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WerkWaar

Graduation project for the master Interior Architecture and Retail design.

Starting points for my graduation project were the difficult situation on the furniture market and the search for the 'new' office. The world's financial situation is to be considered the main cause for the difficult situation on the furniture market. Besides the difficult economical times (low consumer spendings) Dutch furniture stores lack inspiring 'new' design.

Parrallel there is a change taking place in the places where people work. Traditional offices are no longer the benchmark. Both employees as employers are searching for new places to work. I saw an opportunity for a new retail concept, offering a solution for both developments.

The concept WerkWaar is a life furniture showroom with a double function. WerkWaar's store space does not only function as a presentation for the office related furniture, which the concept sells. It is in the same time a flex workspace where 'city dwellers' work. They can keep a meeting with a good coffee from our coffee bar and enjoy nice furniture products in the same time. Furthermore they can rent a closed meeting space if they want a more serious work environment.

For the creation of the concept WerkWaar I formulated a number of research questions. The central research question was;

How do a design furniture showroom and flex workplaces form a strong and achievable retail concept ?

The research for this thesis goes into all aspects of the broad furniture retail market. Main furniture brands were studied, design stores where visited and analyzed. I researched what people think of furniture boulevards looked to the online furniture retail market. Visited design fairs and used the theories of Mutations and blurring. A broad literature study conducted in the field of management and ICT took me into the values and habits of 'Het Nieuwe Werken' meaning 'new ways of working' an in the Netherlands popular style to which flex working is part of.

WerkWaar searches for the most challenging way to combine the functions and found the common ground for retail and office. We want to address to a growing group of flex workers and offer them a extraordinary flex work initiative.

On the same time we want to make furniture design better accessible to a large scale public. Werkwaar provides a place for young talented furniture designers where they can show their products. By doing so WerkWaar is able to offer a more surprising product range to consumers.

WerkWaar will be located in the inner city of Utrecht on the edge of the main shopping streets and close to the main train station. The store is extended by an architectural bridge which forms a large furniture show window and a public promenade. The bridge makes a connection between the central train station the park and the building of WerkWaar. Also in the evening hours the bridge is open for public where through the products of WerkWaar are always in the spot light.

WerkWaar will be present on design fairs in the form of WerkWaar 'spots'; architectural pavilions which present furniture from the WerkWaar collection and can be used as flex work places. WerkWaar 'spots' will introduce the new concept of WerkWaar to an international public in an attractive and innovative way.

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