Dezeen Showroom: Dutch design studio HeijltjesAkkaya has created a collection of adjustable office furniture called A Simple Machine, which has to be manually raised and lowered in order to invite physical activity.
Designed for furniture brand Prooff and shortlisted in the workplace design category of the Dezeen Awards 2022, the collection features two sit-stand desks that rely on simple mechanical systems to move the height of their tabletop.
One table uses a pulley system with a cylindrical, customisable counterweight and the other a lever with a gas spring. Both of these systems are clearly visible to users and optionally colour-coded in distinct hues.
HeijltjesAkkaya founders Maarten Heijltjes and Simon Akkaya created the pieces as an alternative to “nondescript” electrical sit-stand desks, which the duo argues contradict the active behaviour they try to stimulate because their design is inherently passive.
“Thoughtlessly pushing a button, with a slow and tedious movement as a result, doesn’t fit the value of more a conscious attitude to how we work,” Heijltjes told Dezeen.
“In showing how it works, [A Simple Machine] asks the user to understand the mechanics. It reflects, in that sense, the necessary consciousness for staying healthy and active.”
To encourage this more mindful approach, the studio created an “inside-out design” informed by the Centre Pompidou – a high-tech landmark by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano that wears its colour-coded service elements on the exterior.
“Our aim was twofold: we wanted to design an object that lasts and we wanted to design an object that inspires a consciousness, or maybe an attitude,” Heijltjes explained.
“Objects that fit our values in appearance and interaction will be used longer and with more care.”
The Counterweight Table features a cylindrical counterweight affixed to a pulley system that is integrated into the frame.
To change the height of the tabletop, users need to unlock the system with a half-turn of the handles on each side of the table, then give the top a slight push up or down.
To keep the counterweight approximately equal to the weight of the tabletop, there is an accompanying Kettle Bell accessory holding extra weights that can be added to the table as needed.
The Gas Spring Table uses a gas spring and a lever with a skateboard wheel attached to one end that rolls along the underside of the aluminium tabletop, allowing users to simply push their work surface up or down.
The collection is completed by the Hour Stool, which promotes active sitting and can be wound up or down to adjust its height.
All the furniture frames are made of folded steel and standard industrial parts. They come in either neutral finishes such as black and white or a distinctive green, chosen by HeijltjesAkkaya to enhance the studio’s colour-coding approach.
Akkaya and Heijltjes have worked together since 2010, originally under the moniker Waarmakers but more recently as HeijltjesAkkaya to mark “a pivot to a more personal and experimental approach”.
Their previous work includes the R16 light, a ceiling light that is assembled from its own cardboard tube packaging.
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