All posts by Erin Cook

SEA Futures: The INDE.Awards Seminar at Zenith Singapore

What are some of the most pressing issues for architects and designers to address in Southeast Asia? A seminar featuring six of the INDEs Shortlisted projects was an opportunity to learn and discuss.

How are Southeast Asia’s architects and designers innovating in response to the particular needs of this region? A special INDE.Awards 2018 fringe event dove into six of the Shortlisted projects to find out. An audience of Singapore-based and regional practitioners gathered to hear about a spectrum of threads of design and practice that are particular to the Southeast Asian region – from the push to net-zero-energy construction, to a model for tropical high rise, to a series of projects that address pressing social needs around the region.

Moderated by Cubes and Editor Narelle Yabuka, the INDE.Awards Southeast Asian Futures seminar was held at Zenith Interiors’ Singapore showroom over lunch just before the Gala on Friday 22 June 2018. Indesign Media extends its deep gratitude to Zenith, Platinum Partner of the INDE.Awards for the second year running, for hosting the session.

The seminar was opened by COLOURS: Collective Ours, the Singaporean studio behind the conceptual project and book titled Second Beginnings(shortlisted in The Influencer category of the INDE.Awards). The project proposes ten typologies for the reuse of underutilised spaces – making places for socialising, living, learning, coworking, healthcare, gardening and so on. COLOURS’ Founding Partners Dr Chong Keng Hua and Kang Fong Ing described how their project, commissioned by the Lien Foundation and focused on the needs of Singapore’s rapidly ageing population, encourages a shift from ‘ageing in place’ to ‘ageing in community’ – “from homebound to community enabled, from independent to interdependent, from universal design to adaptive design,” as Chong described.

Kang cautioned on the rate of ageing being experienced here, saying: “What is being done for seniors in Singapore is well and good, but there’s a wave on the horizon… What if there is a second beginning, not bound by the policy and regulation? What is the design we dare to give when we have only seniors in our heart?”

The next speaker was Chris Lee, a Principal at Serie Architects, who spoke about the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment (SDE) ­– a project (currently under construction) for which his firm is collaborating with Multiply Architects and Surbana Jurong. The project was shortlisted in The Influencer category of the INDE.Awards. It targets a net-zero-energy design for the tropics – no easy feat – as well as a new direction in terms of spaces for teaching and learning.

“The status quo in Singapore has been sealed and air-conditioned buildings with no relationship between inside air and outside air through the building skin,” said Lee. “Air conditioning systems amount to more than 50 per cent of energy intake,” he said, noting the significant amount of money spent on energy for air cooling in tropical regions. The NUS SDE building draws on aspects of vernacular architecture with a large overhanging roof, an accumulation of rooms that allow airflow between them, and a breathable skin. PV cells and a hybrid cooling system contribute to a projected reduction of energy consumption of 74.5 per cent.

“The project talks about the possibility of rethinking the disciplinary knowledge of architecture, and how the challenges of global warming begin to change the ways we think about cooling, about form and space,” said Lee. Tan Szue Hann, Head of Sustainability at Surbana Jurong, noted the challenge of achieving a net-zero-energy office building – without the luxury of a large overhanging roof or heavily permeable volumes. “That becomes challenging,” he said, “and therefore the authorities [in Singapore] have come up with a set of guidelines for low-energy buildings.”

Olaf Kluge, the Director of Ingenhoven Architects’ Singapore studio, presented Marina One, Singapore – the recently completed mixed-use development (designed with Architects 61 and landscape architects Gustafson Porter + Bowman) that introduces an open green public space to Marina Bay and boasts significant sustainability credentials. The project won an Honourable Mention in The Building category of the INDE.Awards 2018.

With its landscaped ‘Green Heart’, Marina One highlights “the essence of what Singapore wants to be,” as Kluge described. It contains the “biggest garden in a mixed-use building in central Singapore,” he noted. But beyond the special qualities of its landscape, the development also demonstrates effective sustainability strategies. For example, its 25 kilometres of sunshading significantly reduces solar gain and glare, and allows for a reduction in the use of blinds. “There’s still a tendency for people to pull down blinds in Singapore – I think it has to do with habit… It would be interesting to survey that in ten years time when the area is built up,” he said.


The last three presentations each focused on the potential social role of the architect or designer. Daliana Suryawinata and Dr Florian Heinzelmann of Indonesia-based practice SHAU spoke about their ongoing Microlibrariesproject, which won The Influencer category of the INDE.Awards 2018. Suryawinata described the project as part of SHAU’s broader interest in the use of architecture as a tool for improving urban situations.

