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Work Lounge creates the perfect conditions for working outdoors

2021–02–05


The office is no longer a permanent workplace. Neither are our homes. New times and working methods require new solutions, which is why Nola is taking a progressive step forward and introducing upholstered furniture for the outdoor office. Work Lounge is a new era workplace in the open air.

Right not, many eyes are turned to nature and outdoor environments in connection to movement and work. One reason is of course the pandemic we’re in the midst of, which has made nature a fairly safe meeting place. The second is the reformation of work as a construct. We’ve gone from seeing the workplace as somewhere to go in order to complete our tasks to a notion that we can get our jobs done without having to be confined to an office.

Increasingly work is done in the open air. “Nature has the answer to everything,” says Sue Clark, sustainability advisor at Tengbom, and points out that all the conditions for feeling good and being efficient lie outdoors. What needs to develop are more well-thought-out workplaces, to which Work Lounge holds the answer. A design dedicated to outdoor work.

Work Lounge is a workstation with a soft swivel seat and a laptop-adjusted table to encourage productivity under an open sky.

All the conditions for feeling good and being efficient lie outdoors.

With Work Lounge, Nola takes another step forward in creating innovative solutions for the outdoor office. Malin Moreau, Creative Director at Nola is used to playing an active part in design processes and often advises on production and construction.

   “We had our eyes focused on workplaces and adequate offices in the outdoor environment long before the pandemic struck, Corona has, if anything, accelerated that development. When Superlab and Charlotte Petersson Troije came to us with similar ideas, the collaboration was almost a foregone conclusion. This project has been well consolidated from start to finish, to develop a market-adapted product, which is always our highest priority,” says Moreau.

Nola's knowledge of outdoor environments, product development and material knowledge, in combination with Petersson Troijes's research project Stick Ut (Get Out), Superlab's design knowledge of the offices of the future, and their book Playful Office enabled a dynamic and business-focused process.

   “We always work based on research in our projects and constantly try to push the boundaries both for ourselves and our clients. Because everything else is boring! In this case, we started asking questions related to outdoor work, and soon found Charlotte. Fast forward a little and we sat down with Nola to formalise the direction for a furniture series dedicated exclusively to working outdoors,” says Niklas Madsen, founder and CEO of Superlab.

Charlotte Petersson Troije is project manager for Stick Ut and licentiate in Urban studies at Malmö Univesity. Photo: Peter Bjerg

Based on the design team's different competencies and perspectives, a number of criteria were set. The brief said, among other things, that the furniture should be able to swivel, to protect against wind as give a little privacy, be durable, withstand the elements and give the occupant a feeling of security. Nola also emphasised the fact that it must be comfortable to sit for a long time. But there is an even more important aspect, as Petersson Troije points out; ”One of the most difficult things is actually to break the indoor norm and go against what the body and brain has been used to doing for so long. We needed to think about ways to change human behaviour.”

For Superlab’s designer Victor Peters, this meant embedding visual cues in the furniture that signifies it is a work chair. The high back in perforated metal is one example; an enclosing shape that signals security. Likewise, the rounded shape signals that the chair can swivel, and the radius of the cushion gives a clue that the seat is soft. “Nola has been very accommodating and takes time to find creative solutions that result in a product that’s as good as possible. We are especially pleased with the playful design and shape, which makes Work Lounge stand out,” says Peters.

Superlab is a design studio with an experimental approach and deep knowledge of the future office. Photo: David Möller.

An early prototype is being evaluated by the design team.

For us, it was important to develop a piece of furniture that is flexible and that can be adapted over time.

Malin Moreau, Creative Director

During the development process, two prototypes were developed which have been carefully tested and evaluated based on, among other things, durability and swivel action. The dimensions have also been reviewed and adapted for production and function. The seat has proved the biggest challenge and Nola has pushed its own limits by producing a padded seat for outdoor use for the first time. The cushion is made of a so-called Dry Foam, which means that water flows straight through the material and dries up in a few seconds. The fabric the cushion is covered with is a custom outdoor fabric that also helps to prevent moisture absorption. It is extremely durable and can be washed with a high-pressure washer if needed.

   “For us, it was important to develop a piece of furniture that is flexible and that can be adapted over time. Work Lounge can therefore be ordered in a variety of colours and with patterned or full-colour fabric on the seat. In the long run, I also envisage that architects will make their own mark by, for example, making their own unique pattern for the back of the chair,” says Moreau.

Work Lounge is designed to work just as well in a semi-public environment, like on a company's roof terrace, in a park or between buildings in the public environment. There’s no reason not to imagine it at a playground or university building, where students sit on everything from lawns to park benches. Work Lounge enriches a city in terms of experience by offering a new dimension of what a built environment can contribute to its citizens.  ●