Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
The open office has arrived at an inflection point. The promise of free collaboration and transparency made by open planning is wonderful. However, time and again we have seen the increased density and lack of privacy alienate the individual and create an increasing sense of discontentment with the workstation. C9 is a furniture system that addresses this problem.
To imagine a new workstation system, we studied enclosure, openness, and the way they influence personal well-being. To find a solution Watson went off the grid. C9 departs from the restrictions of traditional linear planning; freeing space, improving sightlines, and helping people to flow more organically.
This flexibility is accomplished by an innovated Power, Voice, and Data delivery Rail. This rail is completely modular allowing easy reconfiguration to keep up with change within a company. However, the true innovation comes from a patented articulated joint that connects each rail segment to the next. This joint allows a full 180 degrees of rotation, allowing a rail segment to flex from 90 degrees one direction to 90 degrees the other direction while maintain an unobstructed cable pathway. This flexibility allows designers and planners to create novel layout tailored to the specific needs of a given individual and team. Interior designers are no longer constrained by the prescriptive nature of panel systems and PVD delivery. They can bend space to the user, instead of the user to the space, and by doing so create a more human office.
Beyond just space division and PVD delivery, the rail also defines the user environment using rail mounted accessories. These accessories have been carefully curated to support the individual's needs for privacy, display, organization and collaboration. They feature shelves, planters, tables, lighting and privacy screens. Each accessory can be mounted anywhere along the rail segment. Multiple accessories can be attached to a single segment, or accessories can span segments. This allows for off modular planning and empowers the designer to create an office landscape that better balances each individual's needs.
The other key component to this system is the C9 desk. It is the most beautiful height adjustable desk ever made. The Desk perches on 4 impossibly slim height adjustable legs. Like a ballerina it rises and falls, glides from position to position on delicate point. The slim legs interact gracefully with the corner of the desk. They flow seamlessly into the steel skirt that frames the work surfaces. This skirt is subtly curved, allowing the underside of the desk to gently transition to the edges. Each curve is carefully considered and perfectly concentric. All together these details strike a delicate balance between softness and strength, between power and slim grace.
The C9 system is rounded out by two carefully curated storage options. The C9 Pendant Storage that mounts to the frame of the desk, and the C9 Cart & Garage that perfectly compliment any workstation. These elements will be discussed further in the lower section.
Too often in today's open office the individual and the small team are lost in a sea of sameness. We place people in identical workstation with no barriers or personal affordances, and by doing so take away part of their humanity. Each person is unique, with unique responsibilities and needs, thus their workstation should be unique. But how? It is impractical to design a bespoke solution for each person. Furthermore, there are conflicting needs we must address. Should we support privacy or openness? Focused individual work, or collaboration?
These were the questions that drove every design decision in C9. With our patented flexible rail, we found we could create new layouts that redirected sightlines and created a sense of privacy without resorting to physical barriers. With the rail accessories we found we could create a landscape that filters distractions, offering privacy where needed while maintaining openness. We employed open shelves to create spaces for the individual to display the things that define the individual. We incorporated collaboration tables in between user to allow them to seamlessly shift from individual work to collaboration just by changing their orientation. We introduced lamps and planter boxes to create space that feels more natural and organic. We introduced a series of work tools. These tools: coat hooks, pencil cups, paper trays, white boards, small planters and shelves. They all can be easily swapped out and rearranged by the user, providing the final touches to the workstation, and making it feel truly unique.
One subtle yet important detail that is easy to miss when looking at an image of this product is the lack of outlets on the C9 rail. This is no mistake, or intentional omission to make our marketing images look better. This was an essential design consideration. We wanted to create a system where power outlets are easily accessible yet encourage the best possible cable management. In order to accomplish this, the outlets are located inside the rail. The side modesty panels are spring loaded and mounted on tracks. This means the user simply pushes down the panel to access the outlets. The panels then automatically return to the closed position hiding unsightly outlets, plug heads and excess cabling inside the rail. This effect is subtle, yet this is what ensure that this system looks as refined and profession after 10 years of use as it does in a marketing image.
The C9 desk is the most beautiful height-adjustable desk ever made. More than good looks, the desk carries its storage, privacy, and cable management on its frame. Where the desk goes, so goes your space.
When it comes to height adjustable desks the C and T leg rule supreme. These desks take advantage of mass-produced lifting columns, and over the past decade they have become a commodity. There is nothing unique or beautiful about these desks. They are designed to go up and down and to be as inexpensive as possible. With C9 we set out to do something special. We wanted to create a height adjustable table that stands out. One that breaks away from the pack. A desk that has character, that is beautiful to behold and captivating to interact with. A desk that breaks the height adjustability mold.
