Monthly Archives: January 2019

Florence Knoll Bassett

We were saddened to hear over the weekend the news that Florence Knoll Bassett passed away at her Coral Gables home in the US. She was 101. Florence was a world-renowned architect and designer, and a pioneer of American office design.

Florence met her husband Hans in New York in 1941 and helped him to establish their revolutionary Knoll Planning Unit. Where Hans’ skills lay in business acumen and salesmanship, Florence brought her unique design skills, creative visions and a network of contacts.

Credited with being the defining force in creating the standard for the modern corporate interiors of post-war America, she revolutionised the world of post-war office interiors.

Images courtesy of the Knoll Archive.

Florence and the Planning Unit were responsible for the interiors of some of America’s largest corporations, including IBM, GM and CBS. She saw herself as more than “just an office designer”, rather as a creative force. Showing wisdom beyond her time, The Planning Unit assessed each client’s individual requirements using meticulous research and planning. This included as standard rigorously defining patterns of use and understanding company culture before presenting a comprehensive design which was informed by the principles of modernism and beautifully executed in signature Knoll style.

The first woman recipient of the Gold Medal for Industrial Design from AIA in 1961, she went on to receive the highest award for artistic excellence in America, the National Medal of Arts, in 2003. Our thoughts go out to her family and friends, and as an office fit-out, design and furniture company, we are grateful for the legacy that Florence has left us all.

She had that ability, to critique [something], to tear it apart and put it back together. She was something else.” Bob Longwell

That revolution in the office took place 20 years ago and Florence Knoll, the woman who led it, is today the single most power­ful figure in the field of mod­ern design. To be accepted by Knoll is to have it made.” New York Times, 1964

The Planning Unit existed because of my background in architecture. It was the very first furniture company [that] ever had a planning department.” Florence Knoll Bassett

2019’s Pantone Colour

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere lucky enough to escape the clouds and be awake anywhere between about 1.30 and 7am this Monday, we had the opportunity to spot the rare phenomenon of a “super blood wolf moon". To any of you who were dedicated enough to get yourself up early to see this, we salute you coming as it did at the dawn of Blue Monday – allegedly the most depressing day of the year.

Now we’re no conspiracy theorists here in the 20six office, but we did see a bit of a coincidence with this super moon that was, lets face it, more of a pinkish hue than a blood red, and Pantone’s chosen colour of 2019.

And The Winner Is…

The PANTONE Colour of the Year 2019: Living Coral

With a nod to eschewing the cultural norm of a society that is increasingly dominated by digital technology and social media, wallowing in doom and gloom, Pantone has suggested that this year’s choice symbolises an “innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits” and “authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy”.

Living Coral is officially classed as “an animating shade of orange with a golden undertone” but to be honest, to the naked eye, we’d go with soft pink.

So, can pink work in commercial property and office design? Well, being one step ahead here at 20six HQ we discussed this very premise way back in, oh, May 2017, when we asked, "Does Pink Work In The Office": and we got a resounding positive response on our social media channels when we shared our post. Living Coral is supposed to reflect the warmth, nourishment, and shelter of coral reefs to sea life, which ties in very nicely with the movement in office design to nurture employees and recognise that their wellbeing is of paramount importance to the overall productivity of a company.

We await with baited (no “sea” pun intended…) breath to see the Living Coral Office Furniture designs as they roll hot out of the designer’s showrooms, and to see which forward thinking companies embrace this year’s colour into their overall company branding.

Sustainable Office Design

The 6 basic elements of a sustainable office

Regardless of the size of your office, there are six fundamental elements to achieving a more sustainable office:

1: Energy

2: Light

3: Ventilation

4: Water

5: Furniture

6: Materials

Whether you have fully embraced sustainability as the only way forward or are at least aware that by creating a greener working environment you will be saving on energy costs, striving towards a more sustainable office will help both your employees well being and your company’s finances.

For the majority of businesses, getting an entirely new building designed and built for your offices is out of the questions, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace an eco-friendlier position for your current working environment.

We have taken the six most basic elements of sustainable design to give you some starting points for making your office more environmentally friendly.

