Unassigned seating is on the rise—New research from Gensler’s shows 10% of the U.S. workforce no longer has an assigned seat at work, doubling from 5% in 2019. While the idea of unassigned seating isn’t new, its recent growth in application is notable, says the firm. The reviews are mixed: many workers in unassigned seating want their seat back, while many are happy with the scenario. Taken as a whole, Gensler’s data suggests unassigned seating has a negative impact on performance and experience—a challenge to a dominant narrative centered around the increased choice and freedom that should follow suit. Some of the top things employees want: more privacy; storage; a sense of ownership; quiet. Following are some new office products that facilitate these desires.
New & Noteworthy
With more than 20 exclusive designs in a variety of transparent substrates, ATI Decorative Laminates’ Frosted Fusion Collection creates the look of frosted glass with acrylic and polycarbonate panels. Available in 4-ft. × 8-ft. size and various thicknesses, Frosted Fusion panels feature nature motifs and minimalist patterns. Serving as a translucent divider, or even creating eating semi-private spaces, panel applications are endless.
Who says acoustic wall panels have to be boring? Designed by Alberto & Francesco Meda, the “Flat” sound-absorbing panels, available as a wall or ceiling-mounted system, are characterized by the perfectly planar front surface. The wall brackets are fitted with a rear metal hinge that can rotate and tilt the element. The “Totem” divider element (right) is made up of 12 panels can be set against each other and supported by a chromed tubular steel structure mounted on a painted metal base.
“This is a product that I love! I judged it at Neocon and our team gave it a gold award.” —Elisabeth Post-Marner, Spacesmith
The product—Framery acoustic pods for phone meetings or relaxation—according to Post-Marner, literally envelops one in the sound-absorbing surroundings. “The ‘Mind’ section of WELL addresses places of meditation and relaxation, and this product provides it,” she says, adding it also meets the “AIR” criteria with no VOCs, and the “COMFORT” category, as the refreshing music-equipped pods help make people feel removed from the surrounding work environment.
Universal Height Adjustable Screens allow workstation panels to suit a variety of tasks whether sitting, standing or collaborating. By adjusting the height, users can control acoustic and visual privacy of the workspace with the screen. Raise or lower the screen to the desired level of privacy with a simple pull or push. At its full height, the screen provides complete visual privacy. When fully depressed, the screen virtually disappears to create an inviting, collaborative space. The screens adjust seamlessly and quietly.
While Azon does not make windows, the company does offer turnkey technology for the manufacture of polyurethane polymer thermal barrier aluminum fenestration. Using thermal barriers to improve energy savings in the window assembly helps manufacturers meet strict energy codes and standards worldwide, ranging from monumental architectural to residential aluminum window classes. The newest ultra-performance Azo-Core high-density foam thermal barrier by Azon contains the best combination of energy efficiency and the highest shear strength of all thermal barriers used in the most demanding climates and conditions.
The all-in-one design of Bradley’s WashBar welcomes users with accessibility, intuitive interaction and high-functionality. Comprised of a single piece of durable chrome plated metal that houses soap, water and dryer in one “smart” touch-free fixture, the WashBar features LED lighting and easy-to-read icons that guide the user through effortless washing. The WashBar’s innovative design ensures each clean, rinse or dry function will not accidentally activate a neighboring function. The result is a seamless and refreshing hand washing experience.
With its unique elevated positioning and open weave pattern, the brick facade of the Moody Center for the Arts extends the building’s airy design to the exterior. Supporting the brick screen wall of this campus landmark is a system of stainless steel rods running through specially cored brick. High-sheen iron ore additives in the brick create playful blue/gray hues that appear to change with the sun and sky. Widely specified in the hurricane-prone region of Texas, brick is used in buildings throughout the Rice University campus in Houston. Known for superior hardness along with aesthetic quality, the selected brick from Endicott Clay Products was formed of Nebraska clay and then fired using a special burn to meet tight dimensional tolerances and to draw out the deep black color.
With the introduction of EN-V by Dri-Design, the company aims to restore the true meaning of “value" in value engineering. Without cheapening the metal panel system, the company has optimized its processes to deliver cost savings without sacrificing performance or longevity. EN-V is a surprisingly economical and tested, architectural, dry-joint, pressure-equalized rainscreen system. The product doesn’t compromise on aesthetics either, as it is available in dozens of standard colors as well as custom color-matching capabilities that make the possibilities nearly endless.
We really wanted to bring shading into the building, and the west canopy also creates a gathering space as well as an entry,” Stacia Ledesma of SmithGroup says, adding that the west canopy also appears to continue into the building, creating a signature ceiling element. “It really brings that texture and layering into the building – It blends the interior and exterior space.