The ability to adapt to our surroundings is critical to human evolution. What if our furniture could adapt as well? Two Portland companies—architecture giant ZGF and design firm Twofold—are working together to create modular spaces that can transform themselves to accommodate many office needs.
Enter the mobile meeting room, a transformable workspace environment. The “room” balances the two extremes of most offices: open floor plans and closed-off cubicles and offices. Manufactured in Portland, the prefabricated structure offers a private space that can be moved, stored, or disassembled in a moment’s notice.
“We began to think about the human body, and its relationship to other human bodies,” explains Robert Petty, ZGF’s director of model shop resources. “Design started by putting blue tape on the floor—two big squares—and putting chairs in them, thinking about how it feels to sit this close to someone. Then we started to think about how we could take a room and make it into something transformable, and how that works with the body.”
Twofold, a new company working to optimize limited space, was the business partner ZGF needed to get the idea out of the model shop and into more concrete places. Eli Alford-Jones, cofounder and CEO of Twofold, says he’s frustrated with the lack of privacy in open office layouts, as well as with cumbersome, immobile furniture and architecture that, once implemented, cannot be changed as the office’s needs change.
“The distinguishing factor [of the mobile meeting room] is the underlying adaptability: the ability for users to choose integrative sit-stand workstations, and the door structure, which allows for individuals to come in and create the privacy they need,” he says. “It can also be completely opened up, becoming a touchdown space where five or six people can come together to work.”