Designer Jaime Hayon’s Plenum Sofa Challenges the Idea of Traditional Office Furniture

11/30/2018 By Rachel Kats

For his first foray into contract furniture, designer Jaime Hayon took the whimsical style he’s known for and parlayed it into the creation of Plenum, a sofa that fuses a residential feel with the functional needs of a modern workspace.

With collaboration from Danish design company Republic of Fritz Hansen, they’re aiming to break the mold of what the idea of office furniture is or should be. Plenum brings warmth to the cold and sterile environments that are all too common in public spaces.

Plenum Sofa Images courtesy Fritz Hansen

“With Plenum you really get that intimate feeling when sitting down. It’s a firm, but comfortable seat,” Hayon explains. “The one-seater creates a very private room for concentration, whilst the two- and three-seater invites collaboration. It’s really a space in the space.”

Structurally, Plenum has a high back and curved sides to provide privacy and acoustical control. It’s fitted with small pillows that provide neck and elbow support.

“The entire way we are working has shifted enormously. Personally, I travel a lot, maybe half the year, so my office is on the go, you can say,” Hayon says. “But even in offices we tend to move around, sit at different places, even bring our kids from time to time. This is also why the demand for more personal and cozy offices has arisen and why we see more sofas, pillows and multi-solution furniture in office spaces.”

Material Choice and Features

Hayon and Fritz Hansen have collaborated many times before on such pieces as the Analog table and Favn sofa. However, Christian Andresen, head of design at Fritz Hansen, saw an opportunity in the contract furniture marketplace—a need for something more playful and sculptural as opposed to uniform—and suggested Hayon try his hand at it.

Intrigued by the opportunity, Hayon decided to give it a go, and collectively they put special thought and consideration into which materials to use and not use.

“We didn’t want to use glue in this product. Glue is not toxic or anything, but it has a huge impact on the ability to upholster,” Andresen says. “That was actually a huge task because sculptural pieces and no glue in itself is a difficult task, but we solved it through geometry. It was a really interesting project for us as a new way of designing and a new way of manufacturing.”

Incorporating a new technology approach to the sofa was also important. The product offers features such as power plugs, USB ports and mounted or separate tables. Every version of the Plenum sofa has the possibility of a clip-on power unit in black, which includes one regular plug and two USB ports. Furthermore, three types of tables can be added: a mounted swivel table, a low lounge table or a higher work table. Plenum comes in a wide range of fabrics and colors.

“We wanted all parts to be exchangeable, we wanted the seat covers to be able to be taken off and washed and then put on again. And we wanted this product to be the beginning of a family of products around that technology,” Andresen explains.

Looking Ahead

As a design-driven company, having close and lasting relationships with designers has been crucial to Fritz Hansen’s success, explains Andresen, and going forward they plan to collaborate with Hayon on a variety of other projects. 

In addition to Plenum, they’ve launched two small figures called Geo Sculpture #1 and Sculpture #2. The pair of objects have a visual effect as well as function, one being a vase and one being a jewelry box.

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“I love to be able to play around, from small figures to big furniture, which is the essence of my collaboration with Fritz Hansen,” Hayon says. 

Over the next few years, they also plan to collaborate on a collection of breakout open-space lounge furniture, and Andresen says they’ll continue to develop products that shakeup the marketplace and evolve to meet the changing needs of their clients and consumers. 

“We will meet challenges along the way and of course we’re small in that market segment, but I have a high belief that doing it right — and doing it the way that we’re doing it right now as we’re going through this process — we’ll bring great products to market. I’m proud of it and I know Jaime is proud of it.”

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