This 2018 book, published by Orangebox, was a key part of their drive to establish the brand internationally and position it as not just a cool manufacturer of original products but also a source of invaluable research and insight. For the brand’s global network, it was invaluable, helping shape their decision making.
These 256 image tiles illustrate the diversity of design projects undertaken by Gerard Taylor over four decades of practice, including formative student work at the Royal College of Art and projects undertaken during five years with Sottsass Associati and Memphis in Milan.
As a student, Taylor considered Ettore Sottsass to be one the world’s most important and creative designers. While at the RCA, he visited Sottsass’s Milan studio and in his final year he met him again while Sottsass was visiting London. Sottsass invited Taylor to Milan to work in Sottsass Associati, the new design studio he was setting up. Taylor went on to work with Sottsass through the early 80s and became part of the Memphis Design group from 1982-1987, a period now widely recognised as one of the most influential in contemporary design.
Taylor’s close relationship with Sottsass’s studio continued on his return to London, and over the next four years he designed multiple retail stores in Australia and New Zealand for global fashion brand Esprit. Over the same period, Taylor was establishing a design studio with fellow RCA graduate Daniel Weil. This was followed by over two decades with his selfnamed, London-based studio, designing furniture and creating retail and residential environments for global clients.
For the best part of the last two decades, Taylor has focused exclusively on his role as Orangebox Creative Director, helping build the company into the acclaimed global office furniture brand it is today.
Each of the featured images is sourced from the studio’s original research & insight, writing, client presentations, design renders, keynote talks and photography. More recent images feature the products, brand narrative and communications developed for Orangebox with the Orangebox design team and in collaboration with some highly regarded photographers and the renowned graphic designer Russell Warren-Fisher.
Multiple tiles pop-up to illustrate edited highlights of the extensive multi-channel brand collateral and research created for Orangebox, together with a portfolio of more than 50 product designs, some now in their second decade of production. These products range from the award-winning Ara and Kirn task chairs to extensive systems such as Away from the Desk. Other tiles highlight early work, published articles on Taylor, and some of the many private homes and retail environments designed for diverse clients over a thirty-year period.
As Creative Director of Orangebox, Taylor’s focus has been on realising continuous vitality, starting with the Smartworking® narrative — first presented in 2005, and still going strong — and most recently made manifest in Relationship Buildings®, which meets the emerging needs of the new hybrid economy (in contrast with the increasingly reductive idea of the personal desk-focused office building of pre-Covid). It suggests that in the new, post-Covid world, the focus must be on bringing vitality back into workplaces. This narrative is reflective of the ‘realising continuous vitality’ brand positioning that has been central to the company’s success through the last decade, helping position Orangebox at the cutting edge of contemporary office design.
This tableau of 256-image tiles, which reviews four decades of work produced by Gerard Taylor and his studio, isn’t presented chronologically. That’s because design is a continuous process, centred on the generation of ideas that hold the potential to become successful products, environments and communications. A designer will always generate more ideas than the client project requires, but these are never wasted: they get banked, becoming part of the designer’s language, which weaves its way throughout their career.
It’s a contemporary misjudgment that vitality comes from continuous change. It doesn’t. Vitality and longevity of design come from the authenticity and the integrity of your thinking. An idea, a manufacturing solution, a product detail or a narrative from thirty years ago can be as relevant today as when they were originally created, as long as they arise from a meaningful and compelling point of view.
This is why student work from the formative years of Taylor’s career is presented with equal status to the most recent designs for Orangebox. Forty years is a mere blink of an eye, and good designers will always want to place their work within the joyous, beneficial and ever-evolving history of design.
These 256 image tiles illustrate four decades of studio projects for both private and corporate clients, including Anthologie Quartett; Bankside Residence; Basil Street Residence; Bernhardt; Cycle Surgery; Eaton Terrace Residence; French Connection; FullCircle; Glasgow City of Culture 1999; Habitat Croydon; Habitat Glasgow; Habitat Hamburg; Habitat Southampton; Knoll; KPG Residence; Memphis; Ocean Leisure; Orangebox; Orla Kiely; Selfridges London; Selfridges Manchester Trafford; Vincon Barcelona; Wigmore Sports.
