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Friday Focus - Vitra Soft Modular Sofa

Last month, a group consisting of architects Gensler, the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art, office furniture maker Kinnarps, carpet manufacturer Milliken, RBS and Shell published a groundbreaking study into the links between wellbeing and workplace design. The report's focus was on asking the not unreasonable question "What aspects of workplace design are most important to people’s wellbeing?"

Arguably, this is now the single most important issue facing workplace designers, managers and occupiers. Absence from work alone costs the UK economy around £14 billion a year, before we even begin to assess productivity losses and the other detrimental effects the workplace can have on our personal physical and psychological wellbeing. It has become increasingly apparent that an organisation's most valuable and costly asset - its people - can be disproportionately affected by the design and management of its second most expensive - its offices.



The report is unequivocal in its conclusion based on years of research that the most important characteristic of a workplace that supports the wellbeing of employees are control over the working environment, the ability to relax, social interactions and a constant sense that there is a world outside.

In many ways, we've known this for a long time and firms have taken steps to encourage people to take more control over where and how they work and take time away from their desks to relax and meet other people in comfortable surroundings. However, this change in culture has not always been signalled by the design of the workplace. Breakout and meeting space, for example, has often been an unmistakeable annex to the corporate office, using products designed exclusively for the workplace.




That is all changing now with the emergence of design principles and product which signal clearly the purpose of a particular space. This is best seen in the way domestic and hospitality design idioms are applied in a corporate context.

A perfect example of this is the new modular soft seating range designed by  Jasper Morrison for Vitra. The sofas have been described as a manifestation of the designer's commitment to what he himself calls 'super normal' design. In this context that means a sofa that not only shares many of the same aesthetic and functional characteristics of products from our lives outside of work, but also the message that not only do these products invite you to relax, it's best for everybody if you do.


To find out more about the Vitra Soft Modular Sofa please click here.
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