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Steelcase: Innovating Workspaces for a Century

CEO Khai Intela
Steelcase Inc. has been at the forefront of office furniture manufacturing for over a century. With a wide range of products for various industries, including offices, hospitals, classrooms, and residential spaces, Steelcase has established itself...

Steelcase Inc. has been at the forefront of office furniture manufacturing for over a century. With a wide range of products for various industries, including offices, hospitals, classrooms, and residential spaces, Steelcase has established itself as a trusted and innovative brand.

A Legacy of Innovation

Founded in 1912 as The Metal Office Furniture Company, Steelcase was the brainchild of Peter Martin Wege. From the beginning, Wege's commitment to invention and quality set the company on a path of success. Their first products included fireproof safes and metal filing cabinets, which were well-received in the market.

Workstation by Frank Lloyd Wright and Steelcase c. 1937 Workstation by Frank Lloyd Wright and Steelcase c. 1937

Steelcase's breakthrough came in 1914 with the invention of "The Victor," a fireproof steel wastebasket. This lightweight and fire-resistant product gained popularity in an era when smoking was common indoors. The company's innovation continued when they collaborated with renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1937, resulting in some of the first modern workstations.

The Victor wastebasket c. 1914 The Victor wastebasket c. 1914

An Industry Leader

Acknowledged as an industry leader, Steelcase expanded its reach in the late 1960s and ventured into new markets in Asia, Europe, and North Africa during the 1970s. Their Series 9000 furniture line, launched in 1973, became a bestseller and a flagship brand for the company. In fact, Steelcase made history by delivering the largest single furniture shipment to the iconic Sears Tower in 1973.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Steelcase collaborated closely with architects and interior designers to develop innovative products. The company's commitment to sustainable practices was evident when its wood furniture plant in Caledonia, Michigan, became the first plant to receive LEED certification in 2001.

Noteworthy Products and Brands

Steelcase has introduced several noteworthy products that have revolutionized office ergonomics. One such product is the Leap chair, released in 1999. Featuring eight adjustable areas for personalized comfort, the Leap chair quickly became a favorite among users. Another notable release is the Gesture chair, designed in 2013 to support the natural sitting posture of workers.

1945 Steelcase Metal Office Furniture 1945 Steelcase Metal Office Furniture

In addition to its own brand, Steelcase has acquired subsidiaries and established collaborations to cater to various market segments. Brands such as Coalesse, Halcon, and Orangebox offer innovative solutions for modern workspaces. Steelcase Health and Education specialize in furniture and interiors tailored to the healthcare and education sectors, respectively.

Promoting Employee Well-being and Sustainability

Steelcase prioritizes the well-being of its employees and the environment. The company's Grand Rapids headquarters underwent a three-year project to create a productive and employee-friendly workspace. Investment in research, such as the WorkSpace Futures group, ensures that Steelcase stays ahead of workplace trends.

The WorkCafe in Steelcase Corporate Headquarters, Grand Rapids, Michigan The WorkCafe in Steelcase Corporate Headquarters, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Steelcase also takes pride in its commitment to sustainability. Through initiatives like reduced packaging, regional facilities, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, the company aims to reduce its environmental impact. Their goal is to become carbon-negative by 2030.

Adapting to the COVID-19 Era

As the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic, Steelcase responded by manufacturing equipment for healthcare providers and medical facilities. They also redesigned office layouts to comply with social distancing guidelines and implemented technologies to enhance communication and hygiene in the workplace.

Recognitions and Awards

Steelcase's dedication to excellence has earned the company numerous accolades. Forbes recognized Steelcase as "The World's Most Admired Company" in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Their products, such as the SOTO II Worktools and the SILQ chair, have received design awards for their innovation and functionality.

Continuously Evolving Workspaces

As workspaces continue to evolve, Steelcase remains at the forefront of innovation. With a rich history of creating functional and sustainable solutions for a variety of industries, Steelcase is poised to shape the future of work environments for years to come.

References available upon request.

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