IROCO Design showroom opens in Tokyo… Tokyo friends we would love to see you here…
IROCO Design showroom opens in Tokyo… Tokyo friends we would love to see you here…
Have you ever wondered where that fabulous chair you saw at the Tokyo Art Fair was from or the iridescent lighting at the Tokyo Motor Show? Well, it may have been from IROCO Design, a company specializing in bringing stylish European furniture to the Asian market. In order to create an event or space that stands out, it’s prudent to go the extra mile and source fixtures that guests take notice of. Finding such individuality can be difficult. To avoid monotony, you may have to think outside the box.
Home interior stores with a Scandinavian aesthetic, such as IKEA and BoConcept, have exploded in popularity in recent years and so has the demand for sourcing furnishings from the heart of innovative European brands. IROCO is ready and waiting to answer this call from consumers in Japan.
Whether your interest is in renting or buying, you can find an almost limitless choice of tables, chairs, lighting, counters and even illuminated furniture designs through the IROCO Design catalog. Thousands of in-style designer pieces, from over 40 European and Japanese brands are available. Pedralli, True, New Standard, Plank, HAY and LaPalma to name a few.
“Architects, interior designers and hotels have not traditionally been able to access these brands in Japan,” says Ted Miller, President of IROCO Japan and CEO of Empire Entertainment Japan, but now, “IROCO Design will make that possible.”
Established in 2011 in Hong Kong, Alex Henrich and Sonia Jackson noticed the difficulties brands faced when sourcing large volumes of European products; the process was outdated, slow and expensive. Heeding the concerns of those around them, IROCO was born out of a desire to seamlessly bridge the gap between professional buyers and global design brands. Invigorating the market, they built a website where buyers could order what they wished without the bells and whistles of before.
Now, shoppers can be quoted within a day of their inquiry and receive as much information as needed to envision the final outcome. Technical drawings, 3-D renderings, high-res images and advice from design experts that speak six different languages. Architect, Interior designer or homeowner, they’ll be ready to integrate your space with your concept.
“As clients look for increasingly sophisticated design solutions, we are continually adding case study presentations to stimulate ideas, exploring the changing face of design in our blog posts, and adding new and exciting brands to the resource,” says Alex Henrich, IROCO Design’s Creative Director.
Take a look at their showroom in Tokyo for the latest designs on offer.
Opt for Light and Bright: Pale furniture is light and fresh and will lift a room – choose a white desk and chair for an unobtrusive home office, or a see-through acrylic dining or coffee table to maximise space (the Pic Table by Max Design is an ideal choices). Tables with open metal bases will also create an uncluttered impression – try the Tray Table range or the DLM Collection from Hay, which comes in a variety of different sizes and colours.
Don’t Neglect Corners: Squeeze an accent chair into an overlooked corner (Starck’s Louis Ghost or Victoria Chair would be perfect) or create an attractive reading nook by placing cosy seating (such as the Transparent Pasha Armchair by Pedrali) and side table at an angle against the wall.
Sonia Jackson is CEO IROCO Design Japan – iroco.com – changing the way Asia sources great design.
It’s no secret the interiors world follows the international catwalks, but seismic shifts in global politics and culture also affect design aesthetics, and ultimately the spaces we inhabit. This April’s 58th edition of Salone del Mobile in Milan brought more than 400,000 people to the city to see the world’s top brands, architects and designers unveil their long awaited exhibitions, installations and products.
Texture: A traditional favourite with interior designers, the layering of textures has become more interesting. Very tactile finishes and soft materials with weaving and textures are on the rise. And natural leather is adding a feeling of comfort to many different designs. Spanish brand Loewe showcased leatherwork and woven frames in a nod to a return to the natural world.
Japanese designer Nendo’s installation Breeze of Light incorporated 17,000 flowers made from a polarizing film with more than 100 spotlights altering the intensity of the shadows from the flowers. Commissioned by Daikin, the air conditioning manufacturer, the feeling of a breeze blowing through a field of flowers was achieved, bringing a sense of calm to a busy week.
Characterized by simplicity, minimalism and functionality Scandinavian design as a movement emerged in the early 20th century, and flourished in the 1950s after World War II when social democracy was at its height in the Nordic countries. Not limited to furniture but spearheaded by it, it emphasized democratic design and simple living. This new design was based on the thought that functional, simple, modern and beautiful everyday objects should be affordable for all. Industrialisation arrived late into the region so the traditional craft skills remained alive. As a result, Scandinavian modern design continued to employ the instinctive handling of materials innate to the craft. And given the Nordic region’s cold and long dark winters, Scandinavian homes had to offer warmth. More specifically the Danes searched for ‘hygge’ – the feeling of cosy contentment and well-being acquired through enjoying the simple things in life. These practicalities led to a playful combination of lighter colours, simple style and open-plan spaces that could accommodate a variety of functions, rather than serving one purpose, furthering the practicality of their design. Designed to allow light to flow at every turn, Nordic design began to favour pale-colours, wooden floors and spaces free of clutter and ornaments. And the availability and mass production of more cost-effective materials such as sturdy plastics, pressed wood, and aluminium helped to fuel the Scandinavian design movement.