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The Early Work of Gerard Taylor explores how his student projects led directly to a meeting with Ettore Sottsass in London, and to his being invited to become both a designer for Memphis and part of the new design studio Sottsass Associati, which was Sottsass was creating in Milan.
The award-winning Ara was our second task chair for Orangebox and became the first chair designed and manufactured in Europe to achieve Cradle to Cradle certification, the Ara helped expand the market for smart environmental manufacturing.
This brochure is a key Orangebox publication. Running to 480 pages, it was the last ‘product bible’ we produced before migrating to publishing most collateral digitally. Each product archetype is presented as a critical part of the Smartworking® narrative, which we gained worldwide copyright protection for.
This feature article from 2015 appeared in British office design magazine Onoffice, offering some enjoyable insights into the thinking and pedigree behind the design ideas helping to shape Orangebox.
Boomers & Millennials was a 2005 coming-of-age publication for both Orangebox and the UK office scene, containing research and insight focused on the bookend generations shaping the new contemporary workplace. It was presented in a graphically engaging and entertaining way thanks to the brilliant design work of Russell Warren-Fisher, who has collaborated on all of our brand developments at Orangebox.
The fold-out poster format used here was created with designer Russell Warren-Fisher as a more engaging and relevant print publication in the age of all-digital. It became an invaluable means for the Orangebox sales team to engage clients visiting Orangebox showrooms. This poster uses an office floorplate to illustrate the migration away from offices dominated by rows of facsimile desking, and towards Orangebox’s Smartworking® proposition.
This foldout poster was for our BAE (before anyone else) team tables and was a key new generation wood-based product introduced into the Orangebox portfolio, manufactured via an important supply partner we established in Portugal. The partnership enabled us to produce, at scale, products that were imbued with a sensibility of made-by-hand craftsmanship.
The studio worked extensively with Irish designer Orla Kiely through the best part of a decade, designing retail stores and in-store concessions in the UK and extensively throughout Asia. Orla’s renowned colours and graphic pattern balanced perfectly with Gerard’s ability to use colours with painterly authority.
The experimental Fielding tables introduced the idea of split-height worktables and allowed the studio to offer a more intense use of colour and graphic pattern as a means to enrich and enliven office furniture, making it more engaging.
Work in the Comfort Zone, from 2007, predated Smartworking®, and had a narrative of, ‘Creating places where we feel at ease in our surroundings, places that offer fresh, flexible work destinations that allow people to network.’
One House Two Families And 25 years was a charming residential project, which saw us being commission to expand and redesign a house we had designed 25 years previously, for a second family who loved and valued everything we’d created first time around.
After the Covid pandemic shattered everyone’s confidence and made it difficult to even imaging a return to the workplace, early research suggested that the combination of maintaining a distance of two metres and wearing masks, was an effective way to reduce transmission of the virus. We brought this to life in spring 2021 with The Hula-Hoop Office, which helped people grasp what a two-metre distance looked like, by showing everyone with their own, one-metre hula hoop.
In anticipation of the possible disruption of emerging online multiple brand furniture dealers, combined with the growing desire of Orangebox clients to use a broader mix of domestic/eclectic products, in 2017 we originated The Eclectic House. A programme for sourcing a diverse range of these product typologies from multiple European artisan suppliers, that would complement Orangebox’s more invested and innovative products.
With Orangebox headed by insightful CEO, Mino Vernaschi, the design studio was positioned at the heart of Orangebox. Our partnership meant that we had the freedom to push boundaries, while benefitting from the clarity of the outside observer. More often than not, this empowered us to create new bandwidths of product narrative, such as Woods, rather than being limited to new product designs.
