Cooler than cubicles: 18 new designs for the office

Sit, stand, lean, curl up – today’s commercial furniture designs let users choose how they want to work.

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Cool cubes

What do workers want most? Flexibility, say staffing pros. People want to be able to adjust their hours, their locations, and their devices. The way work gets done is changing in today’s world, and furniture designers are responding. Check out the comfy pods, mobile desks, and lounge-like layouts that put ordinary cubicles to shame.

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Side by Side

It’s like a cozy booth in your favorite restaurant – minus the service. The Side by Side collection from Davis Furniture creates a different mood than typical modular office seating. Outwardly, the lines are crisp and rectilinear. Inside, the chairs have curved seat backs for comfort. The high walls provide privacy in a casual setting.

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Cocoon Workpods

Customizable Workpods from Cocoon can be configured to create all different shapes, from small curved booths to winding s-shaped layouts to rectilinear designs. The tensioned fabric panels are backdrops for whatever graphics you want – including photos, company logos, illustrations, and text.

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Plot modular loungescape

Is it an arm rest or a backrest? You decide. Plot from Brunner Group is all about flexibility and informality. It’s built around a square base module with three cushion heights. The cushioned surfaces are designed be used in various ways – as a backrest, table, couch, chair or storage compartment.

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Harbor work lounge

Sometimes a change of scenery is what you need to work through a thorny problem, and Harbor from Haworth is a slick alternative to a traditional desk. There’s an integrated sliding work surface for a laptop or notepad, and an upholstered seat wing with a cup holder that doubles as a place to stash a phone or personal items.

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Public Office Landscape

Formal and casual work settings coexist in Public, a recent collection from commercial furniture maker Herman Miller (in collaboration with designer Yves Béhar and fuseproject). The office system combines modular surfaces, storage and seating that can be arranged in multiple configurations. Collaborative areas can be intentionally adjacent to individual workspaces, to encourage interaction and foster creativity.

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Compact, mobile, flexible. That’s Nomado, a desk system created for Mobica by Design Ballendat. Nomado has integrated shelves, storage compartments, electric outlets and task lighting. The panels can be linked to form rows, and the worktops can open on one or both sides.

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Designed for versatility, B-Free is a collection of modular furniture elements from Steelcase that create mini neighborhoods. Users can convene in less formal, more collaborative settings, while still having easy access to mobile must-haves such as personal storage and power for recharging.

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Sit back and relax. A desk and chair combo, Cruise from Okamura take a different approach to workplace seating: a low seat combined with a rear-tilting posture. The setup is designed to suit the body’s natural position, the company says, while reducing stress on arms, shoulders, neck, and eyes.

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New from Allermuir is Sholes, a multi-purpose chair with a wrap-around back, work surface and cup holder. What more do you need for a quick landing spot when you’re collaborating on the fly?

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When you want to get away from it all, take refuge in the Windowseat lounge, a cozy haven from Haworth Collection (conceived by San Francisco design team Mike & Maaike). The canopied chair provides visual privacy in busy environments. It swivels, too.

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Formal and informal, open and private. Media:scape by Steelcase lets companies create the settings they want. The lounge options combine seated areas and bar-height work surfaces. Media:scape is designed to conceal and manage cables, and each setting comes with Steelcase’s proprietary Puck for connecting multiple users’ content to shared monitors or projectors.

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How tall do you want your Hive to be? You can decide. Created by Palmer Hamilton’s Nomad brand, Hive modular furniture is designed to create flexible work environments for individuals and groups. The height is achieved by stacking modular screens, up to three high.

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Inspired by train compartments, BuzziHive creates a semi-private meeting room for a few people without cutting them off from the rest of the office. Described as an “acoustic cocoon,” BuzziHive can be used as a stand-alone element or combined with other BuzziHives like cells in a beehive. It’s just one element in BuzziSpace’s portfolio of office products.

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Locale Office System

Designed for open office environments, Locale from Herman Miller creates clusters of options – places to sit, stand, store, and collaborate. The linear Workbase unit anchors each cluster; it sits low to the ground and hides the necessary power and mechanics from view.

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It’s tempting to climb into Mindport, a colorful series of workplace environments from Lista Office. The pods come in a range of designs, including triangular units with three workstations, banquette-style booths for group discussions, and enclosed cubes for private meetings. The series also includes open cubicles for print and copy stations.

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Terri tory

Define your own space with terri tory from Sedus. The units can be grouped to create individual workplaces or group environments. The pieces double as room dividers, storage units, and casual benches.

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Designed for the classroom, the Node chair from Steelcase also makes a useful guest chair. It has an integrated work surface and a handy base that doubles as storage for a backpack or briefcase. The seat swivels, and casters make it easy to move if inspiration strikes.

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Hide out with the high-backed Haven from Allermuir. The modular upholstery system includes sofas, stools, tables and screens so you can retreat to a private space for one person or for a group.

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