A New Fresh Look for Hong Kong

We’ve had a face-lift.

In 2015, Zenith opened its showroom on the 27th floor of The Centrium building in the bustling Central area.  Our first real presence in Asia.

Zenith Interiors is an internationally-servicing Australian company providing innovative solutions for all corporate and commercial environments.

Zenith not only ‘provides’ but actively collaborates with organisations in the region to develop inventive workplace solutions to engage their employees by creating spaces with products that are functional, appealing and forward-thinking.

“By gaining a deep understanding of the organisations’ needs, we help to create work environments that bring people together to share, collaborate, socialise and learn,” says Zenith’s Director, Barbara Schmidt. “Zenith understands that office environments today are about leading-edge technology, collaboration and community.

We are passionate about designing, manufacturing, distributing and supplying the very solutions, aligned with current thinking and trends. In turn, our clients receive ideas, experience, expertise and locally-manufactured best-in-class products.”

Zenith is a champion for the “Made Local” movement, having invested significantly in an internal manufacturing and design program, Zenith Design.

In 2009, Zenith introduced an R&D department, now called Zenith Design, to lead their manufacturing and design direction. Zenith Design comprises a veritable cabal of industrial designers, product engineers and CAD operators. Design is continually researching global workplace trends and designing products that anticipate the ever-changing workplace environment.

The designers and team work in close collaboration with end-users, clients, architects and interior designers to develop tailored and bespoke solutions for the specific and varied needs of every workplace.

But overall, the Zenith philosophy is to look at each region of operation as a complete service centre. This ‘think global, act local’ approach see every area where Zenith is active, offering a unique showroom experience to showcase their products, backed by a savvy team of sales, project management and service delivery who in turn, work very closely with Zenith’s manufacturing facilities; creating one harmonious brand service.

Zenith has 12 showrooms (Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai) and four manufacturing facilities in the Asia Pacific region.

If you’re strolling along Wyndham Street, why not pop in and we’ll show you around our new digs.

Introducing SOL-MIX By Zenith Design Studio

With a design intent driven by empowering the end-user – be it individual or team – SOL-MIX aims to celebrate a new frontier for flexibility in the workplace.

The result of working alongside some of Asia Pacific’s biggest and boutique organisations for several years, Zenith Design Studio has just launched its latest offering to the commercial sector with SOL-MIX.

Through understanding the enormous potential of user-centred design thinking, this portfolio of mobile, modular, reconfigurable and versatile furniture aims to celebrate the dynamic nature of the contemporary workplace, while also providing the all-important tools of both individual and collective end-users.

“Working with leading companies in Asia Pacific,” says Zenith Design Studio’s R&D Manager Bob Stewart, “has allowed us to gain valuable insights into users’ needs in the emerging workplace. Mobility and the need to be user-reconfigurable is becoming increasingly important in our design intent for the contemporary workforce.”

Suited to spaces that frequently change to accommodate mutable needs – of desk sharers, mobile workers, agile teams – SOL-MIX allows end-users to freely collaborate and connect. Bringing people, process, technology and design systems into direct conversation, SOL-MIX is designed around four key pillars of contemporary working behaviours: facilitating spaces for formal or informal meeting situations, social aspects of our daily routines, creative collisions for knowledge sharing, and moments requiring retreat and focus.

With flexibility remaining the order of the day, SOL-MIX celebrates the fact that today’s commercial spaces need to be flexible to a heightened degree: promoting the happiness of individual workers and the dynamism of teams as the basis for sustained productivity.

SOL-Sit’s seating modules in a variety of dimensions – whether singular or lounge – is available in either geometric or curved forms. Exceptionally modular, with a back or an ottoman in either a concave or convex shape. Used either in isolation or combined to create settings for various modes of work, SOL-Sit is equally amenable to individual and group needs.

As an extension of the formal design language of the SOL-Sit lounge, SOL-Rest is an armchair that boasts a sweeping and generous arm. In continuous flowing steel with solid timber accents, this piece forces a narrative of continuity that echoes the free-flowing of ideas that emerge through collaboration.

SOL-Lap’s heightened minimalism understands that functionality will remain at the forefront of intelligent design. With ease of movement, access and productivity, SOL-Lap’s table is equally useful for work that requires generating and clarifying thought, accommodating a variety of technologies that facilitate such processes.

SOL-Think is a single chair with a high back and sides that embraces its end-user in a visual and quieter realm of privacy and focus. Open and yet also private, SOL-Think is a fantastic example of how to balance the primacy of individual need with the necessity for cooperative team collaboration.

