In the past few years, society has changed and evolved at a really fast pace, driven by the evolution brought about by new technology and with it, the way in which people interact, coexist and work. Working spaces have also undergone change, incorporating new needs, tools and uses, bringing about spaces which are nothing like the formats designed twenty years ago. Office furniture manufacturers have been the first to anticipate and provide answers for the needs of the market and they had to do that hand in hand with their designers. Together they have been those who, following specific requirements and guidelines, had to create products to be used worldwide.
Alegre Design and Actiu have been working together for more than ten years, and since they created their first joint project, the TNK office chair, their relationship has become the blueprint for company evolution and, with it, of the workplace furniture market. This journey has turned Alegre Design into experts in creation of innovative solutions for the design, engineering and product development sectors. A relationship that has grown stronger over the years, having as a result more than twenty different products, providing a whole range of solutions for the office, but also for other sectors such as libraries, hospitals, or airports. In short, workspace furniture.
TNK, a bid for ergonomics. 2011.
In 2001, Actiu started their relationship with Alegre Design by requesting their first product: the TNK office chair. It was a new challenge for the company with regard to the product design and development processes the company used to implement up to this point. In the early 2000s, ergonomics was the main focus in the office furniture world. The advent of computers in the work environment and the increase in the number of sitting hours in a workday prompted the increasing demand for products that adapted their shape perfectly to the physiology of every user, making it easy for them to move and change their posture, with medium-high backrests and wide, height-adjustable armrests.
Keeping all these principles in mind and willing to set a precedent, Alegre Design did not just create an office chair; but a platform with which they would be able to develop other chair models such as the TNK 500 or the latest, TNK Flex. TNK meant the embodiment of the innovation implemented in the factories of the Alicante-based company in a real product, by incorporating aluminum and mechanical engineering in their production processes.
“The TNK was the first project we developed with a global design concept in mind: both the aesthetics and the engineering were conceived to provide attractive, but also ergonomic and environmentally friendly solutions. It was the first product to incorporate sustainability in its production process. It was a breakthrough in the way in which products are designed and manufactured, with a first product made with the needs of the market in mind, a turning point for the production methods to use for all of the brand’s products”, explains Marcelo Alegre, from Alegre Design.
2007 VIVA: Unmistakable Geometry
After the success achieved by the TNK, there was a continuous industrial improvement and creative explosion. Ever since that moment, Alegre Design proposed new designs manufactured with alternative materials which they previously worked with while developing products in other sectors. This is what happened with Viva, a collectivity chair designed to be manufactured using double injection, which improved ergonomic aspects and allowed a new aesthetics, different to the basic geometries used until that moment. The result was an innovative product both in design and shape. A chair which entailed an important technological challenge and whose design improved its ergonomics and user experience, which made this chair a great product for intensive use in public spaces both indoors and outdoors. It also incorporated a new upholstery system to the injected framework which helped it become a company milestone.
2007 Arkitek: The Architectural Vision of Furniture
Recently, branding by means of original and iconic designs has become necessary in order to gain access to big international projects and to stand out in the furniture industry. In order to achieve that goal Actiu needed a flagship product, a different conference table featuring a one-of-a-kind design and top quality finishes, aimed at executive workstations and conference rooms. The outcome was Arkitek, a table inspired in organic shapes providing character but also designed to be functional in executive and operational workspaces. Alegre Design used top-notch materials such as injected aluminum in order to develop a sculptural and timeless piece where the architectural shapes are key.
2008. Plek: Reinventing an everyday product
Plek embodied the re-thinking of a home product (a folding chair) in order to adapt it to offices, conference rooms and multidisciplinary halls within the workspace. It also provided the company with the opportunity to incorporate the knowledge gained in terms of technical improvements, ergonomics and materials in the development of such a quotidian product as a folding chair to improve its results and usability. Making the most of the lightness of aluminum and the plastic finishes where the piece is in touch with the user, a dynamic product capable of being used as equipment for big events was created. Along with a movable trolley which helped ease stacking and setting the chairs up in any space, Plek incorporated a new feature to this kind of product: a semi-folded position which makes it easier for people to walk past the chairs in a conference space. This innovation helped Plek become a model which was awarded international design awards such as the Red Dot and If Design, which prompted the development of a whole new table range to accompany this product.
2009. Transit. Wait and Rest.
Transit was the first attempt for Actiu in developing a multi-purpose piece for public use and, with it, their introduction to new sectors such as hospitals or airports. The aim was to design a comfortable product, with a pleasant feel and original design with an aluminum structure to which seats and backseats could be incorporated in different materials such as wood, metal or polyurethane according to their specific use requirements. This diversity in materials and uses allowed to create a bench that could be fitted in any space such as churches and waiting areas in airports or in hospitals.
2009. Trama. Dynamism and Mobility.
Along with comfort, ergonomics and functionality are still key factors in any office space. Dynamic and versatile systems should also be providing solutions for fixed, movable, folding and height-adjustable tables within the same product family. The result, developed by Alegre Design, was Trama, an easily usable range of tables which has become an essential product because of its lightness, durability and functionality.
2009. On Time. Always with you, Always on Time.
With the coming of new technologies into workspaces and the rise in digital communications, there was a need for movable and dynamic cabinets providing a personal storage space for non-territorial workposts which users could quickly and easily move around the office. OnTime meant the creation of this kind of systems, movable and polyvalent, which help create personal and flexible offices where a work post change means the moving of all of the user’s paperwork.
2012. Uka, Your Perfect Companion.
Soon enough, the furniture needs transcended the limits of the operational work posts to appear in other spaces. For these new spaces there was a need for multipurpose furniture capable of providing solutions to intensive use spaces such as training rooms, conference rooms, multipurpose rooms, etc., and also for other places such as retail or hospital spaces. Uka is the reinterpretation of the multipurpose chair, manufactured differently. Unlike the traditional metal structure chairs, this one is manufactured using a monoblock structure, which provides the piece with a compact design. Uka is wear and tear resistant, highly durable and has a formal and aesthetic high level finish.
2016. TNK Flex
If anything defines a competitive office furniture manufacturer, it is the design and innovation applied to their most technical products, such as office chairs. Research, innovation and never losing sight of the new uses and needs makes each new model surpass the previous one in features and services.
The design of TNK Flex meant such an important leap as that of the first TNK. Until that moment, chair ergonomics was designed keeping in mind the forwards and backwards 2D movement. Flex provides 3D ergonomics, by providing body support based on an optimal three-directional position. This design is an answer to the new posture requirements posed by the use of new technologies. Flex does not just provide comfort and a perfect seating, it fits you in your every move.
eFit comes from the Flex experience. Based on the sustenance but incorporating all of our previous experience and knowledge about product design. The main feature of eFit is a back plate which allowed us create a chair according to the new work forms but keeping all the features of an active plate supporting the body and making the daily work much more efficient.