For any furniture designer being able to design a new high volume task chair is both a privilege and a pleasure. Kirn was our third task chair with Orangebox following X10 and Ara. Of all office furniture design projects the task chair is perhaps the most rewarding because of the extended design and development period that generally runs for three years from initial research discussions to achieving final production.
For any furniture designer the office task chair will always be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding projects because of the complexity and financial resources this product typology requires combined with the ambition to achieve design, performance, manufacturing and environmental innovation. In 2012 we originated an Orangebox research document where we analysed and set out what we believed were eleven clear office chair architecture typologies, to help inform the direction for future task chair developments. A decade later the document still influences developments, with the latest Orangebox task chair Kirn working within the Connection via Arm narrative.
We introduced Smartworking® in 2008 with this publication, orientating the Orangebox portfolio behind a narrative that suggested; ‘Smartworking® is flexible and can morph and change as quickly as business needs change to be better able to meet the challenges of tomorrow, whatever they may be.’
This was an in-house publication from the largest Steelcase dealer in California, who, as we expanded Orangebox across the US, became a principal evangelist for the new workplace typologies we were creating. In this feature, they explored our thinking with a behind-the-scenes interview with Gerard Taylor.
Relationship Buildings® is now a protected narrative, and our most recent research for Orangebox... It suggests, ‘We need to stop talking about office Buildings and start thinking about Relationship Buildings®’.
Part two of our Relationship Buildings® report explores how, ‘Fewer workers commuting to offices, fewer face-to-face meetings and conferences mean fewer offices, hotels and business travel. Where we choose to live (and work) will begin to shift the balance of city, suburban and country living.’
Part three reflects on, ‘Why we are beginning the biggest period of innovation in workplace thinking and design any of us will experience during our careers.’
8 Reasons is an insight piece produced in summer 2021, highlighting the beneficial attributes that the best client work environments bring to their workforce. It was part of our agenda to bring vitality back into workplaces fractured by Covid.
When the CEO and key senior executives of Habitat joined Selfridges, the extensive Habitat retail projects we achieved together were expanded into two key projects for Selfridges. Firstly, a large food and homeware department in the new Trafford store in Manchester; secondly, an expansive sportswear hall in their flagship Oxford Street store.
This publication, by highly regarded Glasgow-based graphics agency Graphical House, looked at Gerard Taylor’s early work and investigated how his education at the Glasgow School of Art had shaped his formative years and set him up for his successful, varied and productive career.
When Orangebox became part of the Steelcase group, we created documents to show Steelcase’s extensive European sales team how and why we created Smartworking® and what its vitality could mean for them.
Collaborating with a pioneering manufacturer such as Orangebox has been a privilege. They have had the imagination to sometimes try the unconventional, as with the Fielding Tables project, which we developed with our partner factory in Portugal. While this collection of workplace team tabling may not have achieved bestseller status, it contributed strongly to the positioning of Orangebox as a highly creative brand.
We’ve been fortunate to collaborate with many seminal figures in retail. One such figure was Doug Tomkins, founder of Esprit, with whom we created showrooms in Germany while at Sottsass Associati, and retail stores throughout Australia and New Zealand when working in London. Another is visionary retailers Vittorio Radice and Cliff Burrows, both at one time CEOs at Habitat, with whom we created ten large retail stores over a decade.
The further we migrate away from the Covid pandemic towards a new normality, the quicker we’re likely to forget the turbulence and uncertainty that reigned throughout 2020 and 2021. This January 2020 insight piece by Gerard Taylor for Orangebox reminds us that turbulence and uncertainty, if met with creativity, can prove highly beneficial in the long term, and that strength comes from acknowledging and embracing change head-on.
Celo was an early Orangebox project and reflects the ambition of the company led by the CEO Mino Vernaschi, who wanted to push innovation by creating new product architypes for the collaborative workplace. Celo offered accessible storage below a sliding worktop with the brief to the engineering team within a key German supplier, that the user had to be able to slide the top without spilling a cup of coffee.