When HFA acquired the former National Home Center in Bentonville for its new corporate headquarters, the purchase included a large warehouse in the back that previously had been used for storage. Staff members quickly began tossing around ideas on how to utilize the space.
Then in early 2016, several staff members came up with the idea of a design lab where staff members could work on special projects for themselves and others. Four creators of the concept ─ Steven Baker, Jake Grandon, Matt Sanders and Philipp Richter ─ describe the origins and concept in the video below.
The architects set about designing a workspace complete with everything one would need for a wood-working or metal-working project. The design went through several concepts before final renderings were made to present to HFA's owners in hopes of turning the idea into a reality.
Work began on the Design Lab construction in July 2016. The final plans called for an open studio for the state-of-the-art power tools, as well as two extra rooms. One room would hold a 3D printer station and laser cutter, and the other the CNC router. Both of these were set up by working closely with HFA's IT Department.
Construction on the main portion of the Design Lab ran until September 2016. The 3D printers and CNC came next, and by late fall 2016, the Design Lab was ready for its first project.
Today, nearly half of the Bentonville staff has been trained in the D-Lab, and dozens of projects have been created. The D-Lab has proven to be an exceptional outlet for the creativity of HFA's staff. The D-Lab continues to evolve and expand, providing more tools and the opportunities to use them for our talented staff.
Here is a sampling of some of the projects that have been built by staff in the D-Lab.