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Herman Miller unveiled the Arras Spine to the Asia Pacific market in early 2013 – a new product designed for a more mobile and versatile workplace. The freestanding workpoint meets the growing demands of the contemporary workplace with the elegance one has come to expect of this leading design house, and was recently awarded ‘Best in Category: Furniture and Lighting’ at the 2013 Australian International Design Awards.
Arras Spine is an even more agile iteration of the already flexible working point, Arras Bench. While the Arras Bench featured a central panel hub embedded in a large desk, the Arras Spine exists as a stand-alone piece able to service any seating, viewing or presenting scenario.
Both the Arras Bench and the Arras Spine have been designed specifically for the Asia Pacific market. The Hong Kong-based team of product designers and engineers is led by Marc Fong, an industrial designer working in the Asia Pacific Division of Research Design and Development for Herman Miller.
Comprising a service hub with ample storage for cords, the Arras Spine provides a conduit for power and cables where lighting, storage bins, tool bar, screens and technology or even a sliding drinks tray can be connected and, where necessary, powered by a central power source. Alternatively, a solid screen or lattice with optional inserts can be accommodated. Available in three heights, the Arras Spine can be connected with the Herman Miller range – including the Everywhere Table with electronic adjustment mechanism; however, it works just as well with any desk or table, or as a standing station.
Fong is quick to point out that the pieces have been designed to compliment the new working paradigm in which furniture should be as individual as those using it. “If we can create a comfortable environment that is organic and eclectic, people can feel at home. It influences behaviours,” he explains. “If you work in an environment that is sterile with lots of rules around the maintenance of the space then you begin to behave like a cog in the machine instead of a person.”
Specifically, Fong feels that a global shift in thinking needs to be addressed by a reappraisal of the workspace. “As we move forward, post financial crisis, the world as a whole is on a completely different tangent. I think some of us talk about the de-corporatisation of the workspace.” And, while Fong feels that Herman Miller’s history in producing residential furniture means the company is well-placed to address this changing work environment, he believes that it is a process of evolution that needs to address a more collaborative method of working. “The challenge for designers is how to create physical furniture that facilitates conversation, sharing, spontaneous exchange of information, creativity… In the new world, this environment is very different –it has to be. Gone are the days when you placed expensive pieces of furniture like museum exhibits.”
In many ways, Arras Spine answers this shift towards greater flexibility by existing as a discrete element of support that can be used with any furniture style or type. This means that round tables suited for team-based collaboration, standing options suited for speed and more permanent iterations suitable for task work can coexist and shift as needs dictate, which is effectively what Fong and his team set out to achieve. “Lets create something that allows the end user to manipulate the space, perhaps even choose their own furniture and how they wish to work. It then allows the organisation to create, within one floor plate, a variable environment.”
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