orgatec 2010 vitra
December 2nd, 2010 by smow
Vitra @ Orgatec 2010

Vitra @ Orgatec 2010

Although the public face of Vitra is unquestionably their “Home Collection”, for decades the backbone of the company has been their office furniture division.

Consequently a central feature of Vitra’s daily work involves developing new approaches to office design and attempting to predict what will be important for office workers in the coming years.

In 1991 Vitra commissioned the designers Michele de Lucchi, Ettore Sottsass and Andrea Branzi to develop some plans for future office design. A central component was the creation of an office environment that was both social and productive.

Since then Vitra have developed numerous variations on the theme. At Orgatec 2008, for example, Vitra presented their Net’n’Nest office design concept – a concept that essentially split an open plan office into spaces for communicative, group work (Net’) and spaces for concentrated, individual work (‘Nest) and provided furniture for both situations.

At Orgatec 2010 Vitra’s catchword was “Citizen Office 2011” .

Taking stock as it were 20 years after Branzi, de Lucchi and Sottsass presented the results of their research, Vitra’s “Citizen Office 2011” aims to present an up-to-date version of that work in the context of modern work practices, and in many ways can also be seen as further development of Net’n’Nest.

Sadly, Vitra felt obliged to riddle the whole exercise with the sort of unnecessary marketing vocabulary that makes our blood boil.

That marketing professionals have their own linguistic register is not only known but has been the subject of office satire for decades – we played our first game of “Marketing Jargon Bingo” in 1993 – and we’re certain that the average Vitra commercial customer is not only aware of this but is intelligent enough to get the idea on their own.

No one has ever sold anything by giving a collection of desks a marketing name and then comparing them to a suburban district.

And they never will.


And to attempt such is a waste of time and money.


Alcove Work by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec @ Orgatec 2010

Alcove Work by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec @ Orgatec 2010

Fortuitously one or the other product presented by Vitra at Orgatec 2010 was of such a quality that it could calm our pulsating veins.

It sounds obvious but we were genuinely impressed with the Alcove Work by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The Alcove is one of our favourite sofa designs, but was for us never an option for the office; however, by simply adding some storage space and a small surface on which one can write, the Bouroullecs have transformed it into something that can genuinely be recommended for workspaces.

The Bouroullec’s Communal Cells, in contrast,  initially made us recoil in horror – because we couldn’t understand why either Vitra or the Bouroullecs would want to produce a modern version 1970s airport telephone cells.

Then we realised that Communal Cells is in effect a modular concept with which users can create their own interior architecture.

And as with all sensible systems – rebuild and reconstruct as and when required.

And so with Communal Cells you have the possibility to create space for printers/copiers, for holding impromptu meetings, for installing a “snooze corner”… or whatever your office needs.

And once we understood that, we were genuinely impressed with the concept.

ID Chair Concept by Antonio Citterio for Vitra - unvieled at Orgatec 2010

ID Chair Concept by Antonio Citterio for Vitra - unvieled at Orgatec 2010

The other dominant designer within Vitra’s Orgatec 2010 show was Antonio Citterio. In addition to the Suita Club Sofa / Armchair and  Unix Chair Citterio’s most important contribution was without question the new ID Chair Concept.

Centred around a new patented motion system the ID Chair Concept looks like it will be a central feature of Vitra’s office design concepts for the next few years.

But more on the ID Chair Concept in a separate post.

In addition Vitra presented new products from Naoto Fukasawa, Arik Levy and the aforementioned HAL by Jasper Morrison.

Despite the marketing folks best attempts to muddy the waters, Vitra still base a lot of their office design concepts on a  loose interpretaton of Charles Eames “Collage” approach to domestic furnishing – which is no bad thing and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Variety is not only the spice of life but a necessity in an effective work place.

And so whereas “Citizens Office 2011” wont change the way companies and individuals think about their office environments – we’re certain that many of the individual products launched at Orgatec 2010 will.

And that many of the resulting office designs will ultimately resemble what Vitra discuss in their “Citizen Office 2011” manifesto.

Just without superfluous Office Forums and Workstation Areas.