For more team-oriented working activities, SOL-Pavilion is a semi-private booth that has proven popular for facilitating quick meetings that require a degree of privacy or intimacy due to its exceptional acoustic attenuation. Comprising four distinct parts: two highly acoustic booth sides, a media panel and table with integrated tech componentry, SOL-Pavilion can be easily mobilised and assembled. With in-built lighting and a folding roof, this entirely upholstered system pushes the boundary for sound insulating design.

SOL-Bench’s highly accommodating dimensions allow workers to stand or sit with the addition of SOL-Sit. Designed to co-operate with either standing tasks or more informal sociable settings, the bench is available in a variety of dimensions and customisable options like privacy screens.

SOL-Dash’s mobile stools – available in either a square or rounded sculptural form – are highly flexible. Set upon castors, SOL-Dash is a fantastic addition to breakout zones and waiting areas, alike. Applauding a new type of agility that is no longer synonymous with stress but, rather, fun, the spontaneity inherent in its design intent lies at the core of successful collaboration.

SOL-Break’s round low tables snuggly combine with SOL-Sit configurations. Available in a variety of different top finishes, SOL-Break understands the requirements of touchdown zones and the importance of flexibility across a variety of working spaces.

SOL-Sketch’s two-sided whiteboard acts as the innovation hub for meetings, presentations, or is modular enough to simply act as an efficient way to temporarily divide open-plan spaces.

From the brains of Zenith Design Studio – a research and development department of Zenith Interiors – the range anticipates what many believe will determine the future of our working environments. Thanks to the visionary responsiveness of a team of industrial designers, product engineers, trend forecasters and experts in the productivity, change management and wellbeing of workers, SOL-MIX is an inspired curation of design frameworks that are comprehensive and user-centric.

SOL-MIX is designed around four key pillars of contemporary working behaviours: facilitating spaces for formal or informal meeting situations, social aspects of our daily routines, creative collisions for knowledge sharing, and moments requiring retreat and focus.

According to Zenith Design Studio’s Bob Stewart, “Australia really is at the cutting-edge of workplace change. Working with leading companies here has given us valuable insights into the current and continually changing needs of the working world of tomorrow.”

By David Congram.

View the SOL-MIX specification brochure

Zenith Design Studio Has Just Won the War For Talent

Can design really make a difference to the international problem of attracting, retaining and building talent?

Almost two decades ago the world’s brightest managerial minds detected the beginnings of a commercial famine. In the years that would lie ahead, it was rightly believed that for organisations to remain solvent, continued success would depend upon how well they could attract, develop, and retain talented employees.

And for almost twenty years, we all fidgeted as wide-eyed executives – under the guise of whacky titles like Chief Energy Officers and Happiness Co-ordination Managers – dismantled, rebuilt and redecorated our places of work thinking, and perhaps rightly, that an employees surroundings loom large in their estimation of professional and personal self-worth (not to mention productivity).

So, for twenty years, we survived skirmishes in the cubicle-filled trenches, we bunkered down in boardrooms as offices were raided of their internal fortifications. We became open plan and, consequently, open prey. Brief guerrilla attacks sprung up all over the place as AstroTurf-clad-lunchrooms with hammocks or (in a rather infamous example) as noisome miniature basketball courts replete with whiteboards. Apparently we were all meant to feel our minds expand, the groundbreaking thoughts would flow freely … and yet, all we achieved was a migraine.

Then, the reparations began. We realised the virtues of simple design principles of function coalescing with form. We realised, too, that natural light was good for us (!). And finally, we realised that talent, at the end of the day, was the only thing that was going to win its own war.

But why are HR Managers still despairing?

Well, never has the rapid connectivity of global markets been more immense; never has it been so difficult to locate proficient successors in the pipelines for succession planning; and never has it been more impossible to cushion ‘development practices’ … or at least make development something both achievable and sustainable.

Though many believe we are at the tail end of the most lopsided period in global economic history, it is becoming clear that we are merely at its brink. Corporations’ necessity for talented individuals has exponentially increased, while the pool of possible candidates continues to diminish – or, at least diminish demographically. Meanwhile, whether through age or specialised knowledge, today’s workers becomes more and more obsolete each day, their half-life decreasing as rapidly as the many pieces of technology at their disposal.

But though it may sound very doomsday, some of us are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. While everyone continues to experiment with ways to attract and then retain that all-important talent, the A+D community is uniquely positioned to help.

Creating Efficiencies Which Create Talent

A new demand for intelligent design systems that are purpose-driven to empower their varied and numerous end-users speak volumes – and especially so in the commercial sector – about a shift in where we place the value of design. Where previously the A+D community was sought after to add the polish of prominence to organisations, current interest lies in design’s potential to elevate the status of the individual and their particular needs.

