Scenery Modular – Arcadia’s New Collection Designed by 5D Studio
When we imagine “using” a sofa, it’s easy to jump to a picture of one or two people sitting on a sofa, chatting together, reading a book, or working on a laptop.
Scenery Modular, a new modular furniture collection by California-based Arcadia, pushes the concept behind the traditional sofa much further. Scenery was designed by 5D Studio, a multidisciplinary studio with expertise in both graphic design (2D) and contract furniture and interior design (3D) – hence the name, 5D Studio.
The grounding concept behind Scenery is to activate all sides of a sofa, rather than simply sitting on the interior as usual. That activation comes in the form of a ledge around the exterior perimeter that serves as a work surface or perching rest – offering multiple and varied ways of interacting at once.
Scenery’s design is clever in its understated functionality, and in its ability to bring casual, natural interactions to fruition. To get the scoop on the design and development of the collection we spoke to rad guys at 5D Studio and the lovely Helen Kim, Vice President of Marketing at Arcadia.
David Ritch and Mark Saffell, the two guys behind 5D Studio, began working with Arcadia in the 90s, and have designed many, many products for the brand since then.
“We’ve been working with Arcadia for quite some time, but Scenery was a larger project than others we’ve done in the past,” said Mr. Saffell. “Before the buzz word of residential came about, we began thinking about something like this – at different ways to sit on a sofa. Residentially, when you have a party or gathering, you have people sitting on the inside of the sofa, but also sitting on the arms and leaning against the back of the sofa. We wanted to expand the use – we thought, ‘let’s get some use out of the back of the sofa.”
“The concept was drawn from that idea, and then we grew from that original base concept to thinking about creating space with a soft seating piece, but also utilizing new spaces.”
Scenery features lounge, love seat and sofa configurations, in addition to corner units and benches – and running along the back perimeter of these pieces is a ledge providing perching support or additional workspace options. The collection also includes a really cool optional wood bridge that can be suspended between pieces, accompanied by a bench underneath.
“Our relationship with our product designers is such that they know us really well,” said Ms. Kim. “The design that 5D brought to us was something that pushed us out of our comfort zone, which is how many of their designs are. And because of the long history we have in working with them, we have a really smooth process through design and development. There’s a lot of really good collaboration between our engineering team and them. There’s a strong sense of mutual respect there.”
“They really push the envelope with us. Many of the products they’ve come to us with, we wouldn’t necessarily be super comfortable with right away. But they know we are open to new things, and to thinking outside the box.”
The guys from 5D have pitched and successfully designed pieces for Arcadia including training tables, easels and high-back modular seating – pieces that Kim notes also pushed the brand into new territory that paid off in spades.
“Because it was so unique, with the perch on the other side, we said yes right away,” Kim said. “The wood piece was so cool – the idea of that suspended bridge piece that you could work on or perch on – that’s what we really loved. It was a selling point for us because it maximizes both the outer and inner perimeter.”
Making better use of the square footage taken up by a sofa and its surrounding and increasing the functionality options of that space, presents a unique advantage.
“You may have two people sitting inside the sofa and discussing something, and then a separate experience happening on the outside,” Saffell said. “When we introduced the collection to our reps at our NeoCon sales presentation, it was perfect because people were coming in and gathering around for the presentation, and they were naturally sitting on it in all the different ways, grabbing a chair from another vignette and pulling up to lean against the ledge.”
Scenery was designed for larger vignettes, but 5D and Arcadia also wanted to create more affordable options, thus the inclusion of one-seater and two-seater options. The collection features a die-cast metal leg, available in standard and premium finishes. The wood bridge is available in two lengths and is offered in ash and walnut veneer, with a solid wood edge. Optional power units with various placement choices are available.
Because of its shape and its intended functionality goals, Scenery’s structural engineering presented challenges.
“The wood bridge piece was a big focus,” Saffell said. “One of the challenges we found was in making it comfortable. The ledge had to be strong and sound and able to support full weight, and it helps define the space. But, we also needed to make sure the sofa was comfortable and that you could lean against the ledge in a comfortable way.”
“The original concept was much heavier, going all the way to the ground, and our first iterations were cumbersome and not nearly as refined as what we ended up with,” added Mr. Ritch. “We spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to make the top hard and the front and interior soft. With the ledge element, we also had to design for the right amount of knee space, and had to figure out how to keep it from tipping over if someone leaned on it in a particular way.”
Scenery’s functionality is balanced out by a carefully curated playful, K-12 vibe – an intentional design choice.
“You can slide your legs through the space below the ledge, and in that way, it has a sort of playground feel to it,” Ritch said. “How you sit in and on furniture is different now – it’s changed. Scenery taps into that casualness that has stepped into the office.”
“We see further down the road, and we tend to push Arcadia a little bit more, because we know they’re open to it. A lot of things take time to incubate, and Scenery was like that. There is a 360° dynamic to it – it’s not one-sided. Even the way it’s photographed, you can see how people will use it in their own way.”
Congrats to the Arcadia team and to 5D Studio, on a great design and on a fruitful collaborative process. We can’t wait to see it in action in future workspaces.