The project was self-initiated and focuses on improving literacy in Indonesia through attractive libraries in needy urban areas. The discussion of the project expanded during the Q&A segment to the point of whether the potential social role of the architect should be encouraged in architectural education. Heinzelmann noted the need for communication skills to be sharpened: “There should be some courses focusing on that. We learned it the hard way with our projects – how to approach charity organisations, how to interact with city officials. It would be very interesting to have a course or system embedded that focuses on communication – how to sell your idea and make it really happen.”

Yann Follain, Director of the Singapore studio of WY-TO, presented Mobile Lotus – a charitable project for a floating clinic under development for Cambodia’s ecologically threatened Tonlé Sap Lake. The project was Shortlisted in The Influencer category of the INDE.Awards 2018. Follain passionately described the Mobile Lotus as an “accurate response to what is needed” – cleaner water and a better living environment. The Mobile Lotus contains clinics for adults and children, a water filtration system (using vegetation) and a multi-use atrium space where community members can gather.

Follain emphasised the need for Southeast Asia’s architects and designers “to be very conscious of the way people are living and to be completely embedded in that in the local context. We need to build the best projects for the people and see how they can take ownership,” he said. A tri-nation and tri-university workshop held in Cambodia, during which a segment of the Mobile Lotus was constructed, was a way for that agenda to be emphasised to the region’s next generation of practitioners.

The final presentation was from Vietnamese architect Duc Nguyen, who spoke on behalf of Hanoi-based H&P Architects about their project BE Friendly Space. It won an Honourable Mention in The Social Space category of the INDE.Awards 2018, and H&P Architects took a second Honourable Mention in The Design Studio category. Nguyen’s discussion focused on the challenges associated with achieving publicly accessible open spaces in dense Vietnamese cities, and preserving the community connections of village life that have been rapidly eroded.

A second challenge he noted was that of encouraging architects and authorities to experiment with traditional materials and building techniques. BE Friendly Space was constructed with bamboo and rammed earth, but, says Nguyen, perhaps only five per cent of Vietnam’s architects are interested in using such materials. The preference is concrete, brick and steel.

The seminar presented a spectrum of challenges – and solutions – being explored by innovative practitioners in Southeast Asia. All the projects demonstrated the importance of personal champions for various ideas, and in many cases, highlighted the personal sacrifices being made in the quest for improved outcomes for people.

Our sincere thanks to all our speakers. We look forward to building the regional discussion further with an ongoing series of regional fringe events for the INDE.Awards.

Platforma by ZENITH Design

Modular seating and tables with a soft residential aesthetic.

PLATFORMA designed by ZENITH Design, is a modular soft seating and tables collection that introduces the welcoming aesthetic and comfort of residential furniture to a commercial setting. Drawing its name from the solid ash base from which it sits, PLATFORMA showcases clean architectural lines juxtaposed with relaxed upholstery.

Platforma by ZENITH Design

PLATFORMA is available in an armchair, lounge, modular lounge, chaise and ottoman and is adaptable to suit an array of spaces. Optional planter box and complementing side and coffee tables are also available.

Platforma by ZENITH Design

ZENITH Design is a research and development team of twenty industrial designers, product engineers and CAD operators, passionate about creating adaptable and innovative workplace solutions. Considered one of the leading design teams in the Asia Pacific, ZENITH Design’s emphasis on understanding and collaborating with the client ensures all outcomes are achieved.

More Information: Here
Download Specification Brochure: Here

From Sustainability to Luxury to Comfort: Leading Trends at Denfair

Last week, thousands of design professionals, along with the public, descended on the third annual Melbourne edition of Denfair, a three-day event featuring carefully curated designs from local and international brands.

Some of the bigger trends to emerge from the expo included a sharper focus on sustainability across the interiors industry as well as a braver, more playful use of colour. In workplace design, comfortable, agile spaces with splashes of luxury were the order of the day. Design studios leading the trends included Zenith’s partner brands Yellow Diva, Schamburg + Alvisse, Allermuir, and Axona Aichi.

Take a look at some of the highlights from the brands below.


Sustainability is a hot topic on the lips of the design industry and that translated through at Denfair.

On the Zenith stand, the Axyl range, a new collaboration between Allermuir and London-based designer Benjamin Hubert and his studio, Layer was on show. The armchairs are produced with a variety of low-impact materials, including recycled wood fibre and recycled nylon; and the recycled agglomerate “recon” foam used for the optional cushion is made from chipping down foam off-cuts and then forming them back together, offering an efficient way of re-using waste product from the furniture industry. It also recently won a Red Dot award.

AXYL by LAYER Design featured at Denfair 2018

Appearing at the event’s Speaker Series was Taku Kumazawa, head designer at Axona Aichi who spoke about the importance of designing an “earth friendly product” and how designers should “produce products as a personal mission”.

