Gensler and Cosm: A Great Match

The international integrated design firm offered their take on the innovative office chair with a bold, freeform exhibition inspired by the colours, sense of weightlessness and possibilities the seat presents. Find out more about their creative process in our story

Part of Gensler’s display at the launch of Cosm in Singapore in September. This installation reflects Gensler’s view of the Cosm chair in Canyon red

After much fanfare at Milan Design Week earlier this year, Cosm has finally arrived in Asia. Herman Miller celebrated the regional launch with a party on 19 September 2018, in partnership with XTRA in Singapore. Designed by Berlin’s Studio 7.5, this office chair is significant because it marks a real leap forward in the evolution of self-adjusting mechanisms. With such innovation on show, Herman Miller didn’t want to host just any usual launch. That’s why they sought the assistance of Gensler and DP Design in creating an exhibition with a difference, leaving it up to the design firms to present their interpretations of Cosm and its world.

Linda Zeeman from the Gensler team introduces their showcase during the launch

With their expertise in designing state-of-the-art workspaces around the world, leading architecture, design, planning and consulting firm Gensler was perfectly positioned to offer their take on an office chair that is set to change the way we work. Gensler’s Singapore team, led by Linda Zeeman and design director Ziggy Bautisa, together with Rommel Jimenez, Lalana Phumdorkmai and Jasmine Ang, worked on the concept for the exhibition and the installation itself. Here, they talk about their ideas, their inspiration and why Cosm is so special.

(Left to Right) Ziggy Bautisa, Rommel Jimenez, Lalana Phumdorkmai, Jasmine Ang – the creative minds from Gensler Singapore share with us their inspiration on the installation at Singapore’s Cosm Launch.

How did you interpret Cosm for this exhibition?

Jasmine: The shapes that we came up with are actually inspired by the concept of nature that’s inherent in the Cosm chair. We used the colours as the background.

Ziggy: The moment you go into the space we designed, you would notice it’s divided into four zones. These zones are separated by what the chair represents, from the minerals to the canyons. On a conceptual level, it really defines the atmosphere we imagined.

Inspirations for Gensler’s interpretation of Cosm’s world. Photos by Madhu Shesharam, Emily Toycen, Alto Crew, Ilaya Mcneely, from Unsplash

What was it like to work with Herman Miller on this one? How did you work together?

Ziggy: It was our privilege to be part of this. We never expected Herman Miller to come to us and invite us to do a concept for this show.

The experience was very collaborative. Gensler is very interested in a lot of collaboration. We cherished every moment of interaction with them, and we tried to translate that into our design. Not only the concept of the chair, but also how we worked with Herman Miller. The way we worked together was very light, it was very flowy and at the same time, it was fun and creative.

What were the challenges of working on a project like this?

Jasmine: One of the main challenges we faced was the limitation of time and budget. We only had a short time to design and contract then a week of installation. Even in the week of installation, we had a lot of improvising to do.

With the studio white installation, we really wanted to express the snow-white colour of Cosm in Mineral. We used a bunch of papers and crumpling them to replicate the ice.

Gensler’s perspective on Cosm in Mineral

What did you like best about this project?

Jasmine: One thing we liked about [this project and the budgetary limitations] was we got the chance to show and express our creativity in a very fun and innovative way.

Rommel: What I liked best was our concept for Nightfall. With the chair integrated into it, it became a lifeform of its own. The chair exists in the space but the space is on its own. You can only see that what you have in there is the chair, and the rest is not relevant.

Cosm in Nightfall – as interpreted by Gensler at the Singapore launch

One of Gensler’s concepts for their presentation at the Singapore launch

What ideas and thoughts did you want visitors to take away with them?

Ziggy: One of the takeaways we want people to have is that Cosm is such an inspiring chair, it will inspire you to do many things that you wouldn’t get from your normal chair experience. Such freedom allows you to be a bit more productive and increases you as an individual. And, when you sit on this chair, you’ll feel like you have another part of your human body.

Guests at the Singapore launch explored Cosm and experienced it firsthand

What three words best describe Cosm, in your view?

Lalana: Sexy, comfortable and light. Sexy because of the shape of the chair; because it’s shaped like the human body. Comfortable, because when you sit on the chair, you feel it blends with your body perfectly. And light because the chair itself is like another part of your body.

Cosm’s sleek curves and clever details are designed to adjust to every body

Ziggy: Adventurous, game-changing and wonderful.

My view of Cosm is probably a bit biased, because I do love chairs. Unfortunately chairs in general have received a bad rap in the last few years because it’s been found that sitting for hours is not good for your health. But chairs really are a complement to people’s lives. This type of chair really enhances the performance of the human body, and I believe a chair should be geared towards this type of principle. We as humans shouldn’t be adjusting to the things around us; chairs and other pieces of furniture should instead be complementing the things we do in our lives.

Click here to find out more about Cosm!