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A Showroom Experience that Breaks the Mold

| Steelcase WorkLife Center, 4 Columbus Circle, NY | Steelcase hired IDEO to design a prototype selling space at their headquarters in New York city to help reposition them from furniture providers to knowledge experts in the workplace. A sales office, showroom, and resource center, the Steelcase Work Life center in NY was the flagship model for other centers located around the world. One of the most innovative concepts designed into the space was to eliminate the typical showroom's static, pristine presentation of furniture, and activate it by turning the furniture displays into real working space for the showroom staff, so visitors could really see how the furniture solutions are used. The showroom included 3 floors of interactive product demonstration areas, a cafe, and a story about the changing rhythm of work and play in our lives. The design won an IDSA Gold award in 1996.

SHOWROOM ENTRANCE AND CAFE | Visitors begin their journey at the cafe, where they can enjoy a cup of coffee while discussing their needs with the sales staff using interactive sales tools we developed, or they can watch video case studies accessible via mobile carts. A Steelcase timeline runs from floor to floor of this multi-level showroom along the core of the building, with chalkboard walls for spontaneous conversations and diagramming floor plans, furniture settings, etc.

THE ERGONOMIC SANDBOX | After learning about solutions that fit their work style, visitors can "kick the tires" in the seating exhibit we called the "Ergonomic Sandbox" by trying out seating. When a visitor sits down in a chair, a sensor triggers a graphical presentation (behind a two-way mirror) of the chair's features and how to adjust it for the perfect fit. Environmental graphics on translucent scrim fabric surrounding the exhibit communicate the different areas of the body affected by seating.

PRODUCT DEMONSTRATION POD | Different styles of work require different styles of furniture, displayed for visitors in "product pods". Rotating panels with graphics printed on heavy paper and scrim fabric tell a story about the history and impact of work in our lives. Case studies can be projected on an integrated screen (controlled with a remote) to show customers the benefits of the particular Steelcase workplace solution, from the mouths of customers using them.


DETAIL: We used expressive typography (on the paper scrim) intermixed with photographs (on the fabric scrim) to tell stories about work and life, and the blurring boundaries in between.