Written by Nick Blessinger
Think about the last time you played musical chairs. Count the participants, then gather one less chair than the number of persons. The music stops, and the person standing is out. Take away a chair and do it again. In today’s world, the music never stops. Individuals just keep going, tackling their day through meetings, tasks and general interaction. When the music does pause, where are you sitting? Is that space conducive towards the activity at-hand?
Many conversations today revolve around how many seats per person are needed in today’s workplace. Is it one? Maybe three? It depends on the organization, department and the type of work needed to get done; however, when you think about primary, secondary and social spaces at minimum, what is truly needed are choices.
Technically, 1st Place is home and 2nd Place is work. 3rd Place was originally described as places outside of home and work, designations such as cafés, coffee shops and local gathering places. This approach as a community is thoroughly covered by urban sociologist, Ray Oldendburg, author of “The Great Good Place” (1991). Just like there have always been makers (i.e. blacksmiths, cobblers) but now we’re in a maker movement, there have always been third places (i.e. libraries, parks, general stores), and we’re in a third place movement. Today, similar to maker spaces, third spaces benefit in popularity from greater awareness of a connected world and a shift towards right-brained appreciation. And, even more so, the evolution of these movements simply resonates with boomers to digital natives without effort.
Starbucks and establishments of their ilk benefited greatly from the onset of third place. Then, third place, generally reserved outside of home and office, became the “3rd Space” and was planted internally among organizations to benefit from the great atmosphere and interaction these spaces generated. Casual collisions, the bump factor, all became rooted in the reasons to dedicate prime real estate to informal spaces that accommodate individuals and small-to-medium-to-large groups with various levels of public and private applications. Why are organizations doing this? Because it works.
“Clients ask me, ‘what’s this space over here you planned with nobody’s name on it?’ I respond with ‘that is where the most work will get done.’ We purposely plan in 30 to 40% of third space because the research and our experience shows how important it is to productivity and overall culture. They reply, ‘what’s third space?,’” Pam Light, Senior Vice President, HOK Los Angeles, relates.
What is 3rd space? It’s that inviting lounge chair next to a window with tablet and power and some seclusion where you can knock out 45 minutes of work before your next meeting. It’s the small round table with three chairs where your project team can meet for an impromptu meeting. It’s a highback lounge configuration that replaces four walls, yet has all the privacy four colleagues need. Now, add LinkedIn-type networking to an external third space with cool amenities and charge for access...say hello to co-working, another movement that fits the generational blend and evolution of work/home/play.
Technology, more so the untethering of it, combined with transient workforces spawned third space activity as designers recognized that individuals needed only a percent of time in the office or at a dedicated or primary space.
“We coach our clients through a deep-dive assessment of dedicated space. What’s the run-rate on daily office capacity? How mobile is your workforce? The allocation of primary, secondary and third spaces is a measurement. Then, the proximity of the third space is just as important as recognizing that it is needed,” adds Pam Light.
What’s more, just like musical chairs, third spaces create movement and flow by being a destination, just like that last open chair. Individuals remove their bodies from statue-like positions and walk to a new space to work. Movement is well-being. Interaction is well-being. Third spaces done properly will be just like the kitchen at a house party...it’s where everyone ends up.
So, let’s play the new version of musical chairs where everyone has a couple of seats to choose from, depending on what’s playing on the day’s to-do list. The new musical chairs isn’t reserved just for the workplace. Education and healthcare environments dance right along to this tune too!
Linda has been a registered interior designer in Texas for 19 years. She is a professional member of ASID and IIDA and has her LEED-AP certification. She is one of 50 Founding Members of AAHID (2004). She has designed several furniture collections. Along with interior designer Iris Dates, Linda designed the award-winning Embrace Collection for Carolina. She has won local ASID, state IIDA and national and international design awards. She has been part of the editorial review board for HERD Journal since its beginning, one of two interior designers out of 30 worldwide reviewers.
From a branding and marketing perspective, it’s only a short hop to senior living — or what I call “healthcare-lite.” That opens up a new market.
View complete interview here.
With over 40 years of wood craftsmanship and hand selecting veneers, one of the first things Tom mentioned was how much he enjoys learning what’s new in the world of veneer. When you talk with those around Tom, you will hear about how incredibly knowledgeable he is.
“I sometimes wonder how we will replace the knowledge Tom possesses. He seems to know more about the veneer business than there is information available to learn,” David Lubbehusen, Director of Design Solutions.
Tom’s humbleness and pursuit to never stop learning speaks directly to the company’s core values. He lives them through the care he takes to ensure the customer gets an exceptionally crafted piece of wood furniture.
“Often the veneer samples come to me at our Veneer Studio for review. When I know we have a project and at times in general, I still like to go to the yard and see the bundle of flitches firsthand so there are no surprises and we get the consistency the customer deserves,” adds Tom.
Tom elaborated that looking at veneers at the yard is similar to discovering that great find like “pickers” do. “During my last visit, I saw this cherry flitch with a unique figure in it. I wasn’t sure what we would create with it, but I knew I needed to buy it. It sold immediately. That customer truly received a one-of-a-kind piece of art. We won’t see that figure again in a piece of wood. That’s the beauty of natural materials.” adds Tom.
