Carol Coletta, the dynamic chief executive of CEOs for Cities, a Chicago-based nonprofit that brings together mayors of blighted urban areas (Detroit and Buffalo, for example) and executives to brainstorm ideas for boosting local economies, and I spoke recently about a cool project her organization is working on with Steelcase.
Steelcase, of course, is famous for furnishing the world’s offices and cubicles, but it also possesses a vast repository of knowledge on the design of efficient and worker-friendly spaces. It’s now using that knowhow to help hard-pressed cities think through problems. Carol and CEOs for Cities just teamed up with the company to launch a new initiative called “Places of Innovation,” which will open, for CEOS for Cities, Steelcase’s 10-year archives that detail how top companies such as Google design campuses that become thriving employee communities. The aim is for CEOs for Cities to shape a series of recommendations on how to design inviting public spaces in cities.
Examples, Carol says, are sure to include new or renovated parks and libraries with meeting areas that encourage people to gather and share conversations. Steelcase benefits, too, hoping to use the new thinking on cities for further improvement in its office and corporate campus designs as well.
What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.