“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” - Plato
bangdesign has imagined an unconventional new concept for inspiring better, less inhibited, more engaging meetings.
Called Hatch, the concepts are designed to reboot the way people come together in the workplace.
Although the forms appear simple, they are carefully calculated to bring people together for creative conversations, brainstorming or to problem solve. Hatch plays with notions of instability, equilibrium and nurturing (ergo it’s egg-like and nest-like forms … and the metaphor for incubating interactions and ideas).
Hatch is designed to work on different levels – both subtle and overt – to signal a new approach and give permission for users to think and act differently. We’ve long known that if you can change the way people feel when they come to a meeting space then you’ll have better outcomes, and this change starts by rethinking the space itself.
The conversation is very different if you’re thinking about everybody rather than about yourself.
One of our central concerns as designers is to imagine objects and environments that help people think differently, laterally, more creatively – to pursue designs that are calculated to inspire and engage.
We thought: why not offer a place that’s more playful, that disarms, that demands more trust and less fear; where people can open up.
If you’re using Hatch – an environment that demands co-operation for stability – then you’re more aware of the consequences of your actions. If you approach a meeting with that sort of mindset, then you’ll automatically be thinking differently about the task at hand.
And are we likely to see Hatch in an office near you anytime soon?
Maybe, maybe not — the concept is as much an analogy of bangdesign’s approach to collaboration as it is a genuine furniture proposal.
We’ve always believed in approaching things by taking a holistic and open-minded approach. Long lasting solutions are all about putting egos aside and being in touch with the ‘thoughts and needs’ of others – developing balanced thinking that collectively inspires everyone involved.
In other words, with all our projects we aim to create a virtual ‘collaboration space’ that takes account of all the influences. The best solutions are about uncovering a complex network of insights and observations and then joining the dots.
More specifically though Hatch is inspired by contemporary research that has shown that alternative and informal modes of workplace meeting will bear more inventive fruit than the more conventional table-in-the-room routine.
“If you look at history, innovation doesn’t just come from giving people incentives; it comes from creating environments where their ideas can connect” - Steven Johnson, ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’
To better foster innovation and those elusive informal “eureka conversations” we believe the participants fair better when they are given permission to step out of their routine – in this case it’s the object or furniture within the workplace that gives them that permission.
Quite literally Hatch offers a refreshing tilt on the more traditional mode of meeting. The concepts incorporate a rounded base as a not-so subtle way of conveying that here you can think and act differently.
We often reflect on some of the more abstract themes around human endeavour and working together. Being able to embrace change and thrive within a changing environment has never been more relevant.
With Hatch it’s no different, the situation changes slightly each time you use it (and while you use it). Once seated do you find it balanced? If not do you seek equilibrium, or do you accept that perhaps situations aren’t equal? Do you look to find fault with others for the “imbalance”, do you blame yourself, or do you accept the perspective and work with it?
By destabilising the run-of-the-mill sit down meeting, it demands that people actively engage to find equilibrium with the task at hand. Hatch asks that you come out of your shell — if you know what we mean.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see” - Edgar Degas
When we set about cooking up the humble pentagon into a range of new textile combinations, our idea was to create visuals that play with the eye and play with the mind. Shapes that shift perception. Just a little.
Call it popcorn for your eyes.
We were inspired by cellular structures in leaves, cracked glass, the cracked glaze of Celadon ceramics, broken earth, cloud formations.
The concrete results are a range of products - but we reckon is also worth sharing a behind-the-screen look at the conceptual/visual journey we took to get there.
It started out as an exploration of our fondness for the pentagon form. Our ultimate destination was the creation of a series of textile designs for Woven Image.
Pentagons don’t normally nest on a two dimensional surface. Change the angles on two of the sides, so there’s three 90 degree angles and two 120 degree angles, and you get a shape that tessellates. You create a repeating pattern in other words, a tessellation, with a big range of applications, looks and possibilities. Our first ideas played with the pure geometry of the tessellation. It was a line-on-line experiment (as opposed to an exercise in light and shade, which we later employed). We came up with over 60 different examples in total — some of which we’ve distilled here into an animated GIF format.
