Stockholm Furniture Fair - beautiful things for everyday

Kvadrat Stockholm Furniture Fair

The Stockholm Furniture Fair is small, but exquisite. In addition to the best known Scandinavian producers, a number of international greats also present their new living, lighting and office design products here. Bene was there for the second time. Of course, we brought along  our products  for today’s modern working environment.

"Vackrare Vardagsvara"

In 1919 the chairman of the Swedish Design Council tried to explain the uniqueness of Scandinavian design with the words “Vackrare Vardagsvara”:  “More beautiful things for everyday use.” The light and pureness of Scandinavian shaping and design has since set precedents all around the world, and the Nordic design language is now spoken just about everywhere.

Designing Toguna Circle

PearsonLloyd by Mark Cocksedge

At the beginning of the collaboration between PearsonLloyd and Bene it was evident that there was a desire to develop a completely new unconventional furniture system able to foster spontaneous communication and collaboration as well as usher in a new era of office life. PARCS is the response to the growing importance of knowledge work, which is the main driver of demand for a new generation of furniture products and inspirational workplaces.

PARCS has already won a number of international design awards and is already established as one of the most important and successful ranges in the Bene portfolio.

The idea and name Toguna originates in Mali, West Africa. There it describes a meeting place where the village elders meet to make important decisions. The PARCS Toguna is a semi-enclosed, free-standing capsule and is the most distinctive product in the range, a place for brainstorming, short meetings or private conversations which people can do while sitting, standing or leaning. Toguna is the most compact meeting room in the world. Now the latest development is the Toguna Circle.

What were the most important considerations in the development of Toguna Circle?
Since it was launched in 2009, Toguna has enjoyed a great deal of positive feedback from architects, designers and end-users. The starting point of PARCS is the idea that people are productive when they are away from their main place of work. Toguna represents a new step in this direction: towards an informal, semi-private meeting room within an office to encourage the exchange of ideas, cooperation as well as creativity and innovation. These are the most wellestablished contemporary demands in the market.

A Hot Spot in the Office

Toguna Circle is the latest furniture launched by Bene as part of the groundbreaking and successful PARCS range designed by Pearson Lloyd. It has been developed to create team spaces within open plan office environments. The lounge-like design of Toguna Circle creates lively meeting spaces to support a range of activities and simultaneously foster great team spirit. It is this dual approach that catalyses interactions between team members, accelerates communication and collaboration. The range also incorporates media boards for presentations and videoconferencing.

With its half-height, upholstered walls, Toguna Circle creates a room within a room, but one that is not fully enclosed. With a diameter of three metres, it provides plenty of space for up to ten people. The result is a private workspace that doesn’t cut people off from what is happening outside, because people can see both into and out of Toguna Circle.

In fast-moving open plan workplaces that encourage people to move constantly between personal and group working areas, me- and we-places, Toguna Circle offers a dynamic focal point for a single team, an ad-hoc meeting place.

Lights on: LED lanterns light up the work environment

Together with Nimbus, the pioneer and innovation leader in LED technology, Bene has developed new luminaires for the new areas of the office: Lamps. The clear and simple design of the lamps comes from the PearsonLloyd design office in London.
They may look like small lighthouses such as navigation lights or lanterns in the communication islands and work bays of the office’s urban landscape – but in all cases, the new lamps from Bene are sophisticated light dispensers. With optimum light quality they not only illuminate the work area, they also create a pleasant atmosphere, and as such ensure increased well-being for employees.

Simple and clear with an almost archetypal design, the lamps bear the unmistakable mark of PearsonLloyd, and go with PARCS and DOCKLANDS, the two most successful product ranges for communicative and temporary working from the London studio for Bene. In terms of form the luminaires remind us of modern street lights – which is not surprising when you think of how much Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd like to design urban furniture and city lighting.

The best light quality with innovative technology

Nimbus developed this new luminaire range exclusively for Bene. Innovative technology ensures that lamps provide glare-free light and the ideal light temperature. The luminaires can be intuitively operated and dimmed, using contact-free gesture control. The sensor for this is located in the base of the lamp. The light dims or brightens slowly and continuously by waving your hand 2-3 cm over the sensor.

The lamps are available in two sizes: 450 × 180 mm or 500 × 250 mm, und in two different designs: as a floor lamp or as a model mounted directly on the table top.Nimbus – an innovative company in Stuttgart

Let there be LED!

“That’s not just a nice cosy spot, it’s quite a town,
you need quite a few Watts to see everything well there.” Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht “Berlin im Licht”, 1928

The sentence quoted comes from a song which Kurt Weill composed together with partner Bertolt Brecht for the “Berlin im Licht” (Berlin in the Light) promotional week in 1928, which saw the German capital shining in electrical splendour. Berlin presented itself to the whole world as a progressive and radiant city of a thousand lights – the “Electropolis”.

