Gernot Oberfell and Jan Wertel, designers of the latest Nowy Styl Group's furniture system – Levitate, tell us about the Home Office Design trend, highlight the importance of the accessories and advise on how to create products that people would enjoy.
Are you both fans of the home office design style?
Gernot Oberfell and Jan Wertel: We both worked for a while in home offices, especially in the early days of our design studio, and this gave us automatically quite a lot of experience in balancing professional and residential interior design – it is not really feasible to have a standard office workstation standing in your living room; it has to fit into your personal environment. So, in our home offices we both mixed professional with residential furniture, as well as accessories and lighting from both areas. It is great to see that more and more office furniture manufacturers are adapting their products to this shift in working habits and are blurring the lines between both worlds.
Do you think the trend will last for a longer time or is it just a temporary fashion?
We are pretty sure that this is much more than a trend – it is here to stay. Our working habits have changed so much in recent years, accelerated not only by the rapid development of technology, but also by the cost of having big studios or offices. A lot of companies are actually supporting their employees by allowing them to work from home a few days a week, and we believe it can boost productivity if you have the opportunity to work one day without meetings and the general buzz of modern open-plan offices. So, why not use the same desk in your office that you have at your home?
What tips would you give to those who want to arrange their office in the home-like style?
The most important aspects are the ergonomics and functionality of the desk and chair that you use – they have to work and not make you ill. That is why we would recommend using professional furniture (especially chairs). Nonetheless, for us, it sometimes feels like there is an artificial barrier between products for homes and offices. So, some things can work in both areas and should be very adaptable to personal preferences of the person who actually uses them. That is why we have spent a lot of time developing accessories for Levitate that are easily movable and can be added or removed depending on users' needs. Using materials and finishes that you would normally associate with home furniture can also bring a lot of warmth and friendliness to an office.
How does your Levitate system designed for Nowy Styl Group fit in with the home office design trend?
The general forms and shapes of Levitate are much softer than those of the furniture you can usually find in offices. We have also used wood in many areas – starting with the legs, through the desk tops to the third level storage options. Archetypical images like the secretary box (classic desk typology) were also an inspiration for Levitate. The accessories that accompany the desks are very important to us because they bring a lot of personality to the whole family and offer a really quick and easy way to adapt a workstation to your needs and personal preferences.
What features make the Levitate system unique? What are the key functionalities of the system?
For us it was very important that Levitate is a fully functioning and professional office furniture range, but which doesn't necessarily look like a typical workstation that you would find in a normal office. Our choice of forms and materials helps in achieving this. Besides that, there are neat little details like the second level storage (an easily accessible organiser tray hidden below the desk top) or the secretary box (third level storage) that actually work very well, but do things a little bit differently from the norm.
Your Play&Work system has become popular. Can you tell us how to design products that people would enjoy? Do you conduct any market research before you start working on a new product?
Being a designer is a bit like constantly doing market research by looking at a lot of stuff in all kinds of areas and (sub)consciously evaluating and analysing the things you see. It really happens all the time and it helps you juxtapose different areas with each other, which is important in design. Of course, at the beginning of a project we look at what actually exists by searching the Internet, going to shops, and so on. We also talk and listen to the client in order to get a feeling where we need to go, but in the end it is what we like and think would fit best, evaluated by our own experience and taste.
How do you design a whole product range? What do you start with? How do you make sure every part would be consistent?
In the case of Levitate the starting point was quite simple – we asked ourselves if a dining table could be a professional desk. So, we suggested using wooden legs for a desk and tried to find the best compromise of both worlds for the design of a basic desk. Of course, we are not the first to come up with this idea, but what makes Levitate unique in our eyes is the fact that we applied this premise (the “residential design” can work in an office) to every aspect of the family. So, we did not just attach wooden legs to a desk, but also used a very soft and gentle form language for all other areas (like the desk tops and panels) of Levitate. Once we have a design intent established, it becomes easier to apply it to accessories and accompanying elements, but it usually takes quite a while to find this intent.
Do you observe offices all over the world? Are there any common tendencies noticeable in the US, Asia and Europe? Which of them are noteworthy?
Through our friends that work in architectural practices and design studios as well as clients all around the world we get to see a lot of offices, from small studios to big corporate offices in Europe, Japan and the US. Architects and designers usually have the nicest offices (which, given their professions, makes sense, but the Pepsi Co HQ in New York (which we unfortunately just saw virtually) was a really good embodiment of what a modern office could be nowadays, by mixing quirky design elements with professional furniture and offering employees all kinds of working scenarios, from enclosed workstations to open-plan standing meeting tables. Co-working spaces like Neue House also blur the lines between corporate and home design.
