Purina's 2T Innovation Center: A lounge designed
around spontaneous interactions and thoughtful discoveries.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. At the Purina 2T Innovation
Center, ideas are inspired by everything from movies to coffee.
The working lounge was the brainchild of an interdepartmental
team, led by Gary Etheridge, Director of Design at Purina and an
industrial designer by trade. The team found inspiration in the
thinking behind the headquarters of Pixar Studios, and as its
co-founder Ed Catmull described it, how a space can "maximize
While Pixar's environment was designed and built from the ground
up, the 2T center opened in January 2011 after retrofitting half of
the second floor in the main tower at Purina headquarters in St.
"Our take on that was to give people a reason to come there on a
daily basis," said C.J. Campeau, Innovation Marketing Associate
with the Purina Innovation Team. "That's why we put the coffee down
The way they saw it - chance encounters create conversations,
and those conversations can tip the first domino in the creative
process. They hoped these cross-departmental chats would lead to
questions that urged staff to dig deep, and ultimately arrive at an
If the coffee doesn't provide visitors enough of a jolt, the
bright and energetic décor certainly will. Comfy chairs and stylish
stools are all easily movable, so whether you gather around the
coffee bar or pull together for a screening of a film, it makes it
easy to bring people closer.
"You see a lot of people moving furniture around," says
Campeau says the center was built around the Four D's:
A media wall houses magazines, newspapers, product samples, and
infographics, all readily available and refreshed on a quarterly
basis. "We have a lot of things that should spark an idea," says
This is all about framing the problem and the goal. "You see
that a problem well-stated is a problem half solved."
The space was tailored to encourage people to talk about their
processes and ideas, even if they're not product-related. "This is
the brainstorming piece."
"We have a prototyping lab on one end of the center that has
modeling clay, glue guns, packaging samples and construction paper
- anything you need to bring a 2D idea into a 3D prototype that you
could test or expose to people."
Unlike a lot of meeting spaces within a corporate environment,
another neat feature is that staff can't reserve time here. It's
all left to chance.
"The second floor meeting space isn't a conference room
that you need to reserve. It's really built around the idea
of spontaneous collaboration," says Campeau. "Anybody can go down
there any time. You see people bumping into each other that
normally don't see each other. They might have a conversation that
leads to an idea that you go back to your desk and think
That's the thing about creativity and innovation. You can never
predict where it will come from.