He used the Tipo chair he designed as an example: all of the plastic components are made from 100 percent recycled polypropylene materials and the mesh fabric on the chair is made from 100 percent recycled yarn from reclaimed PET bottles.

The designer also previewed a sneak peek of his latest chair, the X50, which features a unique flexible seat membrane that moulds to the user for added comfort.


It’s no secret that our workspaces are continuing to transform beyond recognition, as employees demand more flexible ways of working. The design of offices is also changing with the influence of restaurants and other more relaxed spaces influencing the look and feel of the work environment. Taking that to an exciting new level at Denfair was Yellow Diva, who premiered their latest iteration of the Hang range, Hang Luxe.

Hang Luxe by Yellow Diva

The range comprises a cheval mirror, two occasional tables and valet stand. “Hang Luxe has been designed for open plan office environments and we wanted to bring in more of a residential and hotel type feeling, so its designed with luxury materials like marble, granite and bronze,” says David Walley, founder and design director.

“The cast iron weight was in the existing range and then by swapping that for natural stones and marbles we’ve moved it into that higher end model.”


Well known for their sustainable Australian industrial design, Schamburg + Alvisse’s latest design was on show at Denfair: a modular seating system inspired by the city of Tokyo. The Edo Streetscape takes its cues from a mega city humanised by intimate teahouses, intriguing laneways and bustling courtyards.

EDO Streetscape by Schamburg + Alvisse featured at Denfair 2018

The design focuses on spatial diversity in the workplace, allowing places for quiet focus time, private conversations, quiet collaboration and team brainstorming, allowing for a dynamic and agile workspace.

Adding to the sustainability and agility conversation was Brad Nicholls, owner of Nicholls Design. Combining traditional methods, modern sustainable design and a deep respect for materials, Nicholls’ furniture works in both the home and the office and it’s also customisable.

On show were a number of ranges including the latest addition to the Boxa collection (consisting of stools and benches) aswell as table ranges Peace and Bowie. It was the latter that was most eye-catching: handcrafted from solid American Oak the table is sharp and has a bow tie edge detail, whilst also paying homage to the creative genius that was David Bowie.

The Ancient Back Streets of Tokyo Inspires the Workplace of the Future

As Schamburg + Alvisse launch its latest – EDO Streetscape – we investigate the unique design story behind the collection.

As far as sustainable Australian industrial design goes, few brands can match the pedigree of Schamburg + Alvisse. Since 1997, the design duo shaped the local conversation surrounding environmental stewardship and the place of sustainability in design, far predating the sustainability movement that has swept through design in recent years. The true definition of ‘early adapters’, Marc Schamburg and Michael Alvisse used their diverse expertise – Schamburg in Design and Alvisse in Architecture – to hone in on the question of sustainability long before it entered the mainstream of design culture.

Driven by strong design skills and a genuine commitment to securing the future of the environment, the pair set out to design a range of commercial furniture solutions that delivered style and functionality without costing the earth. Their efforts were rewarded when they became the first Australian furniture (designer) to satisfy the rigorous green timber standards of the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and Greenpeace, earning them the rightful reputation as one of the nation’s most important voices in eco-friendly design.

Today, Schamburg + Alvisse remain immersed in all aspects of the conversation surrounding sustainable industrial design, and continue to innovate to meet the growing consumer appetite for environmentally sustainable solutions. Schamburg + Alvisse designs are celebrated as outstanding pieces of design in their own right, and are part of the permanent collection of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Selected pieces from their catalogue have also been exhibited in Milan’s Triennale Museum, San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, and the Melbourne Museum.

Over the years, Schamburg + Alvisse have remained central to the Australian sustainability movement thanks to their unmatched ability to channel cutting-edge design and technology to meet emerging market demands. One such example of this the recently-awarded EDO Streetscape (Gold, Good Design Awards 2018: Product Design), which responds directly to the challenges of a distinctly contemporary space: the agile workplace. Constructed from sustainable materials including FSC-certified timber, the modular seating collection creates “utsukushi basho” (beautiful places) for people to work, learn and refresh. EDO Streetscape offers spaces for flexible team settings, private team settings and quiet focus areas. EDO Meet, Work Lounge, Workpod, Teahouse, Campfire, Low, Lounge and Modular Lounge come in a variety of sizes and configurations.

But that is merely part of EDO’s fascinating story that starts, in fact, in an unlikely place: Tokyo’s back streets. Celebrated around the world for its unique blending of ultra-modern architecture with the time-tested traditional design, Tokyo continues to be a design mecca and a wellspring of inspiration – of which, EDO is the most recent beneficiary.

