In many ways, furniture has always reflected the trends of the era it is designed in. This is especially true for Pearson Lloyd’s designs that have consistently captured the zeitgeist of the decade. Their commitment to achieving the highest level of design quality with each project is reflected in their latest collaboration with Bene, resulting in a stunning collection called PORTS.
The story and design inspiration driving the PORTS collection is rich and multilayered. Working together with Austrian furniture brand Bene, the collective team at Pearson LLoyd have produced a portfolio of products that challenge the status quo, and encourage new patterns of working and configuration that discard traditional ones. With PORTS, Bene and Pearson Lloyd have explored a much more mobile and agile way of working in an organisation that was previously limited by furniture designs of the past.
The Review Crew
Above from left: Patrick Toifl, Regional Sales Manager MENA, Bene; Tarek Shafagoj, Design Manager, Shape Architects; Nikita Chellani, Interior Designer, Roar
The PORTS’ Ethos
The spark behind the design process for PORTS began with an introspection into the role of leadership in today’s organisations, and how it affects the design and mood of the workspace. “We began to think deeply about management and leadership spaces, and about how these offices are designed by this old hierarchy. We also thought about the future of leadership, and that has been one of our pointers on this design journey,” says Tom Lloyd.
PORTS is designed to reflect what modern day leadership should look like. The team explains how the past year saw leaps and bounds in behavioural changes, followed by organisational changes in the workplace that have forever altered the way we work. Leadership has had to adapt and embrace the concepts of humility and togetherness to ensure success.
“We’ve really tried to open up and bring some innovations into the way you lay out the base, to create a more open and collaborative form of leadership space, also thinking about the post-COVID and post-pandemic year where flexible working will be the norm,” says Lloyd. “So perhaps the traditional private office of a VP of an organisation might break down into a work lounge where you’re really moving between spaces in a more fluid way. This is the ideology that we have tried to push through PORTS.”
Bene takes their craft very seriously and it can be seen across their product ranges. The Theme of their portfolio is a symbiosis of functionality, quality and design, PORTS follows this approach with a subtle and democratic focus.
“Privacy and flexibility are the two anchors of the workspace, and we wanted to keep that in mind,” says Lloyd. With these points in mind, Pearson Lloyd created a multifunctional hub consisting of interfaces that function as both anchors and transshipment points. The PORTS product portfolio creates multifunctional space situations that reflect and support all modes of working, and allow to switch seamlessly between them.
Nikita: I love the story behind the products and the level of detail and research that has gone into it. As an interior designer it makes me appreciate it even more, and I understand how it fits into a design. The usability and comfort is amazing – they’ve covered the essentials but not overdone it. Like with the placement of the sockets and the tables. And of course, the tilt mechanism is amazing, how can you not love it!
I do like the sit-stand mechanism but they could do a better job with the legs as these days, there are a lot more visually dynamic options in the market. But the table top profile, finish, and how the sockets are placed is amazing. Nevertheless, the overall functionality of the product is great, like the panels and the tables. I like how these don’t have to be used in an office, but can be used in a hotel lobby or airport lounge.
Tareq: It is obviously very visually pleasing, but after understanding the story, I can really relate to the intent behind it. I like how the concept of luxury is being revisited and kept in line with the needs of today’s world. When it comes to comfort, they’ve gotten the backrest part almost perfect – people don’t realise that when your posture is in good shape, your productivity improves so much and you can work for hours!
When I look at a product, I first assess the practical aspects of it over the aesthetic ones. I think the balance here is great. The product is functional, but also agile in a sense. The intent is clear and I don’t see anything that’s extra or not needed. It’s such an interesting product that I would love to place a prototype in random places and see how people respond to it.
A Multifunctional Hub
PORTS is composed of three main components – Lounge, Table and Storage. As explained by the team, it is a reinterpretation of function that is easy, inventive and innovative. The products can be configured to create private spaces, while also working with open plan settings for flexibility.
