In Chicago, at the world’s largest contract furniture fair, Keilhauer, Shaw, Steelcase and more respond to the casual office trend with flexible, colourful and sustainable workstations and furnishings.
1 Quiet Spaces by The 102-year old company enlisted author Susan Cain of her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, to consult on five spaces to empower introverts in the office place. On the left: Be Me offers a space free from the gaze and interruption of others, while encouraging lounging, working or closing one’s eyes for a few moments. Right: Studio, an active environment where individuals can rejuvenate through activity and stretching while recharging through contemplating and reflection. All spaces are equipped Steelcase’s patented V.I.A. architectural walls, which provide an acoustic barrier and can be tinted for added privacy.
2 Wallace Sewell for British textile designers and expert weavers Emma Sewell and Harriet Wallace-Jones traveled across the pond to launch their inaugural line for New York manufacturer Designtex. The four vibrant lambswool upholsteries, for corporate or residential settings, consist of large-scale stripes and grids inspired by Anni Albers’s colour explorations and the urban landscape of London. Each piece is woven by fellow Royal College of Art alum Dairine Nethercott, at Britain’s esteemed Hield Bros mill.
3 TriScape by Todd Bracher has again partnered with HBF, this time on a line of triangular lounge furnishings. TriScape, which takes cues from growth patterns found in nature, provides collaborative open plan spaces to fulfill a workplace’s need for functionality and community as well as acoustical control. Fixed benches and mobile stools comprise the collection, available in myriad materials that include wood and leather.
4 Side by Side at Smooth curves define Arco’s modular upholstered seating, with optional tabletops, by Dutch duo Dick Spierenburg and Karel Boonzaaijer. It offers a bevy of pieces – among them, left- and right-facing seats and a high-back version that creates a small, private working zone – for multiple configurations.
5 Unos by Jasper Morrison looked to aviation construction and traditional joinery for his collection of chairs and armchairs. Available in stackable and non-stackable versions, they are composed of solid beech and plywood, with optional uphostered seats. The rugged yet lightweight, elegant seating is suited to both commercial and residential environments.
6 Syz and Lo by Vienna’s EOOS designed the Syz table for both office meetings and casual encounters. The extensive collection’s tabletops come in three heights (lowest one shown), 21 sizes, three shapes (round, square and rectangular) and four finishes (veneer, laminate, quartz or painted glass). The bases are in elegant cast aluminum, polished or powder coated. In addition, the tables feature wire management capabilities, power outlets and USB ports. EOOS accessorized them with Lo, a charming elevated floor cushion that encourages relaxed, coffee-table confabs.
7 Grain + Pigment by Boasting wood-inspired textures and subtle striations, this collection of seven-by-48-inch planks is quick to install, thanks to Shaw’s patented tongue and groove system. Grain’s textures range from smooth to wire-brushed, in 22 colours including four with a soft, metallic sheen; and Pigment is a near-solid with a subtle texture available in 12 warm to cool shades. Both vinyl lines are composed of 72 per cent recycled content and constructed with a silencing layer that reduces noise transfer and anti-microbial protection.
8 Mitt by At Bernhardt, El Salvador’s Claudia & Harry Washington took cues from a baseball glove for their loop cord–stitched chairs that holds sitters as snug as a ball. Among its four variations is one with hidden castors and an optional handle on its back, enabling the lightweight seat to be easily moved about. All are available in various hues of leather and fabric.
9 Light Wall by A series of lightweight screens, designed by Jeffrey Bernett and Nicholas Dodziuk, Lite Wall responds to the varying needs of an open office. Cleverly using magnets, the piece easily reconfigures without tools or visible connections. Varying screen heights accommodate standing, sitting and lounging.
10 Ballo by Visitors to the Humanscale showroom couldn’t resist bouncing around on these fitness ball–like seats by Don Chadwick, co-designer of the Aeron Chair. Ballo, ideal for short-term sitting, promotes flexibility, freedom of movement and comfort, and also comes in a stable version with a round top.
11 Public Office Landscape by Designed by Yves Behar and fuseproject, Public, which began as a concept last year, officially went into production. The modular collection, which supports focused work and group collaboration, is defined by The Social Chair: an ergonomic soft seat that encourages casual discussions and can be incorporated into various parts of the system, accommodating a range of people and postures.
12 ARO for The Knoll showroom exhibited a collection of acoustic products for FilzFelt designed by New York’s Architecture Research Office. The sound-muffling material is composed of German-milled wool felt, vacuum-formed to acoustic foam or PET substrate; and it comes in several variations, such as hanging panels, and wall and ceiling systems.
13 Human Nature by As always, Interface is inspired by nature; grassy fields and pebbled paths give its latest collection a unique visual and tactile energy in a neutral palette injected by bolds. The 25-by-100-centimetre planks are made with recycled-content nylon yarn, and – like all Interface products – manufactured in its super-sustainable factories. The manufacturer’s operations are 39 per cent more energy efficient and consume 83 per cent less water than they did 20 years ago, and receive 35 per cent of their energy from renewable sources.
14 Arezzo by Dorothy Cosonas, the creative director at Knoll Textiles, was struck by the couture creations of the late Alexander McQueen when she visited his retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. The large-scale pattern on this velvet upholstery was created by marrying digital printing and artisanal know-how, and the result is that no two fabrics are alike. Each colourway consists of four Pantone chips.
15 Zinta by Lievore Altherr Molina launched several new lines in Chicago, including this one for Arper – a modular sofa system with a shell in natural, brown or dark oak. Zinta has a deep seat to support casual sitting and comes in various configurations from a single sofa to large-scale seating for commercial, hospitality or residential settings. Also available: a range of cushion options in a range of fabrics, and optional plywood armrests.