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Acoustics, seats and aching feet – An Orgatec 2016 Review

Monday, 31 October, 2016

Last week, I created a live blog on the BOF website covering our time at Orgatec 2016. However, it was all a little rushed and didn’t give me the best opportunity to really put my thoughts in to words. So a review blog entry seemed like the best idea! So here goes: 6 points from Orgatec 2016 and an assortment of images...


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^ James, Simon & Mike ready for a busy first day!


1) Size doesn’t matter

This was my first year at Orgatec and I was told in advance by my 5 colleagues of the magnitude of the exhibition. However, I didn’t expect it to be as big as that! As a first timer this was mightily impressive. For those who haven’t been, each hall was comparable to London’s 100% design and there were I believe 7 halls in total, which I’ve been informed is smaller than recent years. But hey, size doesn’t matter; it’s what’s on the inside that counts.


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2) Raw. Industrial. Acoustic. Ergonomic. Natural. Domestic.

It’s quite clear to see what the main trends were at Orgatec 2016. Every third manufacturer had a variation of sit-to-stand desking which is fully understandable given the huge buzz around the ergonomic office at the moment. However, not many manufacturers seemed to put their own twist on this style of product (Unless attaching treadmills and exercise bikes counts). The exception for me being AeroDesk; this product offered a little more than just the ergonomic benefits of standing.


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Products with an organic/raw feel to them were a plenty; and a real hit with me! Heavy duty wooden tops and welded steel frames gave these products a truly industrial feel which tears away from the more traditional white frame/white top desking we’re so used to seeing within the industry.

While walking around the mammoth exhibition I quite enjoyed the almost garden like spaces some manufacturers had created. Bringing real life into the office is something I still think is far underutilized, especially for the health benefits. So seeing lots of “living walls” and nods to mother nature was really refreshing to see. Balma and Buzzispace were the two stand-out manufactures for me.


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Make yourself at home….Muted tones, soft upholstery and natural materials were on offer wherever you looked this year. Which aesthetically I think worked quite well!


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3) Desensitisation

Past day 2 I found the sheer amount of height adjustable desking and acoustic screens to be quite overwhelming and almost blur into one. This was quite frustrating but inherently positive; as my eyes and mind switched off from the carbon clones I started noticing more and more truly unique and individual pieces.


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4) The leaders and the undiluted.

The two real head turners for me were Vitra and the group of students from the Peter Behrens School of Arts at Dusseldorf University. One who seemingly leads the industry, and a group of young creative students un-tainted by it. There’s something quite poetic in that.

“The office is dead. will never die”

Make things SHIT happens”

Thought provoking and refreshing; this stand was a real highlight of my day. As a bit of a graphics nerd their newspaper style literature was pretty cool too.

Vitra, along with their partners took over an entire hall (God only knows how much that would have cost). Packed full of new, innovative products this was a real highlight of my trip. The hall was split into 3, showcasing 3 different styles of working “Nomad, Garage and Flexible”. I sometimes find classifications like this slightly novel; but Vitra know how to sell a good idea from inception to end user. CDS, Hack and Kado are product I can really see taking off over the next year.


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^ I'm not sure what the guys are looking at... But it looks like it was very interesting!


5) Timeless Design reigns supreme.

Sure, there were 100’s of new products on show; but for me, standing these next to iconic pieces from Fritz Hansen/Vitra was no comparison. Tom Dixon being one of my only exceptions; the new range of office furniture from the iconic design studio was one of my favourite collections.

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6) Suits and Trainers.

I am not a fan. Walking into the exhibition hall I was greeted with more David Tennant esque outfits than I would like to see. It wasn’t until 5 hours into wandering around I realized that this was probably for comfort not style purposes (I’d like to think that anyway) as my feet were aching….alot! So MAYBE I’ll pack a little differently for the next event.


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^ I think I was running out of skin on my thumbs by this point...


In all, my first experience of Orgatec was positive. It was great to really immerse myself in the industry and get inspired, while meeting some old and new friendly faces on the way. I heard a lot of moans and groans walking around of people “seeing nothing new”, this fell on deaf ears for me as there was plenty of new and inspiring products on display, you just had to look!

A special thanks to Nick Sheepy from Vitra for the hospitality and back stage lunch, my boss said "that definitely wouldn’t have happened a few years ago", Alix Boullet from Werner works for being our own personal apéritif guide and everyone at the Humanscale stand; they knew how to keep 5 Welshmen and an Englishman on their stand for 5 hours over 2 days (Nothing to do with furniture either).

Thanks for reading!

Dan