Central to the PORTS collection and our favorite part of it is the Task Lounge, a reimagined workstation that is a combination of a lounge chair, a practical rotating table and a panel. It revolves around the ACTIVE Lounge Chair, with its unique seat tilt adjustment that allows the user to seamlessly transition from relaxed to active work with a new forward tilt ergonomic setting. The attached table can move with a smooth motion outwards or inwards, depending on whether you wish to work using the table or not. It’s available with a headrest and a leather shelf that even comes with wireless charging! What’s so great about this particular assembly is how it can be configured into a meeting setup, referred to as a Meeting Lounge. The aesthetics itself convey comfort and flexibility, and it is unlike other meeting rooms or configurations we’ve seen before. The partitions attached to the chair and table create a modern contemporary look.
Complimenting the task and meeting collection is the Lounge Chair and Lounge Sofa units, available in a four-leg base with fixed low back height. It’s offered in a permanent fixed seat upholstery and single-coloured or with inside and outside colours. The entire Lounge collection base – the four legged frame and swivel base – are made of black powder-coated steel, and the seat and headrest are available with fabric or leather upholstery.
Tables are the simple but mighty active points in an office that can be used for a variety of purposes depending on their shape and design. Whether as a workbench, a meeting table, or a spot in the cafe to gather around and socialise, no workspace is complete without it. Bene and Pearson Lloyd recognised this need for flexibility and incorporated it into the design. The PORTS Table has height adjustment discreetly and cleverly integrated into the frame that allows you to shift seamlessly between a traditional seated position to an upright meeting stance, with the table as the centrepiece of communication, engagement and dialogue. Available in two fixed heights or as a height adjustable unit, the only limitation is the choice of colour – clay or black. Not necessarily a bad thing, as it removes unnecessary debate over colour and fits well with the overall aesthetic.
For those of us who obsess over the finer details, it’s available in a Comfort-Edge, MDF-top 25mm with 1mm edge profile, and a FENIX NTM finish as well. Also available is a power box and an interesting Power Tray add-on – a tray made of veneered shaped wood with three cylinders made of anodized aluminum with power and USB connections or optionally with a wireless charger function. This alone is an absolutely beautiful piece of design on the table and very cleverly presents functional cable management and ports.
Storage units when designed well can serve two roles – organisational elements and room partitions. PORTS Storage does these so well. Keeping in the line with the PORTS design philosophy, the Storage units intend to not create barriers but give structure that benefits all. They’re offered in four different heights, and the heights are interchangeable as well. A storage module is available that is fixed at the lowest position and stretches across the entire width. Plus, a discreet wardrobe is installed within the side, perfect for hanging clothes and stowing away bags.
True to its name, Bene’s new collection offers everything you’d expect from a multifunctional hub. It is inclusive and diverse incorporating all forms of working, and adapts to the needs of the modern office. While the price point may be slightly higher than most, it isn’t prohibitively so, given the high quality of design and function you can expect from Bene. The majeles style PORTS Lounge was a clear favourite across the board, with the table and shelving unit a close second. If there was anything the designers could wish for, it would be for more colour options as that really broadens their canvas.
Nikita: I’m totally sold on the storage unit with the wardrobe. It’s so stylish and unexpected, but in a good way! I do like the customisation options but I’d like more flexibility around the leg finishes and the powder coating. More RAL colours would be great too. From a sustainability aspect, I love how everyone and everything involved in the production process is as sustainable as they can be. From the factory to the surrounding town, the entire company is committed. Besides, I really like the upholstery – it’s so sleek and stylish. We’re entering a post-pandemic world now, and we have to re-think a lot of our designs. Products like these really go a long way towards inspiring new ideas.
Tareq: I love how everything in the collection works well individually, and even better together. The design is thoughtful and holistic. The overall product is great. While the price point is higher for sure, I’m confident we can sell the majles lounge element of it. The product sells itself, and I’m excited to use this in a project soon! The pandemic has really pushed our boundaries in terms of designs, and I’m always on the lookout for new products. As I said before, I value practicality over everything else. And products like PORTS help this ethos.