“Tom has forgotten more about veneer than most of us can learn in a lifetime. He has the eye of an artist and the hand of a creator. He has a unique ability to see the beauty of the end piece of furniture while selecting veneer in its rawest state,” comments Phil Englert, Director of Sales Operations and Training.
Tom likes to remind our tour groups that trees are exactly like humans. There are no two trees alike in the forest. It’s all Mother Nature and the environment that gives each tree its fingerprint.
“Think about someone with freckles. That’s genetic. They’re unique and add character. That’s exactly what birdseye maple is, freckles on the tree. Or the rarity and beauty of burl wood, too. This prized wood grain is the result of a tree being under stress or a malignancy. It’s simply nature doing what it does.”
Tom honestly admitted that sometimes he can’t identify the species of a tree by its leaves or bark like many people can. “My neighbors and I were discussing what type of tree we had in the backyard that needed to be removed last year. Oak, maple, hickory...we went round and round. Finally I said, ‘Let’s cut this thing down so I can tell you guys what species it is. I just need to see it from the inside.”
I would say that Tom’s perspective on trees goes right along with the adage, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
As the door squeaks slightly when entering the seating development area, Rick Rademacher’s head pops up from his computer for a moment. Tommy Owens is over at the table with a rolling cutter, chalk lines meandering with effortless precision as he works on upholstery patterns that will ultimately be cut by a machine. But like all good things, they start by hand.
Rick is a seating engineer, and Tommy is an upholsterer: simple titles for a daily jigsaw puzzle of responsibilities. Yet the puzzle always looks like the pristine image on the front of the box. Rick and Tommy bounce ideas back and forth in the same way an engineered form of mixed materials needs foam and fabric to bring it to life.
This is the start of the game. How can Tommy make the process and patterns consistent and repeatable, so the 1,000th chair that is ordered and produced in the plant mirrors what is sitting on the table in development? That’s the thought process...below are thoughts shared while reviewing samples.
“That area gets a lot activity. Let’s use a double stitch for extra durability and a more tailored look. A customer may not notice, but we know...we can do better.”
“It was a love affair,” said Hank Menke, President and CEO of OFS Brands, about his parents’ commitment to taking worn out, scrubby and eroded land and refurbishing it into thriving forestland. He went on to say, “We did a lot of planting. We did a lot of tree planting. I did more holding in and stubbing in with my foot than most would care to. It was enjoyable, though. It was rewarding to see what we did while reflecting on what it had looked like before.”
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Hank about a seemingly simple subject - wood. My goal: to show how the material is at the core of OFS Brands; to show the important role wood has played in the history of the company and how OFS Brands has championed the use of this versatile and renewable material. My result: a perspective on how this structural material was used to build the intangible framework of a culture.
“Today you can see the pines we planted and the hardwoods that are re-emerging because of those efforts. There were mistakes made, but you know what? The fact that we were out there planting, that we were managing the land, that’s why we have more today than we did 20 to 30 years ago,” he said.
Hank talks often about how OFS Brands is a relationship-driven company. “Of course, you have to have the right product at the right price, but for us it’s much more about the relationships that we create. What you make people feel is as important as what you make,” he said. I’d heard this before, but I gave it some extra thought this time. Hank continued, “When I think of wood, I think of the forests. That makes me think of family, and I’m not just talking about my family. I’m talking about this family, OFS Brands. Wood has always been what we have done. Wood is in our roots, but ultimately it is about family. It is about this group of people.”
Read this and more in the OFS Brands 2016 Magazine!
Notes and inspirations from Roger Webb; designer of the Genus Series by Highmark.
The anatomical form of the human back is complex, and when it comes to the design of chairs it poses a particular challenge. I have always been a great advocate of chair back shapes having a form into which the back can snuggly fit, holding it in the correct position with both lumbar and pelvic support, yet allowing for movement, ventilation and blood circulation. If the human body was the same size this would make the design of the back considerably easier, but body shapes come in a variety of sizes and forms. Chair backs often are relatively flat with foam and upholstery allowing for the human back to sink into its softness...not beneficial for healthy, long-term sitting in working conditions.
In designing the Genus elastomer back, the form of the back had to include positive back supporting curvature. The original Genus Mesh has this designed into it, while the flexibility of the mesh also absorbs and responds to a variety of body types. Transferring the comfort of this back to a polymer skin, a different design language needed to be considered. The material itself has a small amount of elasticity, but by looking at expandable packaging, that takes the form of anything it encapsulates, and the design of free form architectural structures where complex shapes can be produced through a series of linear contoured lines, the Genus elastomer back evolved.
This enabled us to build into it more elasticity, utilizing the concepts of architecture and free formed shapes, providing support, firmness or flexibility in zones where it is required. The Genus Elastomer back not only gives the sensation of suppleness, the elasticity in the structure responds to the body's movement giving it the feeling of softness, but more importantly support and ventilation for longer-term, healthy sitting. Like a honeycomb, the Genus Elastomer provides immense structural performance with the minimum use of material.