In fact, EDO not only takes its design cues from Tokyo, but also its name – 江戸, the former, traditional name of the city when it was the centre of power for the Tokugawa Shogunate from The Seventeenth to The Nineteenth Century. A period coloured by the growth of Japan’s global trade, a rising middle class and increased industrialisation across the board, this chapter in Tokyo’s history is also significant for reimagining the region’s vernacular architecture.

EDO Streetscape: Gold, Good Design Awards (2018): Product Design

To this day, the megalopolis remains instantly distinguishable by this quality, with its great bustling squares counterbalanced by its warren-like back alleys. Of the latter – yochoko, as the locals fondly call them – patrons flock to tiny three by three metre (!) bars, restaurants and cafes for a moment to decompress, indulge and forge connections.

Restrained by this small floorplate, solitary visitors will often sit next to one another, share a meal or drink as equals, converse and forge an instant, earnest and, albeit potentially fleeting, connection.

Rightly noticing the qualities of chance and creative collisions to enriching the sociable experience in the yochokos, and the attendant correlative to this situation across workplaces seeking greater collaboration amongst their teams, Schamburg and Alvisse were inspired a particular form of interpersonal engagement that is ultimately equal parts organic and democratic.

Spatial Economisation In Australia’s Commercial Sector

Not dissimilar to the restricted floorplate of the yochokos, EDO’s essential form responds to the contracting spatial economy of the contemporary workplace. Where, in Australia, collaboration in the workplace usually occurs near or at an individual’s workstation, the increasing popularity of breakout zones, common areas and ‘hubs’ for creative collision throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East (in particular) is gaining traction on our shores.

Remembering that for the future of white-collar work some 20-40 per cent of this workforce in the near future will be contractual workers, Schamburg and Alvisse sought to incorporate some of the ‘trust-building’ and ‘instant sociability’ they saw in action in the yochokos into EDO.

Intervening in the political makeup of workplaces of the future, EDO’s democratic and indiscriminate design scheme – one that chooses not to differentiate its many and varied end users – promotes mingling and connection between individuals and, as such, also contributes to the building of interpersonal trust while also knocking down hierarchical boundaries existing between individuals.

Addressing not only this important interpersonality between end users, but also the changing nature of spatial diversity in the workplace of the near future, EDO Streetscape caters to commercial interiors where health, happiness, collaboration and community provide the basis for workplace pride and professional stewardship. The newly released EDO Streetscape is available throughout the region through Zenith Interiors. Read more about the fascinating design journey of EDO Streetscape, here.

Five Minutes with … Schamburg + Alvisse!

Following Schamburg and Alvisse’s recent Gold Award win at the Good Design Awards (2018) for the EDO Streetscape, Schamburg + Alvisse’s latest collection, we caught up with the prolific pair to learn what’s happening in the commercial space – and where to next.

EDO Streetscape by Schamburg + Alvisse

We often hear about changes in the commercial space from the perspective of the owner or end-user – as designers of commercial furniture, what do you view as the biggest changes in the commercial landscape?

S+A: For us, probably the biggest change has to have been the emergence of the agile workplace. More than ever, we’re finding that clients are looking for furniture solutions that support flexibility in all its forms: so multi-purpose furniture, or modular systems that can be rearranged as the team grows and changes. That’s a big challenge that we tend to hear about a lot – people are staying in jobs for a much shorter period than they used to, and they’re moving around a lot within that job. So clients are looking for furniture that accommodates this.

We’ve also noticed that the idea of “wellness” is far more mainstream in the commercial sector now than it was previously, as is sustainability. But overall, the biggest change is probably that idea of agility.

In terms of this change – agility becoming a major priority, and, I suppose, furniture needing to keep up with this – which factor do you think drives the other? Does changing workplace culture inform commercial furniture design, or vice versa?

S+A: It works both ways. Design never exists in a vacuum – it’s always going to be influenced by other things – but it definitely does also shape behaviours. As designers, we need to walk this fine line between responding to existing behaviours and encouraging new, hopefully better ones, and to do this requires a bit of give and take. So, yeah, it definitely goes both ways.

Does technology have a role to play in all this?

S+A: In changing workplace culture? Definitely. The agile workplace is, at least the way we see it, a by-product of a lot of the technology that’s come into offices in the past twenty years. A large part of why people can now work in such a wide range of ways and places comes down to things like mobile devices, the internet…tech has also helped break down a lot of the more traditional barriers of communication and made collaboration a more natural, appealing idea.

Schamburg + Alvisse pictured with EDO Work Lounge

Last year marked twenty years of Schamburg + Alvisse, which is an incredible achievement. In the time that you’ve been involved in the industry, how have you seen attitudes evolve in terms of sustainability and environmental issues?

