Office Furniture Design Challenge

Design an excellent office furniture in only one day? It's not impossible. Let's take the challenge and show our co-work power.

Industrial Design, Team Project


This was a design workshop hosted by Dirk Wynants, the founder of Extremis. In this workshop, we got a challenge to cooperate with people we just met, and to find a good way to redesign MARINA PICNIC, a long picnic table designed by Metrica in 2012, changing it from an outdoor table into an excellent office furniture. Although it seemed to be an impossible design mission, my team finally contrived a wonderful multifunctional office conference table after times of brainstorms and collaboration based on our own characters and specialties.




3D Modeling


September 2013 ( 2 Days)


Mengzhen Xiao 

Linong Dai (Professor at SJTU)

Joe (Product Designer)

Wang (Product Designer)

Stone (Engineer)

José (Furniture Design Student from France)


Task Schedule Making

Research Analysis

Industrial Design

About The Challenge

MARINA PICNIC is an outdoor table designed by designed by Metrica in 2012. It is made it out of pultruded glass fibre profiles, which allowed it to be created into seemingly endless tables. Extremis made this table based on the concept of SHARING. "SHARING opens the door to more space, more luxury, more comfort..." said on Extremis's website.

The challenge we took was to find the opportunity to make this Marina design into office environment, which helps to create a more open, sharing and cooperative working space. This was a totally a new attempt to change the traditional office with independent desk and separated space.

From shared outdoor spaces to sharing indoor office environment. 

What We Did

On the first day of the workshop, Dirk Wynants gave us a lecture about design and extended to what design should be in the society. We took notes, discussed in group and also did design practice in team to build the team spirit.

On the second day, we began to work on our design challenge. At first, we analyzed the difference between indoor and outdoor environment, as well as the difference between party scenarios and working scenarios. Based on that, we summarized out 19 problems on the current Marina Picnic Table if it would be used as an office working table. Then we voted to elect the three most serious problems we thought.

Analyze the difference.

Current problems.

Vote for the three most serious problems.

Space Utilization, Privacy and Personalization

are the three main problems we chose to solve in our design.

To solve the problems, our team did brainstorming to generate ideas. We voted for three ideas and sketched more details about the chosen ones in order to do more deep discussion and comparison.

Brainstorming to generate ideas. 

Sketch to discuss details.

MARINA OFFICE: Make your semi-open office space.

After decided the design, we made 3D model and the engineering structure of the table.

Space Utilization: Taking a meeting right now.

No more need to book a meeting room before, you can have a short meeting or discussion right now right here. With the help of the shelter shed attached to the table, it is able to create a temporary private space for a group of people to talk.​ The shelter shed can slide through the track under the table. So it is convenient for people to start a meeting at any place of the table.


The design process.

HOPPER, designed by Dirk Wynants

Resigned the support structure.

Retracted state.

Engineering structure.

We got inspiration from HOPPER, an outdoor shelter designed by Dirk Wynants in 2010. In order for the shelter to be attached to the table, we redesigned its support structure, which took less space. The forth image above shows how its engineering structure works. 

Privacy: Create a private meeting space.

projection screen

To create a more private meeting space, the cloth can be stretched out either to the left or right, or in both. It not only works for privacy, but also works as projection screens, which is often a must in meeting demonstration.

Personalization: Chose colorful sticks.

White: working

​Black: Busy

Green: welcome to talk

Wood Colour: absent

We also added STICKS, another product of Extremis, to the table. The colorful sticks are attached to everyone's position, working for space division, and also present the person's working condition. This offers help to cooperation.


Team discussion. From left to right: Wang, Joe, Me, Stone, José. The photo was taken by Prof. Dai.

I never imaged that I can output such an amazing project just in one day before. This was the first time that I cooperated with designers outside my school. I really appreciated this cooperation since I gained a lot from my co-workers.

Prof. Dai from SJTU was already renowned for many academic achievements, but she kept on trying new things and cherished this communication opportunity, which motivated me to delve into unfamiliar fields with curiosity and diligence.


Joe, an outgoing product designer, loved to share his thoughts even some of which were immature. His confidence made me realize the significance of expressing ideas and encouraged me to perform more actively.


Wang, an industrial designer with prudent working style, often pinpointed the key to a question, revealing me that logical thinking played an important part in a designer.

Stone, an engineer, didn’t have systematized knowledge in design and sometimes I needed to explain the design concepts to him, but his engineering techniques helped us tackle the unreasonable structural problems. This taught me how to collaborate with engineers.


José, a French furniture design student, was open-minded who conceived many creative inspirations for this project.


In addition to exerting my design abilities, I summarized our progress and views in each discussion, and made a task schedule via Tower (an online application), in order to provide convenience for everybody.

It was my great honor to have the chance of learning from Dirk Wynants. He is really experienced, smart, creative and capable. He was so kind that he helped us a lot in optimize our design. I also learnt a lot in design strategy and design business from him.

Dick and me.

Thank You!

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