Three years after 3M Co.’s splashy entrance into the world of haute couture lighting and wall design, the maker of Post-it notes is embarking on a major expansion — a new, three-story design center at its Maplewood headquarters.
The center is expected to be a central hub for design pros, customers and 3M’s own product developers as they strive to inject fashionable design into more products. The company did not disclose how much it would cost.
3M boasts 150 designers and several design centers around the globe, including Shanghai, Tokyo, Milan and Maplewood.
Officials began expanding the Maplewood design center this week. When completed in the spring, it will be four times larger than the old space, which featured 3M’s lines of exotic lighting and entire panels decked in artistic coverings for walls, appliances and furniture.
In 2012, 3M also opened a temporary lighting and architectural design showroom inside the venerable International Market Square building in Minneapolis. In addition, the company showcased many of its designs and wall coverings at its headquarters and invited customers into both sites to explore ideas.
The new center expects to do that and more. Hundreds of customers, designers, employees and product developers are expected to use the new center. The new flexible space is thought to be a potentially rich growth tool for the company, said Glenn Carter, communications manager for 3M Design.
“This important initiative will elevate design and propel dynamic opportunity to enhance everything from branding solutions to product innovation to sustainability and social impact,” said 3M Chief Design Officer Eric Quint.
“Design thinking is about unlocking future value in partnership with research and development and marketing,” he said. “Our collective goal will be to deliver transformative value for 3M, its partners and customers.”
The design element is often far from consumers minds’ when they think about 3M, a $32 billion global conglomerate that makes thousands of products from Scotch tape and Post-it notes to respirators and cellphone screen brighteners.
Going forward, Quint said design will be front and center in all of 3M’s operations. The new center’s interior architecture will incorporate 3M products and technologies throughout, and showcase energy efficient systems and recycled materials. It will feature a “fast prototyping” lab, a materials library, brand labs and an interactive area known as the “Design Hive.”