Every year, Clerkenwell Design Week showcases a host of new ideas for office design from established and emerging companies. With 62 open showrooms and over 150 exhibitors, this boutique festival is now a firm fixture on the annual exhibition calendar. Here is our pick of six smart office design ideas from Clerkenwell Design Week 2014.

Personal storage boxes
As the office worker’s cubicle has given way to multifunctional spaces and hot desking, the question of where to store personal items has become a problem waiting to be solved. Designed by Simon Duff for ThinkingWorks, the portable Casino storage box is a neat answer to the personal storage conundrum set by contemporary office environments. Featuring a pull-along handle and expanded polypropylene top which doubles as a seat, the unit is designed to house the personal and work items for an individual employee in two or three lockable drawers. When the Casino was in development for initial client Pan Macmillan, the publishing company’s testers asked for a ‘posting slot’, to allow material addressed to the box’s owner to be delivered, even when it was locked and the owner was out of the office. ThinkingWorks duly obliged, and added a letterbox-style slot on the back of the unit. The Casino also comes in a double-length caddy (pictured), with twice the internal storage. Just one criticism: the seat is a fraction too high for anyone less than 1.8m tall.

Clean desk 1 – detachable tray storage
Also at ThinkingWorks was a great tabletop solution for clean desks. ‘Focused’ by Jones & Partners for ThinkingWorks, launched at CDW, is an integrated desk and storage system that allows for multiple usage of a single desktop, thanks to a series of detachable trays, pen holders and plug sockets. At the end of a meeting or work period, or at the end of the day, the structured felt and fabric work trays, manufactured using 100% recycled plastics, can be removed and stored in nearby mobile storage racks designed for the purpose, allowing the desk to be used for serial group activities without getting cluttered. Detachable trays for storage appeared elsewhere on the excellent Lap Shelving by Marina Bautier for Case. Belgian-born Bautier has used powder coated steel for her trays, which come in a range of depths, and can be lifted in and out of the modular solid oak frame, or left in situ. With the potential to transport the trays to the desktop and back, the detachable units could make clearing your workspace at the end of the day a much simpler task.

Clean desk 2 – drawers as big as your desktop
German designer Christoph Fredrich Wagner showed a plywood desk in Milan Furniture Fair earlier this year with a drawer that ran the whole width of the desktop. At CDW, British designer-maker James Tattersall showed his version of the concept as part of Platform, the emerging designers exhibition space. Each drawer in his Plan Desk is based on standard paper sizes, and although not the full size of the desktop, the largest drawer is a huge A1 size.

The inspiration behind the large drawer, explains James, was his artist partner who required a large, flat storage area for illustrations and artworks. The advantage for everyday users is the desk storage is not prescriptive: you can divide the large drawer however you wish, with room to store oversized items, such as laptop or tablet computers, and help maintain a clean and clear desktop.

Embedded technology
It was impossible to escape AirCharge at Clerkenwell. The brainchild of UK entrepreneur Steven Liquorish, AirCharge’s puck-shaped discs allow you to charge up your mobile phone battery wirelessly, simply by placing your phone flat on the disc. It works using conductive charging, the same technology used to charge electric toothbrushes. AirCharge promoted its product to the max at Design Week, and as a result a number of office design companies were talking enthusiastically about embedding wireless phone chargers in office furniture such as desks, bar tops and seating nooks.

The only drawback is Apple has yet to adopt the relevant technology to allow its products to accept wireless charging, so iPhone users require a proprietary phone cover or – in the case of the iPhone 4 – a dongle, before they can use AirCharge. This middle step slows down charging times significantly. It took approximately half an hour to charge my out-of-juice iPhone 4 to 25% via a dongle – not great, but enough to finish off the day at Clerkenwell and allow me to check my email on the way home. The current slow charge rate for some phones will not hinder this technology for long. It’s surely only a matter of time before we’re placing our mobiles on the desktop at work to charge them, rather than using up valuable space and time with trailing wires and misplaced charger units.

Formal/informal office hubs
Kinnarps’ Fika Lounge in its UK head office in Turnmill Street offered a welcome retreat from the otherwise frenetic atmosphere of the Festival, striking the right balance between formal and informal working. Fika – a Swedish verb and noun roughly translated as ‘coffee break’ – is an institution in Sweden and an essential part of the country’s office as well as social life, where groups break for a chat and to eat small cinnamon rolls with a coffee, tea or fruit juice. Kinnarps brought the work-meets-leisure concept to life with a pastry and drinks bar, breakout seating and delineated space for drop-in hot desking. The desk space – with free wi-fi for visitors and staff – is grouped around a single, large conference table, encouraging interaction and networking. The Fika Lounge’s combination of informality and efficiency attracted a steady stream of regular visitors throughout the festival, including OnOffice editor James McLachlan, dropping by for a spot of prep on the first day. Read more about office hubs on our blog post: Your Personal Meeting Place

Putting the fun back into seating
A nice touch were the lightweight Planton Lite stools by Swedish company Materia in the downstairs courtyard at Kinnarps. Thanks to a balancing weight inside, the stools come to a rest on an angle, so the rain runs off. The stools then settle level and stable when you sit on them, and tip back onto their angled edge again when you stand up – a fun and practical breakout seat for the office environment, suitable for indoor and outdoor use.