How Intelligent Furniture Creates Both Quiet and Collaborative Spaces

Schiavello - Kayt Cabana

There’s plenty of buzz about adjustable height desks and flexible furniture, and the hype certainly isn’t dying down. In fact, it’s positively escalating.

We’ve seen all sorts of quirky creations and fascinating features of late, ranging from crowd-funded desks and smart light-up furniture to spectacular angular designs that wouldn’t look out of place in a modern art exhibition.

But there’s still much more to come from the world of office furniture.

One such product that’s turning heads is Kayt Village, described as an “intelligent furniture collection” that’s tuned to the needs of both collaborative – and private – working requirements.

Since developing its first sit-stand furniture collection back in 2008, Melbourne-based office furniture design company, Schiavello, has been rolling out a fascinating variety of multi-functional office and meeting furniture to improve workers’ wellbeing, to enhance collaboration and to enrich productivity.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that the intelligence behind this new style of furniture is, according to Schiavello International General Manager, Raffaele Tigani, “that each piece from the collection is designed to perform more than a single function; every piece is multi-purpose and every piece is created to enhance physical and psychological comfort at the workplace.”

Office personalities

Kayt Village includes three different styles of furniture – Cabana, Nook and Hutch – which support different working requirements and even cater to specific workplace personalities. Kayt Cabana, for instance, is designed to oil collaboration through more effective face-to-face communication and interaction (pictured top), while Kayt Nook provides a quiet place to withdraw for concentrated work (pictured below).

Schiavello - Kayt Nook

In Schiavello’s words, the collection represents “an acoustic and visual cocoon” for both learning and retreat; allowing employees to move away from more restrictive traditional working environments and utilise finely-tuned environments.

“Every inch of the workspace is a real estate cost to organisations. Rather than building traditional meeting rooms that are underutilised, Kayt Village is a space efficient and cost effective solution that shapes interactive spaces for up to six persons without interfering with a building’s core structure,” says Raffaele Tigani, General Manager of Schiavello International.

And yet, while Schiavello holds high hopes for the success of its newest venture, the designers haven’t ignored the fundamental requirements that are coming from some of Australia’s most innovative workplaces.

Responding to Officing Today, Anton Schiavello, Director at Schiavello International, says that one of the key requirements for modern office furniture is height adjustability.

60% choose sit-stand desks

“In recent years Schiavello have seen a significant increase in height adjustable workstation uptake,” says Anton. “We now see that around 60% of our total manufacturing volume have height adjustability – around 85 thousand workstations per year.”

Anton explained that their height-adjustable Krossi range, released in May 2015, was developed “to meet Australian requirements and demands”.

Digging deeper into these requirements, Anton told OT that employee health and wellbeing is playing a major role in corporations investing in this style of flexible height furniture. But it’s not the sole reason.

“It also has to do with choice and providing dynamic working environments for the workforce,” he said. “Allowing movement in the office also positively effects company culture and employee behaviour. Sitting and standing both drive different types of engagement when conversing, especially in open plan working.”

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Anton offers the example of how standing can drive quicker interaction in a meeting as opposed to sitting, in which colleagues tend to relax and take more time to talk and deliberate.

An environment of choice

Ultimately, it is all about balance. Sitting will always have its place in an office environment – so don’t throw out the chairs just yet. What is becoming apparent is that employees who have access to choice – be it the option to stand, sit, gather round a table or simply to retreat to a quiet space – are better able to choose the environment that more closely matches the task at hand. This naturally lends itself to a more efficient working activity, not to mention employee satisfaction, wellbeing, empowerment, and increased time efficiency.

Put it all together, and you’re significantly closer to your end goal: enhanced productivity.

The buzzword of the modern workspace may be ‘collaboration’, but for every reason to get together, there’s another to knuckle down in a quiet cocoon that’s free of distractions and perfectly designed for concentrated tasks. Because the best workplaces aren’t just smart; they’re intelligent, they’re built around choice, and they’re designed with all needs and personalities in mind. If collaboration dominates in today’s open-plan offices, perhaps ‘balance’ will become the buzzword of tomorrow.

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