Sun, 23 Mar 2003

Minimalist trend changes preference for office furniture

Debbie A. Lubis, Contributor, Jakarta

"What can I buy with a limited budget?" this question has been nagging an interior consultant lately. His new client could only provide Rp 500 million (about US$58,500) for furniture for a 600-square meter office while actually that amount of money usually can only cover the furniture for an office about half that size.

Due to financial constraints and rising expenses, limited workspace has required businesspeople to over-economize on office furniture. Finding the right furniture set, however, becomes a considerable concern since it can boost the image of the business.

There is also a call for office furniture that could support the mobility and adaptability of employees and employers.

According to Adeline Monike, marketing manager of an office furniture producer DataScript, there are a wide range of furniture sets that could suit such needs.

She said that office furniture sets that included desks, credenzas, bookcases, file cabinets, task seating (desk chairs), side chairs, binder bins, and partitioned office spaces now tend to offer simplicity and transparency but still display a high- spirited atmosphere.

"If in the past the boss is always secluded in a closed room, now, it is not hierarchical anymore. The boss can see the employees through the partition and vice versa," Adeline said. She added that the price also varied, ranging from Rp 700,000 to tens of millions of rupiah.

Adeline said that color also had a significant role. People like to use colors like orange, red, yellow, and green.

"Nowadays there are many young executives who were born in 1980s so they choose equipment which is simpler, hip, dynamic, a reflection of their generation. They always like to be cheerful while working but not playing down their job," she said.

The trend is minimalist, said Adeline, who also changes the preference of desks and chairs. Since people are getting more accustomed to laptop computers, they avoid the big, wide desks. Besides having more freedom in choosing the color, people may also more options in the furniture forms. Take for example, a curved table (a peanut-like) or trapezium, which is in high demand.

It shows the flexibility as well as the youth of the person who works behind it.

The chair's pad which is usually covered by fabric or leather, now is made of transparent material while new filing cabinet products are also more colorful, including like red and black. In addition, a compact rolling shelf for mobile filing can save some space.

"Small offices can look cute, fashionable and cozy with those furniture sets," Adeline said.

Meanwhile, Anita Aziz, an interior designer, said that there were some aspects that the company should consider before selecting the furniture set. She said that product design must consider all aspects of life style assessment, from the functionality of the product, through the material selection and use, to product durability and manufacture. It also must remain conscious of the product's esthetic appeal.

The office furniture should match the company's philosophy and budget. "If the company is related with the media or advertising fields, it can choose bright and splashy colors in a bid to show their dynamic soul," she said, adding that color like silver, red, blue, and a little bit yellow were good eye- catchers.

Meanwhile, for the company that wants to show their exclusivity, they might use minimalist furniture but with classic colors like brown so that it would not induce boredom among the employees. "Instead of purchasing stainless steel partitions, companies may also purchase wavy partition which is made of zinc but bears the same color. It can save the budget although the durability is less," Anita said.

She said that the most expatriates like to have a desk with small, sharp, hand-carved legs while desks with rounded edges were also popular.

She said that the company should also consider whether the furniture sets were comfortable, ergonomic and environmentally friendly. She said the color of furniture sets should match each other so that it could soothe the people's eyes. And it is easier to have carpet with color that is not too dark or too light because it can be tainted if there is dust or dirt.

Anita suggested a combination of wallpaper and wall would provide a unique impression. "If it is possible, the company can experiment by printing the motif like in wall paper on the real wall. It is much cheaper," she said.

Meanwhile, James Newbould, technical advisor of Vinotindo Graha Sarana, said that modular carpet or carpet tile can be more cost effective than roll carpet. It also has a wide range of more sophisticated colors. In modular design, all components may be repositioned or reused in different positions, to serve various purposes.

For chairs, he said, the most important thing was, it had to be ergonomic for the health, safety, and comfort of the employees. For the stylish office, work chairs with chrome and black color are still a favorite.

Meanwhile, for workstations, there will be more flexible areas in design systems, which are free standing. The furniture relies on floor standing components for support that include various types of legs and/or pedestal storage.

Newbould said that people should consider office furniture which is sustainable, can last longer, can be recycled, environmentally friendly, and cost effective. It is also important to have a power cord and telephone line management system as an integral part of the furniture system. "You don't want to have a bunch of wires make cluttering up your office, do you?" he said