Third spaces

Sick and tired of the usual rut: home-work, work–home? well “third spaces” are on the way.

We are used to dividing our daily routine into water tight compartments. We deal with work only when we are in the office and our loved ones only when at home, even if there are other places suitable for these activities. The first sociologist to have singled out these “new” city spaces, fit for socializing was Ray Oldenburg in his book, The Great Good Place. This American scholar was the first to define “Third Places “ and group together these informal venues which permit intrapersonal exchanges.

These places must be characterized by a few simple features: they must be free of charge or reasonably cheap; have the possibility of serving refreshments, even if not essential, easy to get to, welcoming and able to help regulars and new arrivals make contact. Recent studies have shown that these places, besides making socializing easier, stimulate creativity,bring people closer and therefore improve production. For this reason, many firms, like Google, have created special spaces inside their office buildings for holding informal meetings while relaxing on sofas and drinking coffee.

Some furniture companies, like Steelcase and Coalesse have started producing furniture with the concept of satisfying this trend. Our own homes too, are changing and no longer have the classical lay out of seperated rooms, but open plan multifuntional spaces, that consequently need new furnishing.

Matrix sensed this change and has tried to give flexibility to its furnishings, creating hybrid or multifuntional items. A good example of this is CHANGE, a modular sofa, which can accomodate five people upwards; its particular internal structure in wood allows each individual seat to rotate creating a variety of shapes. Going from a semicircle to a straight line to a coil shape, CHANGE is perfect for spending time with other people and socializing, given its flexible structure.

CHANGE is ideal for informal work meetings, since it has no hierarchical seating, which is usually left for the management. CHANGE is also ideal at home, it can accomodate a number of people, each working on their own tablet. CHANGE is our favourite “third place”, what’s yours?