Since the inception of the office workplace, company leaders have been in search of design solutions that increase productivity and employee satisfaction. Early 20th century workplaces featured cavernous rooms with endless rows of desks. This gave way to enclosed individual offices granting more privacy but less connectivity. The tech boom of recent years has opened the office back up, prioritizing collaboration and interaction, but has engendered grumbling from employees who need occasional privacy for meetings, phone calls, and heads-down focused work. Across every workplace design development, there has been a need for a space solution that enables collaboration without sacrificing the possibility of privacy.
As a leader in workplace design, the issue of spaces for privacy and collaboration is not a new one for ZGF. We tackle it often with clients who were moving into new space or renovating in place. But what about those clients who needed a ready-made solution that didn’t involve knocking down walls? After three years of development in ZGF’s Fabrication Laboratory in Portland, Oregon, the idea for a flexible workspace that can be customized to fit user needs has come to life. The Mobile Meeting Room debuted in April 2018.
The Iterative Process
When development of the Mobile Meeting Room began, a firmwide interdisciplinary team at ZGF including architects, interior designers, fabricators, and industrial designers concepted a design for a mobile workstation that would provide acoustic and visual privacy in an open-office setting. Starting with tape on the floor, the prototype evolved to cardboard, then a two-by-four model with chairs set inside, to a working prototype.
With the prototype in-hand, ZGF hosted firmwide charrettes divided into workshops on interior design, mechanical design and branding. This exercise led to the creation of a next-stage, functional prototype: a mobile smart booth with integrated technology, fold-away seating, and adjustable surfaces for multiple sit / stand configurations. As the prototype sat in the ZGF Fabrication Laboratory in Portland, lightning struck.
License and Joint Development with Twofold
In serendipitous timing, the prototype caught the eye of a local tech client during an office tour. The client was looking for efficient ways to use the limited space in their new ZGF-designed office, and the prototype was sent to the client office to gather feedback on the design quality and function. This feedback further legitimized the product’s value and potential, leading to a partnership and license to commercialize the design with Twofold, a Portland, OR company focused on efficient and adaptable use of space. With aligning visions, Twofold and ZGF collaborated to prototype several product generations, and Twofold has now engineered the first production design of the Mobile Meeting Room.
The Mobile Meeting Room enables the user to create an element of privacy in any space. The room features two integrated sit-stand workstations, white-board surfaces, fold away doors and an adjustable monitor, and has various uses, from heads down work to touch-down space for small group meetings. The unit is designed for flexibility at multiple scales and its ability to be flat-packed makes it an ideal solution for quickly and efficiently reconfiguring entire offices. This flexibility provides an economical and environmentally responsible way for organizations to quickly adapt to workforce changes saving both monetary and carbon costs incurred by renovating office space.
The Wall-Mounted Workstation
Modeling features from the Mobile Meeting Room, ZGF and Twofold also designed an additional workstation that can be mounted into the wall and collapsed when not in use. The wall-mounted workstation, like the Mobile Meeting Room, features a seat and adjustable sit-stand desk with an integrated desk light. A unique synthesis of furniture and architecture, the design lauds various applications that support the efficient use of space. Twofold is working with clients from micro-loft developers to healthcare organizations to help them reclaim valuable space without adding any floor area. The application of the wall-mounted workstation proves to be a useful solution in environments with space constraints, a problem that continues to become more imminent with consistent new development.
The Mobile Meeting Room is a design solution for an ever-changing world, and a testament to the large-scale innovations that can result from solving problems at an individual level. Twofold CEO Eli Alford-Jones said of the collaboration, “ZGF has an intimacy with the problems that they see in designing space and through their client work … we think that’s an incredible asset and perspective that will help inform the development of new products.”