Over the past few weeks, you may have seen images of a really comfy looking armchair, shaped like an old-fashioned telephone receiver, on social networking and news websites. Called the “First Call chair”, the function of this object is pretty much what its name and shape suggests — a cosy little nook where you can make important phone calls in privacy, even if you are, in fact, surrounded by a roomful of people.
The First Call chair’s Dutch creator, Ruud Van De Wier is an interiors architect who often works with offices that have an open space design. And the most common problem with open spaces, as Ruud points out, is noisy colleagues! “That’s why I designed a private space to make a phone call without being disturbed by the surrounding noise. I used the most recognisable shape so no explanation on how to use the chair was needed,” says Ruud, talking about how his popular design came into being.
In designing the chair, Ruud faced two challenges — one was finding the right materials, especially considering its less than typical shape. The second was to find a partner for the production process, which took nearly three years for Ruud to finalise. But the wait has paid off, with all the attention his design has now received.
The First Call chair is a symbol for Ruud’s design philosophy, one where he “finds inspiration in inefficiency”. “For me, design is about coming up with creative solutions. I see obstacles as a challenge for pushing my creativity to the limit. So in a way you can say that these obstacles inspire me,” says Ruud.
Ruud says the challenge is always to create a good workspace, and his quest coincides with a larger trend that is being observed in his home country. “In the Netherlands, the biggest trend right now is what we call ‘Het nieuwe werken’, which translates as ‘the new way of working’. This is a fairly complex process, but it basically means that you can work in any place at any time. Flexibility is the keyword for the design of the interior. For me, that means seeking for solutions in creating all types of working spaces. The office should not be a standard working area, but needs to be a social meeting place where people can do their job in a comfortable way,” he explains, adding that when he walks around an office or any other kind of space, he is always looking at how design can make that area a better and efficient one for working in. This end result is what dictates his design “style” or aesthetic as well. “My ‘style’ has everything to do with the solution I then come up with. For my work, it all just needs to add up,” says Ruud. “I don’t see myself as an artist. I design out of functionality.”