CBRE Furniture Forum - What's Next?


The forum was inspired back in 2016 after a post-Neocon conversation about commonly shared “pain points” in specifying and procurement of contract furniture. This conversation has created a movement to improve processes and better alignment among all parties in the industry. The event turnout and follow-up interest in the topic has been extremely enthusiastic and has triggered a robust debate in all quarters of our industry.

So, what’s next? We asked Julie and Amanda to reflect on the past year and give us a clue to what may happen in the coming year.

The turnout for your events, and interest in the articles describing your work, this past year has been quite robust! What is the most significant surprise about how this project has evolved?

Julie & Amanda: The most exciting surprise for us has been the hunger for information. We firmly believe that in an industry that has viewed innovation as product innovation that the most prominent disruptions in the future of this industry will come from process innovation. It’s challenging to look at that piece holistically. CBRE had the muscle to bring the right people to the table, and CCG had the creativity and industry knowledge to facilitate the discussion. It has been a great partnership. The follow-up requests from the Chicago 2.0 forum and requests for additional information tell us we have struck a chord.

What are the most significant findings from the panel discussions and feedback from event participants?

Julie & Amanda:

How little we know about the each other’s role in furniture. Of the panelists, everyone’s favorite session is always the first where we split them out into groups and have them map the process as it is today, identifying pain points along the way. The most exciting thing that happens is when they present back to one another – it’s always the biggest “aha moment.”

How little attention is paid to the furniture purchase process from the client standpoint. With this exercise, we see how siloed we are as an industry. It’s almost like everyone has forgotten about the client. It’s easy to think it’s someone else’s job, but when you look at the process holistically, it’s incredibly eye-opening how out of touch most of us are.

Where the most significant change is needed. Everyone has challenges in their job, but when it comes to furniture, the dealers certainly have the most appetite for change. We predict there will be an evolution in how we see the role of the traditional dealer. Making these changes will mean development in how the dealers view themselves and present themselves to the market. We also hope that many more manufacturers in the industry hear this as a wake-up call to re-evaluate our industry’s complex pricing structure and alignments.