Category Archives: New Product

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

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

Lapalma: Celebrating A New Partnership

Lapalma’s success has been achieved step-by-step over thirty years. Using natural recyclable materials, expertly combining metal with wood, leather and fabrics to create timeless pieces of elegant furniture with clean fluid lines. It is the hard work, passion and inexhaustible enthusiasm of brothers, owners and founders, Dario and Romano Marcato.

Romano & Dario Marcato

Zenith is proud to announce a new partnership across APAC, supporting Lapalma’s passion for furniture made with high precision using the most advanced technology while respecting the environment and source of all the noble materials employed to make their collections.

AP Stool

In October 2017, Zenith officially launch the Lapalma brand into all 12 locations across APAC.  To coincide with his first visit to Australia, Dario Marcato joined Zenith at two special events to help launch new collections released at Il Salone, Milan in April 2017 and Orgatec, Cologne in 2016.

Guests enjoyed a degustation style menu of Veneto inspired food reflecting Lapalma’s origin of Padova, one of North Italy’s oldest cities.

Lapalma Melbourne Event

Two years ago, Lapalma launched ‘Light Office’ a new direction for them in response to the new approach to workplaces – flexibility and well-being.  An increased need for a lifestyle approach teamed with the ability to change the environment easily according to task, be it for focussed or collaborative work.

Lapalma Light Office

More on Lapalma Here


Pino by Keith Melbourne

Do Designers Have A Responsibility To Manufacturers?

The A+D world faces a precarious future: dwindling local expertise, unlikely local capacity, and a race we thought was heading toward the bottom but seems, instead, to be heading nowhere.

The Anxiety Of Influence

Although the current state of our property market might indicate our growing status as a well-designed nation, few of us in the A+D world are quite so sanguine. Tasked to close contracts faster and cheaper than ever before, our A+D community continues to report a culture of fear within the industry, circuitous monetary flows and wildly ambivalent consumer confidence – whether for key developments in our property market or for the position our industrial design will index on the world’s stage in the face of growing international competition.

At all avenues, we appear to be racing to the bottom faster than ever before. Needing to curb costs wherever possible in order to bolster our value proposition to the market, (namely, a value proposition that hangs solely on price point), the collateral damage has been enormous and, sadly it would seem, largely silent.

Within the space of a single workforce generation, our local manufacturing industry has experienced an ongoing period of contraction, falling to record lows on the Industry’s Group Index. In the 2015-2016 financial year, manufacturing’s injection into the national economy capped almost $30 million AUD. Throughout the last financial year, however, it contributed less than $15,598 million – a drop of almost 50% (which, comparatively, outstrips the drop experienced during the same parameters for our equally anxious mining industry).

Manufacturing Industry’s Performance Activity
(% contribution to AU GDP):
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australian national accounts: national income expenditure and product, cat. no. 5206.0.

But Is It A Question Of Déjà Vu?

It may sound flippant, but it feels all-too-familiar to me. Though few might be willing to see the correspondence, we find ourselves today in an oddly similar position to mid-Nineteenth-Century Europe. As the cause of industrialism continued to make in-roads into European social and political circles, the correlative emerged simultaneously for the continent’s economic thinking: the purportedly unspoken virtues of laissez-faire market drivers. We have novelists, in particular, to thank for the gainsaying. In the British tradition, Dickens, Eliot, Carlyle, Gaskell and any one of the Bronte family filled reams and reams of paper with the very human-centric tales of entire industries falling to task as the race to the bottom became more of a chaotic sprint.

But what might the Victorians teach us here? Well, for one thing, their response was inspired: intervention. Charter after charter was passed from the 1848 People’s Charter onwards, delineating strategies for mutually beneficial relationships between industry sectors: the cotton industry bolstered the weaving industry, textile trade and international trading relationships (even the colonial military) all working collaboratively to manage the ongoing struggles of ameliorating the rapid effects of mechanical innovation into an otherwise localised cottage IR structure. In short, the shift in industrial relations produced highly specialised skillsets as relationships became entirely driven by exclusivity and specialisation for quality control.

Do Industrial Designers Have A Responsibility To Manufacturers?

