The Gold Standard

Maybe it’s due to the inspiring swag of gold medals Great Britain won in the Olympic games last year; or perhaps it’s the recent release of the movie Gold; or maybe it’s just because everyone wants a little more sparkle in their lives…whatever the reason, gold is making a resurgence. In the furniture world, 2017 seems to be the year of the bling (in stark contrast to Pantone’s colour of the year, Greenery).

Just announced last month, Fritz Hansen’s Choice 2017 is a new interpretation of Arne Jacobsen’s iconic Series 7. Based on the rich, yet delicate colours of the Japanese cherry blossom, these two, limited edition chairs ooze with understated luxury. Both the deep-red merlot and pastel nude options are complemented perfectly by their rose gold frames…giving them just the right balance of glitz and sophistication.

In contrast to this subtlety, Knoll have dared to go all out in conjunction with the wave of gold furniture releases. To celebrate its 50th (golden, of course) anniversary, the entire Platner range is now available in 18 karat gold plated options to dazzle even the most tarnished of gold cynics. And if that isn’t enough, Knoll have also released the Bertoia Diamond Chair in a stunning 18 karat gold version, to commemorate the designer’s would be 100th birthday.

Artemide seem to be taking on the same ‘go gold or go home’ approach as Knoll, with the release of the Tolomeo Tavolo Micro in yellow gold. Adding to the extensive Tolomeo family, this desk based, gold version of the classic lamp is a limited edition, making it all the more precious.

So even though all that glitters is not gold, these pieces are beautifully glamorous interpretations of their classic counterparts…and definitely worth their weight in gold.

Farewell to Fakes?

From tomorrow the repeal of section 52 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988 means that furniture designs in Britain are protected from unlicensed manufacture for 70 years, up from 25 years. Classic designs such as Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona by Knoll, Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair by Fritz Hansen and the Eames Lounge chair by Vitra are once again fully copyrighted. Retailers selling unlicensed copies will be liable to fines up to £50,000 and jail terms of up to 10 years.

Copyrighted Designs

Just some of the many designs that will once again be under copyright protection in the UK: Eames Lounge Chair by Vitra, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona by Knoll Studio & Verner Panton’s Swan by Fritz Hansen

A quick google search reveals quite a lot of vehement hostility aimed at the new law and its promoters, with some branding the likes of Vitra, Knoll and Herman Miller as ‘thieves’. Many of the naysayers are members of the general public who wish to furnish their homes cheaply and care little for the manufacturing provenance of the product or its future value. They complain that it shouldn’t cost for example £4500 for a lounge chair or over £1000 for a dining set for your home. Whilst this may be true the problem is less about individuals (although this all adds up) but well known national and multi-national brands who are buying fakes en masse for roll-outs in offices, cafeterias and restaurants. Even well known supermarkets have got in on the act with special promotions.

Of course, many of these commentators display a complete ignorance of the design, research and development process and its costs and seem to think that tooling never needs to be replaced. Nor do they acknowledge the cost of promotion without which these classics would be unknown failures and there would be no market for the replica manufacturers. They also fail to acknowledge the continual development that genuine manufacturers put into these products as well as investment in R&D for future products. For example, Verner Panton’s ‘Panton’ chair by Vitra has only fairly recently been sold as originally intended due to material limitations, the Bertoia Side chair by Knoll Studio is now available with a much more cost conscious plastic shell and the Eames Lounge Chair itself was improved upon after release, not being fully realised until the mid-60s.

An oft touted defence of replicas is that the Eameses stood for accessible and affordable design for the masses. However, the replica market is largely filled with poor quality products made with cheap Far-East labour in factories with dubious environmental credentials. Was that really what Charles and Ray Eames stood for? It’s also well known (but conveniently ignored by many) that Charles and Ray Eames themselves fought against fakes, even going so far as to create a ‘Beware of Imitations’ advertisement for Herman Miller in 1962.

