Mackinac by Steelcase
Photography: Steelcase

Chameleon by nau | Adam Goodrum
Photography: nau/Cult Design

Pixel by BENE
Photography: BENE

Smart Casual: Design for Mixing Business and Leisure

Beautiful, inviting office spaces, and homes geared towards productivity – the intentional blurring of the design of these traditionally discrete typologies speaks of the increasing overlap between our leisure and work time. Today’s commercial spaces seek to lessen the hardship of long hours by providing the comforts of home: softer material palettes, relaxed furnishings and higher spec break rooms have become standard. While at home, thoughtfully integrated solutions for study and work have become a necessary feature for round-the-clock professionals.

One way to introduce a sense of home into an open plan office is to create smaller spaces for productivity, more scaled to the human body. At DENFAIR 2019, Steelcase introduced their Mackinac system to Australia. Observing the frenetic pace of leaders’ workdays, their research team noted the effects of constantly working on the go, and sought to address this through design. Mackinac was developed to provide a setting that alleviated these tensions by creating self-contained microzones which support smooth, quick transitions between workmodes. With its sit-to-stand desk functionality and shelf partitioning, the system works particularly well in an open plan workplace. However, its slimline, modular capability lends itself well to the home context too, offering a complete office solution for compact environments.

Local furniture giant CULT are at the forefront of design which sits comfortably in the home and the workplace. CULT’s origins as a commercial furniture specialist continues to inform their current offering: smart furniture that brings sophistication and improved function to any setting. Their offshoot brand, NAU, represents the sum of CULT’s product development and manufacturing knowledge, in collaboration with celebrated Australian designers. One recently launched collection, Chameleon by Adam Goodrum, provides a customisable furniture solution robust enough for the workplace, with a range of finishes and sizes better suited to the home.

Similarly, Lightspace’s SOK Table, designed by Francesco Favaretto, is designed to speak cross-contextually. SOK – an acronym for ‘social office kitchen’ – aims to encompass the needs of three distinct places: the home, the hospitality venue, and the workplace. The table is part of a complete system which includes mountable containers, screens and induction plate, providing great functionality and flexibility to the end user. 

International workspace group Bene define the office as a living space in its own right, with a playful designs that introduce a sense of vitality and community to corporate interiors. Their award-winning Pixel system, designed by Christian Horner, is a kit of modular storage and seating components in ply – useful in small study nooks that perform double duty in the home, or for creating impromptu collaboration space in an activity-based office. Bene’s STUDIO range, by designer Thomas Feichtner, is similarly inspired by the fluidity of our work and personal lives. The double top desk conceals a discreet in-built shelf for maintaining a level of privacy in an open-plan workplace.