As criticism has mounted in recent years about the open-plan office, we've also seen the rise of the co-working space. Forward-thinking office furniture brand Pedrali, which is sponsoring the Co-Working Space of the Year Frame Award, has been studying these increasingly rapid-fire changes.

Frame spoke with Monica Pedrali, CEO and Sales & Marketing Director, about how the changing ways we work are changing the spaces we work in, and what furniture can do to bridge the gap between the need to collaborate and the need to focus.

How will workspace change in the next 10 years?
MONICA PEDRALI: Nowadays you can work anywhere. Everything acts as an 'office', reflecting the needs of workers, who lead increasingly nomadic lives. It will evolve further in this direction, toward office furniture that can create flexible, versatile, fluid environments that are increasingly geared towards well-being and creativity. Open spaces will have to facilitate greater dynamism, teamwork, and optimization of time and resources.

Furnishings can act as modern conference halls, meeting rooms and latest-generation co-working formats

(Top to bottom) Edelman Dubai office by Roar - Photo by Priyanka Vohra Anand. Pedrali's Elinor task chair designed by Claudio Bellini and the easily portable, reconfigurable Boxie storage system (top) designed by Claudio Dondoli and Marco Pocci. Cover image: SKY Italia offices - Photo by Dario Tettamanzi.

Will we use furniture as a substitute for the cubicle in coming years, compartmentalizing open spaces?
People are more and more likely to be found working in communal spaces. Furniture is the key to creating multifaceted contemporary spaces and boosting their functionality. Furnishings can act as modern conference halls, meeting rooms and latest-generation co-working formats.

Modus, our modular upholstered seating collection with sectional elements, is the best solution to create open spaces that meet users’ needs. We’ve also devised Zippo, an upholstered sofa that acts as a niche, offering privacy.

Which Pedrali products are most indicative of changes to come in work space?
The new Vienna office for the R&D department of the German firm PulsVario used our Jazz armchairs and Inox tables to create an atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork. The workspace includes four zones, Retreat, Dialogue, Create and Share, each of which is customized to support various tasks.

Other pieces that reflect our aim of organizing flexible, temporary workspaces are the Elinor chair by Claudio Bellini and Temps chair by Jorge Pensi, and the new folding, stacking version of the Ypsilon table, also by Jorge Pensi. A crucial accessory for workspaces is Boxie, the storage system on wheels, designed by Claudio Dondoli and Marco Pocci, which can take on different configurations according to the way its elements are combined.

Pedrali's Ypsilon tables and Temps task chair, both designed by Jorge Pensi.

Which materials will be important to the workspace of the future?
Natural materials that convey comfort and coziness. Our wood products are 100% environmentally friendly as the raw material is sourced from FSC-certified forests and is painted using organic water-based paints. Our plastic products are recyclable. We’re also seeing a significant return to upholstered furniture like the Buddy family of poufs, with their friendly, versatile character, or the modular Social seating system by Patrick Jouin, which can be used to create an endlessly replicable sofa during social events.

Can you mention a few recent projects that have used Pedrali furniture in innovative ways?

One recent project using Ypsilon tables and the Volt seating collection was Rinjstraat 8, housed in the former offices of the Dutch Ministry for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. The architects at OMA converted the building's inner courtyards into winter gardens and turned the project into an excellent example of environmental sustainability.

Then there are the Swedish offices of UNIT4, a Stockholm-based software solutions company. More than 500 Pedrali products went into the office's hybrid and co-working spaces, ranging from the lobby and meeting rooms to the break area and conference hall, where workspace can be shared without compromising on comfort.

Some other projects that I look back on fondly are the Google headquarters in Dublin, the Microsoft and Redbull offices, and the interiors of Milan’s famous Terrazza Martini. One building that was opened not long ago is the Tour la Marseillaise skyscraper in Marseille designed by Jean Nouvel.