Industrially manufactured furniture and bespoke designs are usually viewed as being on opposite ends of the spectrum. The challenge has been to straddle the divide between speed, ease and cost of production, and the ability to tailor the object to a particular space. Modular furniture, while suited to mass manufacture, is restricted by its own framework and struggles to accommodate incremental changes that are often required to suit the demands of the architectural space.
The Foster 512 series bench – the latest product line designed by Foster + Partners for Walter Knoll – is a new range of furniture that can be easily adapted and scaled to suit any space. As well as pre-defined modules, the Foster 512 has an innovative frame construction which allows for bespoke configurations, with exact radiuses and dimensions that can be specified at the time of manufacture. It supports multiple – almost infinite – seating configurations, with different levels of enclosure for groups and individuals, and is available in a range of materials and finishes.
Providing an aesthetic framework that retains itself across different scales, the individual components are designed to suit a range of flexible requirements. It features a simple cast aluminium blade leg that fixes to the seat at varying positions dependant on the length of the bench. The customisable seat cushion can have variable densities, to create hard or soft surfaces, based on the intended use, and the benches are available with or without a backrest and privacy screen, making it appropriate for a range of functions from office receptions to exhibition galleries.