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Friday Focus - Jennifer Newman Table

The tipping point for flexible working and many of the other ideas we now see as mainstream in the workplace came in the early 1990s. As ever, it was technology that set the ball rolling. The nascent Internet and the commercial availability of mobile phones and laptops meant for the first time that people were free to rise from their desks and work anywhere. While most of the focus was on how people could now telecommute, the effects were to be felt in the office too and one of the most seismic changes began in a tiny way at a small media company in London called Michaelides and Bednash. The firm decided that its twenty staff could all be accommodated around a single large table with a central spine data, communications and power servicing.

It was seen as something of a novelty even by the great thinkers and trend spotters of the time. The eminent workplace theorist and designer Frank Duffy wrote the following of the Michaelides and Bednash office in his 1997 book The New Office: “The Michaelides and Bednash table would not work for many of the companies featured in this book. The office space is very specific to the business it houses.”

Yet within just a few years, the idea of groups of people working on an extended bench became the default workstation type in the UK. Fast forward to the present era and you can discover what happens when you take this principle and apply it in a world in which the old functional and aesthetic boundaries between different types of space have been eroded beyond what anybody may have imagined a quarter of  a century ago and in which people seek out the authentic and the personal to ensure that the working environment is perfectly aligned to their needs.

This is the world in which a firm like Jennifer Newman can flourish with a range of bespoke and personalised benching and seating products that function just as well across a range of different spaces, including outdoors. Offered in a wide range of finishes, these are playful, human products that work hard but wear their functionality lightly. In many ways they can trace their roots back to the tipping point of workplace change in the 1990s, but their design is also the result of a number of other forces that have coalesced to produce something entirely new.

To find out more about the Jennifer Newman table please click here.
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