Ergonomic Technical Furniture
It was sometime shortly after that meeting at Digidesign (for more on this, check out Our Story) that we began making Technical Furniture. Up to that point we had been simply making racks. We’d been to a few NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) shows and had come out with the first hybrid station – attaching a desk to a rack so that a synth, a keyboard and a mixer could all work together. Omnirax was beginning to make a name in the music industry and we attracted the attention of the engineers at Digi – just down the road in Menlo Park.
We had a meeting at their headquarters with the engineering staff and listened to how they envisioned customers working with their new Pro Tools system. It was clear that a platform was required to harness the power of what was to become the world’s leading DAW (digital audio workstation). Putting each of the elements in their place – rack modules within easy reach, video monitor right in front, near field speakers perfectly placed for optimal sound, computer keyboard sliding below the main desk surface and controller right in front center – our resulting ProStation was an instant success. Capping it off with sound construction, hidden casters to make access to wiring a breeze and superb packaging to allow shipping anywhere in the world, we were now making studio furniture.
Our success with the ProStation led to a series of products – all purpose built and variously sized to accommodate specific equipment needs, room sizes and budgets. The day had dawned where having an Omnirax and a couple of pieces of gear laid the groundwork for a legitimate claim to one’s having a music studio of their own. Indeed, we were riding the crest of a wave of change in the music industry and doing our part to keep pace as rack power + computing power spawned a whole new generation of musicians.
The reality of what today has become known generally as content creation is that people are people no matter what they are doing. Digital audio, keyboard composing, video editing, music education were our original focus. But here’s the key – no matter what people are doing with all this technology – all that’s available to them is the space from their knees to their nose plus what’s within arms reach and easy sight line. We were practicing ergonomics before anyone had even heard of the word in the Technical Furniture industry, and due to our working the problem – have had a 20 year head start.
We still offer many products that are built around a specific piece of equipment – the MixStation Series has long been one of our most popular – but most of our current range of products are built around a spatial arrangement (see Force), a specific size (see Presto) or a particular function (see OmniDesk). No matter the model, we pay careful attention to the ergonomically designed aspects of our products – the heights, distances and spatial relationships among the elements of the product to get just the right feel. This being said, we are essentially creating “serving suggestions” and allowing our customers to tailor our products to their specific applications.
In 1998 we shifted to Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing – CAD/CAM. We’d been doing CAD since DOS, but once we added computerized manufacturing everything changed. Whereas we once painstakingly jig-sawed a single curve into a workstation’s profile and smoothed it with pattern routers, we could now cut whatever shape we wanted with amazing speed and incredible precision. Equipment is hard-edged – and for the most part still fits into rectangular boxes, but people are soft and rounded. We have always humanized our design – our smooth sinuous curves invite and welcome, creating a subtle environment, inspiring creativity.
CAD/CAM also gave us a tremendous plasticity in design. We are a design-build company at heart and many of our most successful products are an outgrowth of our personalized Collaborative Discovery and Design Process. Not only do we customize our furniture, we customize the design process. Of course, everybody thinks their specific need is one shared by the rest of the world – and occasionally they’re right, and we offer it up as a product. But the amazing thing is that no sooner do we introduce a product to the marketplace that customers call to ask us if we can change it. And we do so willingly, gladly, and often at a price that can be surprisingly low. This is because we design with Semi-Custom in mind and plan for the inevitable requests and changes.
The majority of our products in Technical Furniture are constructed of thermofused melamine laminates edged with a rugged PVC Tee-Molding. Many models are offered with a choice of High Pressure Laminate work surfaces. And of course our custom work spans an even greater variety of materials. We use laminate with a “green” particleboard core. This combination has been time tested, and proven to be a winning combination for durability, value and precise fit and finish in ready-to-assemble ergonomically designed furniture.