Clerkenwell Open 2021 Round-Up

September 28, 2021

Clerkenwell was brought back to life in early September withover 60 brands inviting industry members and the public to attend talks andevents organised by WOD (Women in Office Design) and The BCFA (British ContractFurnishing Association).

Our top picks for Technology, Innovation and Aesthetic!

Flokk – HÅG Capisco

Inspired by the movement of infants and posture of horseriders, the Capisco encourages healthy dynamic movement while using minimal material.Ideal for agile environments to support flexibility.

Bene – PORTS Task Lounge

Looking like it belongs in a first-class airport lounge withsleek fabric and leather details, the Task Lounge introduces new ergonomicfeatures in the seat cushion and a supporting panel with subtle storage andpower solutions.

Arper – Kata

An elegant design, inspired by the Japanese katana, combinedwith a holistic approach to sustainability results in Arper’s Kata, an FCScertified wood and recycled textile lounge chair that embraces recyclabilityand promotes full end-of-life possibilities.

Orangebox – Kirn

Housing the necessary task chair mechanisms in the sides ofthe frame is an impressive feat that renders the Kirn aesthetically lighterthan the competition while also reducing its carbon footprint, a key focus forOrangebox.

Offecct – Carry On

The Carry On satisfies the demand for collaborative andadaptable workspaces by being a portable and flexible soft stool that looksgreat in any breakout space.

Herman Miller – Cosm

Cosm’s fluid curvature, sophisticated design, and meshsupport dynamically adapts to the user’s posture and belongs in the modernoffice while also being Silver Cradle to Cradle certified.

Ocee – Botanica

Free standing in a space, across a wall, or spanning theceiling, the Botanica family takes acoustic furniture and turns it into art.The sleek polished frame resembles a branch with each petal providing acousticabsorption.

WOD & BCFA talks

Harsha Kotak was one of the many designers rushing aroundClerkenwell over the 2 days as she introduced each talk organised by WOD andBCFA. The 3equals1 Design team made their way through the talks and got to listen in on industry expert’s opinions on the future of office design.

“Circular Economy is a Shared Responsibility”


Luke Palmer gave the listeners a glimpse of the challenges thatdesigners are facing in striving to achieve real sustainability and environmentalawareness through furniture design.

He stressed the importance of thinking long-term and presentedOrangebox’s company-wide approach to circular economy thinking, calling for alldepartments to be on the same page and act together to achieve results.

“Office as a Hub for Collaboration”


Gurvinder K (Align Interior Architecture & Design) ledthe panellists Michelle S (M Moser Associates), Muriel A. A (CBRE), and Nicola O.(Basha-Franklin) through a discussion about re-inventing the workplace thatresonated along the same lines as the question; “does the wheel need to bereinvented?”

Focus spaces for the user to relax or isolate themselveswere highly encouraged alongside multipurpose office spaces to support a harderworking workforce. Understanding the client before the portfolio is importantto create spaces that adapt to the user, not calling for the user to adapt tothe space.

“Workplace Design & strategy”


Jane C (Gensler), Sarah A (Knight Frank), Federica F (TPBennett), and Tony A (Rainbow) each presented their key values for designingworkplaces for the ‘new normal’ and responding to, what Federica called, the‘great reshuffle’.

There’s now a common need to cater for the mix of workstyleand lifestyle as softer office furniture blurs the divide between home andoffice.

Alongside this, sustainability can be achieved by designingfor flexibility, adaptable spaces for ever-developing needs and encouragingsmart furniture acquisitions.

Finally, designers were asked to take a more personableapproach to developing a design that demonstrates the company culture, mission,values, and creates a sense of belonging.


Hybrid working strategies

Bertie van Wyk spoke at Herman Miller’s showroom about their research and what workplaces need to deliver to entice employees back into theoffice with hybrid working.

He explained how workplaces offered ‘weak ties’, colleaguesyou indirectly work with, that provide a sense of belonging, context, andpurpose in the role. Working from home had eliminated these valuable connections.

Recent projects showed that ‘half-in, half-out’ spaces where communal ‘noise friendly’ zones are bordered by focus spaces benefit employees by allowing users to work individually with background noise.

Net zero is a fantasy

Luke Palmer asked companies to heed the warnings ofcontinuing unsustainable practices as we’re now within the 2-year window forlast changes to be made. He went on to state that net zero is a ‘fantasy’ goalthat’s far out of reach.

What about sustainability certifications? Well, they’re justlabels that should rather be appreciated for the content and not just the name.Often, different certifications recognise the same efforts so it’s limiting toalign with just one when comparing manufactures.

The future of working from everywhere

As hybrid work strategies are further embraced, it will beinteresting to see how companies approach the challenge of supporting theiremployees who lack ergonomic workspaces outside of the office, where already54% of those that work from home have back issues.

Could employers develop strategies to alleviate thesedifficulties by providing ergonomic support in home working spaces? Or couldthey aid those without in finding ‘third spaces’ between the home and theoffice?

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