S+A: When we first started in 1997, sustainability was very much still a sort of fringe idea. Not too many people in commercial furniture were interested in pushing the envelope of ‘green design’, and looking toward making products that didn’t cause unnecessary harm to the environment. We had to search long and lard to connect with kindred spirits who cared about sustainable design, eventually connecting with the likes of John Gertsakis, Kirsty Mate, Dr. Cameron Tonkinwise, and a host of idealistic architects and designers all grappling with improving indoor air quality and conserving fast dwindling natural resources.

This has definitely turned around, with the Green Building Council and Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) being instrumental in facilitating this change. Designing for compliance with GECA is now seen in architecture and design as simply ‘best practice’. The mainstreaming of sustainability is now such that it has become a sort of marketing buzzword. In that sense, I think you need to approach sustainability with a bit of caution, because some of the genuine engagement with environmental issues is lost a bit in this marketing conversation. But overall, sustainability is definitely more widely embraced now and that can only be a positive thing.

Has Schamburg + Alvisse’s own approach to sustainability changed at all over this same period?

S+A: We’re more committed than ever to making our furniture with healthier glues and reducing its environmental footprint. What’s most exciting is that our partner Zenith is completely committed to greening their supply chains with the help of independent certification by GECA, Gobal Green Tad and the Forestry Stewardship Council. With Zenith, we’re committed to making sure that all our products and processes – and the materials, too – are sustainable, and that they have as little impact as possible on the environment. It’s just become part of our design process now, so it’s almost second nature: if a product meets a need but isn’t sustainable, then does it really meet the need? In that case, it’s usually back to the drawing board, where we can take another look at things and fine tune them.

What direction would you like to see the conversation surrounding sustainability take in future?

S+A: It’ll be great when sustainability is so second nature to us all that we don’t need to talk about it at all! Until then, our job is to make sustainability attractive – and most importantly for consumers. Easy! So easy, in fact, that it’s a no-brainer. That’s the beauty of GECA, Global Green Tag and FSC Labels since they make it easy for people to buy authentic sustainable product. What we’d really like to see is consumers changing the way they think about cost and sustainability and starting to understand that it’s a long-term conversation, and that sustainability is an investment.

What was the inspiration behind EDO Streetscape?

S+A: We were actually in Japan, where we’d spent a couple of days exploring yokocho, which are basically these very narrow, very closely entwined back alleys. These tie together these quite miniature cafes, bars, restaurants – I think we saw one that was three by three metres – where visitors have to sit together in quite a restrictive floor plate. What’s incredible about these spaces is that because they’re so small, strangers often sit next to each other, share a meal and drink as equals, have a chat, and make this instant, if fleeting, connection. We really wanted to translate this idea into the workplace, so with EDO Streetscape that’s what we set about doing.

How does EDO Streetscape fit in with the broader Schamburg + Alvisse product family?

S+A: With most of our products, even though they might use a different material palette or different forms, they’re all united by the same approach. By now we’ve developed a pretty consistent design approach and process, which means that our products all have the same core elements: sustainability, comfort, utility… our customers always know what they can expect from our products. With a twist of the unexpected.

What’s next for Schamburg + Alvisse?

S+A: We’ll see! We’ve got some great things in the pipeline so stay tuned!

Edo Streetscape Wins 2018 Good Design Award®

The winners of Australia’s Good Design Awards, the highest honour for design innovation in Australia, were announced at the Sydney Opera House on 17 May at the 60th Annual Good Design Awards Ceremony.

EDO Streetscape received a prestigious Good Design Award® Gold Winner in the Product Design category in recognition for outstanding design and innovation.

The annual Good Design Awards is Australia¹s most prestigious Awards for design and innovation with a proud history dating back to 1958. The Awards celebrate the best new products and services on the market, excellence in architectural design, digital and communication design and reward emerging areas of design including business model innovation, social impact and design entrepreneurship.

The Good Design Awards Jury commented – The sustainable, replaceable and truly modular nature of this system provides genuine flexibility and privacy for open plan offices whilst maintaining a friendly yet professional aesthetic. The clever design creates congregation zones without completely isolating occupants. The openings in the roof areas remove the need for inbuilt lighting and technology. A complete system offering a rich variety of seating and meeting options for an open plan commercial environment.

Schamburg + Alvisse Good Design Award 2018

The 60th Anniversary Good Design Awards attracted a record number of entries. From the 536 innovative designs, only 260 projects were selected to receive the coveted Good Design Award®.

The winners were presented with the new sustainably designed Good Design Award trophy in Sydney. Special guest, Jan Utzon (son of Jorn Utzon, who designed the Sydney Opera House) presented the Good Design Award® of the Year on stage and congratulated all of the 2018 Winners.

Winners of the Good Design Awards will be showcased to the general public during Vivid Sydney, the world’s biggest festival of light, music and ideas in Sydney from 25-27 May 2018 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay.

