Orgatec 2012 Tames the Office

I&S explores the heart of European office furniture design at the biannual Orgatec show in Cologne, Germany.

12/31/2012 Written and photographed by Kenn Busch

Orgatec, Europe’s foremost office and contract furniture event, happens every other October in Cologne, Germany. Expertly organized around major trend themes, the event has a growing international fan base that attends to absorb the latest global design and technology concepts.

This year, there was a marked emphasis on acoustics, comfort and generally making the workplace a kinder, gentler environment. There were also many companies working and playing with materials and form in the pursuit of fresh design.

Here you’ll find a few of our many discoveries in Cologne.

warm and quiet: cork tables and partitions
Vitra, based in Switzerland, had the show buzzing with its cork worktables and dividers, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The company prides itself on its design and environmental innovations, making the choice of cork doubly inspired. Naturally grown and sustainable, with warmth and sound-buffering properties, cork works to mellow a busy workplace.

haworth: ‘think, see, do, connect’... and relax
“Haworth created an environment at the Orgatec show to demonstrate a variety of collaborative work settings, themed ‘Think, See, Do, Connect,’” says Kurt Vander Schuur, corporate brand director with Haworth. With the launch of Workware, Haworth displayed integrated technology solutions from training and desking to meeting and hospitality throughout its stand.

“Orgatec is a great place to share knowledge from Haworth’s global network,” says Vander Schuur.

Calm Space was introduced to offer a relaxation retreat within work settings. Designed by Marie-Virginie Berbet, Calm Space is a regenerating power nap capsule. The user chooses a duration for the power nap, and the pod then uses preset sound and light cycles to gently send them to sleep and wake them back up.

The classic Shetland rocker or bench is Haworth’s casual, playful and interactive seating option for impromptu collaboration. Created by the Haworth Design Studio, it is lightweight, informal and easily reconfigurable low seating.  Shetland encourages multiple, comfortable postures, allowing the body to move and interact.  Created in wood plyform with walnut veneer or white painted plyform and accented with wool and leather saddle accessories, Shetland allows designers and architects to create iconic spaces when casual seating is needed for collaboration and interaction.

furniture concepts from moscow’s top architects
Let’s say you run one of Russia’s premier commercial outfitters—with a prestigious list of clients that includes Google Russia, Microsoft and Nokia—and you specialize in built-in architectural treatments and reception desks. Let’s also say that you want to make a splash with furniture concepts at Europe’s premier office furniture event.

What would you do? Why, you’d give five of Moscow’s top architects carte blanche, with a commitment to engineer and show immaculate prototypes, and to produce the pieces to order.

Nayada, the show’s only Russian exhibitor, presented the first part of its innovative project, “12 Architects. Offices Project.” At 9 months old, the project is only half-realized. The final collection will include seven additional architects from around the world. Plans are to show all 12 concepts at the Milan Furniture Fair in April 2013.

“Even though these are only prototypes, several people have asked to purchase them immediately,” says Dmitry Cherepkov, president of the Nayada Group. “In truth, we are still developing them. Some of the materials, like the carbon fiber and the layered veneers, require very special handling.”


Kenn Busch is a writer and photographer specializing in global materials coverage and education for architects and interior designers. He is based in Madison, Wis.


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