Comfort and Performance: 13 Designs That Capture the Workplace’s Shifting Needs

Whole genres of contract furniture now aim to satisfy the need for teamwork, a power source, and an internet connection, as well as privacy, flexibility, and freedom from distraction.
comfort performance workplace furniture

1936 COUPÉ SOFA
Frits Henningsen’s refined high-backed design is available in both leather and fabric upholstery options. CARL HANSEN & SØN carlhansen.com Courtesy the designer and manufacturer


This past 51st NeoCon, it seemed like more people attended in ugly sneakers than ever before. The annual trade show, like so many of us, seems to have found a new definition of “business casual.”

This is a time of athletic metaphor. We reward companies and employees who are agile, who “pivot,” who think on their feet. We dub improbably talented players “unicorns” just as we do the elusive creative hire.

In many ways, we’re literally leveling the field. Everyone can feel comfortable heading to work in a pair of Air Jordans, and the open office, for all its drawbacks, has been part of a cultural shift away from arbitrary hierarchy, toward more racial and gender equity and better benefits. On the other hand, the demands on performance have never seemed higher. Whole genres of contract furniture now aim to satisfy the need for teamwork, a power source, and an internet connection, as well as privacy, flexibility, and freedom from distraction.

None of this should sound earth-shattering in 2019. In fact, we’re glad to see that some of the novelty of these once-edgy designs has worn off. Furniture designed so we can work and play is apparently here for good. And, we hope, so are work sneakers.

You may also enjoy “Inside Slack’s New San Francisco HQ.”

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Categories: Design