ORGATEC TOKYO 2023 is Here!
Proposing a Workplace with a Story
Featured in CONFORT No.192, August 2023
ORGATEC TOKYO 2023, an exhibition dedicated to the workplace, was held at Tokyo Big Sight from 26 to 28 April. The theme of the second edition was "SHIFT DESIGN - Emerging Innovations through Design-Driven Workplace".
ORGATEC, which originated in Cologne, Germany, and specialises in office furniture, is the world's largest trade fair with a 70-year tradition of biennial events. Last year saw the first satellite event, ORGATEC TOKYO, held in the midst of the challenges posed by the pandemic. Despite the circumstances, it attracted 47 domestic and 16 international exhibitors, with a total of 21,958 visitors over the three days.
This year, with the relaxation of COVID restrictions, the exhibition space doubled and the number of participating companies also doubled, with 82 domestic and 45 international exhibitors. The total number of visitors reached 26,212. This exceeded expectations, especially considering that Milan Design Week took place the week before. Many companies exhibited at both events and visitors attended both. It seems that the awareness of this fair has increased significantly since the last edition.
Exhibitors showcase their innovative ideas for the workplace
Mathias Kuepper, responsible for the Asia-Pacific region at organiser Koelnmesse, said: "Once again, I am amazed at the number of visitors. The content of the exhibition and the seminars was also fulfilling. While last year's main theme was remote working during the pandemic, this year you can see movements towards 'SHIFT DESIGN' for the future.
Even after the resolution of the pandemic, Kuepper suggests that the significantly changed work styles are unlikely to revert to their original state. He himself used to spend nearly 12 hours a day in the office, but now he quips, "My office is just a smartphone, no matter where I am!"
A global trend is the blurring of boundaries between life, work and play. However, face-to-face interactions are still essential for collaboration.
"In the context of offices, there's a demand not only for individual workspaces, but also for spaces where people can gather. In this respect, I was impressed by the number of stands this year that not only showcased products, but also attracted people by telling stories".
That's certainly true. Many of the exhibits were designed to convey specific messages. Rather than simply showcasing products, it might be more accurate to say that they presented philosophies about the future of the workplace. Kokuyo, which won the Grand Prize in the 'Best Presentation Award' for stand design, presented initiatives in furniture making, combining parts of products such as stools with wood. Mathias Kuepper showed great interest in an experiential exhibit by Comany, a partition manufacturer, in which several organza curtains moved automatically, allowing visitors to feel changes in the perception of distance and space.
Diverse industries join the workplace transformation
Eiichi Nukina, Executive Director of the Japan Office Institutional Furniture Association (JOIFA), which co-organises the event with Koelnmesse, notes the expansive growth in the field of workplace design. "Of the 127 exhibitors, 40 are JOIFA members and the rest are non-member companies. Various industries have entered the scene, including outdoor furniture, training equipment and indoor greenery. Despite the increase in exhibition space this time, some companies had to forgo participation because they couldn't secure the space they wanted".
As a prevailing trend, sustainability and well-being have become implicit and are no longer explicitly emphasized. In this context, the focus is on what unique proposals can be made. Reading through the individual descriptions, it was clear that many exhibits emphasised the use of recycled materials and locally harvested wood. Wood in particular stood out. The active incorporation of locally sourced timber by steel furniture manufacturers is also seen as part of this developing trend.
Time spent chatting with a glass of wine or beer in hand - an effort that conveys the importance of getting together, especially in the current era accustomed to remote work.
Interior designer Yumika Yoshida from FLOOAT, Inc., known for her work in office spaces, is also paying attention to the exhibits at ORGATEC TOKYO this time.
"Offices are increasingly recognised as public spaces and should be more enriching. If they are comfortable for each individual, the trend of returning to the office is likely to continue. In the future, it would be fascinating to see exhibits with themes such as "The office of the future as imagined by students.”
ORGATEC TOKYO 2023 walk with Yumika Yoshida
Ms Yoshida has been developing an office space that is in tune with the way people work today and in which everyone can feel comfortable. Many of the exhibitors are old acquaintances of Ms Yoshida's, who focuses attention on equipment and furniture. What does she think of their new proposals? We spent a day with her at the show and asked her what she thought.
- Made up of rooms of various sizes with partitions from the "CSS VILLEGE" range. "The design is meticulous, with attention to detail to hide the structural elements that would normally be visible. The use of 12mm laminated glass not only contributes to an elegant design, but also provides excellent sound insulation. [Shukoh].
- Feltouch, Deberenn
- A collaborative exhibition by two Turkish companies specialising in acoustic panels and furniture. Despite the increasing trend for exhibitors to show acoustic materials in response to the rise of remote working, "the soft design and chic colours set it apart. It is easy to install on walls and ceilings, and the three-dimensional partition on the left, made in part from hemp and said to be a prototype, is truly remarkable". [Inovasia]
- Ohchi Nursery
- A company that has been using its proprietary technology to dry domestically grown plants for the past 60 years. They suggest arranging tree leaves, herbs and flowers to add a touch of colour to the room. "You can also appreciate the unique scents of each plant, making them suitable for common areas and more."
- & MEDICAL
- It's a balance ball, but it's smaller than what you usually see and be used as a stool. "MALLOW" is a product from the &MEDICAL brand, which incorporates the expertise of physiotherapists. "It has a functionally designed yet aesthetically pleasing interior, making it versatile for different spaces. [Dream]
- by interiors
- The large table from Kensaku Oshiro's "SWEEPY" series and the bench with a paper string (front right in the right-hand column) are noteworthy. "I often suggest bench-style designs. It brings people closer together, and it's convenient for putting things next to you. I find this design very beautiful. [Interiors]
- Karimoku Furniture
- "You can feel the high level of craftsmanship at Karimoku Furniture through the various products. The styling proposals were also fantastic". Divided into six areas, the exhibition showcased advanced processing techniques and collaborations with artists. In the evening, visitors were seen enjoying snacks and drinks and chatting in the booth.