Bell Works Tubes Project Uses Functional Art To Reimagine A Futuristic Public Space

It was a long-anticipated installation in the Bell Works community: The tubular sofas known as the Bell Works Tubes in our atrium.

The completion of the furniture marked the end of a two-year project to create a collective space that is simultaneously artistic and functional, dramatic and comfortable, historic and modern. Whether you’re entering the atrium for the first time or simply passing by on your way to work, the Tubes set the stage for the creative and collaborative environment that makes Bell Works so unique.

With its sharp lines, bold patterns, and bright pops of color, the work may appear to be something straight out of a modern art museum; yet its open layout and unexpected design create a fun and inviting atmosphere that welcomes regulars and newcomers alike. The custom-designed atrium furniture project is the brainchild of a talented team of creatives: world-renowned furniture designer Ron Arad, and the team behind the Italian artisan furniture company Moroso and the creative team of Bell Works – Master Architect Alexander Gorlin, Creative Director and founder of NPZ Style + Décor Paola Zamudio, and Ralph Zucker, President of Somerset Development and the visionary behind the building’s adaptive reuse.

“It became immediately clear (after meeting Zamudio and Arad) that we have a mutual understanding of design and quality,” said Moroso’s Jens Rodieck. “Throughout the project, intensive discussions, meetings, and site visits helped us design a work that contributes profoundly to an iconic building.”

“This was a collaborative effort,” Zamudio said, “but the furniture designer is Ron Arad and it was his vision for the round tubes as a contrast to the squares within the space. He insisted on creating his own custom design after he visited. I love his aesthetic, everything he makes is sculptural art.”

Ron Arad (second from left) discusses design concepts with Master Architect Alexander Gorlin and representatives of the Moroso team at Bell Works.

Zamudio turned to art history as the starting point for the project, selecting a 1926 work by textile artist Anni Albers as her inspiration behind the furniture design. She thought the colors and the story would be a perfect complement to the existing atrium tile work, which had been designed by Gorlin after the work of Anni’s husband, Josef Albers. It was Gorlin’s architectural perspective that helped Zamudio create the layout. “I selected Anni Albers’s work because I wanted to connect the history of their artwork as pioneers of twentieth-century modernism, as well as their relationship to one another.” Zamudio was also drawn to the yellow and red pops of color in Anni Albers’ work that would brighten and enliven the space.

 Photo by Marcus deSilva

Zamudio’s next step was to find a furniture concept that would complement the floor while also contributing to the innovative design of the atrium. Arad was so captivated by pictures of the building that he visited Bell Works to see the stunning architectural feat for himself. He was then inspired to create his custom-designed tubular sofas, which made their debut at Milan’s Salone del Mobile Milano and went on to be featured in the New York Times. The artisans at Moroso provided the functional component to Arad’s design and manufactured his work for commercial use.

Despite attracting design attention from around the world, the space is so much more than just an artistic display—it also serves as a common area for the building that cultivates a strong sense of community and sets the tone for the creative and innovative environment of Bell Works. “Paola and Ralph’s vision for an interactive place to work, relax, and meet gave way to a design which is simultaneously functional, beautiful, and fun,” Rodieck said. The openness of the space—and lack of corners and walls to hide behind—creates an accessible setting that encourages people to interact with one another. The unique design of the atrium and the Tubes is something you couldn’t find anywhere else, and this originality inspires the surrounding community to think boldly and imaginatively.

The creative team behind the Tubes attributes much of the successful creation of the space to Ralph Zucker and his openness to new ideas. He encouraged the group to try new methods and experiment stylistically throughout the project. “Ralph believes in the importance of great design and encouraged me to take artistic risks,” explained Zamudio, “A lot of the time, developers want something safe; Ralph wants the future.”

Zamudio takes pride in the legacy of design that the Tubes will leave at Bell Works, and she especially enjoys seeing the community gather in the atrium around the new furniture installation. “Now you can see people sitting at the Tubes and talking to each other. This is why people come to Bell Works—it’s not just the building, it’s because they want to feel connected, they want to meet the people here. That connection is what we’re nurturing in each of the areas we create.”

See how Bell Works tenant JGS Insurance takes a break on the Tubes. Click to watch.

SEE MORE: Arts & Culture, Bell Works