The debate on shorter work weeks is becoming more and more topical - working less and better is the goal. More and more countries are trying to spend less time in the office. Spain, for example, has chosen to experiment with a four-day workweek, while Belgium has recently reduced the number of workdays without cutting workers’ compensation. This is the direction in which Fantoni’s Meet Up collection is heading. It is a series of tables and storage units that can be adjusted in height to meet the new working methods and needs requiring greater flexibility. Marianna Fantoni, technical director of the furniture division of the company based in Osoppo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, told Domus more about it.
What changes have you noticed in the way workspaces are being designed?
When the pandemic broke out, there was a trend towards dividers and plexiglass screens, which were certainly a temporary band-aid - our company did not feel that they were an answer to the new market needs. There has also been an increase in the use of technology to work from home and then a desire to return to the office because the human connections that can be created in physical spaces cannot be replicated at home. While 70% of the demand for office layouts was for workstations, this percentage has now dropped considerably. At the same time, there has been an exponential increase in requests for third spaces, i. e. those places where you can hold more informal in-person or virtual meetings. The idea is to feel a bit like being at home, create meeting situations and ensure privacy. To make a long story short, a third place is where a pre-dinner cocktail can potentially lead to a moment of exchange and discussion.
The Meet Up collection, presented at the Supersalone, is designed to furnish increasingly hybrid workplaces, as its name suggests. How did the project come about?
What happened was that during the development phase we asked ourselves a question: does it really make sense to create an executive table? Today, more than ever, managers are on the move, between video calls and presentations made from airport waiting rooms. When a manager is in the office, they spend their time meeting with colleagues, trying to stimulate human relationships. Meet Up was the result of these observations.
What are the technical and design features of this table?
Meet Up consists of a series of tables and storage units. We worked a lot on the concept of height-adjustable tables, as this feature guarantees ergonomics but above all brings about innovation. The idea was to have a workspace around which people can hold standing meetings, which are shorter and thus help optimise the workday schedule. Design-wise, we opted for a product with essential lines where all the electrical details are hidden, and the feedback from the northern European market has been very positive. At the same time, we introduced a smaller table, with a 140x140 top, with a steel column and a counterweighted manual height-adjustment mechanism. The advantage is that the table can be height-adjusted during the day according to the worker’s needs without them having to worry about being close to a power socket. The product responds to the changes taking place and at the same time it brings about more changes.
What about sustainability and materials? How does the production process work?
As well as to design, we pay close attention to the raw material. Meet Up is a decor made from chipboard panels that we produce ourselves. Every day, our company receives trucks full of wood retrieved from eco-parks. We work that wood and transform it to give life to the final product. Fantoni is equipped with advanced technologies that have enabled us to make more than simple panels: we have managed to give the wooden surfaces of the collection a marble effect. Currently, Meet Up is available in two marble variants, Calacatta and Noir. Together with the aesthetic value, it is important for us to underline that at the end of its life, the product can be easily disposed of but also, and most importantly, recycled.