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Dauphin HumanDesign Group’s report back on international office and object
fair, Orgatec 2014
It’s become common knowledge that the way we live and work is rampantly changing
thanks to advancements in technology, which has encouraged these two very
categories, life and work, to be less homogenous and more integrated. Technology’s
role in this growing phenomenon, namely that you are able to work anywhere there is
a wifi signal- be it at home, at a coffee-shop, at the airport, for example- has spawned
a whole new way of thinking about the environments we work in. This informed the
discourse and showcase of renowned international office and object trade fair,
Orgatec held in October last year in Cologne Germany, which attracted 624 exhibitors
from 61 countries and more than 50 000 visitors over the five day period, securing
Orgatec as the worldwide barometer on all things office and work facility related.
One of the major players in office and organizational furniture design, Germany’s
own Dauphin HumanDesign Group had a stand of over 1 000m2, which was curated
in a way that portrayed the overarching theme of Orgatec 2014, “Modern Working
Worlds”. The stand aimed to inspire with its “Solutions by Dauphin” concept that
mimicked a contemporary office, complete with a reception area, open-plan
workstations, management offices as well as a tea-room. ‘The “Solutions, by
Dauphin”concept was illustrated as a departure from a product focused exhibition, as
has been the approach in past years, to one where various workspaces / zones and
different types of work were highlighted. As such each of these zones required
furniture best suited to that type of working, be it casual seating, room-in-room
arrangements, or traditional workstations, and so on,’ explains Debbi Arnoldi-
Radford, MD of Dauphin HumanDesign Group South Africa.
What was evident to Debbi throughout the five day showcase were three emerging
trends in contemporary office furniture design, which were exemplarily showcased by
Dauphin HumanDesign Group’s stand, namely: 1) Bright, vibrant colour, 2) Bringing
nature into the workplace, 3) Dynamic workspaces.
Bright, vibrant colour
Gone are the days of drab, grey and harshly lit offices as business owners are
realizing that their employees spend most of their time at work and that these spaces
need to incite inspiration and harbour comfort in order to maximize productivity.
‘Splashes of colour and vibrant, bright statements were used to not only invigorate the
Dauphin product range, but also to illustrate how various work spaces in this new
modern way of working require different solutions. Colour was used to demarcate
various work spaces,’ she Debbi.
Bringing nature in
Just as with home décor and interiors, organic and natural materials provide a sense of
warmth, comfort and understated luxury. Added to this an eco-sensibility of recycling
and reusing natural materials, thereby bringing a bit of the outdoors in, is another
trend that blurs the lines between living and working spaces. ‘Encouraging nature in
the workspace, and honouring green design principles was incorporated throughout
the exhibition, and Dauphin is very proud of our sustainability policies around
recycling and the use of recycled materials evident in the design of our products,’ she
The adaptability of work spaces to suite the needs of employers and their tasks was
the starting point for Dauphin’s Dynamic Spaces range of office furniture, which is a
trend that is taking root in local office design according to Debbi. ‘The new modern
workplace, specifically with the advent of technology, requires workspaces that
dynamically adapt to the worker, and on the function that the employee may be
fulfilling at the time. The Dauphin “Solutions” showed all of the dynamic workspaces
that can be easily and flexibly constructed with the use of our seating and desking
solutions, and also specifically our booth seating solutions and room-in-room
structures,’ she says.
Related to this is the concept of dynamic seating, is the sitting versus standing debate,
namely mixing up your work at seated workstations and standing ones. Yes, that’s
right, standing workstations! Over the years a lot of research has been done in the
field of ergonomics in the workspace and designing furniture that encourages healthy
posture. While everyone’s physiology and alignment is different, the general rule of
thumb is to sit with your pelvis tilted forward to encourage a more natural curve to the
spine, something Dauphin responded to by releasing their ground breaking Syncro-
Activ-Balance (AB) mechanism. Another well-known finding is that prolonged
seating isn’t ideal and that workers should get up and walk around and even stretch
often. A solution to these concerns is to encourage workers to stand more, especially
when having meetings, a new trend on the horizon which encourages efficiency and
maximizing on time dedicated to a meeting- how often have you been seated at a
boardroom table where the more a meeting gets drawn out the more the attendees
seem to slouch into their chairs and shuffle around in them. Standing meetings
encourage less waffling, more focus and better blood flow and with the changing
shape of office furniture, standing workstations are on the rise.
Upon reflection on Orgatec 2014 Debbi believes that South African designers
continue to be leaders in the field of office space design, who recognise that
technology, as well as generational influences must be catered for in our workspaces.
‘What we’re seeing locally is that South African office spaces are being designed
around vibrant, dynamic spaces that are flexible and can easily adapt to the new ways
of working. The days of cellular offices demarcated according to organisational
hierarchy are well and truly in our past. Vibrant, energetic and flexible workspaces
are the now and the future, and will continue to play a key role in employee
satisfaction and productivity,’ she says.
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