PearsonLloyd, the British design firm, has a knack for making boring design challenges sexy; one of their greatest hits has been their nightclub-ish interior spaces for Virgin Atlantic. And now, they've taken on contract furniture, for the Austrian company Bene.
You won't find any cubicles here. The Parcs range aims to encourage workers to lounge—since lounges, after all, are where the ideas flow. As they told Wallpaper*:
What is Parcs? Parcs is a new collection of furniture that we have designed for Bene. In any office people can often be productive and creative away from their desks so the idea was to create furniture—and by extension new meeting environments—that acknowledges this. The range includes Causeway (a collection of simple modular benches, fences and walls), Toguna (a semi private meeting space that occupies the common areas in the workplace) and Wing (a semi-private space for thinking, taking a call, reading, snoozing)
What is new in workplace design? The context for this range is the maturing market around office "breakout" areas—it's all about how to be productive away from your desk. Office furniture has traditionally been about the desk, and the meeting room, with perhaps a lounge area somewhere in between that serves little more function than branding—it says to visitors "we're relaxed" but people are rarely encouraged to use it.
What's the new workplace essential when it comes to furniture? Fifteen years ago a business would spend its budget on desks and chairs. Now—as the office has opened up—we have seen the desk become a commodity and the spend all goes on the task chair. We're starting to see the "other" section mature, as companies recognise how much work goes on—chatting, workshops, reading—that isn't necessarily supported by a desk or a traditional meeting room.
As PearsonLloyd note, our attitudes towards work—and what "work" actually consists of—have undergone a rapid shift, as companies have begun emphasizing the value of ideas and innovation. (One example: Facebook's recent office overhaul, which is chockablock with meeting areas—and also a DJ booth, kitchens, and "neighborhoods.") It's only natural that office-furniture companies such as Bene—and also Vitra, Herman Miller, and Steelcase—have followed suit.