Koelnmesse GmbH RE/WORK “Moments of Inspiration”
RE/WORK “Moments of Inspiration”Cologne, 2016

Does the Office as a Place Still Make Sense in the 21st Century? The Answer Is a Definite YES.

RE/WORK “Moments of Inspiration”

The ORGATEC 2016 trade fair in Cologne invited us to design a special exhibition presence for the fair, entitled ‘RE/WORK – Moments of Inspiration’. It was realised with input from selected partners, all leading specialists in their field. Across an area of almost 500 square metres, we explored the question: what role does the classic office play in our rapidly changing work world?


While the fair exhibitors presented finished products and concepts, our role at the ORGATEC was that of interrogator. “Does the office still make sense?” was the underlying question and starting point for our concept. We answered this question with a resounding YES. Space provides a tangible counterbalance to the digital technologies that increasingly have come to dominate our working life. It is and remains a carrier of identity, the means by which you identify with your employer and your own work. For RE/WORK we designed eleven places, situations and communication scenarios. The exhibition presence was developed in close cooperation with our technical partner zgoll: Konferenzraum.

We extend an invitation to reflect through ironic statements and questions that are printed in large letters on the wall panels of the façades. “No Ping. No Pong.” The claims were developed in cooperation with FRAME Magazine; the frame systems came from Octanorm. The individual scenarios across the stand are zoned using different floor materials. The carpets we used came from Object Carpet, the synthetic fabric was from 2tec2 and the exhibition floor system was from Expomobil.

The reception area is the calling card that establishes a first point of contact with visitors. The RE/WORK reception desk welcomes visitors with two strong contrasts: an oversize display hangs above a greened counter with an ornamental plant mosaic designed by art acqua.

###STRATEGY | DEBATE | ACTION: Conference room
Video conferencing and telepresence are now an integral part of everyday life at many companies. We show the conference room as an overlay of real and virtual. A long conference table is bisected by a wall. Both wall surfaces display video presentations of the opposite side. The real table is continued in the video image, enabling interlocutors to meet at eye level – in a shared, virtual space. One half of the table is equipped with all the latest technology, including retractable microphones, a multiscreen video projection and air-conditioned(!) office chairs from Klöber. Grouped around the more minimalist half of the table are chairs from arper and a large screen is set into the wall. A sideboard opens up to reveal detailed solutions for presentation technology from zgoll.

###LEAD | INTEGRATE | COMMUNICATION: The executive’s workplace
How does modern leadership function? How and above all where does the boss sit? Are insignia of power still important today? With the keypiece table from Walter Knoll – work desk and conference table in one – we show how hierarchies can be dissolved. Its tapering shape enables dialogue partners to sit at different distances to each other. Thus a consciously selected seating position establishes the relationship between the interlocutors. In combination with the lead chair we show how materiality has become a modern symbol of leadership.

The lobby is an intimate waiting environment with Bao armchairs and an Ameo table (both from Walter Knoll). The table is topped by a touchscreen, which shakes the visitor out of passivity, animating him/her to active interaction. The adjacent transparent OLED screen shows what touchscreen technology is capable of: different floorplans can be selected and a real model of the building is superimposed over them.

The most important part of the office is the coffee machine. We have taken this realisation to a whole new level. A quick break, pausing for a chat: you’d really prefer to be sitting in a café out in the outside world – and preferably in Italy if you had to choose. We have created precisely this situation around a mobile coffee station. Plants and coffeehouse-like furnishings from Brunner create a piazza feel. Three ceiling plates conceal directional loudspeakers from Sonus, beneath which different sound landscapes unfurl – from street café to jungle sounds or classical music. Coffee is served in specially designed paper cups. The different role descriptions printed on the side of the cups help bring visitors into conversation in a playful way.

###FOCUS | LEARN | CONCENTRATE: Knowledge base & silent retreat
The library is symbolic of a company’s collective knowledge bank. Our think-tank is simultaneously a place of retreat. It is constructed using a freely configurable shelving system from Okinlab, which forms a protective carapace around its occupant. An 808 chair from Thonet throws a further protective mantle around the sitter. A moment of surprise is provided by a video projection upon the chair’s seat, in which a virtual cat springs onto the lap of the sitter and makes itself comfortable.

###CREATE | SPEED | RESULTS: The pressure cooker
When decisions have to be made quickly, we require a place that supports such an intensity of discussion. Punching bags define the space and translate the direct sparring of ideas and opinions. Furniture from Pedrali provides little space to spread out, nor would one want to sit there for long. A wall of water from art acqua symbolises dynamism and the passing of time. The gentle whisper of the water and its cleansing nature ensure a cool head is kept at all times. Digital whiteboards ensure that doodles and spontaneous ideas can flow straight into digital communication channels.

###OWNERSHIP | PRIDE | HEIMAT: The work desk
What transforms an office desk into my workplace? We approach this question by taking a direct look at the desk and what is stored on it. Users personalise their space using objects and by configuring their layout. We show this appropriation process through a collage of wild finds from everyday office life, pedantically organised and meticulously arranged according to colour. In the accompanying projection we see shots of very different types of real desk organisation – from the chaotically cluttered to the severely austere. How this individuality can be reproduced in non-territorial office structures remains open…

Microsoft’s Surface Hub is a state-of-the-art hub for, well, almost everything. Since the future of conference rooms will likely be governed by this, or similar, technical marvels, we deliberately place it in our workshop against a collage of sensual materials and the tools of traditional trades. The intention is to show how to bring together design and execution.

###WORK AT HOME | SIMPLIFY | LOVE: The home office
The possibility of working from your home office is already reality in many sectors. When working within your own four walls, it makes sense to separate business and pleasure or – if space does not permit such a luxury – to allow them to flow together. The Pegasus desk from Classicon fulfils the requirements of the latter by integrating all the necessary technology, making efficient use of space, while creating a homely feel through its materiality. We team it with a fitting companion: Walter Knoll’s FK chair.

A little corner housing a golden photocopier is our personal homage to the copying room, which has become synonymous with interpersonal surprise encounters in the office. When a visitor presses the copy button, he receives a DIN A3 format poster as a tongue-in-cheek giveaway, asking “Do you have fun at work?” And, hopefully, the answer is yes.

A greened reception counter provides the prelude to our special exhibition stand for the trade fair in Cologne. As a zone of transformation between outside and inside. And first moment of identity.
What turns a desk into my workplace? Objects transform a workplace into your very own place. Very individually, for every person.
The library symbolizes a company‘s knowledge store. A place of retreat for concentrated contemplation. With a purring cat on your lap – as a video projection.

Facts & Figures

Koelnmesse GmbH
Completed (2016)
  • Gunter Fleitz
  • Tilla Goldberg
  • Calina Hohberg
  • Peter Ippolito
  • Axel Knapp
  • Moritz Köhler
  • Alexander Ortwein
  • Carolin Stusak
  • Arper
  • Art Aqua
  • Brunner
  • ClassiCon
  • Création Baumann
  • Expomobil / Object Carpet / 2Tec2
  • Iraci
  • Klöber
  • Microsoft
  • Octanorm
  • Okinlab
  • Pedrali
  • Polycom
  • Sonus
  • Thonet
  • Walter Knoll
  • zgoll: Konferenzraum