As the nature of the workplace continues to adapt to the rise of technology, many aspects of the traditional office space are being replaced. Cubicles were forgone in favor of bright open office plans. Assigned desks are also falling by the wayside, in favor of desk hoteling and flexible workspaces. But one aspect of office planning has remained a constant: the need to buy furniture. Whether companies are going old school and purchasing a desk and chair for each employee, or following current trends and spending their budget on couches and lounge areas, easily rearranged work stations and sleek standing desks, the process is the same.
When a company builds an office space, they hire a project manager who oversees the process from start to finish. There are countless other teams involved—architects, construction, engineers and more—but when the office is near complete and it’s time to furnish, the process can sometimes hit a snag.
“Project managers typically come from a background in construction, architecture, design or engineering—they don’t typically have a furniture background,” says Julie Deignan, director of Furniture Advisory Services for CBRE. “It’s a major piece of the project that needs an expert eye in order to elevate the client experience, and it’s a piece that was missing in most projects.”
Four years ago, Deignan recognized a hole in the market and saw how a team with a background in furniture buying and dealing could be useful to commercial real estate clients. As someone with over 18 years in the commercial furnishings and design industries, her hunch was correct. Today, her team has helped clients save an average of five to 28 percent of their total furniture budget.
For most companies, the furniture process starts with a design firm. The design team works with the company to create a comprehensive design plan—from wallpaper choices, right down to the color of the wheel casters on desk chairs. Once the client and the design firm determine the direction of the furniture aesthetic, the Furniture Advisory Services team enters the picture.