Watson’s C9 Creates Open Layouts That Were Previously Impossible

The C9 Office System from Watson allows for ultimate flexibility: a beautiful height-adjustable desk and a power rail that is no longer confined to straight runs.

Watson Cloud9 System elevation
The designers went for a simple uncluttered look with practical, functional details

There are many theories on what works and doesn’t work in the open office. Forward-thinking furniture companies compel their research and development teams to bring insightful solutions to the way we work today. The team at Watson introduced their new C9 office system that features the most beautiful height-adjustable desk and a power rail that is no longer confined to straight runs. The ability to bend space allows for new and interesting open plan layouts that were previously not possible.

Beautifully executed with refined lines, modern finishes, and up to the minute technology, Watson has seen designers eagerly adapt to working off the grid of traditional workstation layouts. Getting into the details with the design team, we found out some of the stories behind the product.

Does the product support agile and activity-based workplaces that are becoming so prevalent in new and refurbished facilities?

Watson Cloud9 System High Angle
The bending rail connectors allow the layout of workspace pods to be mirrored, daisy-chained, flipped, rotated, and repeated to create unique office environments that meet the needs of individual departments or teams.

C9 was built with activity-based work in mind – because of the bending rail, each workstation “pod” can be tailored to the individual or group’s needs. Some users may work more collaboratively, some may need more privacy and focus, so C9 offers agility and flexibility.

Can you give us an example of how this product can be used in a project?

We recently laid out a 200-workstation project for a client that had each department using the same “pod” but each in their own unique way was able to inform the layout based on how each department works.

Who was responsible for the design of the system?

The C9 Desk was designed by Danish design engineer, Morten Nikolajsen, who worked long distance with the Watson Orchard team. The Orchard is Watson’s product innovation studio based in Poulsbo, WA, where the design engineers executed the entire C9 collection. Watson’s lead Industrial Designer, Ethan Pearl, created the design for the C9 Power Rail and Storage.

What was the inspiration for this design of this product?

The truth is, while the open plan works some of the time, privacy and focus are diminished. The inspiration was to begin to tackle these issues to make the open office a place where people can thrive rather than just “make do”. We studied enclosure and openness to understand how they influence individuals and teams. The result is a workstation that departs from the restrictive grid of traditional linear planning – bending space, improving sight-lines, and helping people to flow more organically.

What innovations in use of materials or fabrication are utilized in the manufacture of this product ?

The key innovation is the articulated “bender” in the Cloud 9 Power Rail. This articulating joint uses a geared double-pivot mechanism to support 90 degrees of articulation in either direction. This patent-pending mechanism is fully flexible allowing adjustment at any point during the product’s life. The desk features Watson’s engineered lifting mechanism that allows the patent-pending C9 desk to be height-adjustable on four slim legs. Sustainability is bedrock to Watson, so the materials used in the product line include 80 percent recycled steel content, NAF or UAF surfaces, PET textiles, and water-based edge finishes.

This sample layout shows the range of flexible layouts that can be accomplished with the C9 Rail series.

Where do you think the installation of this product will be most effective?

C9 is responsive to a multitude of floor plans because the power rail can bend around existing columns and unusual building footprints. It turns the run-of-the-mill rows of straight spine rails into an organically shaped, vibrant office supporting the natural flow of human interchange – a more human office. The agility of C9 allows growing companies to create generous density at the outset, but condense or expand into space as the business needs change.

Are there any other unique design features that would interest our readers?

The four-leg desk offers pendant storage that travels up and down with the adjustable-height desk. This opens the space underneath the desk to create a visual and physical lightness. In addition to bending, the power rail hides plug heads from view with a unique lift-drop modesty panel. C9 accessories for the power rail include team tables for collaboration, planter boxes, and an assortment of lifestyle-workstyle tools for contemporary digital devices and personal belongings.

The wide range of accessory options lets people personalize their space

A year from now what would be the most exciting thing you could think of about how the product has been accepted, specified and installed in projects?

We would be proud to see designers take C9 and make it their own by creating working spaces that reflect a more human office. We trust in the talent of others. We believe we have given designers a workstation that is very different, but familiar. This allows designers to build workplace culture into agile teams and organizations, and embrace change without disruption.

2019 Neocon Cloud9
Multiple work settings can be achieved within the C9 product range

When will the product be available?

C9 is available now. We launched on September 3rd.

What do you think our readers will love about the product?

The C9 desk made quite a splash at NeoCon. Watson won 2 Gold and 1 Silver Award. Those distinctions were followed by two European Design Awards. Folks at Neocon sought out our showroom to see what all the buzz was about. Anyone who has been accustomed to specifying height-adjustable desks knows the C-Leg or T-leg look, but it took serious engineering innovation to raise and lower a desk which on four 40mm legs. This slender tubing makes C9 the most beautiful height-adjustable desk. The rail accessories and work tools will appeal to your readers for the ability to create new topographies for the interior landscape.

Cloud9 Workstation High Desk
The height-adjustable desks share a restrained, European-inspired design language with the power rail.

What is the expected cost of the product?

Height-Adjustable desk is $3,150 LIST; Full workstation with power rail, accessories, privacy screens, etc. around $6,000 LIST per user.

When and where do you plan to exhibit the product?

We debuted at NeoCon 2019 where we were awarded three Best of NeoCon awards:

  • GOLD – Furniture Systems & Enhancements
  • GOLD – Tables: Height-Adjustable/Training/Work
  • SILVER – Office Accessories for the C9 Cart & Garage – continue in next section

Our other awards include the European Product Design Award – Bronze for C9 System.

The product is now on its way to Watson showrooms around the country.

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