Orgatec 2010: Vitra - Comunal Cells as wardrobe, Alcove Work , ID Chair Concept

Orgatec 2010: Vitra - Comunal Cells as wardrobe, Alcove Work , ID Chair Concept

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, orgatec, Producer, Product, Vitra Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

June 19th, 2009 by julius

We at (smow)blog we have often mentioned Vitras Net’n’Nest office design concept – one the one hand because we like it and on the other because as an official Vitra partner we at smow like to draw attention to new developments and products from Vitra.
We have, however, never made a secret of the fact that one can – if one wants – mix and match furniture from various producers.

Adenike by Bao-Nghi Droste

Adenike by Bao-Nghi Droste

Which was pretty much our third thought upon seeing Adenike by Heidelberg based designer Bao-Nghi Droste at DMY Youngsters in Berlin.
Our first thought was what a fantastic object.
Our second was then, hhhmmm wonderful design, but with the padded surface it is a bit impractical for writing and drawing.
Then we spoke to Bao-Nghi and realised that our interpretation of it’s usage was incorrect.
Although the upper surface is solid enough to allow one to write on it, Adenike should be seen more as temporary work or meeting island. Or simply as a place to withdraw to from a group work situation in the same room and either do some work by yourself, or just read a paper and relax.

Adenike in action - Three designers discuss an object.

Adenike in action - Three designers discuss an object.

The first thing you notice, or better said don’t notice, when you approach Adenike is how it draws you in. You automatically lean on it, use it, interact with it. But because of the quality of the design you don’t notice, it feels natural, feels good.

Adenike has enough space for 4 or 5 people to comfortably work around it, and with it’s own in-built lamp is perfect for checking proofs, finalising documents or even playing poker to wile away a slow afternoon. Sorry to encourage a creative brainstorming session to ensure your company maintains the commercial high-ground.

In addition to beautifully fulfilling it’s intended function Adenike is also a well crafted piece of furniture; you genuinely don’t need to be a carpenter to appreciate the craftsmanship of the joints.

And so after chatting with the extremely amiable Bao-Nghi and testing Adenike, we came to thought three.


Adenike promotes a good working atmosphere

Adenike is perfect for all whose work involves occasional group discussions and/or short bursts of group consultation. Or for those who after a long sitting session creating something, want to stand to check the outcome of their work.  And so a wonderful addition for any office looking to base it’s layout on the principles of the Vitra Net’n’Nest concept.

Adenikeis currently not is serial production, and so if you are interested you will need to contact Bao-Nghi Droste direct.

Posted in DMY Berlin, smow design spring Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

How Vitra products can help organise an office space
May 6th, 2009 by julius

Following the successful visit to USM Haller the (smow)team headed on to Basel and Vitra HQ. The contrast in the external appearances of the buildings could hardly be greater.

The Vitra HQ in Basel, designed by Frank Gehry

The Vitra HQ in Basel, designed by Frank Gehry

As a company Vitra don’t just engage designers to create furniture for them,  they also encourage them to design buildings. The finest example being the Vitra Design Museum complex at Weil am Rhein; but in interests of chronological correctness more on that later.

The original Vitra building in Basel building was constructed as a production facility in 1957,  before being extended in 1994 by American architect and designer Frank Gehry. While Gehry, admittedly, makes it all to easy for his critics to dismiss his work with a quick “Always the same Gehry, just a different city”, it is always worth investigating his work a little more closely.

The yellow room at Vitra HQ in Basel with EA 108 from Charles and Ray Eames.

The "yellow room" at Vitra HQ in Basel with EA 108 from Charles and Ray Eames.

Why for example is the car park blue?

Because every house in California has a pool and so the Vitra HQ needs a pool. Sadly at the (smow)team were in Basel the weather was unseasonably sunny , after rain the pool effect of the blue paint is much more evident.

We were also very impressed by the colour coding of the building; the yellow outside wall, for example, housing a room both decorated and furnished in yellow. So simple, yet so good.

Pin Coat by Oliver Bahr for Moormann at Vitra in Basel

Pin Coat by Oliver Bahr for Moormann at Vitra in Basel

In comparison to the structural elements, inside the Vitra HQ is a wonderful example of just how well Vitra products can be used to construct a pleasant, streamlined and efficient working environment. And not just Vitra products; lurking amongst the furniture were several Pin Coats from Moormann. At the end of the day if you know and appreciate good design you know and appreciate good design.

How Vitra products can help organise an office space

How Vitra products can help organise an office space

What principally attracted our attention, however, was the incorporation of the Net’n’Nest concept in the layout of the office and the associated separation of the office into separate group work, private work and relaxation spaces. The space available in the Vitra offices was not particular large, just excellently utilized and assigned.

