Welcome To The Working Week

Some new products to make the daily grind friendlier and more sustainable

Technology has wreaked all kinds of changes on the workplace, but one thing remains the same: Americans work a lot. And whether they’re in a huge corporate office or a small corner of the home, working stiffs use considerable amounts of energy and other resources. So it’s increasingly important to reduce workers’ carbon footprints while also creating healthier spaces in which they can be productive and comfortable. At this month’s NeoCon World’s Trade Fair, in Chicago, manu­facturers like Steelcase, Groupe Lacasse, Kimball Office, and Watson Furniture are offering compelling alternatives to the Dilbert-style cubicle with systems that minimize environmental impact, maximize flex­ibility, and foster collaboration.

One key to an effective work space is a good chair, and Teknion’s Synapse, by Carl Gustav Magnusson, is a noteworthy example that is also making its debut at NeoCon. (On the accompanying images, we’ve put a star next to the NeoCon introductions.) In addition to being made of eco-friendly materials, this modest-looking wooden chair has only five parts, assembled with eight bolts. (A typical wooden chair uses 12 parts and 16 screws.) Synapse also ships flat-packed, so a 40-foot truck can transport 500 chairs, compared to 150 or so traditional assembled wooden chairs. The following products all exhibit the kind of creative problem-solving necessary for our work environments to better meet the needs of people and the planet—while also saving money and maybe even adding a bit of fun to our lives.

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