News + Research

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

Whitney Museum of American Art

 

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.

Pixel by Marc Krusin from Arenson Marketing.

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 >>

Wearables at Work: Using People Analytics to Change Offices for the Better

Watch Ben Waber’s presentation at the Google re:Work conference.

Dr. Ben Waber, President and CEO of Humanyze – part of Sociometric Solutions – showed how his company’s wearable ID badges gather data on employee interactions, which can then be used to map internal networks and predict performance. The badges collect data constantly about employees’ real-world interactions with colleagues and how employees spend their time. Waber’s team uses this data to better understand how organizations operate and what behaviors positively influence employee performance and organizational success. Their research has shown how the physical layout of an office can help or hinder the sharing of information, which can impact millions of dollars in sales. “It demonstrates the results you can get when you use real data about how people actually work to change how a company operates,” Waber said.

Meet the Remix Chair by Knoll

Setting a New Seating Standard

Knoll upholstered task chairs have set the standard for decades— innovative in their time and considered classics today. In recent years, Knoll’s designs have focused on material innovations that support the new ways people work. Remix updates the traditional upholstered chair aesthetic while providing cutting edge performance. With classic stitching and clean lines, Remix has a modern, refined aesthetic for every workplace. Remix celebrates high performance by making use of an unconventional mix of materials on its outer back, deliberately exposed to celebrate the function and performance of the chair.

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Holistic Ergonomics

Remix supports the idea of holistic ergonomics, incorporating how we move and how we think. The result: a design that promotes physical and emotional well-being, and encourages free expression, creativity and engagement in the workplace. Remix recognizes that a chair should support many postures and be comfortable and easy-to-use for a range of mental and physical tasks.

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Awarded Best of NeoCon Gold

The last time Formway introduced an office chair design for Knoll, its innovative material technology responding to human mobility made significant strides in office seating. In 2014, Remix was introduced and well-received  at NeoCon, where it received the Best of NeoCon Gold Award for Ergonomic Desk/Task Chairs. Check out the video below to learn more about the chair from its designers.

Knoll Remix Work Chair

The advanced performance material  coupled with its refined form gives Remix a versatile scope that spans the workplace, from private office to open plan and conference room settings. Its Flex Net Matrix material incorporated in its tandem back offers flexibility and firmness, which supports active, all-day use. Remix recognizes that an office chair should support multiple postures and be easy-to-use for a wide-range of mental and physical tasks. Available in mid-back and high-back versions, the classic stitching and clean lines gives the Remix its refined aesthetic, making it complementary to any environment.

Download Research on the Remix Chair:

Remix Chair Research

Go to the Product Pages:

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Our Trucks Have a Fun Side to Them

It was an exciting challenge to use the opportunity of a truck redesign to engage the city of New York with the core of our business. On the side of Arenson’s new furniture delivery trucks, you will find our name rendered in a different furniture finish – textile upholsteries, chrome, elastomer, caning and leather. High-resolution macro-photography of finish swatches was used to capture each image, which when scaled 20 feet long, provides a stunningly luscious close-up of each material’s texture.

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Another goal in designing our trucks was to engage the clever people of New York City working high up in office towers. This led us to utilize another side (a side that usually goes ignored.) Looking down on them from above, you will find a different furniture trivia question on the roofs of each of our trucks.Truck 1 Top

Check out all the Truck Trivia questions and answers at www.aof.com/truck-trivia. If you see a truck, parked in front of your building or stopped at a light, be sure to snap a pic and post to social media to enter our quarterly drawing.

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Dutch Manufacturer Maars Unveils LineaCube, a Crystalline New Collaborative Shelter at Orgatec 2014 in Cologne, Germany

The widespread move by companies to densify (cram more people into) open-plan offices provides for some interesting office-design possibilities. One new trend we have seen is the emergence of Collaborative Shelters – freestanding structures for the purpose of huddling, conferencing, or even breaking away from the open-plan to have a private moment to oneself, free from acoustical distractions.

Maars has seized on this trend with the introduction of LineaCube at the Orgatec 2014 Office and Object Trade Fair. Incorporating details from the LaLinea architectural walls platform, LineaCube features double-glazing and flush-mount glass, which cleverly conceals door hardware, including jambs, frames and hinges. Additionally, the sleek, adjustable footer profile is among the most minimal of any wall system out on the market today. But perhaps the most differentiated element of LineaCube are the crystalline double-glazed corners – a signature detail resulting from the mitered glass edges and the absence of vertical profile components at the corners.

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LineaCube’s planning flexibility enable an endless number of layout variants, from single-person refuge-spaces, to chains of phone booths, to freestanding conference rooms for 12 people, all within the following dimensions:

  • Height up to 10 feet
  • Depth up to 13 feet
  • Unlimited length

 

Arenson Architectural Products Maars LineaCube

 

LineaCube’s high-performance ceiling is contained within a minimal-form housing, inset into LineaCube’s double-glazed walls. This flush-glazing results in seamless lines and the appearance of crystal-clear transparency. The ceiling construction features:

  • Integrated indirect LED mood lighting along the ceiling contours
  • Controlable working climate vis-a-vis the concealed and fully integrated ventilation and air extraction system embedded in the ceiling
  • Direct lighting; spots or hanging lamps
  • Integrated sprinkler, fire alarm and/or movement sensors vis-a-vis steel ceiling construction or customized stretch ceiling
For more information regarding LineaCube or any Maars product, please contact archproducts@aof.com or call (212) 991-4191.