The song and event perfectly display what light is frequently associated with: progress, modernity and innovation.

The triumphal procession of electrical light did not just make an innovative contribution to designing public spaces – the work environment also changed immensely, for instance through the possibility of night work and of working in artificial light.

Enlightening offices

You are bound to have heard that Eskimos apparently have a large number of words for snow. It should be a similar case for light – after all, light is not identical in all cases by a long shot, as it can occur in the most diverse colours and forms and fulfil the widest range of functions.

We use lamps and luminaires to create a certain atmosphere, whether at home, in museums or in window displays. The focus is usually on functionality when artificial light is used, for instance for road traffic, on a football field or in operating theatres.

Choosing the right lighting for the office is also essential. Light at workplaces should be functional and practical, so that employees have the required perspective at all times. Poor or inadequate lighting or even lighting that is too bright leads to fatigue, eye problems and headaches – all of which are very unwelcome in people’s everyday working lives.

Milan Revisited

An entire city dedicated to design: this year the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, the world’s largest furniture fair, attracted more than 300,000 visitors. The new creations and reinterpreted classics weren’t just displayed on the trade fair grounds – as part of the SaloneFuori, new and familiar faces alike showed their exciting designs throughout the districts of Milan.

Everything retro

In recent years the biggest trends and most extravagant presentations were mainly found in the centre of town, but in 2013 many of the large brands focused again on their presentation at the trade fair: Over 2,500 exhibitors presented new home and office furniture products as well as lighting design in an area covering more than 200,000 square metres. Many exhibitors such as Vitra, Cappellini and Kartell designed their stands as impressively as if they were stage sets. One major trend turned out to be playing with nature, either in terms of materials (cork, felt, marble and even paper were on display), structure, texture or in how the designs were presented. This idea was matched by the colour trends: in addition to a wide range of pastel shades, natural hues like nude, terracotta and yellow were everywhere. Also én vogue: retro colours such as a pale antique pink, dark teal and brown shades.

Responsive architecture: Better “alive” than “there for all eternity“

Rolling Masterplan

Heliotropic buildings, skyscrapers with vibration absorbers, walls with integrated phase selectors, dancing facades, moving walls, and buildings that are bigger inside than out – 21st-century architecture is interactive. And very much alive.

We like to take for granted the enormous variety of specific architectural solutions for the places where we live and breathe and work: from the igloo to the tent in the desert, the bunker to the space station. But we still have a stereotypical image in our minds when we hear the word "building": static, passive and universal. However, buildings intended to cope with today's lifestyles are (we hope!) changeable and adapted to specific circumstances, or even customisable in themselves. And they need to be, as they do not all face the same demands in every location.

Whether it be the climate, potential (natural) risks, the setting for the buildings (surrounding landscape, architecture or culture), their purpose and function, symbolic expression and aesthetic requirements, energy aspects, mobility needs, the space they need, building regulations – there are a host of challenges. This is especially true whenever buildings are expected to respond interactively to the life they accommodate even after they have been "completed".

The first step is straightforward

… because throughout the history of architecture, problems and priorities may have changed but the same structural solution can still work for different starting points. Take a specific example: buildings on stilts. Although the main reason for their existence has long been to protect their inhabitants from wild animals, enemies and flood waters, you will still find today in city centres – far removed from such dangers – buildings standing on pillars. Now they are meant to create an open space below a building to meet and interact with others. This is a way for buildings to react to the restricted space available in today’s cities and meet the needs of their residents.

The advantage of experience

There are also places where the problems are the same as they have ever been, but where the solutions vary from the traditional to the modern. When Nias Island near Sumatra was hit by major earthquakes in 2005, nearly all of the buildings collapsed – except those that had followed tradition when they were built. Their locations on hilltops and their construction on three levels (substructure, coherently constructed living space and a very high light roof) were ideally adapted to the local danger of earthquakes.

Roll on - a short history of the swivel chair

With RIYA (design: PearsonLloyd), Bene has a new swivel chair in its programme - the likeable design and ease of use offer an inviting place to sit. We are using this product launch as an occasion to take a closer look at the history of the swivel chair.

Sitting is actually a surprisingly recent human habit. In fact, for a long time sitting as we know it today was reserved for those in power - the throne is the ancestor of our contemporary chairs. The first depictions of seated subjects were created in Egyptian antiquity and show rulers on "representative seats". Being allowed to sit on a chair was considered a sign of power and authority and remained a privilege of the Christian and secular elites until the late Middle Ages.