Here, collaboration is key. Rightfully recognising that in this knowledge sharing economy talent is absolutely transferrable, collaboration has become an important weapon in the corporate arsenal of competitive difference. Calling upon the design world to create systems of efficiency, communication and interrelation in the workspace, organisations seek to enter a balance between group and individual needs – the fundamentals of collaboration and identity for teams. In our increasingly agile workspaces based on habitual flexibility and change, efficient design systems that can empower each individual end-user while still providing the collective identity and tools for teams suggests that, perhaps, talent isn’t merely a question of luck and investment but, rather, of re-investment.

Talent Has Become Something We Can Grow

Essential, modular, multi-functional and highly versatile, democratic furniture that seeks not to label workers and delineate the specified areas or facilities for tasks highlights that companies intend – and will continue to do so – prize talent over status. This is precisely where Zenith Design Studio’s latest offering to the commercial sector enters the fray.

Through collaborating intimately with multiple corporations for years, Zenith Design Studio understand that a user-centred approach is the only avenue of design-thinking that can elevate the end-user and forge systems for the creation of talent. With a new portfolio of intelligent design solutions for the contemporary workplace, this suite of mobile, modular and reconfigurable designs – SOL-MIX – celebrates the talent and not status of each individual, the unity and not the difference of each team.

According to Zenith Design Studio’s Bob Stewart, “Australia really is at the cutting-edge of workplace change. Working with leading companies here has given us valuable insights into the current and continually changing needs of the working world of tomorrow.”

Suited to spaces that frequently change to accommodate mutable needs – of desk sharers, mobile workers, agile teams – SOL-MIX allows end-users to freely collaborate and connect. Bringing people, process, technology and design systems into direct conversation, the furniture in situ promotes dynamic and idiosyncratic work patters, the happiness of the individual, and creates a space for employees to understand and access the material and extensive totality of ‘their work’. It bestows, that is, the individual’s own custodianship of their output.

Focus. Collaboration. Sociability. Community.

Designed around these four rudimentary styles of approaching work – focus, collaboration, sociability and community – the entire SOL-MIX range can carry workers through formal meeting situations, social aspects of their daily routines, creative collisions for knowledge sharing, and moments requiring retreat and focus.

SOL-Think is a single chair with a high back and sides that embraces its end-user in a visual and quieter realm of privacy and focus. Coupled with the SOL-Sit seating modules in various dimensions, straight or curved sculptural forms, the configuration now welcomes informal gatherings for quick tête-à-têtes that can increase in informality and congregation with artfully arranged SOL-Dash mobile stools. Whether donning waiting rooms or working areas, the SOL-Bench’s accommodating height and generous straight or curvaceous form can be infinitely reconfigured in arrangement and space that, when combined with SOL-Rest’s armchair with a sweeping arm or SOL-Lap’s tablet-friendly tables, means that waiting no longer means simply killing time or working no longer means sitting down. Applied for either strict or flowing think-tanking sessions, SOL-Sketch’s mobile whiteboard acts as the fulcrum for meetings, presentations, or is modular enough to simply act as an efficient way to temporarily divide open-plan spaces. And, to accommodate larger teams, SOL-Pavilion is a semi-private booth that has proven popular for facilitating quick meetings that require a degree of privacy or intimacy due to its exceptional acoustic attenuation.

Throughout the entire integrated system, a formal design language of bold contoured and organic forms prevails. Sweeping vital lines, anodyne and essential sculptural silhouettes, and intelligently selected acoustic upholstery or light and tech-friendly componentry achieves the universality of our working requirements: spaces that can motivate focus, systems that allow collaboration, moments for touchdown and socialising, and furniture for any type of meeting along the formal-informal spectrum.

A New Frontier For The Working World

SOL-MIX represents a much-needed response to the psychosocial potential harboured within design. The potential, that is, to view design as a mode to facilitate certain behaviours, empower end-users’ latent capacities, answer to the needs of the many and the one in a single, reconfigurable furnishing system. From the brains of Zenith Design Studio – a research and development department of Zenith Interiors – the range anticipates what many believe will determine the future of our working environments. Thanks to the visionary responsiveness of a team of industrial designers, product engineers, trend forecasters and experts in the productivity, change management and wellbeing of workers, SOL-MIX is an inspired curation of design frameworks that are comprehensive and user-centric.

Having just celebrated the launch of their full-scale operation in Singapore last year, and with a similar feat on the cards for Shanghai soon, Zenith Interiors’ 12 showrooms across the Asia Pacific region in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Hong Kong, hotly anticipate the arrival of SOL-MIX to an already staggering portfolio of local and international brands.

