Furniture dealer rolls out Grand Rapids-made pod


The Air³ Acoustic Pod by Orangebox. Courtesy Custer

A furniture dealer is rolling out a new locally made product to help businesses balance the need for collaborative and private spaces throughout the workday.

Grand Rapids-based Custer said last month it has partnered with U.K.-based Orangebox, a company that designs and makes office furniture.

Custer will sell Orangebox’s new Air³Acoustic Pod in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. It is the first Orangebox dealer in the Midwest.

Custer also said Orangebox is manufacturing its Air³Acoustic Pods in Grand Rapids.

The Air³Acoustic Pod serves as a room for “small meetings, drop-in conversations or a quiet place to work.”

It features modular walls, which allow users to move the space to adapt to changing communication and collaboration needs.

Technology, lighting and air ventilation are also built into the space. No electrical or HVAC installation is required when assembling the pod.

The product is globally patented and has an ETL Listed mark from Interdek.

David Driscol, VP of regional sales at Custer, said one of the biggest advantages to the pod is that it can be incorporated into an existing space easily. He said one alternative to installing the pod is constructing new office space.

“It’s really easy to put it in an existing space,” Driscol said. “It’s like ordering a piece of furniture. It just sits on the carpet. Offices are changing all the time, and companies need to build flexibility in. This can be picked up and moved around to another floor or building.

“We didn’t put numbers on how many we expect to sell, but we think the market will adapt for it. It’s the type of product our customers are asking for.”

Driscol said by now, most offices that have made the switch to open environments have found that employees need a better balance of collaborative and private spaces to support the many different tasks they do in a day.

And for offices that are still working in the more traditional environment of private offices and cube farms, they’ve learned from the early adopters that drastically open environments go a bit too far to the opposite end of the spectrum.

So Driscol thinks both markets present opportunities for the Air³ Acoustic Pod.

“The days of all the prestige being built into, ‘Hey, I have the corner office,’ those days are going away,” Driscol said. “People are going to start to build cool spaces that everyone can use. An executive or mid-level person, everyone is sharing spaces now. And millennials couldn’t care less about the corner office. They want to be around friends and in teams.”

He said the pod includes glass walls to keep the room from feeling too closed off. It also allows for it to be placed away from the perimeter, maintaining natural light throughout the floor.

Driscol said that’s another change to the traditional office, where private offices and boardrooms lined the exterior walls. Now, companies are more aware of providing natural light and outdoor views to employees.

“In our space, we just re-did our downstairs, and one of the best areas is our first floor that faces Grandville,” he said. “It has big windows and lots of light, and we gave that to our administrative staff. We gave it to them, because they are at their desks all day.”

He said the pod, which might not be used all day long, can be placed in the middle of a space instead of taking up prime perimeter spaces.

Driscol also said offices undergo refreshes more frequently than in the past, making the pod an option because of its flexibility to new layouts and growing businesses.

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