26 Sep 2018 • Courtesy of Fantoni
A work station that changes layout from one hour to the next? That’s the Hub
At first glance, the Hub doesn’t look like something meant for an office. With its canopy-like sculptural body and its tweed-like angles, the geometric structure would seem more fitting for an exhibition space – and this makes sense, having been inspired by Bruno Munari’s Abitacolo combi-bed.
And yet, this is exactly what Fantoni and designer Matteo Ragni envisioned for the workplace: the Hub, a system that would be as functionally effective as it is visually delighting. After all, and the Italian company’s Gino Valle-designed campus is proof of that, environmental beauty does play a part in professional productivity. ‘The project arose from a real need to recreate a physical and mental space within a workplace inhabited by different people: a space that was open and fostered sharing and an exchange of ideas, yet also a place for reflection and individual work,’ said the designer.
Saying it’s ‘functionally effective’ is an understatement: the Hub is a flexible solution that, through a series of panels, clips and connections, can change its configuration from day to day – and even hour to hour. It allows employers to have the ease of an open layout plan, while providing employees with individually customizable spaces according to their working styles. 'In a sense, it is as if the workplace has become a boundless space, the borders of which are drawn by people, their skills and actions,' explained managing director Paolo Fantoni. 'Hub is the office for this new world, this time in which people are once again taking a central position.'
The basic module measures 160 x 160 cm and can be repeated in blocks in order to form a communal working space. When a task requires concentration, employees can choose from several privacy options: they can use the frame to clip on a series of sound-absorbing panels to restrict distractions, or use the self-standing partitions in order to create focused island-like workstations.
People need to be able to reconstruct their own spaces, and to make the micro-world of the office more home oriented.
Deceptively bare, the Hub module is actually a full office solution: a series of profiles form a cross overhead, with a wooden shelf that can be used as storage space; in the centre of the tabletop rests a removable square wooden panel, which provides access to power cables and data cables. The panel can be fitted with built-in LED lighting, featuring individual switches and dimmers. The system also includes a wide range of solutions, from a shelved table to a wheeled set, with a wide selection of fabric colours for the panels.
Unsurprisingly, it’s been a hit with a diverse list of spaces, from IT companies to services that cater to nomad workers – Norwegian telecom Ice.net, Milan-based magazine IFDM and Austrian co-working spot Workspace, located in Wels, are among its users.
‘At Fantoni, we work in a wonderful campus with amazing architecture, and we know how important it is to work in a comfortable space,’ said Paolo Fantoni. ‘So the Hub is almost like a micro-architecture proposal: with the Hub, we are giving users the possibility to create their own environment to fit their working style and their personalities. People need to be able to reconstruct their own spaces, and to make the micro-world of the office more home oriented.’