Text and images by Angelo G. Garcia
Today’s office design trend is all about open space—large room, long tables, no partitions—everybody can see everybody. The idea behind this concept is to encourage more collaboration, thus increasing productivity.
Recently, however, several reports have emerged that the open space workplace does not work, some even calling it “stupid.” All these reports point out the greatest flaw of this design, the lack of privacy. Basically, employees endure too much noise and distraction when working in an open space. Private phone conversations are also apparently non-existent.
The open concept is still a great idea, though. Collaboration is what drives modern companies today. The idea just need a bit of tweaking, like adding closed spaces for privacy.
This is exactly what French workplace solutions company Clestra Hauserman had in mind when designing Irys, a flexible office pod/box for an open space office concept.
“It’s a workplace solution, for any type of open space. It’s a bridge between the traditional office where you have all the cubicles and the fully open type of space,” explains Clestra Hauserman South Asia managing director Gilles Marino. “But the problem with fully open type of space is a question of privacy. In an open space we’re bringing the workplace solution, Irys, which can be installed in two days. It’s prefabricated in the factory, it’s all modular. It’s very flexible, you can organize your workplace with one area or a bigger place like a meeting room. You can configure the space, according to your needs.”
Irys won the Red Dot Awards 2016 for product design, besting around 5,000 products from 57 countries. The French company, with over 100 years experience in furniture design and modular office solutions, worked closely with HOK Product Design to create the product. Locally, it has partnered with Ultra Modular Concepts, Inc. (UMCI) to help bring in Irys to the country.
“Recently, research suggests that there’s now a need for more ‘I’ spaces, meaning more private spaces. Because, yes, collaborative work is important but you can’t focus on your work anymore in spaces too open. Irys is a complement to the open space because we see the trend moving toward that,” says UMCI president and chief operating officer Milen Batungbacal.
Clestra Hauserman got the idea of the design from the eye’s iris, thus the name. Like the iris, the office box is flexible. It can be configured in so many ways.
“As the motto of the product says, it expands and contracts like the iris of the eye. That’s the main idea of the product,” Gilles say.
Irys pod system is made up of several components, including the skeleton of the product called the “Bridge.” It is the main structure of the product, which can be made of laminate or wood or other materials, depending on the needs of the client. The inverted u-shaped bridge is complemented by glass walls on each open side, with an option of a sliding or classic door. It can be configured with different types of accessories like shelves, magnetic boards, white boards, etc.
The whole pod is already equipped with lighting, power outlets, ventilation, and has a good acoustic rating. All of its components are prefabricated at factories in France, China, and South Korea. The smallest unit can be installed in an office space in just half a day, which is one of its core strengths. This means that companies can build office spaces without the burden of construction.
“You just need to set the perimeters of where it goes. It simplifies the entire process of approval, design, installation, and construction,” Gilles explains. “It’s also free-standing so we don’t need anything on the floor. It’s not attached to the structure of the building so if you want to move it, you can put it somewhere else. There’s ventilation, which circulates the surrounding air, and lighting included so when you move it, you move everything.”
Irys doesn’t come cheap, although they didn’t disclose the price. All materials come from various factories, including factories in France.
“It’s not cheap. But I want to put it this way. If you want to put an office in the middle of a space with an existing setup, you have to close the whole space and do construction. That means, downtime of business. You’re losing revenue while you’re constructing it. If we think about it along that premise, then it makes so much sense. It’s a complete system and we can install it in a day,” Milen says.
Also since everything is prefabricated, it’s sustainable, too. This means no construction and less waste. It can also save the company in the long run because Irys can be moved and relocated.
“If a client wants to move from one place to another, we just dismantle and reinstall for one day or two in the next project location. In terms of cost-saving for project relocation, rebuilding an office somewhere else, there’s a lot of saving,” Gilles says.
UMCI; 632 893 6877; www.ultramodular.com.ph