About Good Design Australia and the Good Design Awards

Good Design Australia is an international design promotion organisation responsible for managing Australia¹s annual Good Design Awards and other signature design events. With a proud history that dates back to 1958, Good Design Australia remains committed to promoting the importance of design to business, industry, government and the general public and the critical role it plays in creating a better, safer and more prosperous world.

More information: EDO Streetscape by Schamburg + Alvisse

From cubicles to collaboration: the evolution of workplace design

“Over the course of the last century our workplaces have transformed beyond recognition. What were once spaces designed purely for function, the offices of today focus on leading edge technology, collaboration and community,” says Bob Stewart, head of ZENITH’s research and development.

US engineer Frederick Taylor is credited as being one of the first people to ever design an office space in the early 1900s. He developed the Scientific Management Theory to maximise the efficiency and output of an office, which saw clerical workers somewhat crammed into long rows of basic desks and chairs, while their supervisors looked on from private offices.

Orbis by ZENITH Design

As technology progressed so did different design movements – from the Bürolandschaft approach, which was developed in the 1950s to increase the efficiency of communications within the office, to the virtual offices of the 21st century when the introduction of Wi-Fi and mobile phones meant that the definition of a workplace became far more flexible.

ZENITH’s roots in office design began in the 1950s as a manufacturer of partition systems and manufacturing workstations and later expanded further into the commercial furniture market. In those early days cubicles were still relatively modest, but fast forward to today and many people don’t even have a workstation in their office: they can go and work where they want and when they want in the most appropriate setting with the most appropriate tools for the task at hand.

Hybrid designs featuring breakout rooms, hubs, study nooks and conference rooms, coupled with spaces based on comfort and ambience are now the norm. Really, the workplace of today is about utilising leading edge technology, collaboration and community.


These changes in the needs and wants of a workforce led ZENITH in 2009 to invest more heavily in its in-house research and development (R&D) department, and consequently the ZENITH  Design Studio. We really try and create environments that inspire people to excel, and we do this by creating furniture that fosters an inviting atmosphere.

Yet again, technology is shaping what this looks like for the workplace. In R&D we are looking at how our designs can support some of the newer technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as the keyboard and mouse become less relevant.
We are also working with leading companies that are at the cutting edge of workplace change and looking at how collaboration and face-to-face meetings can extend beyond the physical workplace as VR and AR cement themselves into our daily lives.

While guessing what the next wave of game-changing technology may be is almost impossible, ZENITH’s expertise in R&D means it is continually researching global workplace trends and designing products that anticipate the ever-changing workplace environment.

Bob Stewart — head of research and development at Zenith

The red revolution: Red Energy by Carr Design leaves a distinct mark on the commercial landscape

Is there anything as dynamic as a revolution? Rapid, rambunctious, and radical, revolutions are often over as swiftly as they begin, leaving behind a swirl of rubble to be rebuilt and rearranged into something new. In short: revolutions are great, but they can only last so long.

Take, for example, the activity-based working (ABW) revolution. When it first stormed the scene in the mid-2000s, ABW’s approach to old school, formulaic design was heralded as a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale design sector. Workers celebrated the freedom and enhanced wellbeing afforded by the groundbreaking, flexible designs, while higher ups cheered the spike in productivity and worker retention. Then ABW evolved. To keep up with its ballooning popularity, it was reduced to its most basic elements, co-opted for sprawling open plan offices and workspaces littered by colourful couches and ottomans. Soon, spaces verged toward the ridiculous, incorporating slides, ball pits, and cargo net hammocks. And just like that, as quickly as it began, the ABW revolution was over.

Red Energy

Now, nearly 15 years later, designers are stoking the embers of ABW, breathing new life into arguably one of the 21st century’s most important design milestones. With their new Cremorne headquarters for Australian energy suppliers Red EnergyMelbourne interior designers Carr Design Group did just this, marking a renaissance for the ABW movement. The feeling of revolution is fitting, given that Red Energy is an energy provider like no other. Since 2004, the Australian owned energy company has drawn its power from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme, which is roundly regarded as a civil engineering wonder of the modern world. Red Energy is also committed to giving back to Australian communities by way of affordable energy and meaningful connections with local sporting clubs, associations, and charities that share their forward-facing values.

For their new Cremorne headquarters, Red Energy tapped into this revolutionary and community-oriented spirit, crafting workspaces that reflect a fresh approach to ABW. Like any good revolutionary, Carr Design Group did not build from the ground up, but rather looked to the past for inspiration. Nestled into the former Bryant and May factory – one of Melbourne’s most iconic heritage buildings – the new fitout was treated as a sculptural insert within the existing building envelope, and carefully enfolds heritage elements including an exposed truss ceiling and expansive factory bay windows. A richly textured, warm material palette beguiles the industrial setting and offsets shades of deep brick red and burnt orange with cool blue-greys and creamy whites.

