Orgatec is the leading international trade fair for the modern working world, highlighting the newest trends and innovations on the market. The bi-annual event held in Messe, Cologne opened its doors from 23rd to 27th October and saw over 670 exhibitors and 51,000 visitors from across the globe. Our group of BOF attendees, made up of Account Manager, Dan, Simon and James from our Capital Projects Team and John, our Contracts Manager set off for Cologne to see what new products and trends the industry has to offer this year.
Workers are wanting increased flexibility in their work environments so the industry is responding with products that have multiple functions and can move around easily to suit changing requirements. A perfect example of this is the new desk launch by VS that is totally wireless – all power comes from a battery pack fitted below the work surface. The battery holds enough power to power a computer, accessories and the sit-stand function of the desk for a full working day. That coupled with the wheels, makes the desk one of the most flexible desking options we’ve ever seen, making it the perfect for rapid installs, temporary set ups, or moveable hot desks.
With the increase in agile desking arrangements, the time spent at a desk is reducing, so we’re seeing a shift away from traditional task chairs to options for people to ‘perch’. This ball shaped seat makes it impossible to slouch without falling off! The zip seam around the middle also allows you to split the ball in two making a seat for two people.
This year we also saw a big trend for modular furniture systems. This is by no means a new concept, but this year we’re seeing launches from manufactures that historically, haven’t ventured into modular furniture. Vitra for example have just launched Softwork, a sofa system with near endless configuration possibilities, thanks to the wide range of shapes available. We also saw new power module designs from Vitra, different to anything on the market currently. The moveable system on the Softwork range allows the user to pull the power unit up when needed, and push it back out the way when finished.
Another new launch from Vitra was the ‘Dancing Wall’ which will be available in the latter half of 2019. The idea is that a mobile partition can be used to flexibly divide offices into zones while providing vertical work space. The metal frame can be equipped in various configurations such as a bookshelf, TV unit, plant wall or room divider with removable whiteboards and pinboards. With removable boards, you can take meeting notes to anywhere you need them.
Mobile shelving systems featured frequently around the exhibition with the likes of Grid, Wernerworks, Casala and many others all with open shelving units on offer. The systems are an effective use of space for storage and can be used to divide spaces while still looking really sleek.
Casala previewed a unique product we’ve never seen before – a modular designed table system that allows you to mix and match your base, pillar height and table top size, with all parts being interchangeable with one another. This flexibility makes the Blender table the perfect solution to a space with changing requirements – that could mean a room is full of dining height tables one day, and soft seating and coffee height tables the next with a simple change of components. Watch a demo of the Blender table here.
The team noticed that ceramic, marble and metallic hardware featured heavily throughout the exhibition. There was a clear decline in the use of chrome, with black powder coated metal taking preference. In general, black details are becoming more popular, particularly on Vitra's products such as the Joyn bench in an oak top and black frame. These were also on the chosen finishes on Vitra's stand in Stockholm. Vitra have also brought the fiberglass material back into production for their Eames chairs and was available as of October 2018. The material was the original choice when Charles and Ray Eames designers the chair back in 1948 but discontinued production in 1993 for ecological reasons. The production process for the new fiberglass chairs is now emission-free and uses a new, monomer-free resin which creates a safer environment for workers and a more environmentally friendly recyclable shell.
Sustainability was a big feature for many of the exhibitors this year. Most notably, the Smart Ocean chair by Humanscale which incorporates almost 2 pounds of recycled fishing net material. According to their research, fishing nets are the worst plastic pollutant in the sea. The nets collected up and transformed into nylon pellets and then used to manufacture Humanscale’s ergonomic Smart Ocean task chair.
As we also saw at Stockholm this year, the upholstered tubes that were hanging from the Offecct stand are made using the cardboard tubes from the middle of the rolls of fabric they use. They’re also stuffed with fabric offcuts which improve their sound absorbing qualities while reducing the use of raw materials.
Digital Integration and Electrics
We supply furniture to our clients with integrated power modules more often than not. There’s so many options when choosing power modules, and at Orgatec this year, we saw that brands such as ABL and CMD are having a bigger and bigger presence at the events every time.
We were particularly impressed with a launch by CMD, where the power module has its own re-settable thermal fuse button. We find our clients regularly have issues with power modules blowing fuses caused by appliances such as vacuum cleaners overloading the circuit. These issues require an electrician to replace the fuse and can be costly. The new Capsule module has a red button that will flip up, preventing an overload and can be pressed back in to reset, without the need for an electrician.
New materials played a crucial role in this year’s exhibition with a dedicated area called ‘Culture Materials’. There were many new materials we’ve not seen before such as: Coffee Board, REwoodable, Corc Board, Wine Board and Eucalyptus Board. We’ve compiled some of the material descriptions below to give more detail on these new developments.
So that's it for Orgatec 2018 and our run down on some of the trends we noticed at this years show. If you'd like a more detailed look at the suppliers we spoke to at the show, read 'A look back at Orgatec 2018' here.
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