It’s an irony of modern life: Every day we use social-networking tools to interact with people hundreds or even thousands of miles away from us, and yet we rarely get to know our professional neighbors in the office down the hall, on another floor, or in nearby buildings. New York communications design firm Supermetric has created a solution for combining the former with the latter.
Stackd is a free-to-use site designed to help people in office buildings get in touch—“for business or beers,” as its website says. Once a building signs up, all tenants who want to can provide basic descriptive and contact information as well as Twitter- or Facebook-like status updates. But the website’s structure is deliberately limited: It’s designed to encourage face-to-face interaction.
“We realized there was so little interaction between people in a dense area,” explains Marco Raab, a partner at Supermetric. “Here in New York, you spend a lot of time walking the streets, but the buildings are these iron curtains. It’s such a closed-off, private part of the city that you never get to experience. And even if you’re in an office building, you still have the hurdle of knocking on someone’s door to introduce yourself.”
So far, most of the buildings that have signed up are in New York (54 at press time), but there are also members in Brazil, Canada, and a handful of European countries. Although many of these buildings contain just a single user, certain addresses—such as 150 W. 28th St. in Manhattan and 10 Jay St. in Brooklyn, N.Y.—have accrued more. And given that the site is less than two years old, Stackd has spread rather quickly, with little effort. “It actually has a life of its own,” says Supermetric partner Sidney Blank. “Our colleagues in Dubai are showing it to real estate developers.”
Stackd was started in part to help Supermetric meet its own neighbors, but it also reflects the firm’s belief that physical location and proximity will play an ever-larger role in the online world. Both Raab and Blank were trained as architects, and they see little difference between physical space and virtual space. Executive partner Olaf Kreitz agrees. “Everything that we design, we think through as an interaction: an exhibition, a piece of print, something online,” he says. “There’s always a sequence of experiencing it.”
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