6 Ways To Increase Sustainability In Your Office Design

Energy: You are unlikely to have escaped the Government's marketing campaign to get all households to use smart meters. We feel these are a little misleading as it is not the installation of the meter alone that saves you money; by reading the data on the smart meters you are able to see what uses most power and when, with the idea that you then change your power use habits to save energy. In much the same way, we can analyse where we are using most of our energy in our workplace, but of course we are more likely to have restrictions based upon the normal working day. We can however, still educate our employees to turn off lights, or their computers at the end of the day, or close doors to keep the heat in. British Gas has an article on how to reduce the use of energy in the workplace that you may find of interest.

Light: We have written several articles over the years about the importance of getting natural light into the workplace. Not only does this save on your energy bills, as above, it has also demonstrated in a variety of scientific studies to improve the productivity of employees. Where possible your office lighting should be from natural sources as a lack of natural daylight can impact on our ability to think clearly, but if you do need to give your work force artificial light then ideally give them personal control over the strength of that light and energy efficient light systems such as LED lighting and occupancy sensors.

Ventilation: If you have ever been crammed into an inner room for a meeting where there was little of no air circulating, you’ll be familiar with the negative effect this has upon all involved. It goes without saying that we need air, and a badly ventilated environment will curtail productivity and directly affect concentration levels.  Adding plants can help to purify the air and if you have the ability, adding living walls or a green roof will further reduce air conditioning and heating costs.

Water: A dripping tap is not only a noise distraction we could all do without whilst concentrating at work, it is also costly: a rate of ten drips per minute wastes three litres of water per day, 90 litres per month and 347 gallons of water per year. In addition to fixing any leaks you may have, installing water-saving devices such as low-flow sensor taps, and low-flush toilets will help your company save on its water usage – and costs.

Furniture: It isn’t often on the top of the list from clients when they ask us to source new office furniture for it to be sustainable, but there are options for greener office furniture. Longevity plays a part in this, the better quality your office chairs the longer they will last and the longer the time before they need replacing. There are office furniture options that incorporate non-toxic, recycled or recyclable materials that are easily maintained and repaired, durable, adaptable, and timeless, ensuring once you have bought them, they will last you.

Materials: Tying in with choosing the right types of furniture, is the choice you make for all other materials in your work place. From paints to work surfaces, partitions to flooring, there are more eco-friendly options out there. A quick look around your average office will amass a long list of toxic chemicals including those found in office equipment such as copiers and printers, cleaning equipment, paints, plastics, foam, and fabrics. Needless to say, if we can eliminate as many of these toxins as possible, we will be benefiting all employees as well as contributing to a greener environment for all.

All business owners have a duty of care to their employees that includes making their work spaces as safe as possible – and we all have a responsibility for preserving our environment for the next generation. Making your office more sustainable is just one tiny step on the road to achieve this globally.


Get Fit In Your Office Chair

This Monday marks the start of the working New Year for all those who hadn’t yet returned to work. New Year comes packaged with New You resolutions, be that a better diet, new job, or getting fitter and leaner.

Last February we gave you 10 examples of “deskercise” – exercises that you could carry out whilst sat at your desk, or in close proximity to your work station. So it was of interest to us when we came across the NOONCHI, the office chair attachment that may help you to achieve at least one of your 2019 goals.

The makers of this “exercise” chair attachment claim that it provides you with a complete workout system – you can stretch and exercise whilst sat at your desk.  The base structure is lightweight enough to be easily attached, detached or height adjusted on to your office chair and can also be placed under your feet for leg exercises right at your desk.

No matter how brilliant your IT and telephone systems are, there will always be times when you are sat at your desk waiting for the latest update to complete, or in the telephone queue to some large establishment. By attaching this device to your office chair you can utilise these moments of non-productivity to get moving. It’s been scientifically proven that regular exercise can reduce stress levels, so doing a mini-workout whilst waiting for your call to be answered may even leave you less likely to get annoyed when you finally do get hold of someone…

From what we can ascertain, this particular model has yet to go into full production, especially in the UK, but if you have tried such a system, we’d love to know how you got on with it.