Base – the magnetic desk that will help maximise your workspace

Meet BASE - a customisable, multi-functional, magnetic desk that will set your office apart and increase staff efficiency. 

Smart, cutting-edge and in keeping with the modern worker's needs, BASE is a versatile desk with a simple but clever design element: a magnetic edge.

A steel rail runs around the edge of the desk, allowing you to clip, unclip and move all dedicated magnetic accessories anywhere you like along the edge of the desk.

Similar to hooks, these accessories come in all shapes and sizes and allow you to hang your bag, store your documents in folders and place your cup in a holder to avoid the dreaded spill.

magnetisk multifunctional office desk

No more stacks of documents, entangled charging cables and coffee stains on your desk – this magnetic desk puts an end to clutter and allows for a clean, nuanced workspace and a clear mindset.

Currently, there are six clip-on accessories available with many more in the works. The designers are also planning to release 3D data for users to be able to create their own accessories.

desk with flexible dividers

The BASE desk also comes with bespoke partitions that can be attached anywhere along the back or folded in half to fit around the corner of the magnetic desk. This feature makes BASE an ideal desk for busy open-plan offices where the need for private and collaborative spaces can vary from one day to the next.

Base desk with low partitions

Designed by Japanese studio NuAns, BASE was introduced to the market during the Milan Design Week where we had the chance to see its clever features for ourselves (and play with the magnets, of course.)

desk with cup holder
briefcase holder magnetic edge desk
base magnetci desk
All photography via NuAns

The Rio side table will lend warmth to your office waiting area

Luxurious and comfortable, the Rio side table strikes the perfect balance between corporate and homey.

Current design trends show that commercial and residential design aren't as far apart as they may seem. With 35% of our waking time spent at work, feeling at home while at the office is becoming a necessity for our wellbeing. 

Unsurprisingly, furniture can play a big part in making employees feel more at home. Instead of corporate tables and chairs, more and more offices are adopting a residential feel. Think soft seating, plush pile carpet, paintings and sculptures, anything that exudes warmth and comfort.

Office receptions, waiting areas in particular, can greatly benefit from said warmth. A careful selection of the furniture will ensure that clients and prospects are greeted with care and attention. With its textural feel and dynamic shape, the Rio side table might do just that. 

Originally designed by Charlotte Perriand for Jacques Martin's home in Rio, the Rio table was re-released by Italian furniture designer Cassina. A round side table constructed from six wedges of alternating sizes with a hole at the centre, the Rio table will lend warmth and character to your office waiting area. 

It is available in three different finishes: natural oak with a Carrara white marble top, black-stained oak with Marquiña black marble top, and natural oak with Viennese cane. 

Photos via Minima Home

The sound of silence: pitch-perfect acoustics in the workplace

Bad acoustics are a by-product of busy open-plan offices that continue to thrive. Is it time for a change? 

Fine-tuning the open-plan office

Offices are inherently loud, open plan offices even more so. Loud conversations, phones ringing, keyboards clicking... Energy becomes dissonance and poor acoustics end up hurting wellbeing and productivity in the workplace.

By its virtue, sound reverberates with every surface. Picture an office with a polished concrete floor, an exposed concrete structure and a glazed facade - every ringtone and phone conversation bounce from one hard surface to the next until finally, it is absorbed by nothing other than the ears of the workers. Before long, employees lose focus and the workplace turns into chaos buzzing with distractions.

EchoPanel ® office partitions by Kirei

1. Sound absorption

Using sound absorbing materials can provide some acoustic relief and restore much-needed levels of peace and quiet in virtually every area of your office. Think reception areas, conference rooms, breakout spaces and open plan offices with activities ranging from phone intensive to focus work.

Where can you use sound absorption? 

Acoustical ceilings

The American Ag Credit Union headquarters in Santa Rosa, US boast a smooth visual ceiling with total acoustic performance, by Armstrong Ceiling Solutions

To absorb a significant amount of noise in your office, you can use high performing acoustical ceiling tile with an NRC rating (Noise Reduction Coefficient) of .75 or higher. The NRC rating indicates how absorptive a material is. Ratings of .50 (50 percent) are typical of an average acoustical ceiling tile while some of the best acoustical panels boast a rating of 1 (100 percent.)

Although not a favourite in terms of aesthetics, acoustical ceiling tiles are easy to drop into your standard ceiling grid, thus making for a quick fix to bad acoustics at the office.

Sound absorbing panels

Felt acoustic wall panels, Cleveland House, London. Designer: Anne Kyyro Quinn

If an acoustical ceiling is not the right design approach for your office, you might want to consider baffles or decorative acoustic panels, both available in ceiling and wall-mounted versions and in every shape or form imaginable.

How do you choose between baffles and ceiling panels? The main difference lies in the mounting. While panels are fixed horizontally, baffles are mounted vertically – the former allows for optimal sound absorption while the latter is perfect for busy ceilings or in offices with skylights that wouldn't be blocked.

Acoustic panels come in varying forms and sizes, from large discs to leaf-shaped panels and by placing them in strategic, loud places in the office, the noise levels can be significantly reduced. 

Cork board tiles

Composite cork tile. Lars Beller Fjetland for Spinneybeck

This is your ticket to blissful acoustics with added aesthetic value. Expanded cork wall sheets offer a perfect vibroisolation, thermal insulation and acoustic isolation. Cork panels can be left to shine or finished with paint, lacquer or wood stain.

Use warmly textured cork panels to lend character to your office and, depending on location, transform parts of it into a decorative yet functional tackboard for ideas to be pinned down. 

