Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to head out to Grand Rapids, MI to visit with the great people at Turnstone, a subsidiary of Steelcase.
We spent a portion of our time in Steelcase University, which is a living showroom for the various products under the Steelcase umbrella. While there are very few permanent offices located in this building, many employees end up using the space as it has a lot of light, it very open, works great, and houses a tasty cafeteria.
Turnstone itself is targeting small business, with scalable furniture options that are simple to assemble and sturdy enough to take a beating. Essentially, when you want to graduate from Ikea, you should check out Turnstone. Their operation is located in a massive pyramid-shaped building across town from the rest of the company’s campus. Their space is outfitted with a number of their products, some being unreleased and unphotographable.
One of the most interesting things about Turnstone was the amount of research that goes into their products. One product, Campfire, has a number of ideas present. One that people like huddling around something, and two that people feel more comfortable when in a defined space. Some of their research was simply observation in a Costco foodcourt and noticing that people seemed to sit beneath tables with umbrellas more regularly, even though they were already inside.
A lot of our time was spent getting to know the people involved with Turnstone like designers and marketers. We also had the opportunity to see the testing and manufacturing processes involved which gave a much more well-rounded understand of the entire process of furniture from start to finish.