A Mobile Charging System Designed by Industrial Facility 

The Powerbox is the latest addition to Herman Miller’s OE1 Workspace Collection. Like the other pieces in the collection, it’s been designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, a/k/a Industrial Facility; however it’s not a piece of furniture, but a portable charging system meant to enable workplace flexibility.

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Resembling a piece of Modernist exercise equipment, the Powerbox delivers roughly 250Wh through its one USB-A and three USB-C ports. That’s enough to charge three 70W laptops simultaneously, or one worker’s laptop with multiple accessories. A single button atop the unit illuminates one to four LED dots next to it, to indicate battery level.

The idea is that during the workday, Powerboxes are staged and available at multiple hubs around an office. At the end of the day, the Powerboxes are docked in companion Powertrays, four to a tray. These are plugged in for overnight charging.

The Powerbox has been designed to fit on the OE1 Storage Trolley; for more power-hungry kit, like monitors, projectors and speakers, multiple Powerboxes can be rolled in. This allows presentations and brainstorming sessions to be held in places without any juice.

As for how Industrial Facility arrived at the form:

“The physical design is meant to hold the feeling of ‘battery-ness’ – something solid and reliable that references power (rather than an arbitrary metaphor),” they write. Furthermore, the shape allows the object to be used in multiple orientations.

Furthermore, the Powerbox has been designed for sustainability and serviceability. Rather than lithium-ion they’ve gone with lithium ion phosphate (LFP), “allowing each Powerbox to be cobalt, nickel and heavy-metal free, less hazardous, and with a five-times longer life cycle,” IF writes. “The housing is made from a single 100% post-consumer ABS plastic that meets all CE regulations and is designed to be serviceable and dismantle-able.”

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The designers have also thought through, by assessing similar shared objects, how the individual object operates within a system. “We imagine the future by looking first at other socially-shared tools that operate in semi-public or public space, like e-bikes, car share and libraries,” writes Future Facility, Industrial Facility’s sister studio. (Broadly speaking, Future Facility drills down into UI and UX along with design and engineering matters.) “By understanding well how we operate culturally, we can design it better.”

The resultant Powerbox Ecosystem allows facility managers to keep track of Powerbox units digitally, seeing location, power level and analytics; users can locate available units and book them.

“We identified potential pain points for people and designed them out of the system,” writes Future Facility. “We understand individual needs to work freely, anywhere, all day.”

Source: core77

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