The first golden age of Scandinavian design extended from the 1930s to the beginning of the 1970s. Its founders were Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, Borge Mogensen, Hans J Wegner, Verner Panton, Poul Henningsen and Maija Isola. These founders provided the basic model of Scandinavian design– durability, functionality, reliability and affordability – but also the less tangible values of simplicity, joy, courage and pleasure which are clearly visible in brands such as Muuto, Hay and Ferm Living. Clean lines, functional furnishings and a neutral palette were hallmarks of modern style everywhere.
That Scandinavian design quickly gained global and lasting appeal is thanks to the likes of Jacobsen whose interest in furniture design peaked with the launch of the Drop, Egg and Swan Chairs in the 50s, which still to this day inspire modern design. Some designers began to add bold colours and graphics to the clean-lined philosophies such as Marimekko, instantly recognisable for its colourful bright patterns, whilst others changed the wood for plastics and moulded into clean silhouettes such as the Panton Chair. The Scandinavian influence on American design stood out in pieces such as the Tulip Chair, designed by Finn Eero Saarinen for Knoll in 1956, which also remains a true classic to this day.
Neutral colours in Scandinavian design such as deep onyx, elegant charcoal, medici grey, stone white, golden basketry, fossil grey, and white cliff beige are an inspiration from nature. The result is a warm strain of modernism which is easy to relate to and entirely hygge. It remains as much about a look as it is about a lifestyle. Made into a mass market phenomena by Ikea back in the 90’s, today brands such &tradition, Menu and Hay are distilling Nordic design with a more mature approach, proving that Scandinavian design is alive and well even in the more eclectic present, and incorporating Mediterranean and Asian designers such as Jaime Hayon or Nendo to the collection. In today’s environment, where our workplaces and homes are interchangeable, and we look to our homes as a retreat from stress, it’s no surprise that Scandinavian design is here to stay.
The study reveals that 63% of employees feel that whilst innovation is an expected deliverable, the design of the workplace is not conducive to the development of creative thought. Employees now expect design-driven workplaces as a minimum guarantee if they, as talent, are to be retained.
With the arrival of new and disruptive communication technologies, employees are no longer bound to chairs, desks or offices. The office is now a meeting point, an anchor for employees, an inviting and relaxing ‘café’ where ideas are generated and positive interaction occurs in a creative space. The technology industry is pioneering this concept of creative workplaces – and with a spread of innovative working environments we have picked a few that stand out:
Playster, a company that provides subscription-based entertainment services, offers clients and employees an environment that matches the dynamic vision. Whilst balancing white minimalist common spaces with brightly coloured areas, Playster provides ‘energy’ houses perfect for teams – the bright colour interconnecting to and contrasting with the calming white. This semi-open workplace design, by ACDF Architecture, facilitates creative work by providing opportunities for rewarding social interactions between employees.
Photobox worked with Oktra to plan a workplace that supported a collaborative environment for their 400 employees. Entirely open-plan, the layout provides for a combination of flexible work, daily stand-up and teamwork spaces thus empowering employees to unlock their creativity and unleash their talents. Photobox claims they now have more engaged employees, increased customer conversions and faster feature deployment on all their platforms
Built inside a former industrial space, four white cuboids stretch from floor to rooftop, connected by a steel-enforced mezzanine level balancing open-plan work and dining spaces. The white cube pockets display a curious layout of tables, allowing employees to invent new ways to brainstorm, meet and socialise. The designers believe that a creative office cannot function on efficiency alone, but that every individual contributes to the creative company culture – ie a departure from the desk, the conference room and the office-culture, as we knew them.
Based in Canary Wharf in London, Revolut has challenged the banking establishment with its open, agile border-crossing digital banking platform. With a nod to the banking model, they have added a flexible and adaptable working place. A huge glass volume space provides a central focus with workspaces encircling allowing traffic to flow easily and energy lines to be respected. Varying sized desks transform spaces providing a ‘white-paper’ approach that encourages informal distribution where employees can both interact or create an intimate atmosphere as and when required.
