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24 Oct 2016

Orgatec preview: PearsonLloyd

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Following on from its success at NeoCon, PearsonLloyd’s Zones system brings a craft approach to its large-scale corporate furnishing

Category: Opinion

Our old friends at PearsonLloyd were the talk of the town in Chicago when its Zones design for Teknion won the Best of Competition Award at NeoCon. Now the collection is coming to Cologne and, arguably, a wider audience.

The crowds were buzzing around Zones at NeoCon and I dare say the same will be the case at the Messe as it’s such a beautiful, radical step in the way furniture for offices looks and works. And it retains a commerciality, a necessary element when working with such as large company as Teknion.

As Luke Pearson explains when we sit down at PearsonLloyd’s north London studio: “We wanted to find new build typologies but create something that would be able to fit across their existing furniture systems.”

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Zones is built upon three founding principles – community, mobility and wellbeing – and one of the most noticeable characteristics of the system is its sheer scale: an A3 tome of a brochure hardly seems to do it justice.
There are seating options, tables to serve meetings of various sizes, screens, easels and pods – all designed to encourage people to gather and interact – as well as lighting and accessories.

Pearson adds: “For this to work and augment systems, it had to have a range of functions. The boundary between traditional and emerging work space is breaking down.”
Here Tom Lloyd picks up the baton: “Zones provides a platform for focus and relaxation and can facilitate activity and collaboration when necessary.” And when a bit of peace and quiet is required, Zones can offer a series of compact, semi-private work enclosures which provide both an acoustic buffer and a shelter from the hubbub of open-plan office life.

To further this end, screens can be positioned to create quiet retreats within the office floorplate, supporting changing activity during a working day. Each element of the collection is designed to work separately or as a standalone item.

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One of the most striking things about the system is how much wood is used throughout the collection. At the last edition of Orgatec, one couldn’t move for wooden tables, seemingly all inspired by the kitchen table, but this thoughtfully takes that idea one stage further. Oak and beech interplay with aluminium, plastic and textiles on table legs, chair backs, easel frames and on the inside of pods to create a skilful mix of textures and colours. “This craft element provides tactility with the engineered parts. The laminated beech leg [for example] material can be tooled precisely,” explains Lloyd. “In a world of mass production, the authenticity of a product becomes increasingly important.”

That said, Teknion is not a business built on homespun charm with every piece of furniture hand-crafted, it is a big American corporation and PearsonLloyd respected that.

“It fitted in with Teknion’s roots. It has the most economically slim wood panels and you can choose how much upholstery is built in to the system,” says Pearson, adding that it wasn’t just the regular office market Zones was aimed at but new clients and new territories from startups to big blue chips. “People wanted to touch it and were asking if it was available for the home.”

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After all, interjects Lloyd: “People don’t just work in offices: hotels, public transport, cafe and home have become an extension of the office. We had to find a system that mixed the professional with humanity. In every single product, we had to make it more purposeful.”

And PearsonLloyd certainly seems to have been busy, as Orgatec will also see the launch of contract seating from Alias and two products from Bene, along with new seating from Senator.

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