Needless to say, such effects are also currently extant within the A+D community. Relationships between our industrial designers and suppliers have never been richer and more penetrative. And yet, the local manufacturers still appear to be lucking out. While our lower dollar continues to boost manufacturing export volumes, weak local demand continues to subdue total activity as designers seek cheaper offshore alternatives

According to a recent report by Fairfax, 83% of Australian votes believe that we have a responsibility to generate more revenue and jobs within our total manufacturing capacity. Such sentiments could not have arrived at a more pressing moment. Between 2008 and 2016, more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs were lost, now accounting for approximately 1 in every 13 workers.

“The public’s instinct is absolutely right,” says Jim Stanford, economist at the Centre for the Future of Work at the Australia Institute, following his key findings that this nation displays a significantly lower proportion of manufacturing capacity than any other comparably advanced economy. “We risk paying a long-term price if the decline continues.”

So, should the A+D world reconsider its relationship with manufacturers? After all, government deregulation of the commercial sector in particular – plus the constantly changing landscape of taxation and tariff control – doesn’t bode well for too heavy a reliance on offshore manufacturing in the long term (even if it does satisfy short-term commercial imperatives). While local expertise continues to decline, we are actively complicit in creating an arena that is not sustainable for our local industrial designers, their local and international suppliers and the push for seeing our local design language make a loud impact on the international level.

Under such conditions, never has ecologically and socially sustainable approaches to our industrial relationships been more pressing. And thankfully, some industrial designers are proving that understanding the future direction of our collective practice and the potentially errant market forces at play is key to our overall success – as a nation, as an industry, and as a design community.

Rethinking The Designer-Manufacturer Relationship

Keith Melbourne is one such forward-thinker. Following the launch of his Pino collection for Zenith, Melbourne sat down with me to discuss his unique relationship with manufacturers, underscoring his discussion with the insight that closer collaborative approaches are key to the success of industrial design as a discipline, and design as both collective practice and community.

From designing all unique manufacturing componentry for the range, not to mention furniture kitted with ergonomic solutions for the manufacturers needing to construct these difficult product typologies – it becomes clear that it is near-impossible to delineate where Pino’s design story ends and its manufacture story begins. At all points, the difficulties, necessities and support systems for the range’s manufacture appear to inform its design resolution from the beginning. What emerges is not simply a product to decorate our mantle as a well-designed nation but, rather, the vital support system needed to ensure that the mantle will no longer be top-heavy.

Pino by Keith Melbourne
Pino by Keith Melbourne

David Congram, Indesign:      You’ve commented elsewhere that Pino is unique for you because it was very much a balancing act between sustaining its characteristic wire form and still providing the level of comfort and performance we wouldn’t normally expect from hard furnishings.

Keith Melbourne:      Yes, and ‘balancing act’ is the perfect term for it. [laughs] Well, sometimes, but it really was more of a pleasurable experience as a whole. And probably the number one thing which I found especially arduous this time with Pino was the manufacture. It was a wonderful challenge but I seriously underestimated the scope of the manufacturing side. We developed twelve manufacture components, and then spent two years refining the manufacturing process as a whole.

DC:      Well, since the manufacture for Pino was largely uncharted territory for you in terms of the form of the range, was it key to collaborate with specialist manufacturers?

KM      Oh absolutely! It was a very mutually-rewarding experience for both myself and the manufacturing team because it was such a prolonged collaborative process. Manufacturing is something that is very hidden, so I enjoy coming out and championing that part of the design process. Otherwise, how would people know?

Pino Stool Bodies by Keith Melbourne
Pino Stool Bodies by Keith Melbourne

DC       And people are intensely interested in that part of the design process, too, I feel.

KM      Yes, extremely so. It’s always met with a very high level of fascination. It has a tendency to ground the product, and really sweep away the unecessary ‘mystique’ that surrounds design as a discipline.

DC       And when you were refining each element during that questioning, how many prototypes were required to truly test its functionality?

KM      Interestingly, not many at all. I normally make a lot of models when I’m designing furniture, but it’s almost impossible to make a model of anything in the Pino range. When you take it down to one fifth of the scale, the wires don’t really translate. The accuracy required during the prototyping stage to inform the end-result just couldn’t be achieved for Pino because of its peculiar materiality. So largely it was done in CAD with some mock-ups in MDF for an ergonomic point of view.

