Form and function in four new product series

The market for office furniture is growing in line with the demand for greater flexibility, ergonomics and functionality. Trends may come and go, but chairs, desks, screens and storage solutions remain a constant theme. At the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the largest in Scandinavia, Kinnarps presented its most ambitious product launch ever, known collectively by the name of 4xMissions.

Most of us work an eight hour day. Many employers have realised the value of assuring the well-being of their staff and are consequently increasingly insisting on better ergonomics as well as greater flexibility and functionality in the work environment. During the last ten years, the boundary between furniture designed for offices and for the home environment has also begun to fade: reception areas may remind us more of a private hall, meeting rooms resemble living rooms and kitchens are made cosy and welcoming.

Many interior designers who specialise in work environments point out that personalised furniture, often with a ”cosy feel”, has become another way of defining a company’s identity: by reflecting its activities and policy, the furniture helps to give it a strong profile. The 2007 Stockholm Furniture Fair, the largest and most important in Scandinavia, showed a clear trend among office furniture suppliers: a range of solutions for attenuating sound and permitting a degree of seclusion. They show a concern for the people who have to work in today’s offices with their hard floors, extreme ceiling heights, large window areas, open-plan offices and often a complete lack of textiles. In cooperation with Christian Halleröd, Kinnarps has produced the Rezon system, one of the market’s most flexible screen solutions: an interior and system screen that truly embodies the word flexibility. Exchangeable modules – rather like building blocks – in various materials and colours inspire the user to build, change and rearrange his furniture according to his preferences, tastes and needs.

The Rezon screen solution was part of Kinnarps extensive display at Stockholm’s Furniture Fair. Under the collective name of 4xMissions, the company presented Rezon as well as several completely new product series; the 9000 series of office and visitors’ chairs, the Series[f] desks and the Deciso series of executive and conference furniture.

“The launch saw its premiere in Stockholm and will reach the rest of the world during the year”, states Per-Arne Andersson, CEO of Kinnarps Marketing & Sales AB. “This is our largest product launch ever, and we have developed and refined our range of integrated solutions for offices, schools and the care sector”, he added.

Why now and why with these products? “Well, we wanted to review these four large sectors in particular and discussed the desired results, which took between one and four years to produce concurrently”. How did you work out what should be done? “Thanks to an extensive network of contacts with users and distributors, we obtained a solid input of viewpoints that became the basis for developing these four product series. It was important for us to discreetly put across our view of good design – of which the form is an integral part. Cost-effectiveness, technical innovations, functionality, ergonomics, user-friendliness, flexibility, minimized use of resources and environmental thinking are other components of the concept that are very important for us. So we always work in an integral way.”

The other three series may be described in various ways: the Series[f] desks by Danish designer Anders Nørgaard can be summed up as lightweight strength. The highlight of the 9000 series of chairs, designed by Johan Larsvall and Torbjörn Höjer, is the task chair of the same name. The results of customer surveys have led to an easy-to-use guide in 14 languages (see www.kinnarpscomfortcontrol. com) so that everyone can easily understand how simple it is to ensure optimal seating – or, as Kinnarps points out, different ways of adjusting the seating, because it is ergonomically important to vary one’s posture during the working day. It was therefore also vital to make the control panel and its regulation visible to the user.

Deciso is a series of executive furniture comprising desks and storage units for offices and conference rooms with clean simple lines: the designers at Britain’s Wills Watson+Associates call it a kind of soft minimalism that continues the Scandinavian tradition. Great care has been taken to assure perfect function and finish. In addition, the display and storage cabinets are provided with neat reverse panels to increase their furnishing flexibility.

“Our ambition with the new series is naturally to satisfy the ever higher demands made in terms of ergonomics, functionality and flexibility. We also think that these innovations set a new standard in their respective product classes. The design and application options of the screen system, the userfriendly comfort of the task chair, the lightweight top of the desk series and the strong personality of the executive furniture.

It will be really exciting to see the results when our products reach the market,” concludes Per-Arne.