Sonja Mayrhofer Marketing manager Bene

Collaboration is vital to boost morale and maximise productivity, but you need to create the right environment for these creative interchanges to happen. So here’s how we can find a way of working together like never before – with a little help from some ingenious furniture solutions

A study on new working environments was the starting point for a collaboration between Bene and London design group Pearson Lloyd, which resulted in Parcs, a furniture set for diverse working landscapes. The aim of the range is to fulfil the need for productive communication and informal exchange in the office, something that often falls by the wayside.

’In our opinion, too many companies and managers still think that if you are away from your desk you’re not working’, says Pearson Lloyd co-founder Tom Lloyd. ’It takes progressiveness to recognise that someone sitting on a sofa can also be creating value for the company.’ New technologies have brought movement into the office. Information is constantly available, and work processes are changing. Communication and creativity are decisive factors for this productivity.

Knowledge arises from the evaluation and networking of information in constant co-operation with others. The need for personal exchange, quick discussions, meetings held at short notice and fast presentations is becoming more intensive and more differentiated. Where people run into each other by chance an informal, spontaneous exchange of information takes place. This is why employees are spending less time at their own desk, and are meeting instead in different places in the office. They work in teams, find ideas together, take decisions, exchange with each other spontaneously – preferably in a casual, inspiring atmosphere. They want spatial structures that enable everything from communication and creativity, to concentration and privacy.

But what should a suitable office environment for these networked ’knowledge-based workers’ look like? To understand these needs, two years ago Bene commissioned Pearson Lloyd to conduct research on the topic of ’new working environments’. In its research, the group analysed the behaviours, activities and needs of this new species of knowledge worker, specifically when they were not sitting at their own desk or in formal meetings.

Additionally, Pearson Lloyd sought out inspiring sites and places in which people like to meet each other – and they found venues such as Parisian cafés, the Spanish Steps in Rome, old cities and rock formations on the coast of Northern Ireland. Pearson Lloyd co-founder Luke Pearson says, ’We tried to find out what will trigger an emotional response in people that will make them feel like using a space for particular activities.’ The designers and the Bene project team soon realised that no single product would be able to live up to these demands. What they needed were space-shaping settings that imply movement and change.

Parcs resulted from intensive collaboration with Bene. It is a collection of flexibly combinable furniture and components that can be configured according to needs, joined and changed as required. In this manner, a surprisingly large number of individual landscapes can be created for highly different situations. Many functions are united in one atmosphere. Each setting fulfils a different purpose in its specific form, which enhances communication or concentration, interaction or privacy. Parcs has a universality that offers countless possibilities for combining its component units into numerous and varied alternatives for different aspects of the interior landscape – not just the office. It reflects how the overlapping of personal life and work is constantly increasing, especially for the younger generation.

The intriguing and comfortable units, upholstered in bright colours, are ideal for a contemporary dining, restaurant or café interior that captures interest with its individuality and attracts with its suggestion of cosiness and privacy. Interesting, irregular-shaped lamps, resembling raindrops falling from the sky, bring playfulness into the concept, yet emphasise the fresh design forms.

A walk in the Parcs
Easy chairs and small stools, upholstered benches and partitions, wall elements, tables and shelves are the basic components of the Parcs programme. These elements are called Toguna, Causeways, Wing chair, Wing sofa and Idea Wall, and can be integrated into multifunctional, space-shaping landscapes.

Toguna – the smallest meeting room in the world
Toguna is a circular, half-open and freestanding pod. Acoustically screened, it offers space for brainstorming, short meetings or discussions. It comes in a stand-up and sitdown version and appeals through its halfopen shape, which allows for semi-privacy. The idea for it derives from Mali, West Africa, where it is a gathering place for village elders.

Causeways – for ergonomic freedom
Causeways is a furniture programme consisting of benches, fence modules, walls, shelves, storage units and lamps. They are combinable in a variety of ways. Thanks to different heights, everyone can assume the posture that is most comfortable: sitting, crouching, leaning or standing. Vertical modules provide screening. If shelves and books are installed, a library is created. Power bars facilitate mobile work and mediasupported discussions. The inspiration for the design comes from the Giant’s Causeway, a rock formation in Northern Ireland. There, every visitor intuitively adopts the posture that is most comfortable for them.

Wing chair and sofa – for business talks and recreation
The Wing chair and sofa evoke memories of the traditional wingback chair. Lateral headrests provide shielding and enable concentrated discussions, focused work or recreation. Wing chairs provide comfortable seating for a single person. They can be rotated, so you can turn towards others for a conversation or away from them for a bit of ’me-time’. Wing sofas offer seating for two to three people. Combined and connected they transform into an ’American diner’ – a meeting or dining space for up to six people.

Idea Wall – a freestanding presentation unit
An integral part of Parcs is the Idea Wall, a freestanding wall element with integrated communication and media technology. The wall is a screen for information, as well as a room partition. Combined with a standing table or Causeways, presentations and discussions can take place here.

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