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Connect Four: Sparkeology | Arts & Culture

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Connect Four: Sparkeology
Connect Four: Sparkeology

By J. Bennett Rylah

I'm sitting on Sly, working on Duane. Manny is nearby, Wally is in the window.

Duane, I hear, is "a team player, always ready for action." Duane is also a table. Resin workstation, divided in the center with a number of sockets and ports for USB devices, iPods and iPhones. Manny is a round ottoman with a built-in power hub, surrounded by smaller ottomans for seating. Wally is a portable, scalable, reusable signage unit. And Sly is a chair.

These pieces of furniture from Sparkeology sit in our new office. Our first week up and running, this issue is the first to be completed in the space. Thanks to the benevolence of Sparkeology and a little paint work courtesy of Rapid Growth publisher Jeff Hill, it's starting to look like home.

Sparkeology is a good example of what happens when companies collaborate. Worden, sister companies Via Design and Viable and graphic design firm Square One all have a hand in the product line, from design to manufacturing, to branding and marketing.

What began as an idea to make a new line of furniture for library spaces transformed into a new product line and brand entirely. 

Robin Lane, VP of Marketing and Sales at Holland-based library furniture maker Worden, says Sparkeology came to fruition quickly.

"We talked with Square One about how Worden wanted to focus on the A&D community," she says. "We really needed to talk about a whole new brand and a whole new way to approach collaborative-type spaces."

Taking an idea in December of 2009, the companies were able to develop eight Sparkeology products, complete with full branding and marketing materials, in just seven months -- in time for the commercial furniture mega-convention that is Chicago's NeoCon. Their 2010 showing was so successful, they were able to get a bigger space in 2011 and have already commandeered double 2011's space for NeoCon 2012.

"Overall, Sparkeology was such a fast launch that we almost had to take a little bit of time after NeoCon (2010) to catch our breath," Lane says. "We came away (from NeoCon) with some really good contacts not only from a customer standpoint, but from a distribution standpoint as well."

What makes Sparkeology stand out is a number of things. For one thing, it's simple and easy to use. The minimalist nature of the furniture is clean, bright and approachable. 

Val Schmieder of Viable/Via Design says the original concept was "to design something that was a little more contemporary...

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