DC       That’s quite interesting because I imagine it would be rather uncommon –

KM      Well yes – prototyping is an important part of any design process, but the material that constitutes the bulk of each piece wasn’t very welcoming of traditional prototyping, and certainly wasn’t particularly suited to dropping down the scale. I developed a new type of prototyping for this range using laser cut MDF to make a simulation of the chair, for example, so that you could sit inside to test the distribution of load and weight. Although it differs incredibly from the end result (not only in material) this way I was able to test and refine the ergonomics of each piece. But largely, I think we only did one prototype overall.

DC       One?!

KM      Yeah! But, thousands of megabytes of CAD data as well. It was an interesting challenge because I normally do like to make many models and work directly with the material and form. Unfortunately, or actually quite fortunately in a way, the material in this instance worked against the way I normally design.

DC       You’ve told me quite a bit about the manufacturing side of developing this range, and I’m curious to know your opinion of the manufacturer-designer relationship.

KM      Oh it’s extremely important! It’s critical as far as I’m concerned. I don’t work just by completing the design process and then passing the spec sheets through to the manufacturers. I prefer to work more collaborating alongside the manufacturers and I find very often that this also colours the design process to a great extent too, while also influencing the success of the design from a performance, quality or even aesthetic angle.

DC       Do you think that is standard or rare for the design community currently working throughout Australia, in particular?

KM      All designers I know have slightly different relationships with their manufacturers. Some, like me, are quite involved, and others can be very removed, some removed entirely as we often see with those who use offshore solutions. But I think that the line in the sand – where the manufacturer finishes and the designer starts – for me at least is very blurred. Perhaps that’s more informed by my engineering background than I know. But I love the relationship with the manufacturer. I spend a lot of time physically in the factory refining the manufacturing process. And the manufacturers love it too.

Pino Rolling off Production Line by Keith Melbourne
Pino Rolling off Production Line by Keith Melbourne

DC       I imagine that the stronger the relationship between the manufacturer and the designer leads to a better-resolved product at the tail-end of the whole process.

KM      Yes I’d have to agree. The whole process of the tooling side of things is about spending time refining those elements that can improve quality but also save time and a lot of funds too.

The design process for me can sometimes be quite lonely. I do a lot of the legwork alone and then the collaboration starts with the manufacturer where the sparks start to fly. I have a lot of respect with the manufacturers I work with, and the transference of skills and expertise is by far one of the most rewarding parts of this relationship.

By David Congram


Pino by Keith Melbourne

5 Minutes With… Keith Melbourne!

In the lead up to his launch of Pino for Zenith, we sat down with Keith Melbourne to get a behind the scenes glance of the designer
at work.

It has been said before, and yet I will say it again.
Keith Melbourne has carved out a unique place for himself in
the world of contemporary design. Exploring the sometimes twin, sometimes twain, virtues of rational engineering and creative design, his work bears an unmistakable signature: highly resolved end-results that appear equally whimsical and graphic, but soon start to reveal a litany of calmly determined design choices to bestow the invisible comforts of everyday life.

Having recently launched his latest collection – Pino – for Zenith,
it is clear that the union of engineering, manufacture, R+D and creative design continues to be a strong driving force for Melbourne. Across the entire range, comprising wire-work
dining and lounge chairs, stools, and accompanying tables, Pino carries a sometimes surprising back history that Melbourne was kind enough to share:

Pino Stool by Keith Melbourne

David Congram:       It has been said before that your engineering background heavily influences your work. I was wondering, however, whether your background in aerospace and automotive engineering
also influences it more directly?

Keith Melbourne:       That’s a good question. I don’t think that it
is directly influenced by aerospace and automotive engineering
as much as it is by manufacturing. I work with manufacturers to refine the design of the product and pre-empt moments where
we can refine the product (as an end result) and the process of its manufacture. The aesthetic … well, maybe I’m not the best person
to judge!

DC       [laughs]. No no, really?