Acoustic office furniture

Soft Seating Collection for common areas, by Boss Design

Sound absorbing furniture is yet another creative way to manage poor acoustics in the workplace. From high-back acoustic sofas and privacy lamp shades to sound absorbing dividers and work bays, there is a plethora of innovative acoustic furniture designs on the market.

Perhaps best suited to intimate meeting spaces and waiting areas that are part of open plan office, wrap-around furniture offers a cocoon of silence that fosters privacy.

There is plenty of research that shows that the most destructive sound of all is other people’s conversations.

Julian Treasure

2. Sound masking

Interestingly, sound masking is the physical opposite of sound absorption – instead of removing sound, it adds it. It isn't about making the space noisier though, but rather about distracting the ear from other noise.

Small speakers placed in the ceiling or mounted to posts emit pre-programmed, frequency-appropriate white noise designed to mask conversations. The soft, uniform background noise elevates the ambient noise level so that conversations at a distance becomes unintelligible.

This technique is ideal in offices where quiet is too quiet, where the sound of a pen dropping or a bag of crisps being cracked open echoes throughout the space, making for an uncomfortably eerie environment.

A well-tuned sound masking system will deliver uniform sound at the right volume and within the right spectrum, halving the radius of distraction from an average of 13 meters to 6.

Cost-effective and easy to install, a sound masking system will not affect the aesthetics of your office; it will however highly improve its acoustics.

The Bridgespan Group office with integrated QtPro™ Sound Masking System by Cambridge Sound

Which acoustic solution is best for me?

Many variables come into play when deciding which solution is best for your office but the likely answer will often be: a little bit of both. Most open plan offices often sway between loud and dead quiet several times a day. In such instances, absorption would help subdue the loudness while masking would ensure the right levels of privacy between desks with the help of a quiet hum.

Fine-tuning your office may be hard but it is not impossible. With a little help from a professional, your office can quickly become an acoustic feast for all five senses.

We experience every space in five senses so it's strange that architects design just for the eyes

Julian Treasure
Opening photo: Architecture Research Office Collection - wool felt modular panels by FilzFelt

The Soft Office Collection: breakout furniture with a twist

Functional breakout furniture with the comfort of a sofa.

Designed by leading UK designer and manufacturer Boss Design, The Soft Office Collection consists of Cocoon, Cega and Shuffle - three design seating solutions that work together to create flexible spaces in the modern office, where breakout furniture can make or break a space. 

Created to highlight the importance of touchdown areas, The Soft Office Collection also makes a strong case for acoustics in the workplace.

Cocoon - for the collaborative work

Perfect for team meetings and collaborative tasks, Cocoon blends the function of a traditional desk with the comfort of breakout furniture, with the added benefit of total privacy. The high sides, back and roof form a cocoon that isolates the user from their surrounding environment. Set on wheels, Cocoon can easily be reconfigured and used individually or back-to-back to create private, booth-like meeting spaces. 

Cega - for the private reflections

Cega is a standalone high-back seating solution designed to foster privacy. Its contoured design has been intentionally developed to reduce peripheral vision and external noise while the open top lets ambient light through for optimal use. Clever, innovative and highly functional, Cega's 360-degree swivel allows for enhanced privacy.

Shuffle - for the flexible spaces

Based on one simple unit that can be specified with a high or low back, Shuffle is a modular seating system that lends itself to both private and meeting spaces. Depending on your daily requirements and the task at hand, Shuffle allows you to change your office layout when needed, keeping your options open between casual breakout furniture and a more formal set-up. 

How can a detail oriented waiting area transform your office reception?

A reception space with a neglected waiting area is as ineffective as it is senseless. 

By definition, a reception area is designed to receive, be it clients, business partners, prospects or visitors, it is the gate to your office and the reflection of your business.

Now, let's imagine you enter a spacious reception area with a sleek reception desk, striking lighting features, maybe even a bit of branding in the shape of a logo carved in the desk. You're a little early for your meeting with the sales director, no problem, you never finished that Business Insider article you were reading on the tube, you'll just take a seat and — oh wait.

Marketing agency Gravitate office, Vancouver, Washington

Uncomfortable seating, worn-out upholstery, or no seating whatsoever, the waiting area in commercial properties is often neglected when the budget is tight. Yet, the reception area is likely to be your client's first interaction with your office space - in other words:  not caring for your waiting area is bound to yield terrible first impressions, which will, in turn, yield terrible business. Not what you want.

So how can you make a great first impression?

The waiting area is part and parcel of every reception space. By providing a quiet, comfortable space, you're giving your clients the opportunity to appreciate your business (don't worry, a bit of judgement is good for business growth,) and your affinity for design, a.k.a., how closely you're paying attention to detail.

Google Amsterdam's office. Architect: DDOCK

Answer the following. Is your business detail-oriented? Do you care for your clients and do you want them to know that you care? Are you looking to set yourself apart from the crowd? Chances are, you answered yes to all above questions, and the good news is: it all starts with a swanky reception area, complete with a functional waiting area.

Ergonomic, durable furniture items that have met BIFMA standards, built-in VS. modular seating, bespoke designer furniture... From modern ottomans and soft seating to lounge chairs and low tables, decisions might prove difficult, so here's an inspiring selection to get you started.

Zimmerman Advertising, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Architects: Gensler 
Adobe London office in The White Collar Factory. 

Low-Teknion-dna-Lounge-Seating.jpg
DNA seating, by Teknion

Opening photo: Headquarters schlaich bergermann und partner, Stuttgart, Germany. Architects: Ippolito Fleitz Group. Photography: Zooey Braun