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McWaters: Partners in Design

October 19, 2016

Ever wonder how McWaters designers think about space? Or what products they’re excited about? Our designers are answering those questions and more in our series McWaters: Partners in Design. Every Wednesday, we’ll be posting a different design insight here and on social media. 

Q. How do you decide how to use color in a space?

A. We always try to get a good sense of what the organization is trying to represent by understanding their culture and goals and whether the space is private or shared.

We also use color psychology to show how more cool colors, like blues and greens have a calming effect, whereas warm colors, like reds and oranges tend to promote energy and appetite. So we might use some of those warmer colors in a restaurant setting and the cooler colors in a healing space.

That—along with any branding identity—help give us a starting point for our color selections. From there inspiration can really come from anywhere: everyday items, architectural elements, fashion, nature, etc. 

Q. What product promotes focus and comfort?

A. The Brody is a work lounge, so it’s really a crossover product. The thoughtfulness Steelcase put into the ergonomic design for the lounge posture makes it super comfortable. All the other details considered like the lighting, power capabilities, workspace, storage for personal belongings and ability to create various amounts of privacy. The privacy buffer acts like “blinders” to block out visual stimulation and distractions—and sometimes that private space is really necessary for complete focus. 

Q. What do you recommend to someone who needs movement built into their day?

The Bouy’s a fun perching piece that promotes movement and healthy fidgeting. It’s a great tool if you’re the type of person that likes to adjust frequently or make sure you’re sitting up straight. You just lean over and it feels like your brain gets reset.

We put them in lounge settings and next to work stations so you can perch when you need a two-minute conversation with people. It’s nice because you can sit and be at someone’s level instead of standing above them and looking down. 

Q. How can you use technology to facilitate collaboration?

Since McWaters has multiple locations, the media:scape has made collaborating and having company-wide meetings much easier, especially when we need to exchange information. Also, being able to physically see the other locations on the screens is a great way to get to know other team members when you’re not able to travel.

It also makes collaborative client meetings a breeze. Just being able to plug in a laptop and quickly present from a larger monitor does wonders for helping the client capture a better understanding of your ideas. We all use the various media:scape options around the showroom for both small collaborative sessions or bigger, cross-office informative sessions. They’re easy to use, even for others who come into the space and aren’t familiar with the technology.

Q. How do you build easy collaboration into workstations?   

Our workspaces have a lot of small, collaborative features built in. One that’s very useful are the dual monitor arms. It’s helpful has been helpful to be able to swivel my monitor to show another designer or account manager a design, and be able to bring the monitor closer, or push it further away for perfect clarity. We also love low panel system or benching systems. When you bring down the panel height it’s just a natural to lean over and collaborate on the fly.  

Q. How can you create private spaces in an open office?

We love the social and collaborative aspects of the open office, but it can be easy for some people to get distracted or self-conscious. Steelcase offers some great options for a visual separation between workstations , like the Divisio screens or Soto Launch pad, both offer privacy without impeding your ability to talk to your neighbors. Those are both fairly low dividers, so if you need additional privacy, you could always go with privacy panels like the VIA

Q. What are you most excited for in the healthcare line?

Anyone who’s been to the hospital—either as a patient or as someone who’s waiting for a loved one—knows how stressful the situation is. We’re excited about Steelcase’s new product, Regard, because it really does help alleviate some of that stress.

It’s a modular system, with soft seating, tables, and places to perch. So, the same product can give you benching applications so people can sit and work and have a TV behind, or you can be enclosed and wrap around so you can wait without feeling like everyone is looking at you. It’s easy to integrate technology into it and it can be used in both waiting rooms and patient rooms. That helps keep a cohesive aesthetic throughout the hospital space while offering each space an optimal configuration to best serve the patients and healthcare professionals.

Q. What new healthcare products do you think will have the biggest impact on patients?

Sonata is a great tool for oncology clinics. Patients getting treatment usually need to be in the same space for long periods of time and the Sonata gives patients the option to be together and social with other patients or to have privacy. You can also integrate technology into it and let the patient lay down, so it becomes more like a lounge space you’d have in your own home than it is a hospital room.

There’s also the Cura chair and ottoman, which has a great aesthetic and lines and a flexible frame that is great for supporting healthy movement and fidgeting. That could be great for something who’s feeling anxious from being in a healthcare environment. The piece can also be cleaned easily and has field replaceable parts, which is great for the facilities because they can order a replacement part instead of an entirely new chair. This product would be great in a delivery room or nursery. 

Q. What products do you see transforming the education space?

The Verb, Node, and Thread are all great products on their own, but grouped together they’re a powerhouse for education. The modern education space should adapt to how people learn. So someone might need to move around or and fidget to stay focused and the Node chair’s casters and swivel base are a great tool for that. It’s also nice that the work surface is adjustable and non-handed and the tripod base is designed so you can tuck a book bag away in it and keep the aisles clear.

The Verb tables really help the space adapt to different teaching methods. They’re great for the lecture style, but it’s easy to make a quick change to the classroom layout to support teamwork or individual work.

The Thread helps to support all the technology that’s present it today’s classroom. It’s a system that goes in the floor and lets you bring power plugs all over the room. 

Q. What products can help students prepare for the real world?

There’s a strong focus on collaboration in today’s workplace. If students aren’t exposed to that early on, it can be a difficult skill to master. Turnstone’s Campfire line can create unique learning environments for K-12 and Higher Ed. The lounge and skate tables can be used set up a collaborative layout for students to engage with one another and prepare them for this in the real world.  

Q. What products work great for higher education? 

We’re so excited about Brody entering the education design world—it’s really revolutionary in this market in terms of study areas. In a lot of libraries, the only seating options are to sit at a grouping of hard wooden desks, wooden study carrels, or average tablet-arm lounge chairs in the middle of high traffic areas. Typically none of these options offer easy access to power, and none have integrated lighting solutions. Brody is designed specifically to cater to the current generation, and it does so by creating a comfortable and functional space for focus work.




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