The C9 desk has four legs, all of which are the slimmest lifting columns ever made. We approached a large lifting column manufacture to see if they would manufacture these legs for us. They refused. They said a height adjustable leg this slim was impossible. So, we decided to make it ourselves. After two years of development, dozens of custom plastic components, several die cast aluminum parts, and three custom rolled steel tubes we turned the dream of this table into reality. Each leg has its own spindle, guiding system and motor. They are all connected to a central control box that keeps each leg in perfect sync. Because this table has four lifting columns instead of the standard two, it has double the lifting capacity of a T leg desk, 700 pounds, despite having the slimmest legs on the market.
The Desk features a steal skirt that encircles the entire surface. This skirt ensures the rigidity of the table and allows us to use thin 3/4 in surface material. There is also a hook feature on the back side of this skirt. Every component of the desk, from the leg motors to the pendant storage and privacy screens attach to this feature. These connections are nondestructive and allow easy reconfiguration of accessories.
We developed a series of companion pieces to round out the desk environment. There is pendant storage that provides the perfect space for the tools the user interacts with the most. It travels with the desk, so it is always within arm's reach. We developed a screen that wraps around the corner of the desk. This creates a pocket of privacy that moves with the user. Under surface utility power is always included so that desktop devices can be easily powered. There are optional convenience outlets that put power right at the user's finger tips. Finally, there is a custom adjustment switch embedded in the work surface that is as satisfying to interact with as it is beautiful.
The C9 cart and garage represent a whole new category in personal office storage. Part locker, part mobile ped, and part space divider. Together these two components provide a storage solution perfectly tailored to the modern office worker.
The C9 Cart and garage contributes to the office environment in several keyways. Firstly, the pair provides both lockable concealed storage and display space. Inside the cart there are adjustable shelves that allow you to store anything from books and binders to office supplies and small personal belongings. Unobtrusive file bars accommodate paper filing and coat hooks allow half the unit to operate as a locker for jackets and bags. The top of the cart is a great touch down area for your small day to day essentials, while the top of the garage becomes the perfect display space for all the personal items that the user wants close at hand.
The next key contribution is mobility. While the garage is stationary the cart is on 4 free spinning casters. This allows the user to easily transport their belongings around the office. This is perfect for when moving desks or even just when going to a communal table for an hours' worth of work. Furthermore, in a hoteling system a bank of garages could be installed in a central location, allow the users to take their cart to a new desk each day.
Finally, the cart and garage can be used to great effect as space a divider. The garage provides a natural privacy screen between desks while the cart can be position anywhere in the user's work area. This freedom allows the user to place the cart exactly where they need privacy. This could mean between themselves and their neighbor to create a "fence" that divides space without limiting interaction. Or it could be used to block of the users back from an aisle or the rest of the office. Humans instinctively seek spaces where they can have their backs to a wall. This comes from the days when we had to worry about predators sneaking up on us. While that threat is no longer a problem in the modern office, the instinct remains. Thus, by blocking off the users back, the cart can help create that same sense of security and comfort we get from having a wall at our backs.
C9 is designed and manufactured at our facilities in the woods of Poulsbo, Washington just outside of Seattle. When arriving at our facility you are greeted by breathtaking view of the Olympic Mountains, and lush evergreen forests. The natural beauty we are surrounded by instills a great respect for the environment in every Watson employee. We take our role as stewards very seriously, and this responsibility is paramount to the furniture we produce.
The boards we use are NAF (No Added Formaldehyde) and come from 92% recycled locally sourced material. Our cold-rolled steel comes from recycled auto parts. All of our steel is 100% recyclable. Our GreenGuard certified laminates are comprised of phenolic resin and craft paper and contain 22% recycled content. Watson uses only nontoxic, water-based adhesives that emit low to no VOCs. All Watson edge banding is made from Polypropylene. The Forbo Furniture linoleum we use as a surface material is made of renewable linseed oil and recycled saw dust.
All Watson products are designed and built to the highest possible standards of durability. We rigorously test all our products to ensure consistent quality. Our products pass BIFMA standards for durability and are UL certified. We are so confident in our quality that we offer a lifetime warranty on all our products.
We won a Best of Neocon Gold for the C9 Desk, another Gold for the C9 Rail, a Silver for the Cart & Garage, and a European Product Design Bronze for the whole system.