Furniture Innovations & Developments

Recent furniture innovations: Joyn benching and Alcove sofas by Vitra kickstarted the agile working revolution. Continuous development: the Aeron by Herman Miller now released as a Remastered version and the Bertoia Side Chair by KnollStudio now available as a plastic shell.

Is it time for 21st Century Classics?

Herman Miller can hardly be accused of resting on their laurels, especially in the task seating market with innovations and developments such as the Aeron (a new revised Aeron Remastered has recently been launched that utilises up to date materials and mechanisms), Mirra, Embody, Sayl, and Keyn chairs. Vitra also continue to sponsor new designs and designers, with innovations such as the Alcove sofa and Joyn bench by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, two products that have been massively influential in the changing work patterns of the early 21st century office environment.

The key here though is the focus on innovations in the office environment. New – and more importantly affordable – design in crossover lounge and dining furniture that may be used in the office or the home seems less prevalent.

We love mid-century design but it’s too often used as a default, redefined or copied. Has this led to design stagnation? Certainly, there is still innovation in the furniture industry but new designs are often overlooked by architects and interior designers in favour of the safe option. There are already many good modern designs and designers out there but it’s difficult to get new designs recognised when the market is flooded with cheap copies of classics.

Responsibility

Why should the fakers circumvent the processes of design, research & development, prototyping and promotion? With the new legislation comes new challenges. Whilst some of these companies will seek to find loopholes to circumvent the new legislation (we have heard of one company importing to Ireland where fakes are not illegal and then 3rd party freight forwarding to the UK) it would be hoped that others will choose to focus on new products and to employ the next generation of designers to create their own design classics. This is certainly a challenge, but not one without rewards for the bold.

Specifiers, architects and designers must also play their part and seek beyond the obvious. Part of this is through education and here companies like ourselves must be pro-active in engaging with the design community to impart a broader product knowledge.

Finally, the responsibility also lies with the consumer. Just like more and more people inform themselves of the ethics of what they eat or what car they buy, they should also think about how they furnish their homes.

We’ll end this article with an unashamedly mid-century quotation from Charles Eames himself, taken from Herman Miller’s Design Q+A.

Q: What designs would tend toward ephemeral or towards permanence?

Eames: The good stuff is permanent, the bad stuff goes away. (1959)

Walter Knoll FK

50 Years of FK

Design icon, movie star, the Walter Knoll classic: FK turns 50. Designed by Danish interior architects Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm in 1967 ( the name was derived from their surnames), the FK bucket chair with its striking curved contours has had a remarkable career: from Herrenberg to Hollywood (Meryl Streep sits in an FK in “The Devil Wears Prada”), from the very first prize for “Good Design” awarded by the German Design Council in 1969 to a design icon that can be found in executive offices and living rooms, conference rooms and hotel lounges around the world. How did FK become such a timeless classic? Learn more about the FK story here.

Walter Knoll FK

Vitra All Plastic Chair

Now Available – Jasper Morrison All Plastic Chair by Vitra

Designed by Jasper Morrison in 2016, Vitra‘s new All Plastic Chair is reminiscent of the classic wooden chairs that have been familiar in Europe for many decades. Utilising dyed-through polypropylene, the chair represents a significant advancement in the appearance and functionality of this style of chair.
The graceful design combines great stability with excellent comfort; its backrest is attached to the frame with resilient connectors that allow it to flex in response to the sitter’s movements.
Suited for both indoor and outdoor use the All Plastic Chair comes in a choice of two-tone colours: White, Ice grey, graphite grey, ivy, brick, brown and buttercup.
Vitra All Plastic Chair

The Grass is Always Greenery

Earlier this month, Pantone announced their 2017 Colour of the Year, and it’s looking…well…green. As opposed to the muted tones of their 2016 offering (Serenity and Rose Quartz), next year’s colour, Greenery, is bold. Describing it as ‘fresh and zesty’, Pantone said Greenery was chosen for its representation of the natural world and our growing desire to unplug and reconnect with our physical environment. Pantone feel it is a revitalising shade, symbolic of new beginnings. This is good news for workplace design as Greenery is the perfect colour to inject life into the sometimes grey landscape of the workplace.

