David O’Coimin, Nook www.nookpod.com
‘Design for the Extreme and Benefit the Mean
Tell us about yourself?
I’m a product designer, born in Dublin, and now live between Bristol and Amsterdam. I crave a balanced life with a mix of urban engagement and rural recharge.
I’d describe myself as an extrovert – unable to sit still, highly empathic and emotional.
I see signs we are getting better and learning faster as a species but I am frustrated by how long it takes and the *gestures at everything* set-backs along the way. Eventually, I would like my company to support a network of connected, motivated, passionate people to live great lives; impacting people, communities and the planet in positive ways.
How did the business start?
Nook started due to frustration with modern workspace! I feel like we are still stuck in an industrial revolution mind-set. Now, our factories are white-collar and called open offices. Rows of workers with foremen watching to ensure they are working. Baked into this format is mistrust – designed to prevent the small percentage of advantage taking. It stifles the most important (and expensive) asset in any organisation – its people.
The open office was designed by extroverts for extroverts. I know there is a better way. I believe in ‘Design for the Extreme and Benefit the Mean’. I took inspiration from what Google does in their working environs and distilled it into something affordable and more ‘everyman’ because the mid-market is where most people work and regular companies don’t have a Global Head of Employee Engagement or a Diversity & Inclusion Director.
Mid-2016 I took some funds from a previous sale of a business and invested in three prototypes. These first went into my home and friends came round to critique (the proto clearly needed a change but it was immediately obvious people loved something about it). I evolved things both physically and in terms of the target market (dropping a naive wish to include domestic markets in the early business models) and the next two protos were installed in a coworking space in Bristol called the EngineShed for field testing.
This instantly generated interest and we went post-revenue September 2016 and haven’t looked back since.
Tell us about the Nook and where it is being used?
Nook is a finely tuned withdrawal space where people can personally recharge, reflect calmly and reconnect with each other.
It creates a sense of protection and shelter but without isolating the occupant. We don’t need to be fully enclosed – we just need enough privacy to not feel so much in the spotlight.
Nook is no longer one product but now an expanding range of personal and social spaces built to complement each other and to help make a space more inclusive, engaging and agile.
I believe that tomorrow’s creative environments desperately need more multifunctional and agile furniture solutions to respond to modern needs. Those environments I want to help evolve include workplace, learning space, the high street, shopping malls, events and the home.
Nook is built to move and to grow and change over time. True sustainability comes not just from sourcing responsibly and designing for end of life recycling, which we do, but importantly through durability for long life and modularity to change within that time.
What has been the response to the product?
Emotional. The personal stories are phenomenal – surprising and moving. People open up about their difficulties with noise, distraction, ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia and tell us how Nook has helped them settle and feel productive.
What’s next on the horizon?
The two biggest developments on the horizon are the Home Nook and Outdoor Nooks. Home Nook is built to help make a home more multifunctional and to help with work, homework, entertaining, play and more. You can specify the Home Nook to the max, or decorate it beautifully yourself if you are on a budget.
Outdoor Nook will help as we seek to activate our outside spaces more and more in light of current circumstances. It will have solar-powered lighting and phone charging as well as being easy to set-up, move and brand. We are also integrating a number of the features of our Sensory Nook for special needs into our workplace Nooks to better support workplace diversity.
Can you recommend any books or podcasts that have inspired you in a particular way?
My preferred way to consume anything long-form now is via audio. Even if it’s an article, I look for the ‘listen’ icon. Here are three of my favourite inspirational sources which form my world view:
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