The New Normal: Collaborative Products

A look at some of the products fueling modern collaborative environments

by Adam Moore

At this point in the evolution of the open office, it seems quaint to talk about the need for collaborative spaces—it is now (and has been) a given. But it isn’t as easy as throwing some chairs and a table in a corner of the office and assuming workers will congregate. Employees are looking for spaces that make it easier to share information digitally, as well as furnishings that facilitate conversations and inspire creativity. So what are some of the best solutions for building collaborative spaces that people will actually want to use?

Allsteel’s Gather platform has garnered a lot of attention since its introduction at NeoCon a few years back, and for good reason. Comprised of a dozen eclectic pieces ranging from the movable Scooch stool to Hedge, a standing partition designed to facilitate impromptu conversations, Gather remains one of the most comprehensive collaborative platforms on the market. But it’s certainly not the only one.

Designed by PLD Design Group, Arcadia’s Intimia Modular line features high-backed lounge pieces, a 39-inch bar-height shelf, stools and a pull-up table to create stylish and functional meeting areas. Quarry from Leland goes the other way, providing light benches resembling rocks in a quarry for creating organic, flexible collaboration hubs. A distinct and intentional stitch line mimicking a rock fissure helps to further define the shape.

The group-based products in Herman Miller’s Canvas Office Landscape bring a sense of structure and support to the workplace with a variety of standing screens, team walls and technology modules. For those needing to unplug, Keilhauer’s Talk collection provides angled seating and tables specifically designed to facilitate face-to-face communication. High backs provide visual and sound privacy, while low backs create more casual meeting places. Designers looking for some low-tech whimsy might also like Bill from Joint Design Direction (JDD), which provides colorful enclosed seating for up to six people, complete with plywood table.

Site from Davis Furniture and the Alt Living Collection from Okamura both bring a more residential sensibility and comfort to the workplace, while still allowing designers to build productive collaborative spaces with a variety of modular benches, tables and storage solutions. Site includes a collection of circular tables capable of anchoring big spaces with their impressive scale; the Alt Living line is fully compatible with the company’s Pro Unit FW benching line to provide a complete solution for the workplace.

Finally, designers looking for a touch of high-design may want to consider the Air Unit system of modern wooden and tempered glass components from Italian manufacturer Gallotti & Radice. This freestanding system includes desks of various configurations, storage and seating, and is available with anodized aluminum or white and black lacquered metal parts.


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