Click the image to see Steelcase's Turnstone manifesto  video on new generation office furnishings trends.
Click the image to see Steelcase's Turnstone manifesto video on new generation office furnishings trends.

Bailey Dalton: Portrait of a Furniture MakerBailey Dalton is a furniture maker, though her job description at Turnstone, a unit of office furnishings giant Steelcase, might surprise you. As she relates it in today's newspaper:

"I look at the qualitative aspects of customers or prospects visiting our site. . . who they are and what kinds of companies they're coming from and see if we can anticipate their needs. I may send out a survey and have face-to-face interviews and then overlay the results with various data sources. I look at social interactions, convert my findings into big data and extrapolate them into revenue-generating behavior."

Okay, you may not be following trends in Dalton's social-science-based fashion. But you can draw upon her knowledge and other very useful resources by making a point to visit, or at least follow online, major design trend events. 

Bailey Dalton: Portrait of a Furniture MakerIf you attended NeoCon 2014 in Chicago in June, or watched the coverage of the event - 40,000 commercial designers feasting on furnishing innovations of 800 exhibitors and insights of dozens of top-notch presenters - you witnessed a workspace sea change. It will profounded affect materials choices and the work that architectural woodworkers are asked to do. For example, much greater use of mixed materials - metal and wood and glass; more use of reclaimed woods; healthy, natural finishes, etc..

Custom interior woodworkers who attended NeoCon could hear first hand the business case for adaptive office furnishings, interior space designs that are suited to make the most of the talent from next-generation workers. This was especially true for attendees at a breakfast presentation June 11 on "Design - Leveraged," a research project commissioned by BIFMA in partnership with the IIAD interior design group.

Produced by former Wall St. Journalist Kevin Salwen, the report features case studies exploring the furnishing and workspace design usages of major brands - including Coca-Cola, Zappos, Twitter, Manpower and Quicken Loans.

Salwen said the brand mission of a company tends to drive interior space design needs, and that generally more open, adaptive and flexibly collaborative spaces are in demand - because they make the most of the creative juices of millenial workers.

"Only one quarter of office spaces are optimized for design," Salwen said, citing a Gensler study finding. He said corporate executives' approaches to interior space is affected by their three current priorities: real estate costs, finding and keeping talent, and establishing an environment that fosters innovation.

"The smartest players in corporate America are parlaying their work spaces into a competitive advantage," says the report, which you can access online at designleveraged.org. "Design may be the single most under-leveraged tool in the business world." 

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