s Template line of storage specifically to meet Proximo’s needs. With multiple horizons and unique two-sided access, Template enables a topography of sightlines; this allowed the unique architecture of the room to stand out and natural light to disseminate better. The client desired low horizon; however, this conflicted with a functional storage solution. As a result, the final workstation layout uses multiple horizons that let more light in throughout the room.

Template’s modular, component-based construction allows for flexibility and customization.

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Deliver Ergonomics and Usable Worksurfaces

Monitors and keyboards also took up a good portion of each employee’s worksurfaces. Arenson provided monitor arms and keyboard/mouse trays to clear the worksurface and enable proper ergonomics for the user.

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Collaborative Solutions

Arenson provided small meeting tables throughout the shared workstations as well as an informal break area that was able to accommodate 20 people. The informal break area consists of bar-height tables with Knoll tops. In addition, Arenson provided markerboard surfaces on high panels facing the break area to aid in collaborative efforts.

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In addition, Knoll Template’s 15” deep footprint allowed for greater space efficiency; this helped provide space for the collaboration area near the pantry. 


Results

Greater Efficiency

A smaller workspace footprint accommodates the same number of workspaces as before as well as additional collaborative areas both within the workstations and in the separate break area.

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The break area is slowly gaining popularity. “That’s something we’ve never had before. Maybe over time, people will be more comfortable using it. Some people hang out there during lunchtime. Others who have a lot of stuff to lay out use that area too,” says Beyer.

An innovative furniture solution creates greater efficiency in a more spacious configuration that provides some privacy while maintaining openness for improved collaboration.

Encouraging Wellness in the Workplace

Raising the subject of new health concerns with the prevalence of mobile technology in a fast-changing work environment.

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One of the most active and ongoing topics in workplace design is centered around the growth of technology coupled with a generational in the workplace and the subsequent behavioral shift. We’ve seen the shift from the individual static based office to the transitional dynamic based office. People are working remotely, both within and outside of the office envelope. As we continue to research and develop new technologies to expand the capabilities of the versatile mobile office, it’s prevalence poses an ever increasing need to examine its effects, both positive and negative.  In that search, Orangebox’s director of well-being, Jim Taylour, works to shed light on some of the health concerns in his presentation Orangebox Present: “Mobile Generations.”

Arenson recently had the pleasure of hosting Orangebox, where Jim explored our changing places of work and the workforce within them and the implications of our increasing reliance on hand-held technologies. The discussion, hitting on topics of noise control and ergonomics, focused on insights and recommendations for achieving better working practices and environments.

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Challenging your perception of health.

We tend to assume that we  are healthier than we are realistically. We claim to be healthy, but in the hype of our daily lives, it’s easy for us to fall back on habits.  It is not until we are made aware, that we slip back and realize that, “maybe I am straining my neck too much, or sitting down too long.”

Jim introduces a transformative idea of bringing the “highline into the office.” What if we push for a health resurgence from an administrative level, where it starts to blend healthier practices into our work day. Implementation of programs that not only bring these issues to light but challenge them will start to shift our acceptance of unhealthy practices.

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Start Your Own Conversation.

As a bonus, we took the liberty of finding some simple, everyday practices that could start the conversation of transforming the perception of health in your workplace.

1. Jim suggests taking a walk instead of calling a coworker, which increase face-time and boosts morale.

2. Deskercise!

3. Start an ideas board, where employees can share their interests and concerns about well-being.

4. Take an initiative and implement shared office activities.

  • At Arenson, we implemented Yoga, Zumba, and afternoon massages into the work week.
  • Play the ‘Walking Game’—250 employees accepted a pedometer to count their steps: 2 million strides over 36 hours. The idea was to get people moving, help them meet colleagues and build a feeling of community.

There are a number of ways to start the conversation and challenge the well-being practices in your office. Share some of your ideas with us via social media by hashtagging #healthyworkplace @arensonoffice.

Future Proofing Startup

Creating adaptable work environments from start to growth.

For startups, there is a great deal of friction in creating physical environments along the journey and quest for greatness.

While initial founders can handle the coffee shop as the conference room or the corner of another office as home base, the functional and cultural requirements of an office quickly become a reality as a team grows in size.

Ignoring that reality may not doom a business, but it creates an avoidable drag on the overall mission of the company. Why? A well-performing environment is crucial in the high-stress, fastpaced crucible of a startup. There is a return on investment for the environment, just as state-of-the-art laptops and smartphones deliver a return to the business in terms of output.

At its core, the environment’s job is to quietly enable the success of a startup by letting high-performance happen — particularly in an organization that is constantly pushing itself to new peaks of success. The environment is critical in several areas:

  • Stimulating productivity
  • Providing a sense of stability
  • Fostering collaboration
  • Reinforcing transparency
  • Cultivating a sense of culture, identity and spirit
  • Evoking a ‘second home’ feeling
  • Supporting talent acquisition and employee retention

For companies that have scaled successfully, the physical environment is rarely a perfect journey. But there are important lessons to be gleaned for new startups to ensure the environment performs today and avoids pitfalls tomorrow.

-Knoll®, Inc

 

Download Knoll Research White Paper: Future Proofing the Startup Office >>