We had our first visit to Orangebox's showroom and it was lovely. We were welcomed into this beautifully light and open space, offered drinks and told to make ourselves at home. The workshop showcases various shapes and sizes of pods, tables, workstations and seating.
I really liked the fabric flowers on display and asked about them. It turns out these flowers are the first tasks that new machinists need to learn to make in order to show they have learned the skills to make the furniture.
I wanted to get an idea of how the company works with their clients, what process they go through typically when designing and building a space as well as the cost. I had the chance to ask them and have chat about the business. I was shocked to to find out that a small cubed pod costs £7000! I'm glad I god to speak with them and find out more about each of their roles and what they do within the company. It was really nice to hear how Orangebox partner with other companies and work with them to benefit them both. One of the suppliers of their wood was small when they first worked with Orangebox and as a result of their relationship with the company, had to expand.
When asking about the pods I learned that they are not sound proof - the walls would have to be really thick to make this possible, but they do change the acoustics and minimise the sound that is overheard. I thought this was important to note.
The fabrics used on the seating and furniture are bought in from other companies, Orangebox don't design them. They do design the chairs (framework), tables, pods and other furniture. The pods are designed in the Huddersfield office, the chairs are done in the office down South.
Orangebox are looking at ways of making more of the outside of the pods, not just the inside. In the presentation they showed us a reference image that had shelving and a desk attached to the outside. This is a great idea and could be implemented in so many way.
Another new planned focus for Orangebox is the design of pods that can go outside. They have interest from America and as they have the weather for, many are enquiring about using pods outdoors, so this is another thing we could consider encorporating into our design.
4 Levels of Open Plan (slide from presentation):
Shows how the use of phychological cues can be employed to determine how people interact with or approach a space without the need for signs and or rules. For example
I got to look at and feel some of the fabric samples. They are a lot thicker than I would have expected and feel courser than what I am used to. If I didn't know, I would have assumed the materials were for flooring. However when you feel them once they have been upholstered they don't feel out of place or uncomfortable.
I learned that the materials have 10 year warrantee and that companies usually refresh or change their office spaces every 5-7 years.
Another interesting bit of information I learned was that anything that is not fitted is not classed as a fixture and so company can claim back VAT on these items. So it will be a good idea to try and keep things mobile and moveable where possible and where appropriate.
All in all the visit was quite informative and made me feel positive about the prospect of working with the company and coming up with ideas for our design proposal. It was definitely beneficial to see the office spaces and their furniture in person. To feel, move and even work on it the various working setups was the best way to see what we were all drawn to, how we people interacted with it and to get a sense of the scale too.