PARCS 21.11.2012

Revival of the spaces in between

The times they are a-changin’. The worst of the crisis is over, companies are reorienting themselves. Offices are expanding, merging, switching locations, combining departments and putting a new face on their buildings. This should benefit everyone: Customers, employees and the company. The design of the office plays a crucial role in all of this. PearsonLloyd developed the PARCS Series for Bene. The series offers everything you need during a day in the office, from the "Wing Chair" for quite repose, the "Idea Wall" for media and to define space, to a chill-out zone. All in an exclusive corporate design.

A British study shows that carelessly designed offices cost the national economy about 135 billion pounds a year. Well-designed spaces have a positive effect on employees: they are almost 20 per cent more productive. A third of potential staff members take the work envi-ronment into account when deciding whether to take on a job. Well-designed offices in-crease well-being and productivity, improving the relationship to colleagues and the com-pany. German companies lose about 220 billion euros a year due to poor employee motiva-tion. A different study examined global trends among mobile part-time and home-office workers: they too attach increasing importance to office design. Having the space to meet and converse with colleagues is simply irreplaceable. In our current knowledge society, communication is more important than ever: flat hierarchies, more teamwork and increased complexity require more meetings and discussions.

Every different work situation calls for its own environment. Conversions and extensions must be carried out with appropriate care. Reflection, sustainability and flexibility are the need of the hour. Companies must be agile. Ideally, offices should be flexible enough to be adapted to changing departmental requirements without a great amount of effort. The new generation of office landscapes is able to achieve this: it reacts to change and offers indi-viduals everything they need. This is because office life in our knowledge society moves through numerous cycles, phases and forms of communication. It’s better to receive certain clients in a stylish and shielded setting. With colleagues, you’d rather have an uncompli-cated meeting, spontaneously build a team, drink a cup of coffee or just chill. This will re-charge your batteries. Focused, 1-on-1 talks call for secluded space, sometimes the room needs to be representational. Everyone dreams of cool bars, and private telephone calls are not meant to be heard by others.

Lively niches

Traditional cells, combi-zones and open offices are not able to meet these complex re-quirements. There is a lot going on at once - with and alongside one another. Transpar-ency, communication and flexibility are all important. But so is the opportunity to set clear boundaries and to withdraw for a while. What's more, creativity has long become a part of all industries. People who are expected to generate ideas also need a place for recreation and informal discussions. The PARCS furniture series designed for Bene by Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd of Britain reacts to this situation. Their endlessly combinable elements can turn hitherto unused circulation areas, central zones, existing and new offices into work-spaces people like to use - with all the hybrid functions for which there didn’t used to be any furniture. You don't need to redesign the entire office to make a change: PARCS' time-less and functional design brings life to the unused gaps in the office: use them for a meet-ing, to make a presentation, concentrate on a 1-on-1 discussion or have a relaxed chat with a larger group.

The cushioned "Causeways" seating modules help create both islands of calm and meeting points. Combined with the "Idea Wall", a free-standing, multimedia projection wall and di-viding element, you get a fully-functional, creativity enhancing meeting niche. The "Idea wall" sets the seating area apart and gives the meeting space more focus by providing a discussion and presentation platform. The "Toguna", a cylinder-shaped, half open enclo-sure, embodies an even more extravagant design in which two to four people can hold sit-ting or standing meetings in an acoustically screened curved space. The "Toguna" creates closeness, intimacy and a concentrated atmosphere which make it easy to get to the point. It is an eye-catching, vertical design object, and thus becomes an orientation point within an open office.

Furniture with added value

Bene has itself recently relocated to a new office and is putting PARCS to a real-life office test. "Causeways" is not only a comfortable place to sit, it is also a great place to have breakfast together. This builds team spirit. The Wing Sofa and Wing Chair were invented for stressed employees. This modern version of the traditional wing chair is very comfort-able - and at the same creates a visual and acoustic shield. When you collapse into this lazy-chair you can drift off for a short while and recharge. It is also a popular space for spontaneous meetings. There is now also a "Club Chair" version with slightly harder seat-ing area and a swivel function for a 360° view. Other novelties in our product range: the "Phone Booth", an elegant, cylinder-shaped, upholstered furniture piece offering a place where you can talk on the phone undisturbed.

"You should never mistake communication for unproductivity", says Gerd Zehetner from archiguards Architects, who have designed office concepts for numerous companies and industries. "It is important to include sufficient areas such as lounges, cafeterias and a bar in your plans - and to utilise central zones to the full." This enhances the office's atmos-pheric intensity. These days a company has to differentiate itself more and more - and to offer employees something special if it wants to bind them to the company. Google has taken this to an extreme. Employees there play basketball for an hour to foster creativity." We are not that far here yet. But the furniture elements of the PARCS series are so func-tional and attractive that one can achieve a significant effect with a single piece on its own. Surfaces, colours and the combination of these elements are left entirely to the wishes of the customer. However, one thing is already clear: they will benefit the employees, adorn the office and improve the work atmosphere and productivity. "Many companies are still stuck in the idea that people are only working when they are at their desks." says Tom Lloyd of PearsonLloyd, "It requires an enlightened attitude, a sense of reality and progres-sivity to recognise that even someone sitting on a sofa can be producing value for the business."

Copyright Bene AG. No charge for printing. Specimen copy requested.