Wilkhahn: Hi Santi, What was your response when you were asked to design Wilkhahn’s new showroom in Madrid?
Santi Casamitjana: First of all, thanks very much for asking me. I didn’t hesitate for a second in accepting the order and it was a huge honour for me. The Wilkhahn brand has been part of my career for 30 or 40 years. Our family-run company Casamitjana is very attached to the office furniture manufacturer. We’re some of the oldest dealers in Spain to work with Wilkhahn. We exhibit a lot of classic Wilkhahn items in our private little museum.
WH: What’s the goal of your exhibition concept?
SC: My experience with Wilkhahn products, the fact that I also designed our own branches in Tarrasa and Barcelona and always wanted these to look professional have given me a lot of practice in working out how to place furniture. I used this expertise to direct visitors through the showroom in a way that draws their attention to certain details. For example, I placed some chairs on the wall at eye level to provide a contrast with the wall panelling. The wall displays vertical parquet flooring at the same time. I drew my inspiration for that from a Wilkhahn Orgatec stand: the wooden wall there was virtually a stage on which the tables and chairs played the starring roles. The main aim of the showroom design is to make visitors notice that they have an avant-garde product in front of them that combines state-of-the-art technology with longstanding expertise and is already tried and tested.
WH: Ein zentrales Element der Wilkhahn-Philosophie ist das Thema Mobilität am Arbeitsplatz …
A core element of the Wilkhahn philosophy is encouraging physical activity in the workplace…
SC: That’s right. Wilkhahn’s an expert when it comes to dynamic office environments with the chairs and tables to match. Today, this issue is a key element in modern offices and its importance has risen dramatically over the past few years. Offices are becoming increasingly more dynamic, less paper is used and traditional jobs are becoming less and less common; the trend’s moving towards teamwork. That’s something we want to indicate in the office section of the showroom too. Staff and management work together as a team here at one large conference table. Thanks to all sorts of power supply and charger connections, the table is very flexible: all items of equipment like laptops, smartphones etc. are easy to connect and combine with one another if required. This type of collaboration has a positive impact on day-to-day tasks such as providing customer service or managing projects. At the same time, I was interested in creating a joint room to work in for all staff within the premises. Wilkhahn’s staff had already been used to this type of teamwork anyway. Which is why I was able to place the workspaces exactly where I wanted: for example, wherever the best light happened to be and wherever my vision of what should be displayed in the showroom itself could be put into practice. It was very motivating for me to support the Wilkhahn staff.
WH: Tell us about the colours, materials and lighting you used.
SC: Some colour palettes have quite simply stood the test of time. In our case, dominant colours weren’t required but more understated and subtle colours and materials. We just gave the ceiling and walls a slight touch of colour so has not to overshadow the furniture. The showroom itself is designed like an exhibition room. In a museum it’s all about presenting and lighting an exhibit in the best possible way, whether it’s a painting, a sculpture or an unusual piece of technology. Anything else is merely there to accessorise. We used the vertical solid oak parquet as a distinctive element on the wall: in this way, we emphasise the exhibits and the lighting does a good job in drawing attention to them.
WH: Why did you pick carpeting?
SC: Carpet is very good at absorbing sound. Furthermore, it helps make individual rooms more distinctive: with the Wilkhahn green in the centre, we’ve created a kind of island as a demonstration area. This is where visitors can try out products and see what these can do. This area doesn’t just have one theme but can be used in a variety of ways. The Confair and Timetable folding tables show that Wilkhahn ranges are moveable: dealers, end users or specialists can try out the various options the tables and seating offer and pick the most interesting one for them.
WH: Every office needs a meeting room. Tell us something about the solution you picked.
SC: It was our goal to design an open-plan meeting space in the showroom that allowed enough space to breathe and still didn’t take up too much space. This was a huge challenge considering the lack of space available. Everything’s furnished with the new generation Wilkhahn products: there’s a projection wall and a huge TV set on which case studies, product and advertising videos can be shown. Basically, it’s a versatile extension of the workspace. For example, people can enjoy a cold lunch together here and then carry on working afterwards.
WH: And now tell us some about the archive and office space.
SC: We had to allow for rooms for offices and the archive. To do so, we integrated an existing second level that can be used by staff and customers too if necessary. It’s becoming increasingly customary to meet customers in an office, at a large conference table or even over a cup of coffee in the office space. We use the slightly elevated position to design the office and archive area there and also gained extra space for the showroom in the process. I gave the FS office chair an especially prominent place there. I believe the FS-Line is a Wilkhahn classic that embodies the historical and social values of the company.
WH: At Wilkhahn, we’re very happy with your work and the design of the showroom. What about you?
SC: The furniture was to play the key role in this project. Which is why we selected the materials and colours in such a way that they stay in the background while the chairs and stables are presented as exhibits, just like paintings and sculptures in a museum. I’m delighted with the result. Ultimately, the showroom is like a big shop window that reflects the core of the Wilkhahn brand. We used the spaces in the best possible way and created a stylish presentation with a modest budget that superbly emphasises the attractiveness and high quality of the Wilkhahn furniture.
WH: Thanks Santi for your commitment to your project.
We’re looking forward to you visiting us:
c/ Apolonio Morales 13 – A2
Tel. 91 515 85 80 80
Click here for more information on Wilkhahn’s Madrid showroom (E)
Click here for more information on the Timetable conference table.
You can find everything about the Confair folding table here.
Click here for everything about the FS office chair family
Click here to find out more about Wilkhahn’s AT office chair