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New concepts by Joey Ruiter at izzy+ invite people to explore social dynamics, energy of third space

Why the kitchen island is such a draw, and how posture changes interaction

NeoCon World’s Trade Fair 2010: The Merchandise Mart, Spaces 1150, 11-100

CHICAGO – June 2010 – How do you structure the unstructured space? Good question. That’s why the izzy+ team asked designer Joey Ruiter to conceptualize how people connect at anchor destinations within a lobby, commons or student union.

Two unusual concept pieces during NeoCon at the 11th floor showrooms for izzy+ explore the answers, inviting Chicago visitors to test and provide feedback on third space.

The first concept draws you into a small alcove composed of a table, seating and an arbor-like ceiling resembling woven branches, where you might spend an hour, thinking or talking privately to others, recharging your energy in reflective solitude.

But when you have 15 minutes to check the scores, recharge your phone or debrief after class, head to the second concept piece. You can’t miss this 24 foot bar-like structure, capped off with a semi-enclosed seating area. The entire product creates three distinct collaboration zones: extrovert, social and private.

“We’re designing to support a culture of relevance,” says Ruiter of JRuiter Studio. “People need something to gather around, to share ideas and confidences, or to be alone while they’re standing next to someone else. These two concept pieces show how informal space builds community, where information is shared quickly. And it’s where real work and real learning take place now.”

izzy+ Founder and CEO Chuck Saylor is excited about the “concept car” conversation. “This is experimentation 101. It’s another stage of our research on how people act and use space for collaboration and personal reflection, and how we can best support them,” he says. “Why do you naturally rally around a bar, or kitchen island? In the five stages of posture, from sleeping to standing, the stand-up aspect is so intriguing. The body is completely engaged. Your inhibition is low and your energy level is high. In contrast, in the arbor setting, there’s an element of mystery and intrigue. Who’s in there? Who are they with and what are they saying?”

Mixing open and intimate spaces helps explore threshold barriers, says Ruiter. “How do you decrease these barriers? That’s the idea of a bar-height lounge,” he says. “When you sit in a restaurant booth up on risers, it’s more comfortable when people walk by. You have a visual connection to others but you’re not in their space. Can you mix complete privacy with complete openness? We do it all the time today, in the subway, in a stairwell, sending emails from the cafeteria. Converting that idea into physical products is a new idea.”

About izzy+

The employees of izzy+ (www.izzyplus.com) design, manufacture and market office furniture and seating that solve real problems for real people. The focus is to provide designers with the tools to create inspiring work spaces for forward-thinking customers in home offices and small businesses, in executive offices and board rooms, in hospitals and classrooms. Its award-winning products are marketed under the brand names izzy, HÅG, Harter, Fixtures Furniture, Zoom Seating and ABCO Office Furniture. Based in Spring Lake, Mich., U.S., izzy+ is a business of JSJ Corporation of Grand Haven, Michigan.

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Media Contacts:

Bruce Buursma, 616.502.9834, bruce.buursma@gmail.com
Debbie Goode, 616.847.6539, debbie.goode@izzyplus.com