Coalesse brought some California sunshine to rain-soaked Milan as a backdrop to its range of work-life furniture showing at iSalone, which is blurring the boundaries between home and office. I spoke to Toan Nguyen and Scott Wilson about their designs.

Milan 2013: Coalesse [VIDEO] in main home furnishings  Category

Toan Nguyen told me about his Lagunitas range and particularly the sofa above:

“The brief was for a product that combined lounging and working. I wanted to create something which gave the user a lot of possibilities to work in a new way between the home and the office. People often don’t work at desks anymore – they don’t work in a fixed place, but at the same time they still need to write, to work on a laptop, lean forward sometimes and to lean back sometimes. So the back of the sofa folds forward to act as something to lean on when you’re working on an iPad or reading, or to support your back when you need to lean forwards and work with a laptop on your knee.”

Milan 2013: Coalesse [VIDEO] in main home furnishings  Category

“The movement needed to be simple – it’s a sofa, not a machine. It’s a small function, but it gives you the opportunity to work in different ways. There is a lot of technology, of complexity, but the user doesn’t have to know about it – it’s not expressed. It’s easier to bring a home sofa to the office, than to bring an office sofa home, so I knew if it worked at home, I had succeeded. A lot of work went into the handle to change positions – it needed to be soft not mechanical – it actually ended up being inspired by the handle on a bag.”

I asked Toan what inspires his designs…

Next I spoke to Scott Wilson about his SW_1 Lounge chair, a conference chair that encourages a more relaxed posture to stimulate creativity. “Coalesse approached me when I was just starting my own studio, having left Nike. The brief was to re-look at the conference setting to make it more conversational and collaborative and turn it into a place where you’d like to be in a meeting all day, rather than dreading it.”

Milan 2013: Coalesse [VIDEO] in main home furnishings  Category

“So we thought about how we could change the proportions to make it feel different – we lowered the seat and the tables, so that it felt different, more approachable, more at ease. We opened up the chair – it’s a little wider than your typical conference chair, so that allows different seating positions. We had some insights around the proportions and the height. People tend to gravitate towards cafes to work, and it seemed like sometimes people spend a whole day in a conference room, only for the “aha” moment to come in the restaurant afterwards, just because they’ve relaxed a bit. People feel tight and defensive in certain postures, so we wanted to change that. But there’s a difference between collaborating, and times when you need to execute – then you do need to lean in and have a workstation. So it’s important to have different types of furniture to support different types of working.”

Milan 2013: Coalesse [VIDEO] in main home furnishings  Category

“We also wanted to create something meaningful that would stand the test of time, so some of the form has elements of familiarity to it. We took out a lot of the functionality that people never use anyway, and invested it into the frame. The 3D knit of the fabric means that there’s no waste, because you just knit what you need.”

Milan 2013: Coalesse [VIDEO] in main home furnishings  Category