NEW YORK - Office furniture manufacturer Steelcase has teamed up with tech giant Microsoft on a series of new office spaces designed to foster creative thinking and collaboration.

Integrating Microsoft Surface devices with Steelcase architecture and furniture, the duo has unveiled five “Creative Spaces” designed to promote creativity in the workplace. The spaces are on display at the Steelcase WorkLife Center in New York City.

"The problems people face at work today are much more complex than they used to be. They require a new creative way of thinking and a very different work process," said Sara Armbruster, vice president of strategy, research and new business innovation for Steelcase.

The Duo Studio allows two employees to work shoulder-to-shoulder. An informal lounge setting creates a place to relax and re-energize during intense work sessions. 

Joint research from Steelcase and Microsoft found that while people feel more pressure to produce creative work, the conditions for creativity are suboptimal in most workplaces. Employees ranked having more time to think as the top factor in improving creativity, followed by having a place to work free from disruption.

“We’re in an era of creativity – that’s really about how you can collaborate and be creative together to innovate faster so that businesses can be more agile,” says Julia Atalla, Microsoft’s senior director of Surface marketing.

Steelcase believes employees need a choice. They need to be able to work alone and in groups of all sizes.

Ideation Hub: A high-tech destination that encourages active participation and equal opportunity to contribute as people co-create, refine and share ideas.

“We believe an ecosystem of spaces, different kinds of spaces, are critical to enhancing the process of innovation and creativity,” says Armbruster.

Each of the five Creative Spaces is designed to foster creativity in a different way:

  • Focus Studio: Supports individual creative work time and the ability to get info flow quickly. The space also allows for two-person collaboration.
  • Duo Studio: Allows two employees to work shoulder-to-shoulder. An informal lounge setting creates a place to relax and re-energize during intense work sessions.
  • Ideation Hub: A high-tech destination that encourages active participation and equal opportunity to contribute as people co-create, refine and share ideas.
  • Maker Commons: This space is designed to encourage quick switching between conversation, experimentation and concentration.
  • Respite Room: The private room has relaxing lounge seating to support solitude and individual thinking.