Create Your Story – Coalesse Color, Pattern and Materials

As part of its ongoing development of custom capabilities, Coalesse has identified six primary categories of design that invite designers to participate and enable more creative expression with its products.

In both the design process and the environments it creates, Coalesse continually explores and evolves its own in-depth palette of color, pattern and materials. As the most versatile and evocative elements that can be expressed in a product or space, these three categories at Coalesse are instrumental in defining a specific aesthetic framework that is richly inspired by the restorative power of nature.

Unlocking the power of these categories – and the­ir resulting applications – for customers has led to a range of new custom capabilities programs, known as Coalesse Color, Coalesse Pattern, and for the addition of new solid and natural materials, and Coalesse Material Capabilities. Some of these choices can be nearly infinite; others are more finite. For example, there are myriad colors that can be imagined and applied to the surface finish of select products. Other elements, like a set of patterns, or special, natural hardwoods and stones are curated to present something more defined—an edited selection from an established or specialized aesthetic.

By enriching and extending the range of these three integral categories, many more creative and natural design options can now bring new life to work.

SENSORY RICHNESS – It’s Elemental   

Pattern and color are far more than ornamental or superficial features. They are core tools that bring sensory richness to the workplace through choices of furniture and applications that will make each setting more personal, vital, and distinct. A third tool, material, completes these elemental facets of a design. These are intuitive aspects of a product that we most immediately touch, absorb, and associate with, that bring an awareness of the outside world to our senses. They can entirely and most easily change the more fixed characteristics of a structural form, a space or a piece of furniture.

Together, pattern, color and materials have unique power to bring natural warmth and soul to the workplace, by strengthening key visual and tactile signals that are deeply life-affirming. These qualities are at the heart of the Coalesse design framework and are valuable tools in empowering people’s wellbeing and social, emotional and cognitive health at work.

“We’ve been exploring issues of wellbeing for quite some time, in terms of how our design and custom capabilities can bring a transformative, warm and inviting sensibility into work — to radically enrich what have been the dull, homogenous and impersonal offices of the past, and fundamentally improve how well we work in the process.”

- John Hamilton, Director of Global Design, Coalesse

COALESSE AESTHETIC — A Natural Progression

As Coalesse examined its capabilities, the Coalesse Design Group began to form a guiding aesthetic framework for the types of patterns, colors and materials that would have meaningful brand resonance across the portfolio. It was equally important to consider how this framework would be relevant and inspiring to the ways that customers want to apply pattern, color and materials to their own projects. These elements and the creative stories they could tell would not only work with Coalesse furniture and with other Steelcase brands and products, but also lend a critical voice to the larger conversation about wellbeing and design that has been driving the workplace towards a more human-centered set of experiences.

The approach centered on looking outside, to nature. The principle of biophilia states that human beings are innately drawn to nature for their wellbeing. John Hamilton and his design team took up that insight as a starting point for developing color palettes and pattern form language that would convey a calming sense of the natural world. In so doing, the products and frameworks they created aim to promote the vitality and sensory refreshment that are crucial to people’s positive connection to their workplaces.

 “We believe we can still make highly effective work spaces that do make people feel better. And one of the best ways to do this is to appeal to our innate sense of nature and natural forms. Now we’ve researched and created exploratory patterns and natural color ranges that are part of our vernacular and especially our company heritage, being founded in California — that’s such a special and beautiful set of environments to pull from.

The thing we were intrigued by most, though, was how to create more symbolic, abstracted or subtle cues from nature, rather than narrowly identifiable ones. We know that the brain is wired to automatically recognize those ancient patterns and fill them in. So we wanted to tap into that variety, interest and stimulation from nature that we benefit from as human beings — without being limited by a literal translation.”

- John Hamilton

The resulting pattern and color explorations, specifically, are thus not direct portrayals of landscape, flora or fauna. These are abstractions that are created through a meticulous design process of iteration and reduction.