Though sixty years on, time still fails to weary Zenith. Thanks to SOL-MIX’s arrival, the team prove they are once again at the vanguard of the evolving nature of the international working world.

“Working with leading companies in Asia Pacific,” says Zenith Design Studio’s R&D Manager Bob Stewart, “has allowed us to gain valuable insights into users’ needs in the emerging workplace. Mobility and the need to be user-reconfigurable is becoming increasingly important in our design intent for the contemporary workforce.”

By David Congram.

Formway Design: Delivering Meaningful Global Solutions from New Zealand

Distance is no barrier to global impact for New Zealand-based studio Formway Design. An international perspective and the creativity fostered by a remote location bring a unique point of view on workplace furniture to the world.

Kent Parker and Paul Wilkinson, the Joint General Managers and Lead Designer and Engineer (respectively) at Formway Design, have no qualms about the word ‘antipodean’. They are based on New Zealand’s north island in the city of Lower Hutt, nestled between a mountain range and the sea.

“Yes, we are way down there!” jokes Parker as we chat in Zenith’s Singapore showroom. There are 45 hours of travel time between them and the headquarters of European brands. He adds, “It makes us hungry to know what’s going on everywhere else and it makes us naturally resourceful. New Zealand is full of creative businesses that have been established out of need. But there’s also an advantage in the fact that we can stay away when we need to, and just focus on what we do.”

And what they do could be summarised as such: creating products that will really help people in their lives. Formway Design focuses on intuitive performance seating. “That’s where we want to push the boundaries,” says Parker. “It’s always been part of our culture to figure out how people can work better, and how we can affect that,” he adds.

Life Chair, formway
Life Chair by Formway Design

The Life chair, designed in 2002, is a great example of a winning solution. It’s Knoll’s highest-selling task chair. The Be task chair (known as the Generation chair in the US) is selling around 160,000 units per year, notes Parker. He also cites Formway’s first showing at NeoCon in 1996, when the studio presented the Free desk system – a moveable, flexible plug-and-play design. It won four ‘Best of NeoCon’ gold awards at the fair.

The key to Formway’s impact is perhaps the rigour with which the team evaluates everything they design. Says Parker, “We don’t just want to create another chair or another table. We want to create solutions to make everyday lives richer. We mark ourselves quite hard; we ask, ‘What’s the real benefit of this product?’”

Research is a huge part of arriving at meaningful solutions, and – though you might expect it to have an impact in this regard – the distance at which Formway Design works is no barrier to investigating working and living trends at a global scale.

Part of the key to Formway’s reach is maintaining a large international network of contacts. With the help of this network, the studio carries out observational work, with cameras set up in workplaces and homes (“People are actually really open,” remarks Wilkinson); undertakes global surveys (the most recent one involving 2,000 respondents from Germany, the UK, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand); and holds face-to-face discussions with customers about how they work and live. The gathered information is carefully processed and the team seizes on opportunities that emerge through data analysis.

Another big part of delivering on-target solutions is nurturing rich partnerships, say Parker and Wilkinson. “Our partnerships with brands like Zenith are all about delivering value at the design end and partnering with people who believe in what we’re doing and can take that to market,” says Parker. These relationships are also another way for the team to keep on top of trends in different markets.

“The trends we’re seeing in Singapore right now are quite different to what we’re seeing in Australia and the US,” says Parker. “These markets are at different stages of the cycle of how people work.” He adds that they have started seeing some pushback in Australia in terms of activity-based working. “You have to get the balance right,” he says. “Not everything has to be collaborative and not everyone works well in open spaces.”

These days, co-working and the ability to work from home are having an effect on the workplace, suggests Wilkinson, and on the types of products designed by Formway. For example, the Belite chair was introduced as a variation of the more technically advanced Be task chair, offering similar performance but a lower price point.

Belite chair, formway
Belite Chair by Formway Design

The need for adaptable products that suit smaller home environments is another trend being addressed by Formway. “But I don’t think the traditional office will disappear,” says Wilkinson. “It’s still the place where everybody gets together.”

What is changing in the office is the growing influence of domesticity. “The warmth and domesticity we provide now for work is very different to what we had ten years ago,” says Parker. “We realise that we need to match the functional performance of our products with the aesthetic side.”

Yet the colour primarily specified for task chairs is still black, shares Wilkinson. “It’s a lot easier to change, for example, a laser-cut wall panel than it is to change the office seating, so other products still tend to provide the accents,” he explains.

