• Stream
  • Portfolio
  • About
Bahn is a power, voice, and data delivery solution I designed while at Watson Furniture. Bahn is for organizations that value modularity and simplicity in open plan environments. The freestanding Bahn Raceway, outfitted with storage and privacy screens, can be combined with an array of Watson Desks to create flexible work zones and open vistas.
As the modern office progresses away from individually walled cubicles, open office environments wrestle with the problem of providing power, voice and data in an elegant and efficient way. One that is simplified for everyone in the process - from manufacture, to install, to everyday use - and meets the demands of today’s office design. Watson Furniture Group has produced tables, desks and storage for offices for over 40 years, but had never manufactured their own power, voice and data (PVD) system. This was a chance for Watson to design what the ideal open office PVD system should be and provide a complete workstation solution.
The result is Bahn, a furniture system designed for dynamic office environments that promote heads down focus and team interaction.
Bahn was featured at Watson's showroom for NeoCon 2016.
Freestanding raceway with 3-leg desks and storage options.
Marketing renders to display some of the variety of applications for Bahn.
GOALS:
To kickoff this project the heads of each department at Watson and I discussed what requirements the new system needed to fulfill based on Watson's current offerings, market trends, and known gaps in the category. These are the goals we set for the system:
- Design an open office power, voice, and data delivery system to replace the antiquated panel system that has dominated for the past 20+ years. It needs to be able to create the same workstation types.
- Address the five user groups: Designers and Product Specifiers, Facilities Managers, Information Technicians (IT), Installers, and End Users.
- Manage wires at a height adjustable or fixed workstation.
- Provide dynamic levels of privacy.
- Minimize the amount of parts for assembly and specification.
- Make a system that is easily reconfigured and flexible.
- Needs to be manufactured in the Watson factory.
After the kickoff meeting, I made these quick vision sketches while the whole picture was clear in my head. These drawings served as a reference and reminder of the whole, something easy to lose sight of when working through so many details.
This is one of the main problems we wanted to fix with Bahn: Messy Cables. With a panel system, no one cared because everything gets blocked from view by the panels. But with the trend towards more open airy spaces, there wasn't a product that could cleanly deliver PVD to a workstation.
The core of Bahn is the Power Voice and Data (PVD) beam, so development started there. We wanted to base it on the raceway found in an existing product Tonic, so the rectilinear form was the starting point. These sketches were exploring construction methods, data routing, and user access.
Many cardboard raceways were mocked up to test different widths, depths, openings, and data routing options. We wanted to give a user enough space for power strips, laptop blocks, excess cables and easy access to the outlets. For IT I was also determined to minimize the amount of cable feed through required. Many systems on the market require a pass through at every junction.
The final design is a single bent piece of sheet metal, which makes for a very strong and rigid beam. That is then reinforced with a couple end plates, also used for leg attachment and segment to segment joining.
Here you can see the central pathway for the power jumpers and the data and phone lines in the outside corners. These must be kept separate for code.
The top is covered by durable compact laminate lids with openings for user access to outlets and easy cable stowage. When IT needs access to the phone or data lines they can remove the lids. Data lines are all top down lay-in, except when routed to a floor feed.
For privacy options I worked toward creating cohesive styling between the varying versions, Raceway Mounted, Desk Mounted, Side Screens, and Aisle Screens. I explored different aesthetics, but we knew we wanted Bahn to be a more friendly system in comparison the the rigidity of most panel systems. Rounded corners, bevels and some use of tapering was used to achieve this.
Some cardboard mock-ups of Aisle Screens.
Much of the design exploration and refinement was done in SketchUp. It allows for such quick and easy modification and evolution.
First full prototype with Spine, Aisle, and Desk Mounted screens.
Testing an alternative to a tackable screen, the "clothesline".
Desk Mounted Screens:
The final version features a colored cord trim around the perimeter. The Desk Mount screens are tackable, and have low profile clamps to minimize surface protrusion.
Detail of the cording, which can be specified in six different colors, serving as a nice accent when desired.
Aisle Screens:
This simple 4-pack demonstrates a high privacy type configuration. Desk mounted screens move up and down with the user, and the aisle screens help block out peripheral distractions.
Spine Screens:
This configurations demonstrates how Spine Screens can serve as a simple barrier between collaborative zones and work spaces, while sharing a power beam.
I ideated storage based on six different storage zones. We ended up launching with aisle storage pieces, raceway credenzas, and side towers, the three most necessary for initial launch.
Nike is a major customer of Watson products, and in discussion with them developed a new type of credenza. The shared nature of it works well for hot-desking type work spaces.
A prototype of End Lockers and Side Towers.
Freestanding Locker:
The final locker design. The single "kick plate" panel provides a bin for every locker and when you set your bag down in front of your locker it doesn't get in the way of opening the door. Shown here with whiteboard laminate doors.
Aisle Credenza:
This configuration shows that even as separate parts, a unified workbench can be assembled. The Side Open credenzas here work well for Hot-Desking applications or Co-Working spaces where workstations are not permanently assigned.
Raceway Credenza:
We knew specifiers would have concerns with such a wide beam when most panel systems are 4"-6" wide. The credenzas are specifically designed to nest under the raceway to maximize storage space and minimize impact on the workstation footprint. In conjunction with a Watson desk, the dimensional impact is identical and surprisingly in some cases, better.
All the Bahn storage is symmetrical for easy reconfiguration.
Side Tower:
The large lockable roll-out shelf maximizes vertical space and is ideal for sit-to-stand work applications
This video shows the functionality of the Side Tower, particularly note the removable back panel that allows a change in the open direction. Basically it's non handed, a first for a product of its type in the industry.
Wire Management:
For height adjustable desks, I designed two quick and easy to use cable managers. While not a glamorous aspect of furniture design, it deserved thoughtful consideration. Two versions were developed, a simple and cost effective plastic strip, designed to minimize the barriers to use, and a fabric sleeve version for those who desire their cables to be fully concealed. Both are much simpler to use than the standard industry solution, an energy chain.
The low cost version isn't the prettiest thing, but it works very well. Here I'm testing the capacity of some early 3D printed ones (white), and an alternate orientation with production ones (black).
For this aspect of Bahn I got to design two injection molded parts, something Watson rarely does as they strive to produce everything onsite.
Here's the technical drawing of the fabric version I took to the pattern house to create the patterns to send to the manufacturer. The fabric version uses the same plastic strip which provides stiffness creating a nicer arc as it bends. A Velcro closure allows wires to exit whenever necessary, and makes filling with cables easier as well.
Testing first factory samples of the fabric wire manager.
Look carefully on the right and you can see the fabric wire managers going from the raceway to the desk.
I also designed a cable tray for desk mounted screens or modesty, necessary for side firing worksurfaces where the cables need to be routed over to the Bahn raceway.
In this application, wire trays on screens would be beneficial.
Summary:
Bahn is Watson’s answer to the complete workstation solution, manufactured and built by Watson in the Poulsbo factory. The integrated approach to power delivery, sit-to-stand desks and storage, delivers economy and flexibility to the open plan. With as few as five components, Bahn can support well-connected and productive workspaces. Inherent in the design is the ability to reconfigure and re-purpose components, including the freestanding power raceway, as team composition changes and as a business grows.
Bahn - Open Office System

Bahn is a power, voice, and data delivery solution designed for organizations that value modularity and simplicity in open plan environments. The freestanding Bahn Raceway, outfitted with storage and privacy screens, can be combined with an array of Watson Desks to create flexible work zones and open vistas.

View Website
Available
Freelance, Full-time
Bryce Moulton
Industrial Designer Poulsbo, WA