Dezeen promotion: architect and designer David Rockwell has used his experience in scenic design to create a range of office furniture for US brand Knoll, which allows companies to quickly reconfigure their workspaces as is often done during a theatre production.
Rockwell, founder and president of New York-based Rockwell Group, is renowned for his set designs for Broadway shows and movies, and won a Tony Award in 2016 for his backdrop for the musical She Loves Me.
He has now directed his expertise towards a collection of furniture for Knoll that can be adapted to create different "scenes and experiences".
Knoll executive vice president and director of design Benjamin Pardo decided that Rockwell would be the ideal partner for the collection considering his theatre background, and broad portfolio across the hospitality sector. Together they undertook years of collaborative research, investigating the needs of the contemporary workplace.
The team found that although group meetings and activities still take place in the office, many employees are increasingly undertaking individual tasks elsewhere, such as cafes, hotels and co-working spaces. Some are most productive when on the go, they discovered, while others thrive in bustling environments.
Therefore, to encourage workers to remain in the office throughout the day, Rockwell and Knoll came up with a solution that allows for the space to be easily adapted, and suit the needs of any employee at any given time.
Treating office users like actors in a performance, the team created a furniture system that can be arranged to accommodate situations as they unfold throughout the day. Titled Rockwell Unscripted, the colection includes over 30 pieces across six product categories – Knoll's largest launch to date.
"In the theatre, from a storytelling point of view, I've always believed that what the physical world can do is set the stage for the narrative," said Rockwell.
Companies can divide up their open-plan offices using the easily reconfigurable items to provide areas for private work, small gatherings, large meetings, or whole-group events as they see fit.
"An interesting part about the collection is that it is very much open to what other people will do with it," said Rockwell. "It's an invitation for designers and clients to personalise it and make it their own."
This is made possible by a variety of items that help to delineate space, and provide a variety of other functions simultaneously.
For example, modular A-frame units tall enough act as screens can also be used for hanging coats, supporting shelves and lockers, or holding conversation boards for making notes. The lightweight frames can be ordered with wheels to make them even easier to move and arrange as necessary.
Rockwell Unscripted Steps – informal seating created by tiered boxes of different sizes – form opportunities for impromptu meetings, checking emails, eating lunch or simply taking a five-minute break. Steps can equally provide a venue for presentations or screenings.
Sofas and club chairs with high backs provide comfortable options while working on laptops, while tables available in an extensive selection of widths and heights cater to those who prefer a solid worksurface. Portable carts for each employee can be tucked under the desks, or wheeled to wherever they chose to work.
Together, the items offer an infinite number of combinations and configurations for the contemporary office. "There's a lot of joy in the objects," said Pardo. "They represent the figure – a person – and so are the dramatic elements in this play that we call work."
Rockwell Unscripted previewed in 2016, then officially launched in February 2017. The collection was presented at Knoll's Chicago showroom during this year's NeoCon trade fair.
For more information about Rockwell Unscripted, watch the movie above and visit Knoll's website.