Of course, it’s a different story in the residential sphere. We’ll watch with interest to see how Formway’s product offer expands to cater to the ever-changing trends of living and working in New Zealand and around the world. Without question, the stoic underpinning of Formway Design’s methods and philosophy will continue to serve the studio and their customers well.

Team Zenith is your Official 2017 INDE.Awards Platinum Partner. Join them at the inaugural INDE.Awards this June and meet the future of our region’s A+D superstars.

By David Congram

Red Dot Design Award for Halm

Red Dot Design Award for Halm

halm – the all-rounder with a real sense of style. The practically seamless combination of solid wood and innovative plastic gives the halm design aesthetic unity and, as a result, makes it robust and particularly easy to care for as well as giving it stackable, space-saving qualities. Seat and back surfaces and the optional armrests are available in a choice of six colours. These can be harmoniously combined with the solid beech or oak frames featuring a natural finish or one of a number of stained finishes. Optional seat and backrest liners give added comfort. In its own discreetly elegant way, halm excels in mastering all the challenges facing furniture in the cafeteria and restaurant sector as well as in the public waiting areas of the care sector.

The well-thought-out and unusual design proved enough to convince the international jury of experts at the world-renowned Red Dot Awards. Competing against manufacturers’ submissions from 54 countries, halm was able to set itself apart in the Product Design 2017 category. The chair with the special material mix will now be on display from July for one year at the Red Dot Design Museum, the largest museum for contemporary design in the world.

Are you interested in finding out more about halm?

Click here to view the specification brochure.

3000 Lounge by Schamburg and Alvisse

5 Minutes With…Schamburg + Alvisse

Sustainable furniture pioneers Marc Schamburg and Michael Alvisse were in Singapore recently to hold a series of presentations and conversations with interior designers. Narelle Yabuka from Indesign caught up with them at Zenith’s Singapore showroom to hear their latest news.

Schamburg and Alvisse
Marc Schamburg and Michael Alvisse

Since the 1990s, Australian designers Marc Schamburg and Michael Alvisse have been recognised as trailblazers in the area of sustainable furniture – a full decade before green standards were embraced by the construction industry. These days they work closely with Zenith, creating singular products as well as diverse systems that can cater to the variable needs of different company cultures around the APAC region.

What are your most recent product releases and what sorts of trends and issues do they address in terms of how we’re working and living?

Michael Alvisse (MA): The Edo range was introduced two years ago, but we’ve been constantly releasing new iterations of it. It’s expansive product offering, and it’s been interesting to see how the ABW space has evolved to the point where now the consensus seems to be that it’s about providing a range of work experiences and not being prescriptive in terms of being collaborative or personal and private. Every company has its own culture and needs a mix and a balance between these various things. The balance will be different for each organisation. We’re really creating a kit of parts.

Edo Modular Lounge by Schamburg and Alvisse
Edo by Schamburg + Alvisse

Marc Schamburg (MS): Intuitively we’ve been doing that with all of our ranges for the last five or six years. But Edo is by far the biggest offering, being a streetscape of different options. The kit of parts gives Zenith the opportunity to create a component-based manufacturing system. It makes it easy to manufacture, assemble and stock. It also creates so many different manifestations of the product.

MA: And more and more it’s becoming quasi-architecture.

MS: We are moving into creating spaces and rooms instead of standard items of furniture, which we were doing in the beginning of our career. So it’s interesting how the whole industry has evolved.

Edo Modular Lounge by Schamburg and Alvisse

MA: The psychology of workplaces is becoming a lot more interesting. The awareness of the importance of how people’s minds work, how the creative process works, how solutions are actually generated, and what kinds of conditions encourage that, has been really interesting to see. As neuroscience grows, workplace psychology becomes something that more and more people begin to understand. We’re seeing a much greater savviness about the impact one’s environment has on how they behave, think and feel, and how productive and innovative they are. Especially as AI increasingly takes over the repetitive work, it’s not just about productivity anymore; it’s now about how you encourage lateral solutions and creativity – which is a completely different conversation.

MS: That’s right. That’s something that AI and mechanisation won’t do.

Have you been exploring any new directions in sustainable design or production?

MA: I think that the directions we’re exploring are less and less about the technical material aspects of things, because the good thing about the strength of the certification systems is that they are quite prescriptive. Also, in terms of benchmarking performance, they’ve pretty much got it covered. And as the technology improves those certification processes will likely become more rigorous.

What’s really interesting now is to move beyond that. The thing people are still getting their heads around is sustaining the human being – the sustainability of their thinking and their creative process. Here at the beginning of this fourth wave of the industrial revolution, we’ve got a whole stack of challenges ahead of us. We know what we need to do in terms of physical sustainability. In terms of mental or psychological sustainability, and creative innovations – that’s a whole other area. The other stuff can be taken care of by technicians now.

