On the lightness of appearance

GAP 15

Completion 2005


An interior decor featuring straight lines and technical sophistication welcomes each visitor to this Düsseldorf high-rise office complex, a work of Ernst & Young. The developers of the design concept emerged as the clear winners of a competition. It is something for lovers of self-contained forms, straight lines and gentle surfaces. But unseen at first glance: an estimable share of engineering know-how went into each individual piece of furniture. Beforehand, four renowned manufacturers were asked to produce sample tables. We got the order. That may be easy to say, but it was the result of exhaustive preparatory work. No one was looking for alternative proposals nor cheap variants. So we took the design drafts at face value. To begin with, surface samples were produced to be subjected to a variety of tests similar to load or stress tests. Is the surface scratch-proof? Will spilled coffee leave marks? You no doubt expect such things to go without saying for any piece of furniture. And they do, provided the surface is smooth and hard. But when the finish is to be dull and matte, it’s quite a different story. Then surface processing becomes complicated and lengthy. All this had to be taken into consideration when producing the sample table. Which ended up being crafted in many different variants: square, elliptical, for four to 20 people. One table was even produced in a lightweight construction able to be taken apart by virtually anyone. Making it a breeze to move the table to another floor, even though it accommodates the same media equipment as its siblings. We are especially proud of the aluminium-clad reception unit in the conference area. The RKW interior designers transformed an impressive idea here into a beautiful design. The closed geometrical basic form to the unit echoes the contours of the stairwell. So homogeneous as the form truly is, it’s an unexpected delight to see all that is actually hidden within! All the functional units are integrated, from the technical features to the seating element. Just as elegant is the console in the lounge area. One glass leg supports the entire overhanging top. The glass is held at the base in a floor extrusion and braced above in a steel frame on the underside of the plank. Not a single element disturbs the transparency to the pedestal; the plank seems to float on air. That which looks so light and ethereal in GAP 15 is anything but. Behind the lustrous surface is a technical realisation which lends the furniture an entire new dimension. It is far more than appears at first glimpse.

Text: Deutsche Werkstätten
Photo: Tomas Riehle