With working environments changing from enclosed, segmented cubicles to flourishing collaborative spaces, there is more opportunity now than ever before to design transitional products that reside between these seemingly opposed working styles. This is where Teknion’s product Cityline targets the middle-market end user seeking collaboration spaces without a completely open concept. Grounded in the motif of the changing urban landscape, the heart of the project rides on the flexible beam structure that connects all other working components. Inspired by New York City’s High Line park, and its power to connect people between a collaborative city and a private retreat, the development of this product never swayed from this stance. The collection speaks to the design process—a story filled with push and pull, constant iterations, and concludes in the power of collaboration between engineering and design. Cityline is proof that great ideas do not happen overnight.
It started with the question “Why is the office environment changing so much?” From there, Teknion’s design team, under the direction of Design Manager Martin Geoffroy, brainstormed for three months culminating in 10 ideas to review with the Portfolio Committee. It was during these meetings with leadership in research and development and marketing that the product and project direction started to take shape.
After the selection of six concepts by Teknion’s Portfolio Committee, a yearlong process commenced in which these ideas were presented to hundreds of designers, architects, and Teknion’s largest dealers to get field validation. By popular demand, ten ideas were cut down to two. With both concepts “nose to nose,” as Geoffroy said, Teknion merged them together, which was the jumping off point for the prototyping phase.
PROTOTYPING THE IDEA
Geoffroy explained that Cityline’s success came from in-field support along with the 18 months of prototyping. Team members conceptualized everything from visual mockups to design proposals with working mechanics. The focal point of Cityline is the beam structure, and although designed in parallel with other components, it took the industrial design team a year to perfect. Originally, a single beam with a 90-degree configuration was intended but it was deemed unfeasible. From there, a two-beam structure emerged, opening up the capabilities of the final product.
THE POWER OF COLLABORATION
“It's always a tough part of transferring the wish of the industrial design team into reality,” Geoffroy said. However, the Validation Committees that consisted of designers, engineers, and marketers allowed for seamless communication between departments. These sessions were essential to their yearlong product development process, as it kept everyone informed on the progress of the product in real time. This was especially important regarding the beam structure and how the part’s redesign could lead to the rearranging of other components.
Two-and-a-half years after Geoffroy and his team dreamed up the idea for Cityline, all that remained were the “nuts and bolts.” The product launched after three years, with its first installation in Calgary, Canada. The job was a success, but that was just the beginning.
Geoffroy’s team is currently revisiting how to improve the product. Regardless of how long it took to launch, Teknion’s Cityline demonstrates that the design process
is a continuous story to be built upon.