MDD – Testing Grounds

MDD – Testing Grounds

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This winter, Form Us With Love has engaged in an interesting three-way collaboration, named Testing Grounds. In an ambition to involve both end-user and manufacturer in the design process, the Swedish studio has installed two workin-progress collections made with Polish design brand MDD, at the main lobby of A house, a vibrant co-working space in Stockholm.

‘We introduce “Testing grounds” as a part of our process, a setup that allows us to adjust our designs based on real user experience,’ says John Löfgren, Creative Director at Form Us With Love.

The collections to be tested, are in fact two rather elaborate systems manufactured by MDD; a seating system called New School, derives sixteen variations. Followed by Agora, a sofa system built on a 60 x 60 cm grid, leaving endless opportunities for a casual lounge configuration.

‘Testing Grounds is a good opportunity for us to get the right feedback from the right people. The products are not finished yet, because we want to build our final adjustments based on user-insight,’ Krzysztof Cieślik, Product Developer and Engineer at MDD, explains.

To install prototypes in a co-working space puts pressure on the two ranges to perform. A house hosts close to seventy solopreneurs and larger corporations, from stylists, photographers, and digital experience experts, to architects and product makers. Any furniture placed in the member’s lobby has to bring people together, enhance the workplace experience, and provide a series of valuable functions.

‘This is an excellent partnership for us to evaluate the workflow in the lobby, where do you meet? Where do you sit and work on your own? Where do you share your thoughts over a coffee? How do people integrate based on the furniture and what function they have?’ says Tua Asplund, COO and Partner at A house.

When MDD approached Form Us With Love, they were looking for a new seating system. Upon Form Us With Love’s first trip to MDD they saw an opportunity to build variety on MDD’s strong rationale in steel. The result was two straightforward, but ultimately generous systems of seating.

‘The vision was for the two collections to be well reasoned and easily configured. Why, for instance, would we play on the classic tube and veneer archetypal chair? Is it the timeless, all familiar humane form factor that persists through periods and styles? Is it the dependable material and constructions that are so robust and repairable? Or that the expression fits anywhere? It’s really all of the above and more,‘ Löfgren explains.

“Utilitarian but diverse” appeals to the needs of today’s workplaces, knowing that the series is ever growing, easy to update and make your own. But does every element work?

‘It is not just about a simple dislike or like, it is about how we can provide a better work environment. Take the screen panels for instance; it is possible that we change this component completely based on the behaviour we encounter,’ Cieślik explains.

Co-working spaces are timely and have perhaps already changed the way we look at the future of workspaces, being interdisciplinary and flexible. To test design ideas in this setting is both thrilling and unforgiving.

‘We have already seen that these series have increased traffic in the lobby, and we have noticed that employees from the larger companies are happy to spend more time in the meeting area, which means that they are interacting with the freelancers. We have also seen diverse groups having lunch together, a crowd of people that did not know each other before,‘ Asplund comments.

There is nothing exclusive or unnecessary with New School and Agora. Yet Form Us With Love and MDD are still keen to reduce; ‘We just want the essentials to remain,’ Löfgren concludes.

And it is perhaps the A house members that are best suited to tell what the essential really is, identifying their needs, to develop new solutions for working spaces of tomorrow, Testing Grounds reflects a transparent ambition, with further insights due at the end of the Spring—we all looking forward to seeing the outcome—stay tuned.


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