The Desk Is Dead

Has The Office Desk Had Its Day?

The 2018 Orgatec furniture fair in Cologne had as its theme "visionary concepts for a new work culture". Focusing on new design ideas for office furniture, here at 20six we were keen to see where designers were heading. And the takeaway sentiments that we noted the most were about office desks.

The desk has had its day” cried designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.

"The desk is dead," declared designers Thomas Bernstrand and Stefan Borselius.

These are bold statements, ones in which we read whilst sat at our desks – so what are they alluding to here?

The theory behind the demise of the traditional desk is based upon modern ways of working, most notably mobile working and hot seats. We are no longer tied down to a desk top computer but can take laptops and tablets to any area of the working space. Echoing the idea of Activity Based Working, these designers see us moving between the different zones within the office and working in temporary, comfortable, communal places.

Barber & Osgerby are promoting their concept called Soft Work: out with swivel chairs, in with swivel tables that are situated between soft seating enabling you an option of working positions. This type of office furniture has been designed specifically for laptop users, and the addition of partition screens can be used to segregate areas for more privacy.

Borselius & Bernstrand have also embraced the idea of soft sofa seating that has a multitude of options for set up. Mobile tables can transform the sofa system into a desk, and wall partitions are again an option to allow for private conversations and face-to-face meetings.

The Desk Is Dead - Long Live The Desk?

Consensus at 20six HQ is that there were some fantastic, and exciting, new office furniture concepts showcased at Orgatec 2018; but we don’t agree that the demise of the desk is imminent. Yes, technology now allows us far more mobility and flexibility; yes, we are embracing Activity Based Working more; yes, more interaction and collaboration amongst employees fuels creativity and productivity. But for most of us there are still times where we just need to get our heads down and work on a project, and this is still done best with a dedicated ergonomic desk and chair.

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