: What's Next: Gary Lee Studios collaborates with HALCON to achieve award-winning resultsIn its second collaboration with HALCON, Gary Lee Studios has designed PROXIMUS, the Best of NeoCon® Gold award-winning casegoods line that shifts the concept of how a workwall really works. Peter Conway, president of HALCON, says he charged designers David Grout and Donna Corbat with reexamining all aspects of the office. “We wanted to look at everything starting with the fundamentals—such as how drawers work—and build on that to evaluate how an entire office suite functions,” he says. “We code named the product offering ‘Next’ as in the next generation of office furniture.”
Designers looked at all the casegoods offerings on the market as being very similar. “Visually and functionally it all looked the same,” Grout says. “So we considered: ‘What if the workwall is actually a wall?’ And we decided to bring everything above the work surface to be eye level.” Although files and storage traditionally hidden below the worksurface are relocated to eye level for easy visual and physical access, sliding panels can hide or expose these elements. When closed, the wall offers a clean aesthetic, and when open, it allows for easy access to files and technology. PROXIMUS means “next” in Latin, and Conway offers, “Even better, it means ‘next’ as in the sense of being ‘next to’ or ‘in the proximity of,’ and that is how our end users relate to the product.”
The relationship between the worker and workspace informed the product design, which is a layering of components from the ground up, beginning with a backdrop and 9-ft. worksurface module, then building up with shelves and adding a box at the front and top. Or it can be scaled down to accommodate varying levels within the corporate hierarchy and differing individual work styles—from the stacker to the filer, the solo worker to the collaborative group—and it is fully customizable.
“We wanted to give the end user options. Everyone tries to multitask, and when there’s too much going on they get nothing done. So the large sliding wall allows users to close off the overstimulation,” Corbat says. Grout adds, “We liked the idea of large panel doors—the large format is more dynamic.”
The designers also sought a millwork feel that would enhance the dynamic aesthetic. “We wanted an interesting palette of finishes and materials,” Corbat notes. “We left the sap wood in the veneer to create a bold statement. Many manufacturers offer walnut, oak, and cherry; we wanted to push it so we added a lot of great stains to create a new offering of what veneer can be.”
The designers feel that their end design of PROXIMUS remained true to their original intent. And they added details to really make an impact, as in the desk runoff, leg of the freestanding table, self-closing drawers, and white felt file hangers. “Beautiful aesthetics combined with better function means real value for the end user,” says Conway, “and that is what the design community wants to provide their clients.”