Bringing Customization to Office Furniture
When turnstone designers Markus McKenna and Yuka Hiyoshi began work on Bassline, turnstone’s new customizable coffee table for the home and office, they weren’t entirely sure where they were going or what they’d create. But with the demand for highly curated, unique pieces of furniture on the rise, they acted as turnstone intrapreneurs inside Steelcase to push boundaries and move the project along quickly.
In a recent interview, Markus described the design process from inspiration to inception. “We went out to San Francisco a couple of years ago with the turnstone team, and then later to Portland, and we got to see what customers were buying. The buying behavior reflected a need for things we didn’t have.”
“We did a lot of things differently in this design. We got to evolve the Steelcase and turnstone design language in a really good way.”
– Markus Mckenna, turnstone Design Director
Born from a redesign of the turnstone Rumble Seat, the team began by looking closely at its legs and support structure. Interacting with these elements opened up new possibilities. When one of the designers noted they’d make a great coffee table leg, the idea came alive: Bassline would share the same leg structure as Rumble Seat. Not only would this shared structure create a cohesive aesthetic, it would allow for more flexibility and, with the addition of a Bassline’s platform substructure, provide near infinite levels of customization by the customer.
McKenna explains. “Yuka developed this really beautiful and innovative methodology to make a table structure really flexible. Super flexible. And that is when we saw what Bassline really could be. Instead of just a table, we saw that it could be a broad range of tables using a very small set of common parts.”
But this kind of out-of-the-box thinking is new to some. Customers with more experience selecting standard options may feel intimidated by the open-ended design of Bassline. And while standard options are available, Bassline truly shines as a custom table.
Unique Customization Capabilities
Bassline is for people who want a design experience. It’s for people who want the assurance of quality and performance in the workplace, but who want a little more latitude in creating something one-of-a-kind.
Hiyoshi explains: “A couple weeks ago my husband and I took a cooking class and we made a pasta from scratch. I’ve never done it before — never thought about making it before. It’s so easy to just buy the dry pasta — so why did we do the extra steps? Why did we do something more? I think it’s about the experience. I think the customer who buys a Bassline custom top is looking for something like that.”