Our brief with the Frida was to design a focus pod that departs from the corporate look-and-feel of existing products and provides a level of comfort inspired by residential furniture.
We aimed for a totally different aesthetic that will appeal to architects and designers who want to specify pods in hospitality spaces, such as airport lounges and hotel lobbies. Influenced by the work from home cultures, specifiers are trying to make offices comfortable and homely, so we wanted to deliver a focus pod that gives the feel of working from home but with the workplace benefits of social contact and collaboration.
Floating on air
From our earliest sketches, we developed a design that would convey a sense of comfort and tranquillity. We prototyped a sling-like structure with a curved seat base suspended from each side of the straight-sided pod which is reminiscent of a hammock. The seat appears to float on air – a soft and comfortable notion in itself.
The upholstery reinforces this emphasis on comfort. The seat and back are nice and foamy, yet firm and ergonomic enough for all-day use thanks to the application of CMPF cut foam technology.
We sculpted the seat cushions so that they thin to the edges, for a lighter, stretched out look, with a pinch stitch detail that brings nuance and unevenness. Not only is this suggestive of home-like cosiness, but it separates Frida from the clean and clinical look of existing focus pods on the market.
Our prototypes were tested by people with a variety of sizes and body weights, and we continually iterated on the proportions to arrive at the optimum sitting experience.
Privacy and security
Whether it’s in an open plan workspace or an airport lounge, a focus pod needs to provide visual and acoustic privacy, without becoming claustrophobic. During prototyping, we lowered the sides at the fore of the booth so that it doesn’t feel too cut off from the wider environment. Padded in foam and fabric, the 40mm thick sides help provide acoustic privacy without appearing heavy or overbearing.
Beneath the seat is an ideal space for the sitter to stow their laptop bag, briefcase or luggage, behind their feet. Situated in a busy travel hub or shared workspace, Frida will give its occupant an added sense of security as passers-by won’t be able to grab their bag. It adds to the feeling that you can make the space your own.
Supporting either a laptop table or simply a cup of coffee, the Lina table we have designed to accompany Frida adds to the pod’s flexibility and functionality.
Simple and sustainable
Whenever we embark on a new project, we do so with a focus on sustainability. Often, the answer is to simplify the product, reducing the resources used, the range of components required and the complexity of the manufacturing process. Frida achieves all three objectives.
As comfortable as it looks, it is a slimline product using just three main materials – plywood, PE foam and fabric. The manufacturing process involves cutting and the pressing plywood, upholstering, stitching and assembly. The latter is mechanical, with no adhesives.
As such, our supply chains and manufacturing process are kept simple for a lower carbon footprint, and Frida is easy to disassemble either for reupholstery – to lengthen its working life – or for separation to reuse or recycle its materials.
Defining an open space
More than just a focus pod, we envisage that Frida will bring comfort, cosiness, personality and a human touch, making open spaces friendly and approachable in large commercial premises, atriums, hotel lobbies and travel hubs. Specified in subtle, organic colours and with textured fabrics it will bring a level of softness never seen before in the focus pod category.
It’s straight, vertical sides mean it can be grouped in sets of four, dotted throughout a wide area. Equally, it can be configured in a bank, creating a separating feature in the layout. Facing opposite ways to create an S-shape adds privacy, as well as the possibility to create a wind path of tranquil nooks through an open plan area.
We picture Frida pods positioned in front of panoramic windows overlooking airport runways or to take advantage of a cityscape vista from an office building. The thought of working there all day, using a laptop, making calls or just sitting, having a cup of coffee and watching planes take off from a private space is very comforting and appealing.
Boss Design, May 2023
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