10 Nov 2020 • Furniture
5 flexible, hideaway units for at-home working
Adaptable designs from Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Sabine Marcelis and more display how furniture can better facilitate the separation between professional and personal at home.
One of the most challenging aspects about working from home for many is that the furniture necessary to do a proper job doesn’t align with the provision of space. That’s made living areas conference rooms, kitchens breakaway nooks and bedrooms concentration hubs, personal space totally compromised by varying workday needs and demands. As Frame has exhaustively covered, the pressure that the pandemic has placed on home environments has been a source of motivation for designers everywhere. Now, fortunately, furniture design is beginning to reflect the huge lifestyle shift we’re experiencing: neither solely for living or working, these hybrid, hideaway units show that there indeed is a possibility to close the curtain on the workday if it takes place at home.
Established & Sons
The modular Grid range, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Established & Sons, creates a room within a room. Originally launched in 2019, the collection comprises modular seating, shelves, tables, charging stations and screens, expanded to answer the need for greater adaptability considering this year’s circumstances. Grid is suitable for domestic, office and hospitality environments alike. ‘The architectural purpose of Grid is to naturally create segmentation and to be continuously evolving,’ says Erwan Bouroullec. ‘It is easy to revise by adding or removing as requirements evolve over time, making it long term in its quality, but not in its function.’
Inspired by the suitcase scene in the cult classic Pulp Fiction, Sabine Marcelis’s Candy Cubicle easily shifts from ‘working mode’ to ‘hiding mode’. When opened, the white veneered American maple exterior reveals a bright yellow interior with compartments for books and a computer, accompanied by a solid maple circular stool. Candy Cubicle was part of the exhibition Connected at London’s Design Museum, borne of a challenge raised by The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), Benchmark Furniture and the Design Museum. Nine international designers including Marcelis were prompted to create a table and seat accommodating their new style of living and working from home.
Hector is a versatile bookcase developed by Vincent Van Duysen for Molteni&C. Able to be placed anywhere in a room and customized with functional additions, the extruded-aluminium body can be arranged as tall or wide as needed to carve out a concentrated workspace. ‘The Hector bookcase takes its inspiration from the typical modernist libraries and offices which we translated in an elegant, smooth, almost gracious but especially domestic language,’ explains Van Duysen. ‘Through the precise adjustment of the shelves you can create very personalized compositions, from structured and symmetric to a more dynamic and casual setting, against the wall or as a space divider.’
The traditional L-shaped sofa has undergone a revision by JaK Studio, who saw its potential to help transform the living room into a flexible, multi-purpose space. L20 can quickly become a study, meeting pod, or quiet space, providing visual and acoustic privacy. After hours it can be modified into a sofa bed or folded out to give way to room for activities. ‘Distracted whilst trying to work in lockdown, I watched my kids build endless dens from whatever they could scavenge in our home,’ shares JaK Studio director Jacob Low. ‘It dawned on me that the limit to what we can use our homes for is endless if we are creative.’
Transportable and storable anywhere, Wilkhahn’s Fold-Up Workspace can turn any surface, be it indoors or out, into an efficient office area. Aimed at the home worker and digital nomad, the mobile, panelled system is lightweight and kept in a flat bag. Self-supporting acoustic fleece creates a focused environment while fixtures such as adapters, clip-on lights and laptop holders help cater to a user’s different tasks throughout the day. And those who want to swap sitting for standing are also in luck: the Smart model can be tilted forward by 90° and used as a desktop.