In addition to the administrative office the complex in Basel also houses the research and development facilities as well as the product showcase space and here your (smow)team had the opportunity learn a little more about the production processes and also the forthcoming developments from Vitra.

And then after a highly enjoyable morning in Basel it was off to Weil am Rhein and the Vitra Design Museum…

The (smow)team really enjoyed their trip to Vitra

The (smow)team really enjoyed their trip to Vitra

Posted in Producer, smow offline Tagged with: , , , , ,

Headline by Bellini for Vitra
March 25th, 2009 by julius

In a recent article wired magazine presented their own take on the evolution of office furnishing.

From the introduction of the vast, cattle-shed like offices that characterised early office design through the cubicles and “virtual offices” of the 1980s and 90s and onwards the text makes one thing clear: Too many office workers have suffered through bad office design concepts.

But one needn’t work from home in order to benefit from the advantages of a convivial and stimulating office environment.

System USM Haller

System USM Haller

The Swiss designer USM Haller has been producing its patented – and in the MoMA New York displayed – System USM Haller furniture for over 40 years. Centred around the USM Haller ball the units are not only infinitely expendable but can be designed to suit your individual requirements. And then re-designed as your requirements change. In addition USM Haller tables are available in range of sizes and colours. Or alternatively the Eiermann Table from Lampert also fit wonderfully with System USM Haller units.

Tolomeo Tavalo from Artemide

Tolomeo Tavalo from Artemide

The Italian lighting designer Artemide has been producing high quality, stylish lighting systems since 1958. With it’s floor lamps, table lamps and hanging lamps Artemide has established a reputation for excellent luminescence in timeless designs that fit just as well in a reception area, office or conference room.

Among the pioneers of office furniture design were Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson and many of their classic designs remain in the Vitra collection – including their Aluminium Series of chairs which offer outstanding quality and versatility with the minimum of material and fuss.

Headline by Bellini for Vitra

Headline by Mario and Claudio Bellini for Vitra

And while Vitra “adopted” Eames and Nelson through the collaboration with Herman Miller, the company has established it’s own reputation for high-quality office furnishings. Through, for example, collaborations with Mario and Claudio Bellini, including the award winning Headline Chair or Jasper Morrison with his ATM range onto its new Net’n’Nest concept Vitra is one of the most active and innovative office furnishers on the market.

In addition smow stock the Foster Series of desk accessories by Sir Norman Foster for helit.

And with many items in stock and available for immediate worldwide delivery, you may be able to write your own chapter in the development of office design quicker than you imagine.

Posted in Producer, Product, smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Work or Rest? Net 'n' Nest at DOK
January 25th, 2009 by julius

The Alcove Highback Sofa from Vitra - an oasis of calm

The Alcove Highback Sofa from Vitra - an oasis of calm

It may be a few months old, but as relevant as ever: The International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film. During the festival in November 2008 smow sponsored, in conjunction with Vitra, the Industry Lounge. Within the festival hub – the Museum der Bildenden Künste Leipzig – industry visitors, VIps and the media were offered a quiet and relaxed atmosphere in which to hold business meetings, hold – or overhear discussions – or simply to relax and unwind.

The Industry Lounge was furnished with numerous red Alcove Highback Sofas (Design: Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec) and comfortable white Tom Vac chairs (Design: Ron Arad). The discussion podium, meanwhile,  was equipped with practical NesTables (Design: Jasper Morrison) from Vitra were available for participants.

And even within the confines of this relatievly compact space the advantages of the Vitra Net ‘n’ Nest-concept (see last blog entry) could clearly be both seen and experienced: While the colourful Alcove Highback Sofas offered an oasis of tranquility, the tables provided a perfect location for working.

Work or Rest? Net 'n' Nest at DOK

Work or Rest? Net

Posted in Exhibitions and Shows, smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Worknest from Vitra
January 22nd, 2009 by julius
The colourful future of "Net 'n' Nesting" (Photo:

The colourful future of "Net 'n' Nesting" (Photo:

For the creative bosses at Vitra the days of the large unified office space are numbered. Not only are the working conditions in such environments not ideal for productivity, but much more each employee and every visitor has a feeling of surveillance, exploitation and treadmill.

