Phone booths, once ubiquitous, pretty much got killed off by the mobile phone.
They're making a comeback, though, in a number of offices with open floor plans, including Skuid, Inc., a software firm housed in the Liberty Tower in downtown Chattanooga.
Skuid has a more than a dozen Finnish-made Framery O single-user phone booths scattered around the three floors that it leases in the office tower at Chestnut and 6th Streets.
"They're good for a phone call or some quiet space," Skuid spokeswoman Ellie Hildebrand says. "You also don't have to book a conference room, which can be a hard thing to come by."
The Framery O phone booth includes "all the equipment you need to make things easy — a table top, air ventilation system, electric socket and LED lighting," says the Finnish company — itself a startup.
In 2010, the two Framery founders, Samu Hällfors and Vesa-Matti Marjamäki, had a summer job in a 100-employee tech company, according to the Finnish company's history.
Their boss used to talk loudly in his cell phone, walking around in the large open office, disturbing everyone. When Samu and Vesa-Matti finally complained, the executive said, "Then get me a phone booth!"
They could not find one for him, so they decided to start to make phone booths, the company says. And they've since been purchased by businesses around the world, including Microsoft, Deloitte and Procter & Gamble.
Skuid started using the Framery O phone booths, which the manufacturer says cost about $8,000, each, when it was housed temporarily in smaller quarters in the Republic Centre office tower next door to its current home. Skuid, which has about 160 employees, likes the phone booths so much that it's going to add a number of Framery Q two-person booths. Those cost about $17,000.