We tried blurring things a little — and adding shadows — and there’s a real visual buzz to these versions. It’s fuzzy. It’s warm. It pops. The idea of evoking fractured glass or dry and cracked soil was our jumping off point.
We tried more close-focused techniques. We added colour and we worked with how our minds perceive different shades as three-dimensional objects. It’s amazing how differently a shape can be perceived even though it’s all based on the same DNA. In this GIF the beginning is a pure form in weight and colour. And then you vary the line weight and colour. Our inspiration was cells. Some of the patterns are reminiscent of what you see when you look closely at a leaf or a plant form. Others play with positive and negative shading and give you an almost Escher-like quality. Is it convex? Concave?
We layered a big scale pentagon pattern over a small scale pattern. This led to a sense of “looking into” the pattern and gave us the opportunity to layer this further with colour.
We then took the pattern into bigger, mural-scale territory — which allowed us to explore further dimensions in colour and pattern and scale. In this instance the inspiration are cloud formations. Clouds are never the same twice, yet here we were working with a predictable, repeating pattern. We wanted to see if we could merge the random with the repeated. What you get is freedom and imagination, within this very ordered mathematical form. It’s a bit like pixellation. Suddenly you create something like autumn leaves or flowers in a forest. The paradox is it’s a crafted palette — within strictly defined boundaries — yet it feels “natural” and unplanned.
We experimented further with even finer detail and light and shade and arrived at places with echoes of indigenous art …
And we tried other looks evoking Middle Eastern and Islamic art … appropriate given it turns out that the raw pentagon shape we’d stumbled on — and the tesselation it creates — is known as Cairo Tiling. The tiling, mostly dating from last century, can be found in a number of streets in the Egyptian capital.
Our interest with a tessellating pentagon had taken us into Cairo Tile territory which then, in turn, took us to create designs inspired by the cellular structures in leaves, cracked glass, cracked ceramics, broken earth, cloud formations. Along the way we were influenced by and interpret these through transitions of tonality, random colour and experiments in three dimensionality.
Our fundamental plan was to use a different way of thinking. We were looking to create something as a simple visual that’s emotive and provocative. We were interested in treatments that play with the eye and play with the mind and give you certain illusions.
Popcorn for your eyes.
Out of the 60+ concepts we’d developed, Woven Image chose to run with a range of disparate designs and produced a range of fabrics, wallcoverings and stencil-cut EchoPanels.
Here’s a selection of products available:
Echo tile cellular EchoPanel environmental screens (100% PET, 60% recycled) designed by bangdesign for Woven Image.
EchoPanel screen designed by bangdesign for Woven Image.
EchoPanel Mura Glow designed by bangdesign for Woven Image.
EchoPanel screen designed by bangdesign for Woven Image.
bangdesign have for some time been fascinated by “network theory”. This interest continues to spark many thoughts around the way ideas form, and the constant interconnection and interplay of the way experiences, memory, creativity, conversation and problem-solving come together when we all design and innovate… it’s like a “mind-storm”.
The MINDSTORM sculpture is made up of a collection of shapes (like X and Y chromosomes, mixed with pieces of thought-lines); and this supposedly random collection of shapes connect with each other (in a way like synapses connect in the brain and ideas are formed).
The MINDSTORM installation represents these ideas and is intended to create an animated and inspiring space where individuals and groups can gather to let their “brainstorming hair down”. These aspirations seem like the perfect tribute to Woven Image’s Imagination Partner campaign, and the 25-year collaboration between bangdesign and Woven Image.
It’s easy to think of the design process as being a linear one, as a journey
from brief to solution in a straight line. After all, a designer starts off with
a need, ‘a brief’ – be it for the design of a new product, a chair, an interior
space, whatever – and then gradually nuts out a way to find a solution.
Two weeks ago MMQB’s cover story presented an interesting snapshot on the state of mind around ‘theoffice furniture industry at the crossroads’, where it debated the fork-in-road: ‘consolidation = lowest common commodity’ verses ‘innovation = design lead growth’. Unforseen change can often be the stimulus to identify opportunities; necessity is always the mother of… something.