Jason Vorrasi, Resource Furniture’s Operations Manager, reflects on the ORGATEC Trade Fair which he attended in October last year, in Cologne, Germany.
The theme for ORGATEC 2018 was “culture@work” and it examined the interplay between working environments and workplace culture. It also showcased new ideas in workplace design, exploring how:
- Public spaces can become creative laboratories for autonomous living and working.
- Office layouts and multifunctional workspaces support a collaborative work culture.
- State-of-the-art information and communications technology promotes creativity and networking.
- Intelligently designed office and working environments can spark inspiration and innovation.
Was the “culture@work” theme apparent at the trade fair?
Each exhibitor had their own interpretation of the theme, which largely focused on collaborative and dynamic work spaces, similar to the previous fair. There were also a few exhibitors who had incorporated technology into their pieces to help monitor and manage staff comfort levels and the working environment.
A perfect example of this is ACTIU’s NEXT monitoring system, which is based on Smart IoT sensors in various products to analyse staff interaction with furniture as well as the user’s working environment (temperature, air and lighting).
There was also a significant increase in meeting booth manufacturers, like SmartBlock, compared to the previous ORGATEC fair. They have developed their products significantly since the last trade fair through integration of power, data, AV, air purification, and lighting. They have even progressed as fair as developing mobile booths.
What was one of the key learnings to take away from ORGATEC?
The key focus of the industry right now is on wellbeing and the overall customer experience. It’s not enough to have a new, innovative product. The product needs to have a story and it has to demonstrate how it can enhance productivity and/or culture in the workplace.
What are the key trends for 2019 and beyond?
It’s fair to say that we can expect to see further integration of technology into the products that we currently use in the workplace. Just have a look at the “workstation of the future” example to see the kind of products being tested right now.
The trend towards open, dynamic workspaces shows no signs of slowing, which means that soft seating (for informal meeting zones), furniture for breakout spaces and acoustics will continue to dominate with a focus on staff engagement and wellbeing.
As an aside, it was impressive to see how existing materials, like PET felt panels, and new materials have been shaped and fabricated for use in furniture pieces.
Would you say that ORGATEC was a valuable experience?
Being able to see the latest products and industry trends definitely gave me something to bring back and share with the team at Resource Furniture. It was also a great opportunity to connect with our partner, ACTIU, and build new relationships with suppliers and manufacturers. Seeing the new product range from ACTIU, before it hit our showroom, gave me the chance to share key pieces with the team and provide feedback on look and feel, as well as potential applications in the Australian market.
What was the strangest product on show?
The strangest product on show at ORGATEC was definitely the “workstation of the future”. The “Mork and Mindy Egg”, was far too hot inside and not ideal for anyone with even a hint of claustrophobia. It is the opposite of the collaborative dynamic workspaces that are so popular right now. Perhaps it might be used as a focus space or Skype meeting pod?