Designers show workspaces in constant flux need constantly supportive furniture
At 55, international architecture, design and planning firm Gensler has become a nimble behemoth of 6,000 staff, manning 48 outposts across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas where it serves more than 3,500 active clients in pretty much any industry you can name. But when Gensler decided to move its European headquarters to East London, it couldn't find an off-the-shelf furniture solution that would meet the ever-shifting creative needs and myriad ways of working of this 250-person office.
Enter Fantoni, with whom Gensler collaborated on the development of Atelier, a hyper-flexible, durable and affordable furniture collection that can perform a variety of spatial functions. Atelier may be seen as a visualization of the firm's democratic philosophy: the collection's industrial, experimental character is well-suited to a company that defines itself in relation to constant flux, asking employees to operate in a perennial creative beta mode.
The project's leading collaborators video-conferenced several times a week and included the Gensler London design director, the product development leader of Gensler Los Angeles, and the Fantoni product development team. The Fantoni team is part of the 137-year-old brand established by Achille Fantoni, a leader in the design of office furniture, partition and storage walls, MDF and chipboard sheet, melamine flooring and sound-absorbant panels. Today, the brand emphasizes wellbeing, R&D and 'total design', making the collaboration with Gensler a welcome challenge.
Atelier was developed on casters for 250 workstations and includes the mobile pinboard, which had already become a key architectural feature in the London office space because it allows employees to hold meetings anywhere they wish. The panel can be detached as needed, including any notes or materials mood boards, and ported or hung on a bookcase for additional sharing. The mobile pinboard has activated the bookcase and altered Gensler's office design as it has become the central element around which all the other furniture in the space is developed.
Furniture is one of the most important enablers for successful agile working
The adaptability of Atelier facilitates collaboration and simplifies the configuration (and ongoing reconfiguration) of workspace. It allows Gensler to leave the layout of its interiors as open as possible, in lieu of breaking floors up into individual offices.
'We aimed to create a flexible and adaptive environment, with very little fixed space, giving employees the power to make the space their own,' says Gensler design director Philippe Paré. 'Agile working is a mindset. It’s about giving people the choice and freedom to choose the best place to work. Furniture is one of the most important enablers for successful agile working.'