You'd expect most gaming console designers to only care about how we interact with our Guitar Hero peripherals. But Scott Wilson, designer of the new Xbox, the slender, more affordable Xbox cousin that was revealed Monday at E3, thought he could also improve the way we interact with each other. So he reinvented the conference table. Wilson's line, named SW 1 for Coalesse, just won an Innovation Award from Contract Magazine at the NeoCon show in Chicago.
Wilson currently heads the Chicago-based firm MINIMAL and is no stranger to meetings: He's a former global creative director at Nike, and has worked at IDEO, Thomson Consumer Electronics, Fortune Brands, and Motorola. But it was his recent client interactions that got him thinking about building a better conference table. Partnering with uber-creative teams at Google, Dell, and Microsoft on product launches meant sitting with other innovative people for hours of ideation, but the long tables and rigid chairs simply weren't meant for creative, solution-based thinking.
Wilson realized that conference tables were missing that collaborative, flexible element that created a more social environment. You know, more like when you're meeting some friends for a drink.
The first move was to lower the table height to make the meeting feel more informal: Think tables in a cocktail lounge. The second was to create a hero chair, one that was somewhere between a laid-back lounger and an upright conference chair, that could support a variety of postures instead of forcing the sitter to remain at rigid attention for hours. Some tables are also equipped with tablets that slide off the edge of the table and allow people to take notes or check email in private and without disturbing the flow of the group.
The loungey chairs are upholstered and cushioned to keep physical and emotional well-being in check during those grueling five-hour meetings, but they're also made for the good of the environment. Textiles produce no waste materials and can be easily replaced. In fact, all the materials, including aluminum and particleboard, are engineered with sustainability as a high priority, and most are 100% recyclable themselves.
It's pricey—the Low Lounge chair starts at $,1800—but just think of everything you'll get accomplished in meetings from now on!