There is currently a focus on how workplace design will have been impacted by COVID19. At blackswan they believe that good design is good design and that excellent design principles are a constant which won’t have changed dramatically, notwithstanding social distancing.
The blackswan disruptive design philosophy is to look at existing environments, use cases, visual space or design features and create something novel and challenging. The approach may create a small change or a completely new product. Each design project requires the team to challenge existing paradigms.
blackswan feel that there are many, fantastic, high quality office meeting booths available from some outstanding companies. Their sister company, Global Upholstery Solutions provides manufacturing for many of these companies and manufactures a wide range of booth styles for these businesses. While each is different, the blackswan team felt the theme was the same and that although the mainstream, higher-volume products will fit to the more corporate, business-like design they wanted to expand people’s expectations of what an office space could and should look like.
blackswan has found that biophilic design is becoming more prevalent and yet, the office furniture does not seem to have fully kept pace with the design of the surroundings. While there are some fantastic examples of bespoke seating and wooden desks, the furniture can be incongruous with the environment it is in and meeting spaces, particularly booths, can be the worst offenders.
When looking at some of the excellent biophilic designs that have been implemented, blackswan can’t envisage an employee believing they would prefer a more ‘corporate’ environment. Of course, biophilic design isn’t the only direction, but moving us closer to nature is, well, more natural.
In their research blackswan have found that barrels have been in recorded use since the Egyptians in 2600 BCE. Using the circular form of a barrel feels ‘natural’. The team believe they have rediscovered the barrel form and, perhaps, repurposed it. The shape feels more collaborative and inviting.
“We have intentionally made this a simple design but, anyone involved in design knows that making something simple is much harder than making something complicated’” says Lee Ness, Head of Design and Development at blackswan. “We followed a circular design ethos (no, that isn’t a pun) and have avoided the use of glue so that, while the product is modular – made up of five major assemblies – that can be disassembled for remanufacture or relocation, each of the subcomponents can also be disassembled. Sustainability is very close to our heart.”
The flagship product is intended to look as natural as possible using lightly-sanded, sawn planks treated with hard wax oil. Plywood has exposed edges to display the plys. Fixings are visible. The fabric is leather with a top-stitch to ‘show’ the stitching. All the effects add up to a biophilic product that has a natural feel.
There are thirteen different woods to choose from and fifteen finish colours for the softwoods as well as four different plywoods. The booth can be fully enclosed or topless. There are technology options such as premounted VDU points, lights and power outlets.
The cadus meeting booth is intended to separate from more traditional meeting booth designs in its shape, its intent and its user experience. It is not a mainstream product that will be to everyone’s taste. But, for those willing to be different, it provides a remarkable addition to the right environment. In light of the capabilities for working from home, offices have a new purpose. But really, it’s just like the old purpose.
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