(Photos by Owen Raggett)
Whilst Transferwise has offices in Estonia, London and New York, their Singapore office looks quite different. Inspired by the diversity of the Lion City, a multi-cultural approach has been incorporated into the design and space planning. “The idea of a sharing culture matched the trend of workplace planning,” says designer Ohm. “Informal meeting spaces empower people to exchange ideas, collaborate, co-create and transfer knowledge.” Integrating a local feel into the international design set up encapsulates Ohms objective of Thinking globally and acting locally.
Hojo Sanci, co-working space. Kamakura, Tokyo. Schemata Architects.
(Photos by Kenta Hasegawa – OFP)
This traditional Japanese house is located in a quiet residential district amongst lush greenery in Japan’s Kamakura, housing an eclectic collection of creative workers including a graphic designer, an AI engineer, a lawyer, a magazine editor and a stylist. The house was originally built by a naval officer and owned by the Hojo family. HOJO SANCI literally translates to Hojo’s Homeembodying the concept that people in this space feel as though they are at home, rather than in the office. And, with a Japanese garden at the site, a meditation room and other features designed to boost users’ productivity the Japanese sense of beauty, tranquillity and nature are incorporated to every day at the ‘office’.
Slow Office, Shanghai, China /Muxin Design
(Photos by Zhang Da-Qi)
“Office spaces are especially prone to becoming battlefields of power struggles, a character that often results in an overload of tension and stress, rather than enhancing the working experience”, says Muxin Design. Hoping that their new proposal will help improve communication between colleagues, the Architects propose a home sweet home from home that brings the familiarity of home to the workplace. Reflecting both Shanghai’s immigration tradition and its status as Chinese cultural hub, Muxin Design are pioneering Chinese design. “Why not transplant the elements of the slower residence spaces into faster office spaces?” they conclude.
Campfire Co-working. Hong Kong. Studio Cassels
Campfire co-working space, designed by Studio Cassels, provides workspaces to start-ups, freelancers and creatives reflecting Hong Kong’s Western connections whilst incorporating its industrial past. On the edge of Aberdeen Harbour, Wong Chuk Hang’s manufacturing hub status has been preserved with the aim of preserving a familiar and local sight. The interior elements of steel, glass and concrete coupled with touches of colour and an overall clean and spacious layout are a nod to Hong Kong’s feng shui ideal of using energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment.
Whether for casual gatherings or a quick lunch, or a crucial business decision, or even a nap – life revolves around the table and the right table is important. The choice of a table reflects the companies’ vision; a table will talk about power or position if it’s too imposing in a boardroom; it may rise and fall at the touch of a button for the CEO watching their waistline; it may shine or sparkle in a luxury brand’s meeting room – tables bring people together and speak loudly about companies’ positions. Here are a few that stand out:
Big Table B. Konstantin Grcic for BD Barcelona
With the addition of an aluminium extension, this modernist table can stretch to 5 metres. Elegant and imposing, Big Table B is definitely a contender for the ideal meeting room table.
DIDYMOS Table by Antonia Astori for Driade
There is no doubt that oval tables are special. The lack of sharp edges promotes togetherness, which in exchange improve relationships. Didymos is all you expect from an oval table, and with its beautiful sculptural base, it certainly won’t go unnoticed.
Cantilever Modular Table by Molo Studio for Molo
The Cantilever Table is designed with collaborative, co-working spaces and events in mind. Built from a flexible, honeycomb geometry, it easily expands, morphs and connects to itself via magnetic ends, and folds back to a flat pack for easy storage. Superb for multi-use spaces and pop up events.
Aero Table by Daniele Lo Scalzo Moscheri for Pedrali
Quintessentially Italian, elegant and modern, the Aero Table has both superb quality and striking aesthetics. Fitted with a glossy tempered glass top which balances upon a lacquered steel base, it works well in boardrooms and office kitchens alike. A perfect, design shabby solution for any working space wherever you are.
Snaregade Table by Norm Architects for Menu
Restrained, sentimental, yet angular and impressive, the Snaregade Table is the epitome of Nordic elegance, neatly structured with an avant-garde six-leg design. At once odd and good looking this is the table to have in any creative office
Offices are now much more than offices – they are workplaces: the meeting point for remote employees, for those with flexible hours, for client visits, the centres of creativity, of board meetings, of ideation, a coffee shop, a place to get a healthy snack, a place for fun. Hours are spent in workplaces and they need to feel right. Employees are demanding so much more from their workplaces, and millennials will choose careers based on how the office looks and feels. A number of factors underpin this change of mindset with technological advances being a key driver. Never before has the study of social physics and behaviour played more into the design of our workplaces.
