KI got its start in the world of commercial furniture with a product so ubiquitous that we often take it for granted – the folding chair. Since its inception in 1941, the brand, originally known as Krueger Metal Products, has expanded well beyond its initial days with service & manufacturing operations across the world.
KI is currently one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the world. Their portfolio, today, includes a wide and comprehensive range of furniture solutions that cover the end to end requirements of workplace, education & healthcare environments. The brand has worked with some of the world’s most respected designers to create award-winning furniture that has set industry benchmarks several times over.
The culture of design and manufacturing in KI involves listening to customers and developing solutions that fit their needs and environments easily. From that process comes Colonnade – a system built-in response for a flexible solution towards the fast evolving workspace. This product, or system of products, is unlike other configurable systems in the market, and was co-created in partnership with one of KI’s longest-standing clients. The goal was to create a “systemised, cost-effective and sustainable solution for better user-controlled, flexible workspaces”.
The Review Crew
From left to right: Bruno Gomes, Senior Design Architect, Dewan Architects; Tamara Taamneh, Architect, Roar; Grace van Beusekom, Regional Sales Manager, KI; Jonathan Hindle, Managing Director; KI
A Neurodiverse Solution For Today’s Workspaces
The story behind Colonnade is interesting. The product came about as a result of creative evolution that happened organically from customers using KI’s existing storage solutions to repurpose their spaces. On an ongoing basis the KI team added a gantry and other elements to make the final system truly flexible and lightweight.
“We’re a leader in the workspace environment, but we do exceptionally well in education and healthcare and well,” says Grace “This system is already crossing over from office interiors to other education environments.
The building block of Colonnade is the 20mm³ framework with a steel corner block connector system. It is anchored by the 800 Series Storage / shelving range, the gantry system supports all sorts of equipment to make collaborative working effective. There’s a 457 cm and 200 cm depth standard available, however, KI offers plenty of customisation options, allowing you to configure the system into almost any style.
The brilliance of the product is how so many of the components can be reused and repurposed. “Everything is reusable,” says Jonathan. “And yes, you can reconfigure it, add to it, and evolve. The delightful thing about this product is its simplicity. As a company, we’re highly invested in programs for sustainability and the reuse of materials. You can re-spray it to your liking as trends and colours change. We’re finding a lot of customers are using interesting materials and some are getting quite adventurous! But the sky’s the limit. The beauty of this is that it’s about a designer putting a stamp on it and using it in an enterprising way.”
Several companies are trying to manage their offices to deliver a more inviting environment, emulating hospitality space. That’s where Colonnade helps on many levels. “I think that’s what designers are trying to do, especially with this product,” says Jonathan “To deliver the sort of visual cues that people identify with the home. What goes on inside can be much more fluid. There are a lot of complementary products that we can add, such as the whiteboard tables and smaller ricochet stools.”
Tamara: It’s a really smart product. You can play with it and can customize the way you want. It’s super simple and minimal in a way. It’s so flexible and playful. It provides a sense of place without being overpowering. Modular systems tend to be boring, but this is so much fun. This system ticks all the boxes from a design point of view of customization. You can put it in the corner or have it front and center for all to see. I can see it working well in education spaces as well, with kids or students walking through it.
Bruno: What’s really interesting is it’s a system, not even a product. As a designer, I don’t like when something is overdone. With this you can really create an ambience and a mood. It reminds of old markets where supplies would be displayed in this manner. I like how you can configure and design it to be as visible or subtle as you require. These types of systems can work well in so many settings. I’d love to really push the boundaries with it, like using it in a courtyard space. I love the fact that it’s so easy to transport too. It’s a really honest product.
Features and Highlights
The Colonnade gantry assembles as simple connected aluminium system that makes installation and configuration easy. This is bracketed to the 800 Series Modular Shelving Storage system. The system is inherently cost effective and offers a high ROI simply because its basic elements are simply rods and shelves.
“It’s beautifully cost-effective,” says Jonathan “It just depends on how you plan it and how you use it. So it’s very scalable in that respect. You can reconfigure the insides of storage units, you can turn them around, you can do all sorts of things. Usually, we do this when there’s a legacy issue, or where the client wants to show that they can reuse and repurpose their existing storage and make sensible use of it. Very often, they’re finding most of the conventional filing storage is increasingly redundant. So we’re repurposing them to be lockers and for general purpose. A lot of customers are revaluating their spaces at the moment, and starting to take out benching systems to replace them with something interesting. That’s where products like Colonnade add value.”
Colonnade’s design allows end users to configure and set up the system in a way that delivers strong visual cues about the nature of the space. It also enables the organisation to easily set up zones in the spur of the moment, and also offers visual privacy user control.
The true versatility of the product can be experienced when you see all of the accessories that are available. Combined with furniture from the KI range, this opens a whole new world of design possibilities. You can achieve the desired level of visual or acoustic privacy, set up collaborative environments, or even a social setting away from the chaos of the office.
Tamara: I think this will fit well into most budgets. In fact, you’ll get so much more value for money. It’s definitely not a boring product and has aesthetic value as well. We can also make it as sustainable as we want in addition to what it already offers depending on the materials we pick. A suggestion I would make is to match the screws and other components to the colour of the structure to keep it consistent and clean. You can also add accessories to make use of the empty pockets in the side ‘pillars’. Shutters would be great as well to switch between open and private.
Bruno: Based on what I’ve seen, and how flexible and durable it is, I don’t think price will be an issue. The delivery and assembly is also easy – the logistics are simple and effective, which means it’s cost effective and sustainable too. It’s an honest product for sure. I’d love to do away with the screws, and use the traditional Japanese style of construction. That would make it even more minimal and it would look cool too!
Colonnade is a simple yet incredibly versatile system that seeks to bring order to the chaos of the workspace through a flexible and versatile system. By leveraging existing KI solutions and adding a few new but critical key components, KI has created a whole new way to plan workspaces. The solution is scalable, flexible, and works in a range of settings, making it just the right product to meet the demands of the new type of workspaces.