The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years

The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years
The North American landscape of contract interiors of the past 50 years continues to unfold the concept of the Schnelle brothers’ “Burolandschaft,” or open office plan.

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The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_01 1. 40/4 Chair
OSI, designed by David Rowland, 1964
Unique geometry and the use of a plated steel rod with stamped steel shells facilitates the stackability of 40 chairs within 4 ft. of height. It is unsurpassed to this day in engineering sophistication and production.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_02 2. MechoShade
MechoShade, 1969
In the 1960s MechoShade became the successor of Levolor vertical blinds as the architect’s de rigueur solution to fenestration light control. It is a material and system that are in keeping with  the architectural intent of the building.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_03 3. Action Office II
Herman Miller, designed by Robert Propst & Jack Kelley, 1965
Action Office II democratized the concept of open plan and allowed easily reconfigurable layouts. Its ubiquity brought good design to the masses but did not cause a loss of personality of product. It became the benchmark for competitors (such as Steelcase 9000) to follow. 
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_04 4. Tambient Light
Designed by Sylvan Shemitz, 1965
Tambient introduced task/ambient lighting affixed to systems furniture just above eye height while sitting. First installed on the Stephens system by Knoll, the unique louver/bat-wing design directed light to the worksurface and upwards to the ceiling, thus providing non-glare and balanced luminance to the workspace.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_05 5. Raised Floor
Tate/Kingspan, circa 1970s
Raised flooring answered the requirement for fast wire access, copious wiring capacity, and space for HVAC. It obviated the need for finished floors as it created its own and could be reused elsewhere. In the 1980s, a study for GSA concluded that there were significant, long-term benefits resulting in a strong increase of usage. Only in the late 1990s did the incorporation of air handling become common, as buildings endeavored to acquire LEED qualification.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_06 6. Race System
Sunar (now Haworth), designed by Douglas Ball, 1980
Race reevaluated the often oppressive effect of cost-driven and entrenched rectilinear panel systems with a low-height modular system organized around an electrical-and-data spine with support posts that allowed users to clip on desks at any point and lower the sight lines.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_07 7. Sapper Chair
Knoll, designed by Richard Sapper, 1985
By utilizing auto industry seat construction from Renault, the result was a very thin upholstery package that took little space yet gave proper support. This allowed executive seating to move away from the heavy, upholstered look to one of elegance and space-savings. Sapper exhibited the same breakthrough thinking on this product as he did on the Tizio lamp for Artemide.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_08 8. Aeron Chair
Herman Miller, designed by Don Chadwick & Bill Stumpf, 1994
The innovative use of Pellicle mesh replaced the traditional upholstery of covered foam for comfort and ergonomic correctness. It allows the body to breath. Offered in three different sizes with many adjustments, Aeron became the egalitarian chair in the modern office. It redefined the expectations of general seating.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_09 9. Tek-Wall
Maharam, 1984
Tek-Wall was the first durable, woven, high-performance wallcovering for high-traffic applications. With the look and pliability of a woven textile, it was high-abrasion-resistant, lightfast, and washable, making it suitable for upholstered walls and systems panels. Originally constructed of polyolefin fibers, Tek-Wall now contains innovative synthetic materials that have been added to elevate the level to a new language of surface finishes.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_10 10. Convia
Herman Miller, 2006
This modular, programmable, electrical and data infrastructure delivers plug-and-play power to anywhere within a space, without requiring the hardwiring of devices or switches. They are imbedded into Wiremold’s flexible electrical wiring systems to facilitate control platforms that ultimately can reduce real estate and building operating costs while improving employee productivity.
The Top 10 Commercial Interiors Products of the Past 50 Years_11 The Future: Immediate and Near
Sony XEL-1, the world’s first OLED TV
While no specific LED lighting product has yet to surface as a category killer, it is self-evident that LED will have a huge positive impact from the point of view of luminance, sustainability, cost of installation, and maintenance. OLED (Organic LED) flat screens, which will be no more than 5 mm thick, lighter in weight, brighter, and will be less power-consuming and heat-emitting, may well supplant the currently ubiquitous LCD flat screens as quickly as they had displaced the cumbersome VDT monitors. Advances in technology and legislation continue to fuel the changes in product, the office, and in turn our behavior.