KM       [laughs] Ah, well no not really. But I do think that in terms
of aesthetic, Pino has so many lines and in that way it is almost
like drawing. The different lineweights express the product in a different way. So we start with much finer seating wires that hang
in a frame, and these lineweights add more definition to the product.
So in terms of its aesthetic influences, I’d have to say it’s the precision I choose to work with … You can take the boy out of engineering, I guess!

Pino Dining Chair by Keith Melbourne

DC       And is that quite common for your work process? Designing functionally first, and then aesthetically second? Or are they constantly intertwined for you?

KM       Definitely intertwined. But having said that, I’m a strong believer in the functionality of products. So much time on this product was spent trying to perfect its comfort. I was adamant that although it is essentially a wire chair, it should be as comfortable as possible for its category type. So I spent a lot of time reworking the distribution of load over the wire seat, minimising or eliminating pressure points that lead to discomfort. I always start with thinking about the functionality and comfort of each piece, and then rework elements of its aesthetic dimension – so they are very intertwined.

DC       So when you began with the functionality and comfort of Pino, what was its initial seed?

KM       Well the very first part of the design journey for Pino is this softened hexagonal hoop that forms the seat and back of the chair. That’s the distinctive feature of the chair – it screams out at you from the other side of the street. The wires that hang from the hoop almost forge a sling shape – very soft, and very surprising given the hardness of the material.

Right from day one, the key features of the product were still
there, and they really did determine the direction and the
editing throughout.

Pino Lounge Chair by Keith Melbourne

DC       When I sat down with the other editors in the office, we were refreshing our memories of your recent work for brands like Stylecraft and Zenith, and the one thing that really jumped out at us was the strong graphic nature of your portfolio –

KM       That’s interesting because if I had to choose only one word to describe my work it would have to be ‘line’. How line in the 2D and the 3D form then translates into a sculptural presence. I obsess over it, really. Complex lines and vital lines are a central theme in my work. So when you recognised the graphic nature of what I do, you’re right on the money!

DC       [laughs] So you feel that Pino is very harmonious with your previous collections?

KM       I do, yes. Well … actually, that’s a difficult question.

DC       Well, do you feel then that Pino offers something new and slightly divergent from your back history of work?

KM       In a way, yes. For the dining chair in particular, I hadn’t tackled that type of product before – let alone in wire! I’ve done a lot of upholstered furniture and soft seating and stools, but for me I would nominate Pino as ‘hard’. One of the main challenges (which, in a way was more pleasurable than frustrating) was the fact that when you work in wire, everything is on display.

The ergonomics, the aesthetics, you can’t hide anything! By sculpting the piece to achieve comfort, you’re radically changing the sculptural form of it at the same time.

DC       Well on that, Pino has this sense – at least to me – of wearing its heart on its sleeve (if such a thing could be said of a wire chair…) –

KM       [laughs]

Keith Melbourne showcasing Pino

DC       And I have a feeling that this comes from its very flexible nature. Not only is it appropriate both indoors and out, but I can see it being equally at home in residential, commercial and even hospitality environments. It’s equally casual as it is formal. Was this versatility something very much at the centre of your design intent?

KM       Yes – and I viewed it particularly while I was developing
the chair, as ‘a chair’ not ‘an outdoor chair’, for instance. I wanted
to develop it to a level of comfort and aesthetic refinement that would allow it to sit in a home. I think that if people find it appealing enough to want it in their home then that’s top of the list. That’s the hardest nut to crack. And it’s been overwhelming because the manufacturers and the sales people and the general public who
have been introduced to it have already said to me that they’d
love it in their homes – and that’s extremely rewarding for me.

DC       So what were some of the questions you constantly asked yourself to achieve this degree of versatility?

KM       Comfort was one that kept coming up. And also, the pieces need to be universal – from a scale point of view, it needed to be quite universal in that way. But then also making sure that I was able to refine each piece for its specific function: dining chairs, lounge chairs and stools all require different negotiations of scale, weight and features, so it was definitely necessary for me to really question the relationship between form and function, without favouring one over the other.

DC       How did the range itself begin to take shape? Did you have quite a resolved idea of the relationships between each piece – where they diverged and coalesced – or did it emerge quite organically?

