Introducing Proto

The Proto collection is Nick Ross’ interpretation of +Halle’s brief on dwelling, inspired by our desire to seek shelter from an over-stimulated public realm. “I was thinking literately about what I felt the word dwelling meant, and it brought me back to an early type of refuge,” says Scottish-born, Stockholm-based designer Nick Ross, “I wanted to create a feeling of a primal place, for instance, tucking yourself into a corner.”

Multiple dwelling spaces

For the theme on dwelling, guidance from +Halle was given to three-selected design teams in the initial phase of the process, building on a purpose-led foundation. “A producer, usually wants a certain outcome but don’t know where to begin the conversation, and as a designer, you are left to it: here there was a vivid discussion in the beginning, not about objects but behaviours, which allowed me to take different types of risks—I would never have designed Proto if it was not for a brief like that,” Ross admits, “Our conversation brought me to shapes that communicate with us on a primal level, and these slowly became sofas and chairs.”

+Halle’s method provided an interesting discourse around the need for confined conditions where we feel safe, resonating with all three teams in different ways. “I wanted to translate the feeling of sitting in a small tent in bad weather. I was after a basic type of dwelling, and an instinctual feeling, which I wanted to translate into a range of furniture,” Ross explains.

After a month apart, participants of the +Halle briefing begun presenting to each other, in a series of peer-to-peer-led meetings: “I turned up with a box full of card models and placed them on the table to let people decide what was necessary and not. It was an organic process and quite a playful one, engaging everyone in the concept,” says Ross.

“I wanted to create a feeling of a primal place, for instance, tucking yourself into a corner.”
Nick Ross, Designer

A serene furniture experience

Ahead of the official launch, Proto was tested and monitored with a set of users, being closely observed around the range: “The one thing that I noticed was that people started to move the pieces around, in the same way as we had tested and moved the card models around during our first process meetings,” Ross recalls, “It was a joy to see them being as playful as I had initially been.”

As the intuition is to turn the seats, the collection proofs an interesting flexible landscape of open and closed encounters. “Even the way people intuitively place two high Proto chairs next to each other, with arms touching, provides a little room, or a small, improvised habitual structure,” says Ross.

The installation of Proto is not only fundamentally adaptable to its context but also flexible to any environment—a testament that the use of Proto is constantly evolving. “I envisioned Proto in places where you may be vulnerable, needing a safe corner in a landscape of uncertainty,” Ross concludes. “Hospitals are an interesting setting—or any space where you need that inner feeling of security. And perhaps bigger workspaces, where you want to speak to a selected few in a crowded space, using Proto to foster an intimacy that often gets lost today.”

The way +Halle and Ross developed the design of the upholstery together for the Proto collection contributed to a qualitative, tailored and comforting finish. “Highlighting the outline of the collection was an important dialogue with +Halle throughout the design process. The outer seams are not an application +Halle normally use, but something that brings a resilient and crafted look,” says Ross.

Explore the Proto collection

See the new Proto collection from the latest Annual Briefing collaboration on Dwelling.

Proto Table 1
by Nick Ross
Proto Sofa Out/In
by Nick Ross
Proto Table 2
by Nick Ross
Proto Bench
by Nick Ross
Proto Table 3
by Nick Ross
Proto High Chair Out
by Nick Ross
Proto Table 4
by Nick Ross
Proto Low Chair In
by Nick Ross
Proto Pouf
by Nick Ross
Proto Low Chair Out
by Nick Ross