media:scape for Steelcase

Connecting teams with technology-enabled workspace furniture

Steelcase stands at the intersection of workspace systems and technology, connecting people, projects, and teams through leading-edge spaces, experiences, and furniture. Looking for market validation of a first-of-its-kind meeting concept, Steelcase approached IDEO to evaluate the design’s potential for success. Using design research, IDEO revealed opportunities to optimize the media-enabled concept and turn it into an award-winning workspace solution.

IDEO and Steelcase set out to understand team dynamics and communication methods, and how team sizes, meeting styles, and available technology can better foster group outcomes. Observations uncovered a desire for simplicity, flexibility, and democracy, which helped guide and inform the design of several evaluative prototypes.

The final design is media:scape, a “walk-up and connect” experience that merges furniture and technology to help teams access and share information. Designed to look light, open, and inviting, media:scape uses a pedestal table with cleverly embedded hardware and interactive technology to foster group work. A unique puck-shaped handset allows users to connect laptops and control the content of what is projected on a single, or up to four flanking LCD screens. Handsets are easily stowed in the designated “media well,” reserving the table surface for active work and related tools. When the system is powered on, first-time users are offered a short tutorial animation, eliminating the need for IT’s help with set-up or shutdown. Available with several material choices, all furniture components are planned for Cradle-to-Cradle certification and include PVC-free cables and wiring.

Winner of a Gold Medal at NeoCon 2008, media:scape begins shipping in 2009.

Project date: 2008