Mason by Schamburg and Alvisse
Mason by Schamburg and Alvisse

What are your best-selling products in the Zenith range?

MS: It keeps changing, but Edo is up there right now.

MA: 3000 is also a very strong seller.

MS: Mason is also probably in the top three right now. They’re all systems that started off as one thing and ended up being much more collaborative and modular – so they offer a lot. They’re not all at the same price point, but they offer similar things in different ways and with different aesthetics.


by Narelle Yabuka


Elderly man in a wheelchair, in hospital

Designed to CARE: Putting People Back into A+D

As the health sector across Asia Pacific undergoes new challenges, we look to our A+D community to design solutions for tomorrow. Zenith Interiors have done just that!

The design industry – and in particular, its media professionals – practice quite a number of bad habits. In this, I am admittedly the last to “j’accuse”  … those in glasshouses, et cetera. But, I will say this. Too often, when we speak about design in the healthcare sector, we limit ourselves to nit-picking building codes and standards assessments. We speak (at length!) about hypotheticals – and yet, surprising little about post-occupancy. And, it never ceases to shock me particularly within this space, but some of us will discriminate according to design frameworks, forgetting that disease knows not how to discriminate.

I am happy to report (and in this case not whinge about legislation and certifications) that there is a revolution underway. Having finally embraced the unimpeachable virtues of natural light for the capacity to heal, we’re now looking in absolutely any space within our healthcare facilities – the politics of access in car parks, the tonal palette of lobbies and service walkways – to optimise the quest of a healthier furniture through intelligent and thoughtful design. Design, that is, to heal, to comfort and to delight.

Wellano, healthcare project
Wellano by Brunner

Earlier this month, Zenith Interiors exhibited their latest collection of purpose-driven designs for the health and aged-care sectors, Zenith CARE, at Australian Healthcare Week. Covering a staggeringly vast international suite of designers and studios, the collection stands as a leading example of evidence-based design. Each element is meticulously researched, tested, standards-approved, and considered from the end-patient’s and end-practitioner’s needs, limitations, recovery stages and safety.

In what undeniably represents a holistic solutions-driven approach to designing for this critical sector, the collection also marks two distinct milestones for A+D in this region. For a brand that is sixty-one years young, this new chapter speaks to Zenith’s ongoing commitment to rethinking our design traditions and behaviours in alignment with rapid social, cultural and technological change. But, secondly, through Zenith CARE it is clear that Zenith Interiors is not simply trying to just change design features for health facilities – they’re trying to change the way we think about design. They’re re-writing design’s inherent logic.

Team Zenith, that is, is pushing us further to achieve a cultural shift for A+D. With Zenith CARE, the A+D community is being asked to consider new approaches to accountability for positive outcomes on the human condition. This is design that is actively participating in a direct socio-political forum. As our healthcare facilities and practitioners are dealing with a degree of problems, capacities and limited resources – heretofore unseen – our A+D community has begun to position our collective creative and visionary potential to lobby organisational ‘best practice’. No longer can design in the healthcare industry be a secondary or luxury addition to the service of providing health. No longer, that is, can the attainment of ‘health’ be divorced from the curative benefits of the material space within which that venture is performed.

Wellano, healthcare project
Wellano by Brunner

Leading by Example: Zenith Interiors and Designing Tomorrow

As ‘part’ of an extensive product and brand offering under the Zenith umbrella, Zenith CARE reminds us that the pursuit of design (not to mention the pursuit of health as well) labours too frequently under adverse conditions – but it needn’t. As the ‘sum’ of this same extensive offering, Zenith CARE embodies a history of innovation, thought-leadership and risk-taking – an entire world-history of design thinking AS humanitarianism. Design through the Zenith lens is a path to a healthier tomorrow. A path to growth.

Last year I reported on Zenith Interiors’ growth across the Pacific – it is one of many stories that testify to the ongoing support of such brands for our emerging design talent. For the inaugural year of the INDE.Awards, Zenith Interiors have sought to nurture and support these standards of innovation, bravery, intelligence and thought-leadership across the A+D community of Asia Pacific. Their 61-year history highlights that our region’s creative potential is – until recently – a relatively untapped goldmine of radical paradigm shifts in design thinking, teaching and practicing.

