Collaborative design at its best.

ASPECT FURNITURE   |   HABITAT

Habitat, a collaborative effort by Aspect, Autex and Blender, offers a modular office furniture system that creates individual workspaces within open offices.

EXPERTISE

  • Industrial Design
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Prototyping
  • Design for Manufacture
  • Manufacturing Support

Aspect Furniture prides itself on beautifully designed and crafted commercial furniture and their collections are trusted by some of the largest organisations across Australasia.

In a world where attention is being diverted at every turn, the need for flexible zones and micro-environments in the workplace is becoming ever more important. Both open spaces for socialisation and quiet zones for focus and collaboration are equally important. The challenge was to create an office furniture system that can accommodate the balance of spaces required. There are many modular systems on the market but they are made from MDF or plywood and wrapped with fabric. These solutions involve multiple manufacturing processes and are very heavy. The way they are assembled is inefficient and often results in double-ups of parts.

The vision for Habitat was to create a lightweight, modular office work-pod. A micro-environment which has high acoustic performance to block out noise to create a comfortable focus space. It is estimated that 100,000 office furniture assets are put into landfills each year in Australia alone so a key factor which was considered for Habitat was that it was to be made from sustainable materials.

Drawn together around an idea, Aspect Furniture and Autex Acoustics quickly discovered alignment in creating a solution to a problem – acoustically optimised, focused, micro work environments. Blender was commissioned to knit the furniture and acoustic know-how together, and a collaboration began.

Habitat is a light, flexible, high-performing acoustic furniture system which represents the combined expertise of the three partners – a perfect blend of industry experience, acoustic expertise, and design and engineering capability.

Autex provided their Cube™  material, a thermally-bonded high-density polyester containing not less than 60% recycled material, which is used for the panelling. This material ticks all the boxes in terms of acoustic performance, sustainability and is lightweight and easy to manufacture. Through the design process, a new moulding process for the Autex Cube™ was established. Autex Cube™ are moulded into flat or curved sections and trimmed with water jet cutting technology to provide sharp edges and details not possible in the moulding process. The crimped track of the Habitat panels was carefully considered and designed to slide into the aluminium rails but also provide enough friction to stay in place. The use of this material simplifies and streamlines manufacturing of the panels by eliminating labour-intensive processes and the use of adhesives in the manufacture of industry standard fabric-covered MDF panels.

A lengthy part of the design of this system was working out how to connect the panels together. A whole range of profiles were considered and tested through 3D printing extrusions and 3D CAD modelling. FEA testing of the universal bracket concepts were conducted to test friction and shear loading. In the end, the aluminium rail extrusion that the crimped edge of the panels slid into was chosen due to its simplicity in design. The modular nature of this system allows Aspect Furniture to easily customise pods to suit their clients requirements without the need to make new parts. The simple kit-of-parts  can be taken away or added to without any machining, just add additional panels, upright members, and your preferred accessories.

A retreat to a quiet space for concentrated work is key to unlocking balance and productivity. Equally as important to this are spaces that promote connection. Habitat provides both! Habitat is a light, flexible, high-performing acoustically considered furniture system. A simple kit-of-parts and seating modules that can be expanded on and quickly adapted to accommodate a range of office needs and individual working styles.

It was important that this system was modular, easy to assemble, space-saving, configurable, and sourced from sustainable materials to minimise its footprint – ecologically, sustainable, and spatially.

Habitat panels are made from Autex Cube™ and contain a minimum of 60% previously recycled polyester fibre (from PET bottle-flake), which to quantify this, is up to 53, 600ml bottles per Habitat panel or between 530 – 2500+ bottles per pod. Autex Cube™ was also selected for its acoustic absorption of 9 square metres per unit (9 metric Sabins). A high-performing solution that provides an essential barrier between focus space and open-plan office activity.

The meticulous material selection also allows for Habitat to be a lightweight and easy to assemble solution. The simplicity in the design means one person can safely install a Habitat in under 30 minutes with minimal tools, no heavy lifting and less disruption to a working office. The system is easily deconstructed for ease of relocation or expansion.

Aspect Furniture wanted a full  system approach to the design. Blender was also able to help design for accessories such as a convenience hook and adjustable lighting. The beauty of the simplistic rail design of the extrusions means these accessories can also slide on effortlessly. The panels and rails are also available in a wide range of colours to suit personal tastes for further customisation.

Habitat has been designed to capitalise on space so that you can add more panels, change configurations, or relocate easily without fuss. The light weight materials mean it is an easy-to-carry, reconstructable kit-of-parts. Habitats’ shared wall ability reduces material content whilst still retaining flexibility and adaptability.

Habitat is understandably a popular option with businesses and typical sales are large scale orders of multiple pods, set to clients specifications. Blender has been able to provide  Aspect Furniture with ongoing production and design support across documentation and multi-level BOMs. Habitat is truly a product of the 3 partners drawing on each other’s expertise and strengths.