With biophilic design and retro patterns gaining popularity recently, there are plenty of Greenery options already on offer for 2017. Interface have carpet covered with their Employ Lines (above), Human Nature, Scottish Sett, and Urban Retreat collections all sporting the Pantone 2017 Colour of the Year.

Camira has a host of fabrics for Greenery to be incorporated on task chairs, sofas and armchairs too. Their Nettle NomadHebden and Landscape Contact ranges all have retro Greenery tones to choose from.

In case that still isn’t enough of the Pantone 2017 Colour of the Year, Fritz Hansen, Vitra and Herman Miller have Greenery options in some of our favourite furniture pieces, such as Series 7, Alcove Family and the Sayl Chair.

However you might like to introduce the Pantone 2017 Colour of the Year into your workplace, there are plenty of options available. Here at Corporate Workspace we just completed our own office reboot…and the main colour chosen for the new additions? Greenery, of course.

Mixology North16

Mixology North 2016

Mixology North is the north’s most prestigious award ceremony and winter ball. Mixology North was created for the dynamic and innovative interior design community by Mix Interiors magazine, the leading magazine for the UK commercial interiors market. Mixology North16, takes place tonight and we are up for Furniture Provider of the Year sponsored by Yarwood Leather. Fingers crossed!

View the full list of categories and finalists here

 

Welcome to our World!

November 2016 marks our 15th year in business.

Following 10 years at Riverside Studios, Leeds, we’ve undertaken a reboot of our working showroom to highlight current and emerging trends in workplace design as well as showcasing some products that, quite simply, we like too much not to show! Launched at our CoWo15 Reboot event last Thursday, the new showroom can now be officially revealed. So, if you were unable to attend the event last week; this is us. Welcome to our World!

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Our reception area now features a selection of leather classics from Vitra, Knoll Studio and Walter Knoll, showcasing designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Eero Saarinen and Preben Fabricius and Jørgen Kastholm. Piero Lissoni’s luxurious Avio sofa system by Knoll Studio provides the central statement piece.

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From KI, the EC4 bench system keys into the current biophilic design trend and features solid oak splayed legs and a matching laminate edge detail to give a softer and more naturalistic look. In common with other KI systems it incorporates a sturdy metal understructure with a comprehensive cable management trough. Intended as an agile work/meeting base we’ve completed the bench with CMD’s Inca power/charger unit. Inca has been designed with communal working areas and meeting rooms in mind. Four usable faces allow users easy access to power and USB charging regardless of where they are positioned around the table.

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Sit-stand workstations are increasingly a requirement rather than a luxury and more systems are entering the market to suit a variety of budgets. We’re showcasing Vitra’s Tyde system by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, in our opinion one of the better back-to-back systems with its clever cable management solution and accessories.

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Also from Vitra and again by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec is the Alcove Cabin. The Alcove Cabin provides a secluded space, enclosed on all sides and accessible through a single opening. It provides visual and acoustic privacy for small meetings at the table and power connections and lighting allow it to serve as a fully-fledged workspace. Alcove was the original high back sofa concept; copied many times it has sparked a small revolution in workplace meeting areas developing into the agile working ethos.

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The agile working theme continues into our new breakout space with the ADD modular sofa and table and Kipu stools from lapalma. ADD’s slimline aesthetic belies its strong structure. The area is nicely screened by the Howe Spaghetti wall providing a psychological barrier that is open enough to invite you into the space and yet also provides a modicum of privacy.

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Our task chair selection includes the latest ‘sitting machines’ from Herman Miller, including Mirra 2, Sayl and Embody along with the fantastic new Keyn side chair. Intelligent seating offers include Wilkhahn IN, Boss Trinetic and Nomique Axia.

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Finally our Knoll Studio collection showcases designs from Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Harry Bertoia, including the rebooted and inexpensive Bertoia side chair with plastic shell for indoor or outdoor use.

If there’s anything you’d like to see just drop us a line to arrange a visit or for more details or have a look at our video on our YouTube channel.

Here’s to another 15 years!