The chair became somewhat more popular in the 16th century.The increase in commerce led to the first "seated professions" - with increasing frequency, administrators, dealers and bookkeepers completed their tasks at a dedicated workspace, which therefore also had a seat. Since the bookkeeper’s financial ledgers were long and had to be spread out on several tables, this soon led to the invention of a chair with castors to speed up the journey from one end of the ledger to another.

Taylorism everywhere

Even then, the design of desk chairs was primarily oriented according to practical considerations. This tendency was continued and even reinforced with emerging industrialisation: From then on, the rhythm of the machines also determined the office work, which had to be completed in a disciplined, precise and methodical manner. According to the principles of Taylorism, people also had to function efficiently: everything had to be within reach on the desk so that movement would be reduced to a minimum.

This machine-oriented thinking is also reflected in the design of the first "proper" swivel chairs, the emergence of which is closely tied with the invention of the typewriter. When the first Remingtons conquered the office in the 1870s, which also lead to the introduction of women into office life, sitting finally established itself as the primary posture in the workplace. The typical desk chair, such as the one designed by Ten Eyck, was a prosaic, standard chair adapted to the secretary and having three or more feet, a height-adjustable wooden seat and a vertical, slightly springy backrest to support the spine. Unfortunately, the anonymised mass products didn’t function as they were supposed to - sitting was uncomfortable and resulted in back pain and bad posture.

On R2-D2, C-3PO – and why Star Wars is still fascinating

Have you ever pretended to be Darth Vader? Or pretended to fight with lightsabres? Don't be embarrassed, you are not alone. Star Wars inspired entire generations and has become a fixed cultural reference point. In this article, we will attempt to highlight the design elements of the saga.

There has hardly been a film that has fascinated generations of people like the Star Wars saga by George Lucas. Both visual and spoken references have become fixed elements of our cultural vocabulary, and for many, the films appear to have erased the boundary between fiction and reality. How otherwise to explain that nearly 300,000 adult citizens indicated that their religion was Jedi in a 2011 census in Great Britain? Or that 30,000 people signed a petition in 2012 requesting that the United States government build a Death Star? (Not to fear, the request was officially rejected with a wink and a smile and an apparently respectful acknowledgement of Star Wars enthusiasm). Perhaps the reason for the success of Star Wars is its exciting yet thoroughly trivial plot line in which good-hearted heroes, a stinkingly evil emperor, a princess and golden bikini all play key roles. Or perhaps it was successful because deep inside, we all really want to be Jedi Knights (one word: lightsabre). Or perhaps one of the key reasons for the lasting fascination is the design of the saga. It is precisely this conjecture that we wish to pursue in this article.

"That's no moon. It's a space station." Obi-Wan Kenobi

As in every work of science fiction, Star Wars seeks to create a highly convincing, coherent universe and employs a host of different visual codes to describe this universe. The variety presented in this narrative is a key feature in the overall design of the saga. There is one thing that the universe developed by Lucas is clearly not: a homogeneous, high-tech, shiny vision of the future. A wide variety of worlds and their inhabitants is depicted which range from archaic, warlike tribes to sophisticated robots and cities in the clouds.

Stockholm Furniture Fair

Hello Communication by Tord Rikard

Hustle and bustle in the far North: The 62nd Stockholm Furniture Fair, the world’s largest trade show for Scandinavian furniture and lighting design, took place between 5 and 9 February. All sorts of Scandinavian and international brands, among them Bene, were brought together under one roof in a relaxed atmosphere.

Once again in 2013 the Stockholm Furniture Fair showed a small but select set of offerings: in addition to new products from the office world, the spotlight was on home and light design. Young and talented designers were offered an exhibition space in the Greenhouse, art fans enjoyed the installations of renowned designers, and when people got tired of walking around, they could freshen up at the Design Bar designed by Daniel Rybakken.

Successful premiere for Bene

Bene participated in the Stockholm Furniture Fair for the first time, showing a sophisticated Smart Working Space round the Future Tree - a flexible office landscape that explores the different needs of Solution Workers and offers differentiated space solutions. Trade show visitors expressed lively interest first and foremost in the PARCS and DOCKLANDS product families. Small wonder - these furniture lines are multi-functional, sophisticated solutions for today’s workspaces, enabling both focused individual work and communicative teamwork. The CUBE_s workplace modules, designed by Christian Horner, were also presented; these modules combine working and storage space so it feels like you were working in a cockpit.

Office design today

Other firms such as Vitra, Kinnarps, Limbus and Martela also presented their office concepts in Stockholm, demonstrating that intelligent partitioning into different zones for both collaboration and concentration is good form for modern work spaces. Much of the office furniture on display had (often adjustable) walls that screen out disruptive noise and are meant to enable quiet and concentration in an open-plan office. Colour is finally coming back into the office with these new concepts: the palette ranges from light pastel tones to strong, vibrant colours that fight back the grey everyday office life.