Orbis 120 Degree

The new offices bring together over 1000 Red Energy business support and customer interaction staff, all of whom require very different work space typologies. To accommodate their various needs and activities, the plan was arranged in a series of ‘pavilions’, ‘neighbourhoods’, and ‘hubs’ set along a central circulation path. The overlapping spaces range from fixed to flexible and open to focused, and encourage workers to explore beyond the boundaries of their own workspace. Linking the four tenancy levels is a brick red sculptural steel mesh stair that evokes the red brick of the building’s exterior and funnels circulation into new spaces for breakout, collaboration, and interaction.

“Inspired by a commitment to celebrate and respect the historical importance and unique architectural form of this culturally significant structure, the fitout was treated almost as a sculptural insert with all internal built form detached from the perimeter in a bid to respect the existing exposed truss ceiling, expanse of original factory bay windows and important heritage details.” – Carr Design.

Orbis 120 Degee

At the briefing stage, Red Energy emphasised investment in workplace health and wellbeing in addition to a renewed focus on training and development. To make these goals a reality, Carr Design Group turned to Zenith and their broad catalogue of flexible, functional commercial furniture. Across the office’s four levels, Zenith’s signature sit to stand Orbis Workstation delivers both practicality and comfort without compromising on style. Like all Zenith solutions, Orbis prioritises people and the user experience. Red Energy employees can now enjoy a suite of intuitive features that make work life easier: LED reminders to sit or stand, a patented wire management system for keeping things tidy, Bluetooth app control, and the ability to store up to four preset worktop heights.

BeLite Task Chair                                                                    Tipo Sled

The new office also makes extensive use of the Belite Chair, designed at all points with supreme functionality and ergonomic support for the end user in mind. Characterised by minimal parts and componentry, the responsive design of Belite celebrates flexibility and ease. Responding to users’ postures and agile uses throughout the day, Belite’s form is uniquely positioned to alleviate problems of lumbar support while still never compromising on sleek, sculptural forms. The chair’s elastometric skin (held in a contoured backframe and seat pan) alters to suit changing user positions across different tasks and requirements throughout day. Coupled with a dynamic suspension system that takes the user’s bodyweight and movements as a counterbalance, Belite’s 270-degree radius of ergonomic support ensures that irrespective of function and mobility, end user health and wellbeing remains at the forefront of concern. Simplified, innovative and user-centric at every turn, Belite’s intuitive construction also means that the fussiness of adjustments, levers and knobs is finally eschewed once and for all. In its stead, Belite’s seven major elements is a feat of streamlining – ultimately informing the chair’s minimised mass (being 57% lighter than most high-performance task seating) – to guarantee dynamism between rest, application and varied use.

Like the vast majority of the Zenith portfolio, Belite carries an inspired sustainability approach. Constructed from postconsumer recycled PET drinking bottles, corn byproduct and foam based on soy as a raw material, Belite’s sustainable manufacture dovetails with the product’s lightweight, minimised form to truly deliver a ‘conscious’ artefact: of the environment, of its user and of the evolving profile of the commercial landscape. Complementing the Orbis Workstation specified throughout, Belite cuts an aesthetic figure just as much as it does a functional one: as clean, streamlined and multitasking as even the most agile of workers.

Orbis 120 Degree

Fleeting though revolutions may be, their effects are indelible and their legacies indestructible. Often, the most interesting repercussions occur long after the final aftershocks have subsided and a new sense of clarity allows the best pieces of the revolution to be identified and carried into the future. As much is evident in the new Red Energy Cremorne headquarters, which heralds a rebirth of the ABW revolution, albeit reimagined for the changing needs of today’s commercial spaces. It’s bold, it’s bright, and there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else. Vive la révolution!

Now having launched in Shanghai, Zenith remains squarely at the vanguard of supplying the latest design innovation for the commercial, health, hospitality and education sectors throughout more than five nations and their wholly complete network of service centres. While each of their showrooms celebrate Zenith‘s vast array of products and international portfolio of brands from across the region and beyond. Shrewdly backing this comprehensive design offering with a team of sector specialists, steering managers, comprehensive service delivery and a dedicated R+D team that work around the clock to improve the profile and performance of design across many sectors, Zenith has emerged as one of this region’s leading suppliers – collaborating with local design talent and their own manufacturing facilities to tailor design solutions in a culturally-aware holistic brand service.

View project here.

Zenith is back on board for this year’s INDE.Awards

Zenith returns to the INDE.Awards in 2018 as Platinum Partner. Taking the Asia Pacific’s best design to the global stage, we look forward to celebrating this region’s most excellent in creative practice.