At Google’s 8th Avenue headquarters, permanent desks don’t exist and it is said that even lifts are slower, both of which force staff to move around more. This ‘orchestrated chaos’ encourages what it calls ‘casual collisions’ that provoke unexpected conversations and new ideas. For many employers, this is workplace design at its best, engineering desired working behaviours that create better results. And it all makes total sense. Few dispute that the environment for our employees’ matters. There are countless surveys to back this up. In one poll of 1,456 workers by Office Genie in 2017, 45 % complained of a lack of collaborative space while 20 % felt their workplace environment actually hindered them doing their job.
Research firm Kelton Global carried out a study for National Business Furniture entitled Happiness in the Workplace. The research showed how American workers’ performance is influenced by their surroundings. 47% of employed Americans said the overall design of their workspace influenced their productivity, whilst 42% report it impacts the quality of their work. The study also found that millennials – currently the largest sector of the US workforce – are more likely to claim that their happiness, motivation, well-being and quality of work are influenced by their environment.
Similarly, Steelcase found that one-third of workers across 17 of the world’s leading economies were disengaged. Given that engagement is so demonstrably linked to business outcomes such as employee retention, productivity and profits this is worrying. With statistics like these, it’s no surprise the office refit market is booming.
Through the study of behavioural science, organizational design, change management, performance metrics, demographics and technological advances companies have been looking at how behaviour is influenced in the workplace. And these trends and facts are influencing the work of architects and designers engaged in shaping our workplaces.
Many large countries – including the US, China, Japan, Germany and Italy – will face talent shortages as their work-forces age and experience declining growth rates..
This talent shortage will challenge organizations to find and keep the best people. They will need to engage employees with workplaces that support their wants and needs.
Creating vibrant offices is one tactic to recruit and retain talent. Providing flexibility and choices for where, when and how work happens is also critical for attracting the best people.
Engaged employees can boost a company’s bottom line by up to 20 %. (1). These employees are emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations. However, in a survey across 142 countries, 13% of employees reported feeling engaged in their jobs. (2)
Disengaged workers — those who are negative or even hostile to their organizations — outnumber engaged employees by nearly two to one. (2) Companies with disengaged employees experience 30% – 50 % more turnover. (1)
An open workspace, often designed with the input of the employees, gives a place to celebrate employees contributions, broadcast goals and objectives, providing comfortable and cool spaces for effective collaboration.
Flexible work generally receives a positive response. 30% of employees with easy access to flexible work arrangements report feeling very engaged in their jobs. And 60% of employees with high access to flexibility are very satisfied with their jobs, compared with 44% of those with moderate access and only 22% of those with low access.
Because the nature of today’s work is so complex and unpredictable, workplace designers seek to provide purpose-built collaborative settings, accessible to all – impromptu meeting areas, formal meeting spaces, project rooms, individual workspaces, indoor-outdoor areas, grassy areas for picnics, deck chairs and so on.
Better workplace lighting – both natural and artificial – has been linked to a 15% reduction in absenteeism in office environments (3). Other studies have reported productivity increases ranging from 2.8% to 20% attributed to optimum lighting levels (3).
The presence of ample daylight, windows and outdoor space, nature and sensory change and variability all has a positive impact on people’s well being.
“A building is 10% to 15 % of a company’s overhead, much less than the 70% to 80 % staff are,” according to TSK Architects. “Investing in the former is money well spent if it makes your biggest cost – employees – happier.”
Perhaps the greatest irony about workplace design is that by its visual nature, it is the easiest investment to actually see, much more than wellbeing or engagement projects. “That’s why chief executives will still put money into the workplace environment,” conclude Morgan Lovell. “While the RoI is hard to see, great design isn’t.”
It is therefore quite clear that the physical surroundings an employee experiences will directly influence behaviours, attitudes and feelings towards the employer. Organizations must think about the workplace as an extension to the home, an ecosystem where individuals have choice and control over where and how they work. Only then will they feel the support that will enable them to bring out their very best.
IROCO Design launches IROCO Design for Contract – www.iroco.com is a state of the art furniture sourcing and specification resource, easy to use and rich in detail, with everything a buyer should need – technical sheets, swatches, CAD files, project images for thousands of products from the world’s leading designer furniture brands, at exceptional trade prices. A dedicated account manager helps with ideas, choice and ordering, and goods are delivered to your door. See this week’s SCMP for some fabulous stools from IROCO Design….
IROCO Design launches IROCO Design for Contract – www.iroco.com is a state of the art furniture sourcing and specification resource, easy to use and rich in detail, with everything a buyer should need – technical sheets, swatches, CAD files, project images for thousands of products from the world’s leading designer furniture brands, at exceptional trade prices. A dedicated account manager helps with ideas, choice and ordering, and goods are delivered to your door. See this week’s SCMP for some fabulous swivel chairs from IROCO Design….