With a better understanding of user-controlled places and when they make sense for companies, we came to recognize that there were no furnishings designed to make them possible. Everything was either too heavy and rigid or too lightweight and jury-rigged. With Berlin-based Studio 7.5, we set out to create the first furniture designed just for this new way of working. The result is Metaform Portfolio.
Delivering on the promise of user control are Metaform’s two modular, lightweight blocks and four lightweight table surfaces. Together, these enable the world’s most individually configurational and endlessly variable workplaces. The blocks weigh in at just 18 pounds, making them easy to move or reconfigure. The four ridges and furrows support table-, desk-, and counter-height surfaces and also provide unprecedented vertical display and access to tools and ideas. “There’s an oxymoron in today’s offices,” says Carola Zwick, of Studio 7.5. “If you can turn it into a PDF, you don’t need physical storage for it. If you can’t PDF it, it probably won’t fit in your filing cabinet. We designed Metaform as a flexible way to store and display all of these critical objects. It creates meaningful clutter—a texture that triggers memory and ultimately inspires.”
“Today, almost all professions ‘ended up’ in offices that are descended from the classic office for administrative work,” adds Studio 7.5’s Burkhard Schmitz, “as a result, the ‘production floors’ for knowledge workers all look roughly the same—especially with computers as universal tools. So movies, buildings, airplanes, shoes, and apps are being developed in similar settings, which deprives these professions of their specific flavor. By providing an environment that can gracefully stage artifacts, samples, books, and drawings, in a meaningful way, the physical richness of work can be regained.”
But individual control, and the physical richness that comes with it, doesn’t have to mean chaotic disarray—Metaform provides a calming, organizing boundary. And it doesn’t have to mean safety risks: each Metaform block is inherently structural and self-sufficient, and the system delivers flexible, smart, and safe power.
Once the infrastructure is in place, Metaform offers an open platform for iteration and invention. Studio 7.5 even encourages individuals to further customize their Metaform blocks by utilizing 3D printing to create their own unique accessories. As Schmitz notes, “Our goal is to enable people to assume roles similar to those of a craftsman in his shop, surrounded by what he needs to be most productive.”