OE1 Workspace Collection, Herman Miller
Driven by a design process that identifies where to best place value in a transient market, architects and designers are specifying high-quality workplace furniture and equipment as an alternative to bricks and mortar investment. Produced by Herman Miller, OE1 responds directly to this trajectory in workplace culture by providing well-conceived furniture and equipment solutions that empower teams and individuals to tailor their workspace to the working day.
Union Editorial Desk
Courtesy Herman Miller
Every business is built on dynamics – between people, their individual workflow and how they carry out the task at hand. In contemporary workplaces these dynamics are constantly shifting. As social, cultural and technological structures continue to be transformed, our studios, offices, learning and working environments have become key sites that reflect our values.
“The workplace has seen a dismantling of hierarchies.” Explains Maggie Lum, Associate at Smart Design Studio. Having worked in the design of residential, retail, and commercial architecture, Maggie has observed the ways that the functional and atmospheric expectations for the spaces we work in have shifted. “Rather than being allocated specific desks or even office locations, people are understanding the value of collaboration and looking for dynamic work environments that respond to the individual and collective needs of the team. It’s about creating places where people feel comfortable and that means designing spaces that can be readily adapted and are responsive.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020, architects and designers were already implementing strategies that allowed businesses and workers to create environments that sat comfortably within the economic and physical infrastructures of our cities. As SME’s, start-ups and creative industries spurred a move towards innovative, temporary, transient and shared workplace models, the built fabric of small, affordable real estate and post-industrial or heritage buildings – with good bones and large floor-plates – became key typologies that could be adapted for contemporary ways of working.
“What we’ve learned from the last two years is that uncertainty breeds opportunity,” reflects Maggie. “When we’re designing for businesses, regardless of the size or type, a commonality we’re finding is that a lot more flexibility is required, particularly in the design of tenanted office spaces. If you’re a tenant it’s valuable to have agility built into your infrastructure – to move locations, grow your team and accommodate hybrid working models.”
This translates to a design process that looks at where best to place value, and in a more transient market architects and designers are specifying high-quality workplace furniture and equipment as an alternative to bricks and mortar investment. “We’re finding that office furnishing is now a key part of how people occupy the workplace, so while it remains that as a designer you want to bring your own design language to a space, there are now clean, minimal and highly functional off-the-shelf options that can create the fluid environments our clients require.” Maggies explains.
A recent complement to the needs of the market, OE1, designed and released by established furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, responds directly to this trajectory in workplace culture. Comprising a suite of tables, storage, shelving and multipurpose pieces, the OE1 collection reflects the desire from both architects and their clients to cultivate agile workplaces that adapt to the evolving goals of both team and individual working scenarios. “The range sits somewhere between furniture and equipment as it’s very utilitarian.” says Maggie. “It’s well coordinated, with each separate piece designed to work in a cohesive way. This collection makes the design and sourcing process very seamless as you’re working with a solution that’s reliable and already has a design lens applied to it.”
This method of creating work environments has proven particularly relevant in adaptive reuse projects. “The adaptive re-use of ex-industrial and heritage buildings is an important aspect of our practice at Smart Design Studio. We understand the cultural value and history embedded in these buildings and from a sustainability perspective it’s important that we retain rather than rebuild wherever it’s deemed feasible.” says Maggie. “In this context, where the character and integrity of the existing architecture is paramount, systems like OE1 allow you to touch the building lightly while also providing the comfort and dynamism our clients and their employees are looking for.”
The workplace is a site of consistent innovation and as a result it is continually evolving. Well-conceived furniture and equipment solutions now play an important part in empowering teams and individuals to tailor their work space to the working day. Rethinking the notion of ‘systems,’ OE1 presents a working kit of parts, operating in a manner that aligns with contemporary organisations, where individuals work to their strengths and collaborate to form a dynamic whole. Innovations like OE1 support the architecture and design industry in delivering workplaces that encourage freedom and flexibility with solutions that are both responsible and reliable.
Explore the full collection and learn more about OE1 via hermanmiller.com