What if you’re the Laggard? The story of the SPUN chair

September 5, 2012, 1:33 pm

Quick post to get this blog rolling again.


Last week our Herman Miller rep dropped off a SPUN chair for us to try out. As soon as I saw it I had a negative reaction. It was just too silly and impractical. When you spin around in it you feel like you’re going to fall off.


The story could have ended there.


The next day I heard library staff talking about it. They had seen it in the mailroom when it arrived and in the lobby of the Dean’s Office. It was mysterious. It was unusual. It was cool. Had I missed the point?


Like any good startup I knew that we had to test the concept with potential users. We put it out on the main floor and invited students to share their thoughts on Facebook and to tag the library.


Last night we had eight students offer comments, two included photos of themselves in the chair. That’s pretty good for the second week of the semester. The overarching response was fun—“an epic study break.”


There was one dissenter who shared my initial thoughts: this doesn’t work as a study chair. I realize now that’s exactly the point. It’s an in-between space. It’s relax, have fun, blow off steam. From a UX point of view it’s about offering an experience that fulfills an unmet need.


The point is: I think I’ve moved from being a laggard to being a late adopter. When I remove my tunnel vision of what a chair has to be I’m realizing that this chair is exactly what we need.


Last thought—SPUN seems like a great prop to take on the road to orientations, welcome events, etc.  The students connect the library to an unexpected encounter and perhaps it piques their interest to see what else is in the building.  It also opens a dialogue about having multiple types of spaces— spaces for groups, for quiet study, for casual reading, for technology projects, and yes, even for a little fun. SPUN enables us to exhibit some personality and break the stereotype.

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