Partnering with the INDE.Awards while simultaneously launching Zenith CARE might seem like fortuitous happenstance – but the reality is so much more significant. Both the INDE.Awards and Team Zenith understand that the human exists at the heart of our collective pursuit of capital-D Design. And, both the INDE.Awards and Team Zenith seek to celebrate environments that bring people together, that help us share, collaborate, learn and improve.  Through an impressive pan-regional presence throughout Asia Pacific, a hands-on approach to manufacture, research and development, and project management, Zenith offers us all access to an irreproachable possibility for Design: spaces that embrace technology, that can be confident in the provision of solace against any difficulty we might face tomorrow. 

By David Congram

Doctors standing in hospital lobby

Doctor Doctor…Give Me the News.

An in-depth look at what A+D has learned from medical history and the relationship between people and the spaces they occupy.

A simple question: should A+D have a check-up? 

It sounds facetious, but this question isn’t too ridiculously outlandish after all. You see, our creative practitioners across A+D are beginning to look further afield, to equally advanced and tech-embracing practitioners in unrelated sectors. Among these, the medical field in particular is proving to be eye-opening. And it all started more than 50 years ago.

1960s-1980s : Revolutionising the Medical World 

In the late 1960s Alvan Feinstein – professor at the Yale University School of Medicine – published Clinical Judgment. The medical world was never the same again.

Up to that point, the practice of medicine was heavily based on the amorphous concept of ‘clinical reasoning’ – a highly biased and surprisingly unempirical process that lead to physicians exercising decision making without checks or adequate control. Feinstein’s publication brought intense scrutiny levelled at medical decision making, increasing the awareness of weaknesses in what was considered ‘standard best practice’ across the full spectrum of the healthcare industry.

In brief, Feinstein’s approach attempted to anchor policies and procedures not to the current practices or beliefs held by experts, but to (investment in) medical experimentation and the application of those results in practice. Here, ‘evidence-based medicine’ ushered in a new gold-standard that held the capacity to adapt along with the times. Additionally, this capacity to evolve doubly benefited the practice of healthcare alongside keeping pace with advancements in technology to always putting the patient’s needs (not the practitioner’s values or procedural expertise) first and foremost.

banc, healthcare project
Banc by Brunner

How Evidence-Based Medicine Affected the Health Economy

Alongside this paradigm shift occurring in the medical workforce, access to healthcare across the globe skyrocketed. Patient treatment numbers increased, the penetration of first-world health practices into third-world countries was suddenly greater and more accessible than ever before, and as a result we in general became healthier, living longer. As health garnered more and more patient-investment and evidence-based medical teachings entered medical education, a new medical workforce of highly educated younger practitioners began to enter the fray – all extolling the virtues for rigorous R+D, continuous experimentation and strict statistical analysis in practice.

Inevitably, as we began treating health better, our healthcare institutions fell under increasing levels of strain. Last month I reported on the soon-to-be dire situation that these same institutions would undergo in the not too distant future. With the rate of life expectancy and access to health disproportionately outstripping the healthcare facilities that can service them – in design, in capacity, in rapidity – the global A+D community is currently finding itself called upon to answer to an enormous array of stakeholder needs.

banc, healthcare project
Banc by Brunner

But what does this have to do with the design community?

At its very core, evidence-based medicine sought to achieve something deceptively simple: understanding the patient’s recovery possibilities more, and the practitioner’s abilities less. And, while A+D is increasingly involved in helping redefine the future of health and its facilities, we’ve begun to demonstrate a remarkable feat of pedagogy: we’ve borrowed medical-thinking practices and incorporated them into design-thinking results.

Seeking to understand the needs of the people we design for in this acutely sensitive environment, A+D front-runners in this field recognise that hitherto designers, planners, architects and specifiers were not seeking appropriate levels of explicit, empirical data to inform their design processes and decision-making. Not dissimilar to medical practitioners pre-1960s, we rarely sought explicit data that existed beyond our own experience/expertise (as practitioners) or that of our clients (the institution). The end-user – in this case, the patient – lost out. It was hardly surprising, then, that the largest criticism levelled at us throughout the previous three decades has been that A+D became too self-involved and ceased to solve actual social ills – all encapsulated in the catch-cry that ‘design is too important to be left to designers’.

banc, healthcare project
Banc by Brunner

In our post-digital age, a diversity of needs and demands continues to grow for evidence-based approaches to designing our material environments. Whether residential, commercial, institutional or cultural, our creative practitioners are increasingly performing intelligence-gathering activities as the core of a new breed of design thinking. Through employing design processes intended to support existing user behaviours, limitations and needs, we’ve rethought the end-user: someone who is not forced to adapt themselves to the object of design, but adapting the object of design to the parameters and limits of their body. Across the entire playing field of A+D, such approaches have engendered a more cost-effective and well-liked end product (not to mention a loyal consumer).

