I bet you’ve never heard of the Centripetal Spring Armchair. Peculiar name and nauseating brocade upholstery aside, this specific chair has a unique significance. Designed in 1849 by the American Thomas E. Warren, the chair is most likely the earliest example of an office task chair. Its distinguishable features: head support, wheels and a fully rotational seat appear surprisingly aligned the modern task chair design we are so familiar with, 170 years on.
This monstrosity wasn’t going to stick around for long, let’s face it. Since then, the office furniture industry has been brimming with innovation in the aim of improving ergonomics, productivity and meeting current worker demands, especially when how we work continues to evolve.
In this article we take a look now into the present and future, at our favourite innovative suppliers and designers promising to change the game of office furniture design once more.
Offecct are internationally recognised for using environmentally sustainable, renewable materials and for their innovation in developing products which improve air and sound environment. Their collections centre around meeting space chairs, acoustic panels and accessories.
Last year they launched OFFECCT LifeCircle®. A concept designed to prolong the lifespan of their products even further and to create a life cycle for furniture and interiors.
In their words they ‘enable interiors that stimulate creativity in meetings between people today and tomorrow’.
Characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality, Scandinavian design is one of the most widely recognised furniture styles. Featuring soft contours, gentle accent colours and a balance of materials, Plus Halle describes itself as ‘creating human spaces’.
No surprise then that Scandinavian design has been embraced by the modern office.
Plus Halle’s new ‘Nest Collection’ offers an interesting take on the classic poseur table and seating, perfectly infusing the values of Scandinavian design to ensure comfort, steadiness and elegance.
BuzziSpace, a Belgian company established in 2007, have been forerunners in producing furniture solutions for the modern office. As a reaction to the emergence of the open plan office their furniture is designed to reduce noise in these expansive environments.
They focus on a ‘global need to bring silence and style to the office’. Helping offices to be collaborative yet quite, open yet closed.
As the open-plan office continues to develop, we are seeing well-thought furniture design that combines classic and contemporary design. The Switzerland furniture designers Vitra produce the iconic Charles and Ray Eames designs as well as pushing the boundaries in future design thinking.
Vitra's 'Alcove' furniture is a perfect example of such design. The Alcove Sofa by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec above provides not just a comfortable and stylish seating option, but also plays an important function in reducing the effects of a major open-plan office drawback – background noise levels. The future of furniture is strategic and functional.
In terms of office task chair ancestry, the Keyn Chair Group by Herman Millar might be the great-great grandchild of the Centripetal Spring Armchair. Thankfully they've ditched the nauseating brocade upholstery for cutting-edge materials and elegant engineering.
This new chair group, launched at Clerkenwell Design Week, is a range of chairs that ‘offers responsive movement and immediate comfort for collaborative spaces’.
Innovative ergonomics and first-class design leads the way in the future of office furniture and chair development. Herman Miller continue to inspire in their developments of the ‘Living Office’ concept and are a key influencer in the office design movement.
Prooff are true innovators. They specialise in ‘work sofas’ a flexible piece of furniture that empowers people to sit in whichever way they see fit. Early innovators in virtual reality workspace designs, they are pushing the boundaries of bleeding edge future workspaces.
For those lucky enough to visit their Clerkenwell Design Week stand, they would have got a taste of their love of virtual with their VR experience offering. They are not just changing the way we sit, they are changing the way we see functional workplace concepts evolve.
Bene, the award-winning company based in Austria, specialises in office furniture and work environments. They define the office as ‘a living space and its concepts, products and services turn this philosophy into reality’. Their innovative space-saving designs are some finely attuned to contribute to increased work productivity and collaboration.
The furniture designers are at the forefront of the ‘Third Space’ movement with their PARCS series. Their creation of semi-open pods, high-seated chairs and ideas walls encourage spontaneous discussion and collaboration.
Bene are also currently working on the first ever 3D-printed office building in Dubai, so are truly at the cutting edge of developments for the ‘Office of the Future’.
Whilst the Centripetal Spring Armchair will only ever grace museums and history books of the future, much like the traditional office swivel chair, the above designs and designers continue to inspire and innovate in the office furniture world of today and tomorrow.
Which modern day designer is your favourite? Have your say on Twitter by tweeting us @bluejelly using the #FutureFurniture.
Note: All product images downloaded from the respective furniture designers website downloads area.