Brown lounge sofa with small individual work table for laptop, grey storage cabinet and brown rug.

Curiosity and Knowledge: The Spark of Craft

In connection with the release of our second Point of View essay “Create — The Culture of Modern Craft,” we’re devoting a series of blog posts to a new view of craft.

This week we look at two examples of lounge furniture systems that illustrate the role of curiosity and knowledge in the product design and development process.

At Coalesse, we think of curiosity and knowledge as the spark that ignites craft. This spark is the second of four enduring traits we’ll examine here on the blog as we explore the concept of modern craft.


Curiosity springs from a growth mindset—the understanding that talents and intelligence are things we can develop, both as individuals and as organizations. Curiosity is what makes us ask questions: how, what, where, why? Curiosity prompts us to seek better answers, better ways to meet needs, better ways to create.

Curiosity leads to research, exploration, collaboration and experimentation, and this pursuit of knowledge makes products more thoughtful, more useful.

In the context of the craft of furniture-making, curiosity and knowledge together spark innovation. This has always been true, regardless of the era. Regardless of the users’ needs or the tools or the manufacturing process.

A healthy curiosity about how to make things better always involves a deep respect for past and current versions of the same product types. As Lew Epstein, our general manager, said, “We hold onto tried-and-true skills while also finding new ways to do extraordinary things that we once wouldn’t have thought possible.”

A case in point is the evolution we brought about from the groundbreaking Bix Lounge System to the Lagunitas Lounge System.

Bix Lounge System

Grey lounge chairs with black back dividers set up in cafe style seating with round black tables and a laptop.

The Bix Lounge System, introduced in 2001, pioneered the concept of booth conferencing in the workplace. With optional back screens that help define a space, Bix is a furniture/architecture combination. It’s a versatile modular system that creates lounge-style spaces and room-within-a-room worksettings in an open plan office.

Bix arose from research into workers’ increasing mobility and changing work styles. It was a concept on the cusp of a trend, and the Bix Collection has since become a fixture in café, reception and lounge areas.

Yet, as mobile technology advanced and workplace collaboration flourished, users realized that Bix was often better at supporting social and relaxed postures than engaged, upright postures. Workers leaning forward to use a laptop found a tricky gap between their lower back and the seat back.

The opportunity to improve on the Bix system got Coalesse designers thinking and probing. How could we craft a better booth-style lounge system that supports both social and heads-down work activities? And how can we better support the way people use technology?

Our curiosity ultimately led to a next-generation lounge system, launched in 2014.

Lagunitas Lounge System

Cafe style booth seating with back dividers, large collaboration tables and windows looking out over a city.

The Lagunitas Lounge System builds on the legacy of Bix. Following where our curiosity led, we began to iterate on the Bix system in search of new solutions. This quest for knowledge inspired a four-year design and development effort rooted in extensive research and experimentation.

The design team’s biggest breakthrough was an idea that became the signature of the Lagunitas system—the articulating back cushion (see video). Our proprietary handle design allows users to easily toggle the back cushions between vertical and horizontal positions, and a special, patented mechanism makes the movement possible.

This feature ensures consistent lower-back support as workers move between relaxed, lounge postures and upright, table-based postures.

Curiosity and knowledge also sparked innovations in privacy control and under-seat power access. Privacy options include high and low panels in knit or fabric, along with big and small booth configurations that are wide open, semi open or largely enclosed.

Both the Lagunitas and Bix systems allow clients to create a third place anywhere in the office — and both concepts sprang from a curiosity that drove the pursuit of knowledge about contemporary needs and work styles.

The result is carefully crafted modern furniture that lets work take shape in all different forms.

Watch this video to learn more about the concepts and processes that gave birth to the Lagunitas Collection.

Published On: April 2, 2018
Filed under: Design Inspiration

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