A more inspiring and positive atmosphere, however, promise Vitra from their playfully named “Net ‘n’ Nest” concept. Here the connection between individual work and rest areas and the possibilities of communicative and open collaboration are placed in the foreground – and all in space saving styleee. The “Net ‘n’ Nest” concept originated with a detailed analysis of office work flows and was further refined with professionnel monitoring in customers offices.

“Netting” is used to define the space that is created within the office system, and which is suitable for team work and meetings and which is intended to promote communication between employees. “Nesting” in contrast is the term for those areas of still, concentrated work. For Vitra CEO Hans-Peter Cohn it is important that there are spaces for relaxing in which expressive colours dominate and extend a cozy living room atmosphere; as well as areas with more restrained colours and a puritanical design to promote relaxation and concentration.

NesTable from Vitra

NesTable from Vitra

The “Net ‘n’ Nest” „ concept was first presented in 2006. Since then designers and architects have worked on versions intended to connect the Netting and Nesting components in a ever more space saving fashions. In the future moving from communicative team work to concentrated individual work should not necessarily involve moving room: Ideally the work place should allow for both possibilities. Features such as height adjustable room dividers between the work places as well comfortable office chairs that double as relaxing armchairs are just a couple of examples of the “Net ‘n’ Nest” philosophy.

Worknest from Vitra

Worknest from Vitra

Among the Vitra products in the smow collection with which to begin “Net ‘n’ Nest” in your own office we can recommend:

– Office chair Worknest

BaOBab Table


– Lounge Chair Amoebe

ATM Mobile Unit

Posted in Exhibitions and Shows, Product Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Plenty of room for a Eiermann Table inside (Photo:
January 20th, 2009 by julius

Landed by

Landed by Eric Deghardt for Lampert (Photo:

At the imm in Cologne the German producer “Richard Lampert” once again proved that they can produce more than just the classic, timeless Eiermann Table. With a prototype of “Landed” by Eric Degenhardt the Stuttgart based company almost completed a leap into architecture. Almost. For while in models and sketches one could easily confuse Degenhardt’s creation with a concept building; close up one realizes that it is in fact an exceptional piece of furniture design. “Landed” with its multiple levels and clever use of height has several possible uses: As a garden house in warmer climates; as a children’s room in a loft flat; or as an isolated work space or relaxing room in an open-plan office – an extension of Vitra’s Net’n’Nest concept, as it were.

Plenty of room for a Eiermann Table inside (Photo:

Plenty of room for a Eiermann Table inside (Photo:

At the moment Landed is still in the development phase and it will be 2010 at the earliest before a finished version is available. When it is you can be certain that smow will be able to supply you with one. Just don’t ask for it to be gift wrapped!!

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Producer, Product Tagged with: , , ,

Vitra AC4 (Photo:
November 24th, 2008 by julius

On our search for the future of office furniture smow spent last week at the Orgatec office furniture trade fair in Cologne.

Vitra's Orgatec Stand (Photo:

Vitra's Orgatec Stand (Foto:

Under the motto „Better Office Greater Success“ 673 companies from 39 countries presented their concepts for the office of the future. If we are honest we have been to better trade fairs, and one noticed the absence of important industry giants such as USM Haller. That said the show was not without it’s moments.

Among the bravest exhibits was the new “Net’n’Nest” concept from (smow)partner Vitra – individual furniture pieces are creatively combined to create collective and individual space within a spaces. You choose the pieces – you choose the style!

Vitra AC4 (Photo:

Vitra AC4 (Photo:

In addition Vitra presented numerous new projects including the office swivel chair “AC4”, the Executive chairs “Skape Highback” und “Skape Lowback” and the “Softshell Chair” with a novel seat shell construction. And the best news for (smow)customers is that we will shortly be offering selected exhibition items at reduced prices; including;

* Alberto MedaMedaPro, MedaPal and Meda Chair

* Maarten van Severen.03, .04 and .07

* Antonio Citterio: Oson CE and  Oson C

* Mario and Claudio Bellini: Headline in various configurations

* Verner Panton: a yellow Amoebe

* Ronan & Erwan BouroullecMetal Side Table

* Max BillUlmer Hocker

* Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen: Organic Chair

Our Repository stock is constantly renewed and refreshed and so it is always worth dropping by!

Posted in Exhibitions and Shows Tagged with: , , , , ,