Expansion Cityline can also be configured as a distribution fence for power and data. “In my mind, versatility and flexibility are among the biggest features of this product line. There’s a solution for everybody,” says industrial designer Martin Chenette, who led Teknion’s Expansion Cityline product design team in Quebec City.
Despite the popularity of benching systems over the past five years, many companies continue to buy panel systems. Making the transition to an open work space is not always an easy sell to the workforce.
“We also observed that a benching product can be planned only in a linear way. You can’t do a 90-degree configuration with a benching product. We thought that for some customers, benching was too much of a leap because of this limitation,” says Chenette. “It was with this semi-conservative customer in mind that we set out to design a new desk-based system. Even before we drew the first line or sketched any visual concepts, we identified key design statements.”
Guidelines for the new product included: planning flexibility with 90-degree configurations as a panel system and not another linear benching product; a pleasing and refined aesthetic (but not too edgy or “niche”) that would be accessible to a range of customers; widespread application for private workstations but also for open space with integration of collaborative space within the workstation; lots of options for acoustical and visual privacy; a good price point comparable to panel systems; and a very comprehensive storage solution.
“That was an exciting exercise,” says Chenette. “It inspired 10 strong concepts that were later narrowed down to six by the portfolio committee, and ultimately one market winner emerged. One of the secrets of our success is market validation, which leads to further adaptation and validation,” says Chenette. “We met with more than 100 A&D people who
we visited or who came here to Quebec City. We also validated with the Teknion sales force in all of North America. This lets us really design [products] that will talk to the market. It’s our way to work.”