Finally, Office Furniture for the Laptop Workforce

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
Good Mod, a Portland, Oregon, studio and retailer, develops an inventive furniture model for the 21st-century office.

When Spencer Staley started Good Mod—now a multidisciplinary design and fabrication studio, furniture repair outfit, and retailer—in 2002, he was operating from an antique mall, selling midcentury furniture he handpicked from garage sales. Today Staley, an entirely self-taught designer, and his team of nearly a dozen makers have developed a novel concept for office furniture in tandem with Airbnb’s Environments division. 

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In lieu of regimented cubicles, Airbnb’s Portland, Oregon, call center features furniture tailor-made for laptop-based work.

The challenge involved building a call center that didn’t read like a stuffy office, and could accommodate technological and physical demands. Employees work from laptops and don’t have dedicated desks; they’re free to move about the open-plan space and sit, stand, or sprawl out on a sofa. Good Mod, one of a handful of local makers that collaborated with Airbnb, created conference tables with integrated power outlets and Internet access, chairs, and love seats. The boxy chairs, CNC milled from Russian birch, were designed to optimize material use, tying into Staley’s interest in midcentury furniture. "The efficiency of materials informing design just made sense to me," he says. Each four-by-eight-foot birch sheet makes two-and-a-half chairs. At 50 pounds, the perches are light enough to move, but heavy enough to stay put if someone kicks their feet up. The arms are two inches thick so elbows have a comfortable place to rest, and the wool-upholstered foam cushions are removable. Brass hardware connects the seat to the sides, adding subtle embellishment. 

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Good Mod, a local design studio, was tapped to create seating that could accommodate an array of postures.

"With good design, there’s logic behind every decision made," Staley says. The initial commission was for ten chairs, but Good Mod has produced more than 70; Airbnb liked them so much that it comissioned more for its San Francisco headquarters. 

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It fabricated each piece from start to finish at its 10,000-square-foot workshop.

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Good Mod and Airbnb’s Environments team conducted lengthy research to arrive at pieces that stay put if users rest their feet on an accompanying coffee table—designed by Airbnb and fabricated by NK Build in Seattle—and that are comfortable for people of varying shapes and sizes.

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Airbnb was so impressed by Good Mod's chairs, it commissioned more for its San Francisco office.