Next Office™ 2.0 extends options and trims spaces

Version two of the Next Office™ concept has been on show since May at the Kinnarps Energy Center of the company’s head office in Kinnarp. Rune Karlsson, architect at Kinnarps, continues to investigate the possibilities offered by the modern office in the frontier zone between present and future.

“Smaller work areas but more space for meeting people neatly summarizes Next Office™ 2.0”, says Rune Karlsson and adds: “a space arrangement consisting of both Scandinavian-inspired and European-modelled elements is another innovation that has already become highly appreciated.”

The first version of the Next Office™ concept has already proved its popularity with more than 3000 visitors since 2004. A figure that looks unlikely to decline, as version two has many new aspects to offer.

“We have created several spaces and rooms that encourage meetings and have even put in a lot of effort to devise spaces to shield staff from their hectic working environment, such as an audio armchair™ and an audio shower™.Two solutions that use sound to create personal spheres in an openplan office”, says Rune.

When Next Office™ started in 2004, the aim was to create an integrated future-oriented solution. Together with various partners – that have now grown to no less than 25 – Rune Karlsson and his colleagues wanted to use Kinnarps furniture but to adapt it and make new versions in order to set it in a new context. This idea remains fundamental, but Version 2.0 was driven by questions such as: How can the work area be condensed? And: How do we create open-plan offices in which people really enjoy working?

By working together with specialists in sound and light as well as in communication and presentation technologies, Rune and his team have built up the concept function by function.

“Just as one might set up arrangements of colours and light, we used acoustic design to create an oasis for relaxation where one can wind down without actually dropping off to sleep. We have also created acoustic partitions around a sound shower that makes a workstation in an open-plan office feel like a separate space to work in, thanks entirely to the pattern of sound”, says Olle Niklasson of Audiotechture.

“Light is of fundamental importance for the feeling of space”, says Bo Hallberg of Luxo: “unlike the pendant light fittings typically found in Swedish offices, we have inset them. They all have a linear shape that holds the room together but we play with colours to create an ergonomic environment and generate a specific feeling. We have also inset low-voltage spotlights that illuminate walls and room features. LED technology frames wall units with light - it’s hard to describe – as light simply has to be experienced”, concludes Bo.

“New technology is rarely utilized as well as it might be, for instance to create a mix of sensory impact and utility. We wanted to change this, as everyone who has already seen our introductory film to Next Office™ 2.0 has discovered. In the conference room with its gigantic screen, the technology helps the participants maintain contact with the outside world in a very simple way. The experience is enhanced by being able to hold long-distance conferences in real time while making it seem that your, say, Chinese colleague is sitting directly next to you”, says Jan Elmersson of Projectiondesign.

Next Office™ 2.0 is an experimental workshop that is continuously evolving. And while visitors find their own angle on the various ideas and are impressed by the latest presentation technique, the ideas for the next stage of Next Office™ are taking shape.

JOHAN JARNEVING