Hamilton and his team of inquisitive designers began with beautiful reference images of water, wood, sand, a flock of birds or dappled light, for example. Then they manipulated them over and over again to reach simplified, pure, repeatable motifs that still feel very much as if they have the spirit of nature in them. This became the groundwork of the Coalesse Pattern program.

The programs developed around these custom capabilities make it easier than ever to have the creative freedom to personalize furnishings in highly visible and expressive ways. And to make the process just as easy as the selection, all the programs are supported with end-to-end help from the expert Coalesse Concierge team.


COALESSE PATTERN PROGRAM – Environment, Atmosphere, Palette

To provide designers and customers with a starting point for how to think about applying pattern to Coalesse products, the Coalesse Design Group has developed a program of pre-set motifs that may be further broadened through custom capabilities. A series of nine nature-inspired Coalesse patterns, expressed in the natural Coalesse color palette, create a toolbox that can be utilized – and further personalized – through a number of standard and customized surface material applications. Moreover, these patterns can be scaled up or down according to individual specifications, from micro to more macro sizing:

  • LessThanFive Chair – Coalesse patterns integrated into the Coalesse Customizer for appliqué printing on carbon fiber chair frames – all nine patterns available now
  • Glass tops – Coalesse patterns printed on select glass tabletops and visualized with the Coalesse Customizer  – three patterns available now
  • Textiles – a new Designtex + Coalesse Collection of woven and stitched techniques developed in collaboration between the Coalesse Design Group and the Designtex Studio – launching Fall 2018

An important component of the Coalesse Pattern program is the new textile collaboration with Steelcase brand Designtex. Many of the Coalesse patterns, scale expressions and subtle natural colorways have been applied to new textile fabrications from Designtex, such as quilting, jacquard weaves and embroidery. Together these techniques create a signature collection, not only of patternwork but also of special fabric choices, that align with softer, more residential design trends for the workplace.

“What’s great for designers is that these patterns, colors and fabrications have all been tested; we know that they work and add value that we want to highlight. For example, we know that larger and smaller scale patterns meet better at seams for upholstery, with the least visual disturbance for the eye. These practical upholstery needs have been anticipated and engineered into the design flexibility of this program.”

- John Hamilton

Coalesse Pattern enriches your design choices with a series of textural surface patterns.


Color is one of the most limitless, emotional and dynamic design tools that can be harnessed to make a creative statement. Color is a truly accessible form of personal expression — as seen, for example, with the Coalesse color palette framework expressed through the Coalesse Pattern program.

Recognizing this boundless potential to express personal affinity for color, Coalesse has also launched Coalesse Color, a remarkable custom capability program that allows designers to specify virtually any color on select products. This program is realized through a new Specials process that makes customization easy, with:

  • infinite color options
  • matte or gloss finishes
  • 24-hour quotes
  • 20 additional days for production
  • responsive guidance and support by the Coalesse Concierge Specials team, from quote to order entry and delivery

Coalesse Color lets everyone make their mark, anywhere on the color spectrum. 


Following in line with the development of its pattern and color capabilities, Coalesse is continuously exploring new materials and their applications in terms not only of performance but also their contribution to sensory wellbeing. Like color and pattern, materials enrich Coalesse products in essential ways. They can provide inherent color, distinct pattern and enhanced function and longevity.

This approach has led to an emphasis on more substantial, solid materials for table tops through the Coalesse Material Capabilities program. For example, solid, natural materials – including select hardwoods and stone – create enduring surfaces that can last and improve with age for generations. Solid, composite materials possess unique qualities that deliver a consistent appearance and high performance when required.

New solid surface materials, including hardwoods, stone and composites are now offered as “Specials” to designers for a more expansive and creative materials palette.

Coalesse invites you to participate and make your mark – with materials.

THE NEW CUSTOMIZATION — Natural Inspiration, Personal Selection

Coalesse offers the personal assistance to take on all of the questions and answers of customization, while anticipating what problems to solve, so that the customer doesn’t have to. We view this role as turning our product into yours, with support that’s dedicated to delivering convenience. It’s our part of participation, intended to save you time, reduce your stress and let you focus on what you do best: design.

We invite you to participate to make it your own.

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