All of the objects necessary to modern office life, both digital and analogue, are neatly organized in a set of simple stacked containers by Herman Miller. Designed by Sam Hecht and Kim Colin of Industrial Facility, the ‘Formwork’ series is a modular system of containers, cups, trays and boxes that can accommodate the wide range of items people typically keep handy at their desks.

Formwork product series

The designers found that these objects aren’t limited to the expected paper clips, staplers, pens and sheafs of paper. Fruit, coffee mugs and toiletries mingle with iPods, tissue boxes and the cables of various electronics. That requires organizers that can be assembled in custom configurations, and can fit all sorts of shapes.

Formwork detail

The Formwork series includes such clever details as a cup holder that a roll of masking tape can fit around, and containers with cantilevered trays that keep your most-used items close at hand. Some items can be kept within view, with others out of sight.

formwork desk accessories assembly

Simple forms and a muted color palette in ABS plastic with non-slip silicone bases unify the set, which can be arranged side-by-side horizontally or stacked vertically.

“With Formwork, it was very much a sophisticated act of persuasion, initiated by a few people in the company who had asked for a creative response to accessories for the office,” says designer Kim Colin in an interview with Disegno. “Imagine for a moment the conversation we had with a publicly listed company – ‘We would like to design a series of simple plastic boxes for helping people sort things out a bit better. We think you have the integrity and legitimacy to do this.'”

“Formwork consists of about 14 products and each has a relationship to its potential contents,” says Sam Hecht. “Within them there are also details that give a greater usefulness, such as the small cantilevers. So a pencil cup can contain pens and scissors, but you can also put USB sticks and rubber bands in them; things with very different sizes. We wanted Formwork to acknowledge what was going inside them (to a certain extent), and this laid the foundation for the sizes and form. If you were to look at Mies, his apartments are also a result of the condition of centralizing services in the middle, and living around the edges where there is light and views – a kind of cantilever for life.”