Inside the Studio: 3M Design Center

by Jessica Deseo on 10/03/2016 | 7 Minute Read

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3M is the brand we all know, use, and love. From Post-it Notes, Command Strips, and Scotch Tape, 3M is a leader in making our lives easier and complete in every aspect. Today we are taking an inside look at their newest design center based in St. Paul Minnesota. We had the pleasure to ask 3M's Chief Design Officer, Eric Quint a few questions regarding this new design center, 3M's philosophy, and what we can expect from the future of this established and well-known brand. 

The Dieline: What is 3M's design philosophy? How did this philosophy inspire the new Design Center? Eric Quint: At 3M, we apply science to life in creative ways, with design as an integral function to deliver high-value, meaningful solutions for people. 3M Design helps to inspire a culture that never stops inventing, translating insights into solutions that positively impact our business, our customers and our world every day. Building on the fundamental belief that design inspires design, the 3M Design team has worked diligently to bring creativity to life. We aim to foster a collaborative creative work environment which is why the new 3M Design Center offers a hybrid layout that fuses the privacy of single creative cocoons with collaborative functionality of communal spaces for spontaneous interaction and dialogue.

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The Dieine: The interior spaces at the 3M Design Center truly foster a unique design element. Can you tell us more about the materials in each space, cultural inspiration, and unique features? Eric Quint: 3M materials and solutions are incorporated organically throughout the 3M Design Center (including architectural films, adhesives, light-reflecting technologies, sealants and coatings – and of course, plenty of Post-it Notes). In addition, much of the inspiration comes from different parts of the world. For example, the “Design Hive” space, a kind of amphitheater, was inspired by a typical Mediterranean village where people meet in the shade under the big tree on the market square. The Design Hive offers a place for our designers to meet and talk about innovation, brand experience, technology and share their everyday design challenges. Another unique feature of the Design Center is our creative cabins, which were inspired and designed by our design team. We have three different versions that are all inspired by the cabin life in Minnesota, made from reclaimed wood, with a front and back made of glass so that collaboration is always seen and celebrated in a way. In order to connect with local culture we invited graffiti artists to create a mural on one of the concrete walls in the Design Center, representing multiple graffiti styles to visualize creativity, design and collaboration. Another concrete wall exhibits a great collection of posters highlighting Minnesota inventions to honor the entrepreneurial and inventive heritage going a decade back in time that is a foundation to our location. The Design Center also incorporates energy-efficient climate control, lighting systems and recycled materials, cultivating an ecofriendly and thoughtful environment. The 3M Design Center elevates the importance of sustainable materials, incorporating a range of solutions including furniture made from local reclaimed barn wood, tables made from re-used scaffold boards, smart, adaptive LED lighting solutions (32% energy savings), and a chilled beam HVAC system projects with 60% energy savings. This is in line with the company’s drive to create a better world by sustainability and a resourceful mindset.

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The Dieline: How long did it take to develop and design the new 3M Design Center? Eric Quint: The 3M Design Center concept was announced last August, and officially opened in July of this year. The concept and realization was developed over a period of 1½ years.

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The Dieline: You mention that design is critical to every workspace and we couldn’t agree more. What were some challenges when creating this new space?  Eric Quint: When creating the space, it was important to us that our design team had a truly creative and collaborative space. When you think about scientists, they need labs; similarly, administrative professionals need offices. In the same way, designers need creative space. Our designers contributed actively in the creation of the 3M Design Center and with over twenty smaller design interior projects we created the space “by our designers for our designers”. We had to be sure that the 3M Design Center would foster new models of working by acting as an incubator for a range of working styles and roles. There is no one-size-fits-all model for creative spaces but we wanted to have optimal flexibility, a kind of adaptive space. Our designers are encouraged to interact and work with people of all levels and across all disciplines within the company and with partners, which is reflected in the design of the space.

The Dieline: How will the new Design Center change how consumers view 3M?  Eric Quint: Having a space dedicated to design will show consumers how committed 3M is to applying creativity, inventing and translating customer insights into new products. With compelling initiatives like the opening of the new 3M Design Center, the design team is excited to advance continued cross-disciplinary projects – from home and office products to automotive materials to digital health care solutions. The participation of customers in this exciting process will be stimulated and might even lead to the co-creation of solutions. The 3M Design Center is a world class creative space, and acts as a model for 3M to inspire new ways of working and thinking. Innovation has always been at the heart of 3M, and the new 3M Design Center reflects our culture of spontaneous collaboration and creativity driven by our culture of curiosity.

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The Dieline: What can consumers look forward to in the future with 3M?  Eric Quint: As a global company well known for their innovative solutions based on their great technologies, 3M never stops inventing. With the continuous amplification of design across our businesses and regions, one of the key focus areas for the design team is continuing to create relevant customer experiences. The 3M Design team continues to grow as a thought leader on an international scale – from international recognition for design excellence such as the Red Dot “Best of The Best” awards for product design, to high-profile collaborations including an innovative installation using 3M products in imaginative new ways at design events such as Milan Design Week.Additionally, the focus on brand experience and design as a platform for inspiration and engagement throughout 3M continue to attract talented designers – in fact, 3M was ranked one of the top companies where millennials want to work by Forbes, out-ranking even Google and Microsoft.


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