Design '07 (Furnishings): Office life by design

Light a spark with these innovative products.

An innovative business deserves innovative decor. IIDEX/NeoCon Canada 2007, a major design exposition that took place this September in Toronto, presented the newest in workplace designs from both Canadian and international designers. Many collections this year featured adaptable furniture ideal for creating business-specific environments — a relaxing space that puts employees at ease, or a modern, welcoming reception area. Both practical and visually stimulating, some of these award-winning designs could add a little creative flare to any office.

Kapsel from Eventscape

If white-walled boardrooms don’t inspire brainstorming sessions, maybe a cocoon-like shell combining graphics, lights, scents and sounds will do the trick. Kapsel adaptable environments, by Toronto-based Eventscape Inc., are knock-down structures that immerse people in virtual surroundings to stimulate specific emotional responses. “You’re taken away from the surrounding environment,” says Gareth Brennan, Eventscape president. “It helps the audience focus.”

Businesses can custom- design environments in any size, shape and material. Scents, sounds and images combine to serve any purpose: an employee escape from a stressful office or an interactive retail display.

Six Collection from Nienkämper

Half the creativity is left to the buyer with the new Six Collection by Toronto-based Nienkämper Furniture & Accessories Inc. The colourful hexagonal-shaped lounge chairs, ottomans and tables can be set up numerous different ways to suit the meeting room or reception area they occupy. The puzzle-like pieces of furniture fit together tightly to form circles or clusters of chairs and uniquely shaped benches. Three different-sized tables allow additional flexibility — the key behind this collection, which won a bronze in the lounge chairs and sofas competition at IIDEX/NeoCon.

Monâne from Dietiker Switzerland

Rocking chairs may not be a commonality in many offices, but Swiss furniture company Dietiker AG is out to change that. The firm’s Monâne, or “My Donkey,” stool won silver in the lounge chairs and sofas category at IIDEX/NeoCon. Designed by Carmen and Urs Greutmann Bolzern, the cube-shaped seat gently rocks back and forth for “active, ergonomic seating.” Hollow to maintain its light weight, the seat is made of moulded plywood with a birch veneer. It is available in 45 centimetre and 30 centimetre sizes, and a variety of colours.

Switch Mouse from Humanscale

It’s no shock office workers who spend hours parked at a computer can end up with tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Humanscale has designed a mouse to minimize the risk of such injuries. The Switch Mouse, gold medal winner in the innovative product category at IIDEX/NeoCon, is adjustable in size, and features programmable buttons. Instead of a typical vertical scroll button, the mouse’s navigation dish lets users scroll both vertically and horizontally. To prevent pressure on the wrist, it tilts the user’s forearm at a pressure-minimizing 45-degree angle, and its palm support lets the user’s hand move freely with the mouse.