Reimagining the workplace: the BOFFO Show House

The guiding concepts behind the structuring of workspaces undergoes a major shift every few years. Often guided by researchers and artists who push the boundaries of what’s possible in workplace environments, these paradigm shifts frequently result in more comfortable, supportive, and productive workplaces. Giving trailblazers the chance to play with the norms of workplace design – and to discover new forms – has a real, tangible value.

USM furnishings have been at the forefront of developments in workplace design for over half a century, long being a go-to for designers, architects, and artists looking to push the envelope. So when BOFFO, a New York-based non-profit organization “that produces creative, ambitious, forward-thinking public art,” began curating installations that explore creative reimaginations of the concept of the workplace, USM was the perfect choice. As for the designer? Ghiora Aharoni, an artist and designer who has worked extensively with USM products in his own work, including using it in the design of his own studio.

modular USM furniture in green at the BOFFO show house

Aharoni was tasked with creating a prototype work environment that challenged the conventions of contemporary interior design, focusing on both physical and mental productivity. His canvas was a mammoth warehouse-style space featuring twenty-foot-high ceilings and a large, exposed, concrete column at its center. His paint was USM Haller modules which he used to create a vast 18-foot-high network of interconnected units with a simple seated workstation at its center. “I’ve had a long-standing appreciation for USM’s sleek modularity,” explains Aharoni, “and was interested in how that modularity could be reinterpreted.” All of the modules are finished in a bold green, referencing the natural world and specifically evoking the leaves of a tree.

“I’ve had a long-standing appreciation for USM’s sleek modularity”

- Ghiora Aharoni
USM Haller schematic plans in green

For Aharoni, this stacked universe of open and closed modules represents “an expansive, non-linear form that extends up, out and beyond the footprint of the traditional workstation – much like how the creative thought process might travel.” He also incorporated reflective flooring and dramatic lighting to cast skewed shadows of the installation onto the surrounding walls and ceiling, broadening this expansion out into another dimension.

USM Haller art installation in green at the BOFFO show house
“My aspiration was to showcase USM in an unexpected yet totally functional context—one that was conducive to work as well as a place that could spark imagination”

- Ghiora Aharoni
USM Haller schematic plans in green

Happily, “as USM is incredibly sturdy,” Aharoni was able to include “spaces for physical activity within the installation.” Far from a do not touch approach, the installation encouraged the interaction and creative thinking of the sort that every work environment aims to bring about. This allowed for a level of engagement with the piece that many artists can only dream of. “People sat down at the desk, opened the doors, explored inside and around the installation – and there were a number of people who spontaneously climbed it. When I saw that, it really thrilled me. I felt we accomplished what we set out to do.”

You can design your own office furniture – from high-art experimental pieces like those found in the BOFFO Show House to more familiar desks, tables, and storage units using the USM Haller collection and our other furniture collections. Get in touch with one of our experts to work on unique pieces for your workplace – or if you prefer, you can purchase ready-made pieces from our online shop.