Team: Studio Aisslinger
Flexible structures for interior spaces
Vitra has the opportunity to introduce 'Level 34': Designer Werner Aisslinger uses a bench as a plateau for containers, cabinets, shelving, tables and seating. The 34-centimetre-high bench, which contains the system’s cable management, is the basic element of this multi-functional furniture programme. The components of 'Level 34' can be used to create workplaces, meeting points, storage areas and room dividers. The programme can be utilised in offices, reception areas and lounges.
The combination of just a few elements makes it possible to create highly diverse interiors, ranging from a single workplace to an elaborate office studio.
Individual and two-person offices are increasingly being replaced by office structures that accommodate work configurations in teams and project groups. These allow collaborative work across table surfaces and the quick regrouping of workstations. For unrestricted communication, furniture must permit a variety of configurations and give definition to spatial areas: areas for internal meetings, but also for open discussion zones and consultation with clients. The design of such spaces must be inviting and encourage an exchange of ideas.
'In the wake of hardware and software, the next priority is to develop roomware'. This is the prognosis of Werner Aisslinger, whose experimental furniture and mobile living units have attracted a great deal of attention. The designer is referring to the ability of furniture to give structure to rooms, while simultaneously remaining adaptable to changing conditions. This means, literally speaking, that it should be possible to install communicative areas and working opportunities anywhere in an office with the help of 'intelligent' furniture.
Werner Aisslinger is a designer who thinks in terms of space. With his Loft Cube, he recently demonstrated to an attentive public how a person can live on the roof of an high-rise building. His concept for 'Level 34', which is now being presented by Vitra at Orgatec, also has architectural qualities: it is an expandable, autonomous furniture system. Work areas and relaxation zones, independent spatial structures and supply networks can be created without having to alter the physical substance of a building.
With 'Level 34‘, it is very easy to assemble entire office landscapes. The basic building block of the 'Level 34‘ system is a bench. It is 34 centimetres high, and the smallest unit measures 180 centimetres in length. Several benches can be joined together to form a multi-functional system. All of the system’s components fit on the surface of the benches: containers, bins, cabinets, shelving and cushions. Work desks and tables for meetings and coffee breaks can be positioned perpendicular to the benches and storage elements. The basic components allow a variety of table configurations; straight lines, T-shapes and L-shapes are possible.
The initial impulse for the development of 'Level 34‘ originated from the question: How can work surfaces and storage spaces be sensibly arranged? How is it possible to make objects that are stored on the bottom shelf of a cabinet retrievable without having to kneel on the floor? The idea of placing storage units on a plateau can be traced back to the year 1940, when Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen collaborated on the Museum of Modern Art competition 'Organic Design in Home Furnishings‘. Together, the American designer and Finnish-born architect developed a series of casegoods that were elevated on benches. The programme was specifically designed for domestic use, but never entered the production phase.
Together with Werner Aisslinger, Vitra has taken a new approach to the concept of free-standing, modular furniture. All of the components of 'Level 34‘ offer wire management in both horizontal and vertical directions. The cable tray is concealed underneath the bench. The hinges of the tray – similar to those on aircraft storage bins – open downward to accept wiring from below. All of the storage units are equipped with cable channels and can be joined together in horizontal and vertical networks. Because of this versatile wire management, the planning of an office is no longer dependent upon sub-flooring and the position of cable outlets in the floor. The cable connections between the system’s modules make such requirements obsolete.
'Level 34‘ is especially useful in areas where there is a convergence of work and communication: in lobbies, waiting zones, reception areas, and also in individual and communal offices. With the aid of 'Level 34‘, it is possible to create a coffee corner, a place for informal conversation, for concentrated work or collaborative planning. The combination of just a few elements can fulfill the broadest range of individual requirements. 'Level 34‘ is compatible with all of the other Vitra offices systems.