In Italy, the discovery of remote working arrived along with the pandemic. In 2020 work from home increased substantially and for many workers it became a normal practice. The return to the office in September rekindled the discussion on the pros and cons of remote working. The way people work and their working lives are changing, and so is the workplace, which is becoming increasingly fluid and flexible.
Citterio, a Brianza-based company specialising in office furniture and soundproofing systems, observes and monitors the transformations underway, proposing solutions to meet the new requirements. One example is Bridge Soft, a system of padded elements, consisting of a seat and armrest/backrest that can be positioned in various ways, designed both for waiting and for remote working.
Paolo Pampanoni, architect, designer and artistic director of Citterio; Pinuccio Borgonovo, designer; Vittorio Veggetti, general manager of Citterio, tell us more about it in this interview.
A well-designed working space is essential for people's wellbeing and health. How did the Bridge Soft project come about?
Paolo Pampanoni: Citterio has been tackling innovation in the office for years now, setting quality parameters for the environment. We have not just focused on the wall and the desk, but on systems that guarantee optimum working conditions. Bridge Soft is one of the three cornerstones of the smart office as seen by Citterio: it is halfway between the acoustic cubicles and the Bridge system of adjustable or fixed desks, offering an even different way of working. Bridge Soft focuses on the intermediate zones, i.e. the lounge and relational spaces where it could be possible to work while waiting. Work becomes informal in spaces where you can work without a desk, changing position often thanks to the armrest, which can also become a backrest. The alternation of armrest and backrest becomes a compositional game. The idea was to create an alternative to the classic modular systems already on the market, by introducing small formal and conceptual differences.
What are the technical features and what innovations does this project provide?
Pinuccio Borgonovo: I like to think of Bridge Soft as a project within a project, because it embodies Citterio's philosophy on workspaces. From a formal point of view, we opted for a square, elementary design, which could generate very simple layouts that could be reconfigured if necessary, by equipping them with electrical and USB sockets. The comparison with Lego bricks is the best way to describe it. Also, as with all Citterio elements, we ensured that the components at the end of the cycle could be separated and disposed of in the best possible way.
One interesting thing is the possibility of customising the system.
PP: The choice of fabrics is very dry, and it is linked to the materials we already use for the acoustic boxes. It gives us the possibility to create direct and synthetic formal connections. In addition, we can apply the customer's own fabric to the Bridge system, which makes us a company that offers standard products that can be customised to a certain extent.
What role did technology play in this project?
Vittorio Veggetti: The sofa is a snake that has the potential to be extended ad infinitum: a single socket allows the user to connect all the stations thanks to the backbone under the seat, which can be electrified. The simplicity of the configuration is a central theme; you don't need maintenance to change the position of the sofa.
How much do you think the office environment has changed in the light of the pandemic?
VV: In the last two years, the effects of the pandemic have completely changed the way we work, and we believe that when the era of remote working is over, we will return to the office in a different way. Bridge Soft is not a sofa for customers to sit on while they wait, as was the case years ago. Bridge Soft is a product that allows you to work, a truly modern workstation. Those who return to the office after two years of lockdown will do so with a renewed need, that of working for part of the day in a workstation that recalls the domestic dimension.