Gernot Oberfell and Jan Wertel
Both studied Industrial Design in Stuttgart at the State Academy of Arts. Some of their pieces of work have been displayed in several museums and exhibition halls around the world and are part of the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. They share a strong interest in new technologies and manufacturing processes. Very early in their careers they discovered the possibilities of computer aided design. Their work combines the logic and beauty of organic forms with the reality of product design: the right use of materials, production processes and ergonomics. For Nowy Styl Group they designed the Play&Work system, which was awarded the Red Dot Design Award in the Product Design/Office Design Category, and the eRange Managerial Office System. Levitate is their third product created for Nowy Styl Group which was inspired by the home office design trend.
The comprehensive arrangement of a well-designed office involves an optimal combination of three elements – it concentrates on people and the processes they realise in their place of work, which allows for increasing a company's efficiency. Today we are writing about what we should do to ensure an office space supports employees in realising processes and increases an organisation's business efficiency?
First of all, we have to become familiarised with key processes that take place in a company, and then answer the questions concerning, for example, the tasks performed, the cooperation between particular teams and individual employees, and the relationships between people and teams. Which teams cooperate most often? What is the character of their relationships? What types of tasks are performed by particular employees? Do they require concentration or interaction with others? These are some examples of the questions asked by our Workplace Research & Consulting Department. An in-depth analysis carried out according to a realistic scheme helps customers use a space properly, ensuring it is fully functional.
An ineffectively designed office makes employees waste as many as 17 days a year. In order to work effectively, employees cannot waste time looking for the right workstation (such as an available conference hall) or necessary documents. They should also be provided with comfortable conditions for performing individual work. However, 53% of people admit to being disturbed by other colleagues when realising their tasks. Employees' attempts to concentrate can consume as much as a half an hour every day. Assuming that a year consists of 250 working days, employees waste approximately 7% of their working time. One solution to this problem is dividing an office into zones that facilitate the performance of particular tasks. The right division of an office space allows employees to achieve flow, which is a state characterised by absolute concentration, efficiency and a feeling of job satisfaction.
A key part of this is facilitating communication between team members. Teams that cooperate closely should be located next to each other, so they can consult on the spot. Sectioning off places designed for holding spontaneous meetings or brainstorming sessions allows teams to talk freely without disturbing other colleagues. This is very important because employees perform 86% of tasks in a team.
An office divided into zones designed for performing particular tasks and adjusted to the needs of an organisation is an investment that helps employees use their potential and ensures the company functions effectively. However, to take advantage of the long-lasting benefits, first we have to relocate an office or rearrange it skilfully. This kind of change will impact the whole organisation, so it is natural that employees can feel anxiety and fear the unknown. How should a company prepare for the new environment? It is a good idea to involve employees actively in the process of taking action. This will make them aware of the forthcoming changes, the reasons behind them and their consequences. Employees can be involved in the research process – by taking part, they are not only informed about the decisions taken, but also have the feeling that they can have a real influence on the changes. This will help them come to terms with the changes and accept them more easily. In time, they will be sure to experience the benefits of the transformation.
Do you want to know how to create an optimal work environment that is adjusted to a company's processes and organisational culture? Please contact our Workplace Research & Consulting Department.
Workplace Research & Consulting Department
T: +48 12 639 86 42
M: + 48 510 009 653
We are not only the third biggest office furniture manufacturer in Europe, but we also have the right KNOW-HOW concerning the appropriate space arrangement that meets the needs of employees and a whole organisation. Nowadays customers expect an expert that will advise them on how to create an ideal office, therefore we would like to highlight our competences in this field – says Adam Krzanowski, President of the Nowy Styl Group's Management Board.
The comprehensive arrangement of a well-designed office involves an optimal combination of three elements – it concentrates on people and the processes they realise in their place of work, which allows for increasing a company's efficiency. Today we are writing about how we meet the needs of people working in an office and provide them with work comfort.
No less than 24% of employee job satisfaction depends on a workplace. The right level of employee job satisfaction has a huge influence on people's motivation and increases the extent to which they identify with a company. How should we arrange an office space to attract the most talented employees and improve a team's job commitment?