There’s never been a better time to be a designer in the Asia Pacific. A strong regional economy, cutting edge technological capabilities, and unrivalled raw design talent have all converged at the right point in time to make now the most exciting period in our region’s design history. None of this is coincidental: over the past few years, the industry has worked to develop strong support structures and international mentorship programs to ensure sustainable growth and that the next generation of talent is provided with the guidance and assistance that they need to reach their full potential. The INDE.Awards do just this, providing the Asia Pacific with its foremost platform for recognising and nurturing regional talent and developing strong cross-country ties.

INDE Awards 2017


This year, Zenith will return as an INDE.Awards  Platinum partner and once more contribute to enriching the region’s already diverse and dynamic design culture. An established leading light of Asia Pacific design, Zenith embodies all the characteristics that make the region’s design landscape so unique and exciting. Like the regional industry, Zenith blends a strong spirit of innovation and idiosyncratic design aesthetic with a thoughtful design process that is driven by a twin focus on style and functionality. Akin to the broader region, Zenith takes an unrelentingly forward-facing, trailblazing approach to design and is committed to developing new and unexpected responses to age-old design questions.

For over 60 years, Zenith has led our region in striking, eye-catching commercial design that doesn’t compromise on performance. From the tech boom to the open plan office, Zenith has responded thoughtfully and practically to every major contemporary design landmark. Their carefully considered approach has won admirers around the world. Zenith recently celebrated the launch of their new showroom in Shanghai, and continues to diversify its activity across the many commercial sub-sectors throughout the region.

Whether they’re in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, or SingaporeZenith approaches all design with a high degree of sensitivity to local culture and design traditions. Their hubs across the region allow them to fully understand local design contexts and challenges and design accordingly. Zenith consistently distinguishes itself from its peers by reflecting a firm grasp of not only the brief but also the context from which this emerges, responding to this thoroughly and sensitively.

In today’s hyperconnected design industry, regional ties between designers, suppliers, and manufacturers are more important than ever. For designers, well-developed connections with manufacturers and suppliers feed the iterative design process and streamline manufacturing, allowing for the highest possible quality of finished product. Zenith understands this, and has developed strong manufacturing capabilities to support their design efforts within the region.

The INDE.Awards would not be possible without the generous support of Zenith interiors and our other sponsors. We are grateful for their ongoing commitment to celebrating the uniqueness of design in the Asia Pacific region and look forward to working together moving forward to strengthen existing regional connections and forge new ones.

By David Congram

Designing for Aged Care

As Australia’s older generation continues to grow, the architecture and design community is beginning to see tremendous opportunity for change within aged care.

By 2042 one in four Australians will be 65 years or older. This unprecedented change in our society, coupled with longer life expectancy, means we will become increasingly dependant on aged care services and facilities. In addition, the Baby Boomer generation is rapidly redefining how it wants to spend its twilight years, representing a huge opportunity for design to play a bigger and better role when it comes to creating spaces that look and feel both comfortable and uplifting.

In the past, aged care facilities have been more akin to hospitals than homes. With long corridors, closed off nurses’ stations and institutional-looking furniture, design for the care of the elderly has been more clinical than comfortable. But things are beginning to change. As the focus on wellbeing and health in design becomes ever sharper, we’re seeing more architectural and design firms being brought in to create aged care spaces that align with general home design.

This change in approach comes as consumer expectations for future aged care environments are also evolving. People want to stay in spaces that are light and spacious and they expect flexible living areas with comfortable places to relax.

Buena Nova by LSS Designer

It’s one of the reasons Zenith branched out in to healthcare: to reimagine what furniture in aged care looks like to not only increase comfort and enhance patient recovery, but also to reduce the stress and physical fatigue of caregivers. And it’s a space Zenith has been working on quietly to get absolutely right.

Last year we partnered with German furniture brand Brunner, which is renowned for providing solutions-based furniture right across the full spectrum of the healthcare sector.

The company’s innovative design thinking proves that soft furnishings and furniture can be luxurious and practical at the same time. For example, comfortable armchairs and recliners with high-quality fabric upholstery, combined with practical vinyl covering for hygiene purposes. It’s this approach to design that retains the importance of aesthetics along with the specialised requirements of aged care furniture.

The products fall under our Zenith Care Collection, a carefully curated range of products by European, Asian and Australian brands, designed to cater to the specific needs of those within the healthcare sector. We’ll be showcasing the collection at Australian Healthcare Week this month as we continue our efforts to rejuvenate spaces for aged care, contributing to a wider shift towards stylish and practical living spaces for Australia’s ageing population.

Contact us for more information here

Kirstin Ojerholm – Business Development Manager