For the fifth consecutive year, Bene London took part in the city’s famous Clerkenwell Design Week festival, which fortuitously takes place right on the showroom’s door step.
The completion of Bene London’s showroom re-design was perfectly timed to coincide with this year’s event, making it an ideal occasion to welcome festival visitors in for a “first look” and a celebratory glass of Prosecco!
"The expert talk on the topic of ‘More than just a seat’, held on 6 June 2013 at the Vienna Bene Office and Showroom Neutorgasse 4-8, was received with great interest. International representatives from design, science, consulting and business discussed the shift in work methods, the culture and furniture of sitting, and the absurdity of operating instructions for office chairs.
"There is now a trend to become more mobile at and during work", is how the evening’s moderator, Rosa Lyon, ORF reporter and former Ö1 journalist, introduced the topic of the culture of sitting. But do we change places at the office all that often? Is there a transformation in the culture of sitting?
Without a doubt, says Sebastian Hackenschmidt, art historian and custodian for furniture and woodwork at the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts. In past centuries, the attitudes towards sitting as well as the furniture itself have changed enormously, as he discussed in his keynote presentation. Goethe, for example, was against all types of comfort, because he believed that comfortable furniture makes one passive and would therefore be counterproductive for work. Today, on the other hand, comfortable office chairs have become very important. Two kinds of comfort have developed over time: mechanism (key words: adjustable sitting machines) + upholstery (plush seat cushions, innovative advances in foam).
International experts from the worlds of architecture, design, research, consulting and business came together for a panel discussion on the “Smart Working” concept and responded to individual questions in the personal conversations that followed. On stage: Tom Lloyd (designer), Juriaan van Meel (office designer and researcher), Gita V Langston (expert in leadership development and change management), Giuseppe Boscherini (architect, industrial and interior designer) and Wolfgang Neubert (Executive Board Sales & Marketing at Bene AG). The panel was moderated by Franz Kühmayer.
The "Smart Working" concept reflects the interplay between space, design and productivity and is based upon a number of premises. Wolfgang Neubert began the discussion by elucidating them: new forms of knowledge have transformed the office into a type of "knowledge factory", a space for cooperation and dialogue, where routine has been supplanted by the analysis, presentation and creative networking that knowledge demands. The workplace of the future will be strongly influenced by mobility and technology. All of these factors make an impact on office design and planning. The workplace of the future must be remodelled into a "We-Place", one that is responsive to employees’ diverse requirements. What does that mean in practice? Office infrastructure will have to accommodate a variety of zones and areas, including those suited for individual work requiring concentration that takes place in so-called "Me-Places" as well as providing for open exchange and communication in "We-Places". These changes guarantee one thing: more satisfied – and therefore, more productive – employees for whom the workplace is both a source of inspiration and a living space.
Researcher Juriaan van Meel confirms that these approaches have a future. The new employees are in general more flexible, mobile and less formal. They believe the office is still important, especially as a place for communication and cooperation, but they can no longer imagine themselves working in a typical cubicle. Gita V Langston, an expert in leadership development, emphasised that there are, however, differences in the kinds of demands placed on the workspace. Various parameters can influence an employee’s attitude towards and need for a dedicated desk and interaction with colleagues. These include age, family arrangements or the length of time that person has been with the company. Younger employees and those new to the company especially value the office as a place where they can expand their networks, learn new skills and cultivate social contacts.