Employers are aware of the fact that the success of their company is determined by their employees. That's why they search the labour market for people with the right personality, skills and competences to meet their requirements. One of the aspects that prompts potential employees to accept or reject a particular job offer is the look of an office interior. 87% of employees expect a flexible workplace. Their awareness of the appearance of modern offices is increasing along with their expectations concerning an office space. And this does not just come down to aesthetics. Employees highlight the positive aspects of work performed in the right conditions, which is strongly connected with an increase in their efficiency and an improvement in their communication.
In unfavourable working conditions, employees' attempts to concentrate can consume up to a half an hour every day. In an office with sectioned off zones, it is much easier to achieve aims and perform particular tasks. Sitting monotonously at a desk for 8 hours can cause employees to feel tired and bored. Why not encourage them to look for inspiration while sitting on a comfortable pouf, write a report in a separate room where they are not bothered by their colleagues having conversations, or organise a brainstorming session in a place full of inspirational colours and equipped with a wall covered with a special paint for writing on with chalk? 76% of people claim that an office with a non-standard fit-out has an influence on work efficiency, so by arranging an office properly we can motivate people and inspire them to take action.
The right working conditions and the proper way of working are the most effective motivational factors for employees, since they have an instant and continuous influence on people. For comparison, a pay rise or training courses can motivate employees for up to six months. Today only 25% of people work in an optimal work environment. It is a huge challenge for employers to meet the needs of different generations. How can we deal with the fact that representatives of generations X, Y and Z work together in one space? What solutions can facilitate their cooperation? Our Workplace Research & Consulting Department will help you find answers to these questions by offering tailored solutions.
A well-designed office space supports employees in coming up with new ideas and performing everyday duties. It is therefore worth considering office designas an investment. Research shows that a 5% increase in people's productivity can cover the costs of office maintenance. We should not be afraid of change if it is based on know-how and preparation.
The latest products, made by world famous designers, that respond to the challenges of contemporary offices; an office space mastered using research findings; and new technologies: all these will be presented at the furniture industry's biggest fair, which will be held on 25-29 October. We will present not only comfortable workplace equipment, but also our unique KNOW-HOW concerning office space arrangement.
ORGATEC is the biggest office space arrangement fair, which takes place every two years in Cologne. According to the motto "Creativity works," it focuses on showing the most interesting furniture solutions from around the world, which highlight changing work styles and environments. The last edition of the fair attracted no fewer than 51,000 people from 123 different countries. The exhibition area covered 105,000 m². This year it will be increased by 20%, and 1,200 m2 will be devoted to our stand.
– Our stand will be divided into zones that respond to the diverse needs of employees working in an office. It will include, among other things: the office furniture system Levitate designed by the WertelOberfell studio, which makes explicit reference to the home office design trend; the Panthera chair created by Ray Carter, which ensures dynamic sitting; and the amazingly unique modular Tapa poufs created by Przemysław Mac Stopa, which are an ideal solution for informal meeting zones. We are also planning a surprise for our visitors that will move them to a virtual office space – says Magdalena Tokarczyk-Cyran, Marketing Director.
For the first time at the fair, we will present products manufactured by the Swiss brand Sitag, which our company acquired in August last year. Notable products include the SITAGACTIVE desks with manual or electric height adjustment and the SITAGTEAM chair line designed by German studio 2DoDesign (the line's conference chair was awarded the prestigious Red Dot Product Design Award 2016). The SITAGEWAVE line, which was designed by Uli Witzig, is an intriguing example of the combination of unique design and the newest research findings in the field of ergonomics. The SITAGINLINE conference furniture, which allows for arranging both managerial offices and huge conference halls, is yet another example of eye-catching products manufactured by the Sitag brand. The brand also offers a solution that meets the new office challenges: room-dividing partition systems that increase the acoustic comfort of a space by eliminating undesired sounds.
However, for us, it is not only products that matter, but also the ability to apply them properly to a particular office space. – We are not only the third biggest office furniture manufacturer in Europe, but we also have the right KNOW-HOW that allows us to arrange any space according to the needs of employees and whole organisations. Nowadays, customers expect an expert that can advise them on how to create the perfect office; that's why our company has a Workplace Research and Consulting Department. It surveys every organisation individually, taking into consideration not only the place available, but also the people working there and the processes they use. This kind of approach enables us to prepare solutions that increase employees' efficiency and job satisfaction, and help a company achieve better business results. – claims Adam Krzanowski, President of the Management Board.
Our stand will be located in Hall 7.1. at number: B/C 028-031.
You will find up-to-date reports from the event on our social media channels with the hashtag #MakeYourSpace.