Designers and business owners alike are taking note of the upsurge in communal spaces and “third places” in the contemporary office. Whether you call them lounges, cafés, in-between spaces or living rooms, these are comfortable, versatile destinations that employees use for problem-solving and collaboration.
If you’re designing a new lounge—for your office or a client’s—here’s a simple guide to choosing the right lounge furniture.
1. How much space do you have?
We’ll start with the obvious: What size is your space? The amount of square footage available will determine the number and dimensions of the pieces you specify—and the number of distinct settings you can plan within the space.
A large lounge system configured with numerous components and accessories can overwhelm a smaller space, so be sure to match the scale of the furniture to the size of the space. Consider traffic flow, too. You want the space to provide easy access to passersby without blocking the natural flow.
2. How many people do you need to accommodate?
Is your space intended to serve a single team, a department, a floor or an entire company? How many people does that represent? You obviously don’t need to accommodate everyone at once, because users of the space will come and go throughout the workday. But as a rule, the more potential users there are, the more work settings a single lounge should incorporate.
Consider including a booth-style setting for smaller groups and a sizable sofa system for larger groups. If some of the pieces are moveable, even better—then people can reconfigure the elements to meet their needs.
3. What work modes do you need to support?
At Coalesse, we’ve identified three work modes that help us design for all the activities people engage in every day: creative collaboration, social connection, and focus and rejuvenation.
So what’s the goal of your lounge? Are you trying to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas between departments and teams? Then your common area should facilitate conversation and collaboration. If part of your strategy is to give individuals a place to retreat and relax with their headphones on, then you’ll want to include enclave-like settings, too.
4. What features do you need?
Survey your users to discover what they’d like in a new lounge space. Do they want privacy in the form of visual barriers like the screens of the Bix Lounge System and the Lagunitas Lounge System? Do they need integrated power options?
Consider too what features will work best in the space. If curves fit the bill, consider the contours of the Circa Lounge System. If you want something you can adapt from year to year, the new Sistema Lounge System might be the right solution.
Don’t be afraid to be eclectic in your design to achieve the look and functionality you want.
5. Do you need contract furniture or residential?
Just because you’re going for a more residential feel doesn’t mean you should select consumer-grade furniture. There are many reasons why choosing contract lounge furniture makes good, practical sense for the office.
The keyword is traffic. Furniture in an office lounge or café has to stand up to a much higher level of wear and tear than furniture in a residential living room. More people are going to use it … for more hours a day … and with less concern about how they treat it. Businesses that care about a return on investment are better off with sustainable furniture that meets the contract furniture industry’s rigorous performance and safety standards.
After working through these five questions, you should have a good idea of the types of lounge systems that make sense for your space. For more inspiration, take a look at our Planning Ideas or Inspiration Gallery.