And, this is relatively – in fact, surprisingly – a recent phenomenon. In 2008 a landmark systematic review for the design and health industries conclusively proved that designers are as importantly positioned as doctors for creating material healthcare worlds that actively contribute to patient recovery.

Simply, it’s design that embraces everyone … always.

 Follow Zenith’s evidence-based design journey here.

by David Congram

Healthcare furniture - taceo lounge

The Unlikely, Inspiring and Curative Power of Design

The status of Australia’s healthcare sector is reaching crisis point. As the rate of critical illnesses in this country is higher than ever, what can A+D do to create a healthier tomorrow?

Collectively throughout Australia, close to 20 billion dollars will be dedicated to redevelopments and infrastructure programs for our healthcare industry in the next four years. While that number may surprise most of us, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that it will only continue to increase.

Last year, the total revenue generated by our healthcare industry surpassed $120 billion AUD – and with a projected annual growth of 3.4%, our population is increasingly becoming more and more reliant on healthcare facilities across the nation.

While many have questioned the need to allocate such an enormous amount of funding to redevelopment of facilities over, say cancer research or remote community healthcare, others are beginning to notice the inordinate amount of strain set upon both our healthcare spaces and practitioners.

Thanks to the National Census last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics confidently estimate that over 9.6 million people in Australia will be above the age of 65-years in 2064, equating to above 23% of Australia’s total projected population. Meanwhile, 1.9million will exceed the age of 85-years, constituting 5% of the total projected population. That we’re clearly a rapidly ageing country is not under dispute – that we’re prepared for it, however, very much is.

Increased chronic illnesses, increased numbers of the infirm, decreased numbers of healthcare practitioners, and increased demand placed on our healthcare facilities is beginning to yield damning results for our country’s health if we don’t act quickly.

This is where you – as part of Australia’s A+D community – can demonstrate pointed progressiveness. While the supply and demand for healthcare in any country depends on a combination of health/illness patterns and social, economic, environmental and technological variables, it very largely also depends on the material elements of such spaces in accurately responding to an enormous array of stakeholder needs – from the nurse just settling in to a 19-hour shift, all the way to a grieving loved-one or a critically ill patient.

That providing health isn’t a game for the feint of heart is an understatement. More and more, our A+D community is illustrating that providing health isn’t a game for the feint of imagination. While demand on health will inevitably increase in the coming years, A+D is uniquely positioned to facilitate the very material support that such a transition requires.

At the Australian Healthcare Week this month, one of Australia’s premium commercial design powerhouses – Zenith Interiors – will be presenting their latest portfolio, expertly curated for the needs of this growing industry: ZENITH CARE. Working with healthcare practitioners and patients at the intersection of advanced treatment facilities and designing for better health, ZENITH CARE meets the needs of the always-innovating healthcare sector with this collection of wellness-based designs to reimagine healing environments and equal the sophistication of advanced health equipment, techniques and healthcare strategies.

With a stellar line-up of European, Asian and Australian brands, ZENITH CARE represents one of the leading concerted efforts for the A+D community to help combat the problem of health today. From ensuring that all pieces in the ZENITH CARE range are Standards Approved under Class 9a of the Building Code of Australia, to assessing limitations and safety features, Team Zenith have provided solutions for patient and practitioner, alike.

Alleviating those situations which, even at the best of times are stressful and demanding, ZENITH CARE is immaculately curated to ensure that each design element is carefully considered from the perspective of promoting safety, comfort, wellbeing and ease – a much-needed offering to the entirety of ‘health’ and ‘healthcare’, today.

Join Zenith Interiors and all the latest influencers in the sectors of health and aged care at the Australian Healthcare Week, this March 8th-10th.


by David Congram

Boomerang Healthcare furniture

Zenith CARE: Bringing Innovation to Healthcare

Zenith extends their reach to the health sector with a carefully curated range of products.


In branching into healthcare, there were a number of important factors for Zenith to address. As a company, they wanted to be able to provide solution-based furniture that would not only increase comfort and enhance patient recovery but also reduce the stress and physical fatigue of caregivers.

The Zenith CARE Col­lection is a carefully curated range of prod­ucts designed to cater to the specific needs of those within the healthcare sector. The aim is to offer products that effortlessly enhance the lives of patients and caregivers. The entire collection has an em­phasis on safety and support without comprising on style and design.

buena nova healthcare furniture

However, there is nothing ‘in­stitutional’ about the designs. The furniture conveys to users and patients a sense comfort and relaxation. The range places the focus back on people without losing sight of stringent functional requirements thus meeting all ergonomic and hygienic demands of the healthcare environment.

by David Congram