Fast Company's Meg Miller takes a look at a small-scale solution that can reconfigure existing open-plan offices (great in theory, noisy in reality) to add a bit of personal space without making a major change.

Developed by MIT's Skylar Tibbits and Drew Wenzel of Google's campus development team, these re-configurable pods lower from the ceiling and expand into a temporary work space. The space is made out of 36 fiberglass rods that are woven together with flex, and no mechanics or electronics are involved.

At first glance the pod doesn't seem so different from the quirky, adaptable workplace furniture you might find in a startup office. When it expands fully, it's around 10 feet in diameter and 8 feet tall—enough room for a range of uses, from individual work spaces to meetings of up to eight people. Its bulbous walnut exterior creates a secondary office space where nearby sounds are dampened by a felt-lined interior. Tugging on a counterweight lowers the space from the ceiling, and pushing the structure's frame brings it back up.

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