KM       Well when I began designing the tables to accompany the dining chair in particular, the soft hexagonal form kind of transferred across as a motif. I really did try to hero the chairs in particular,
so the tables are much quieter in form to allow the chair to be the star. But for the collection as a whole, it really did start with the dining chair. About a year in total was spent refining that particular piece, and then the rest of the collection iterated from that quite quickly in comparison.

DC       So the dining chair was … true north, I guess?

KM       Absolutely! It was very important for me to get the chair to a stage where it was harmonious, dynamic and highly resolved so that the rest of the pieces in the range had the best aesthetic and functional blueprint to work from.

Keith Melbourne with designer Gavin Harris

DC       And what do you think is going to capture the imagination of the market for Pino?

KM       Aesthetically, the soft hexagon is the key feature of the product. The curvature is very key, but I do believe that the fanning gesture of the wirework – particularly in the sling leading up the back of the seat – will be one of the more popular aesthetic touches. It gives the piece a sense of spaciousness and expansion.

DC       Yes, it’s quite an elegant gesture –

KM       And I think that will lead to it being equally as suited to the residential market. But in terms of what the market will love best, I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

By David Congram


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.

Tomorrow’s design… today!

At ZENITH, trend forecasting has been pushed to new frontiers.
Responding to the connected workplace of the future, ZENITH
creates products to meet emerging needs. Where, commonly,
design is reactive (where products developed are matched to a
client’s identified needs), ZENITH Design works at the forefront of
embryonic need and advanced technology. The team’s approach to
product innovation springs from extensive anticipatory research.
Drawing information from a range of research initiatives squarely
positions design thinking within the arena of empirical reasoning,
distilling the practice of design down to one key question: if this is
happening now, then what will happen next?

Bob Stewart, who sits at the helm of ZENITH Design, states:
“We’re very focused on what the end-user needs and what their
workplaces require. We have a forward-facing work methodology
in our design approach.” Little wonder, then, that the latest offering
from ZENITH Design, KISSEN, is already responding to the functional
requirements of a new breed of commercial environments. As a
collection of tables and workstations carrying a strong timber
aesthetic and distinct leg profile, the range takes its name from
the German word for ‘cushion’.


With an interchangeable kit of componentry and custom material
choices, KISSEN’s supreme economy of space streamlines the products’ form and accessory options to provide ease of team
expression and identity. Responding to the need for tomorrow’s
diverse work models, KISSEN seeks to foster connection in either
social or collaborative settings.

While KISSEN responds to the primacy of collaboration in the
commercial environment, EDO by Schamburg & Alvisse responds
to the desire for new degrees of flexibility. Inspired by Tokyo’s dori
(streets) and yokocho (laneways), the EDO Streetscape is an elegy to
the city’s vibrant melting pot of technology and tradition. Whether
offering flexible modularity for interactive team meetings, formal
catch-ups or more private settings for focus and retreat, in the
words of EDO’s designers, the range offers the design community
“the tools to create utsukushi basho (beautiful places) for people
to work, learn and refresh”.

EDO by Schamburg + Alvisse
EDO by Schamburg + Alvisse

Comprising a suite of single and supplementary modular
lounges, ottomans, collaborative modules and additional tablet
arms, EDO’s custom options carry across timber and powdercoat
legs, high or low backrests, removable armrests and upholstery.
KISSEN and EDO are available throughout Asia Pacific thanks
to the team at ZENITH. With showrooms throughout the region,
contact your nearest ZENITH team to view these latest collections
designed for tomorrow’s commercial sector.


EDO by Schamburg+Alvisse


Mobius Has Grown Taller

With a choice of three back panel heights, Mobius High Back Modular Lounges create intimate meeting places and streamlined open-plan seating that elegantly twist & turn, seemingly without a start or an end.


The 19th Century “Möbius Strip” theory inspired a unique double-sided S-back seat that changes the seated position to face both ways. From this first piece, a full collection of seating modules evolved, that elegantly twist & turn, seemingly without a start or an end.


Mobius includes curved and straight seating modules that connect to form almost any configuration you can imagine.



Add your choice of three back panel heights to create intimate meeting places and streamlined open-plan seating offering endless layout possibilities.


Mobius has been specified for corporate breakout areas, building foyers, airport waiting, university lounges, school libraries, and shopping centres.



View specification brochure.