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Workplace Wonderland

Davison International turned a 61,000 square-foot Pittsburgh, Pa., building into a hub of unusual work spaces.

Davison International Inc., a 285-employee company that designs and creates kitchen gadgets, toys and other consumer products, relocated in 2006 to a 61,000-square-foot building in Pittsburgh, Pa. Its interior, which followed a year-long, $5 million renovation, is intended to encourage creativity and a positive attitude among staff. One third of its inventions are its own creations. The remainder are commissioned by third parties.



Inventalot

This castle, Inventalot, has a round table for meetings. The staff has created products sold at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Lowe's Cos., Sears Holdings Corp., and other retailers. Plans to shutter as many as 120 Sears and Kmart stores should have little impact on the firm, it says.

Pirate Ship

Stationed aboard the pirate ship are a handful of product designers who specialize in children's toys. The ship is made of several varieties of wood. The poles holding up the sails are recycled telephone poles.

Giant Shoe

This giant shoe is a work space intended to inspire ideas for new baby products. The company uses dummy babies to test the car seats, strollers and bottles it creates.

Animal House

The blue house is where Davison staff researches and designs pet products like the Hydro Bone -- a rubber toy that releases water as the dog chews, and which sells for around $10. In the top window is a giant tank containing live saltwater fish.

Inside this racetrack, Davison staff brainstorm automotive products, such as the Hover Creeper, a wheel-less platform that mechanics lay on to work under cars. In their free time, some employees race cars on the track.

Continued

Kitchen products are conceptualized in this house. Mr. Davison says it took some 60 architecture plans before the cupcake façade was built.

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A tree house serves as Mr. Davison's office. The trunk is made of steel, wood and resin. The branches, fashioned with silk leaves, were trimmed from real trees and repurposed here.

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Pumps keep the water circulating. Mr. Davison says being around "things that are magical" like these waterfalls, help to keep creative ideas flowing.

Continued

Inside this racetrack, Davison staff brainstorm automotive products, such as the Hover Creeper, a wheel-less platform that mechanics lay on to work under cars. In their free time, some employees race cars on the track.


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