If you want to start a company today, you have to name it something douchey like Quantegrity or Innovaria. The title of your company and your frothy mission statement wouldn't provide a clue as to whether you made refrigerators, medicine or holistic pet food. So I love that in 1912 you could start a company called The Metal Office Furniture Company. It's pretty clear what you make, and what you make it out of.
The Metal Office Furniture Company started out doing file cabinets and safes, and starting in 1914, the product you see up top. It might not look like much, but that's essentially a lifesaving metal wastebasket that helped launch an office furniture giant.
In 1914 you could still smoke at work, and people would dump their ashes in wastebaskets. Which wasn't great since wastebaskets were made out of wicker or wood. The MOFC filed a patent for the "Victor fireproof waste basket," which was novel because it was made out of metal, but painted to look like wood (your choice of walnut, oak or mahogany). It solved a common problem, it was attractive by the standards of the time, and it was affordable, so a lot of office and hotel managers decided that buying them would be better than burning to death in a fire.
The Metal Office Furniture Company thrived, making their way into every 'History of Industrial Design class' curriculum with their Frank Lloyd Wright desks from the the 1930s, and they eventually changed their name to Steelcase, which is better than Quantegrity.
This month Steelcase turned 100 years old, and to celebrate they've launched 100.Steelcase.com, where they've rounded up 100 famous creative thinkers like Don Norman (hey, we know that guy), Paola Antonelli, Patricia Urquiola, and others to sound off on what the future will bring.
Typically when a manufacturer celebrates an anniversary, they crank out a timeline and proudly display their greatest hits. But we appreciate that Steelcase is looking in the other direction, to the future, instead. "Companies don't survive for a century—ideas do," says CEO James Hackett. "So as we turn 100 years old we want to take this opportunity to look out into the future and see all the things that make us optimistic. We see a future full of limitless possibilities."