Posts tagged Benching
Innovant Case Study: SWA Group
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THE CHALLENGE

SWA Group, a world leader in landscape architecture, planning, and urban design, relocated its San Francisco office to a new space that would better serve its business and accommodate the firms’ growth. Plans for the new office stipulated a sophisticated, open plan furniture system that was capable of accommodating SWA’s particular work style, while also delivering a strong, contemporary aesthetic. Integrating the existing structural columns as a point of interest rather than an architectural obstruction in the layout was another design challenge.

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION
Innovant’s FORm_office benching product was selected early in the evaluation process by SWA Group and their interiors consultant, SmithGroupJJR. In addition to delivering the desired aesthetic, FORm_office was chosen for its easy tailoring to meet the specific needs of the end-users. An increased desk depth of 42 inches allows each designer to comfortably view plans at his or her workstation.

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Instead of relying on a more typical enclosure solution to contain the columns, FORm_office’s oversized raceway permitted building columns to be easily scribed through the desks with minimal cost or complexity. This allowed for cable management and concealment throughout the space. Additionally, the designers are able to freely “slide” back and forth across the work surface of the product, a quality that will support SWA Group in densifying its workplace environment as the firm continues to grow.

THE RESULT
Project Architect Dew Padilla reported that “the product is working perfectly for SWA Group.”  The SWA Group architects “love the depth” of the desks and appreciate the unique edge detailing of the product, as well as its seamless technology integration.

Photographed by Sherman Takata

How Flexibility Supports Function in the Modern Workplace

Inspired by the dystopian world depicted in the pages of the Divergent literary series, Citi’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of HR Susan Catalano, modeled her group’s offices after the fictional books.

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Image via HBR.

In order to foster collaboration and autonomy in Citi HR’s new workplace, the floorplan was segmented into “neighborhoods - a compensation neighborhood, a learning and development neighborhood, etc. — to help individuals feel they ‘owned’ their space, even though no one has a designated workspace and no one has a private office,” Catalano explains. This pilot concept – of assigning employees areas instead of actual seats – encouraged a sense of belonging, while also enabling a healthy sense of identity.

The concept also addressed two practical problems facing Citi: First, people had been scattered in different offices throughout the metropolitan area, creating a fractured feeling. Second, an internal study showed that some offices - like most workplaces - were underutilized because of travel, vacation, illness and flexible working arrangements.

In a HBR article, Why Citi Got Rid of Assigned Desks, the authors offer a comprehensive summary of the results of this flexible workplace concept, the challenges faced and lessons learned. By consolidating 150 workspaces for 200 people into a single office, Citi saved millions of dollars in overhead costs. In turn, they were able to invest more dollars into making the space functional, eco–friendly and pleasant for employees. Another significant benefit is employee innovation through new social interactions. Read more valuable takeaways from this project here.

Time to Shift Gears: 5 Design Firms Reimagine Their Own Studios

In a recent Interior Design Magazine feature about design firms updating their own spaces, Innovant’s FORm_office product made an appearance. Among the five firms highlighted, TPG Architecture was noted for its “two-level layout emphasiz[ing] alternative and collaborative work areas.”imageFor heads down work, the firm deployed FORm_office benching in a stark black and white finish to complement the firm’s branding.

To view the full slideshow, please click the Interior Design link above.

If Sitting Is The New Smoking Is Standing The New Patch?

by Fran Ferrone

Over the past 18 months, I’ve gained almost two inches (2 inches!) in a place I don’t need to, primarily because I changed jobs. My last job consisted of ten to twelve impossibly hectic and mobile travel days per month meeting with colleagues and clients, followed by several days working virtually at home. The travel was stressful and the workdays were long, but I was compensated by more flexible hours on my days at home that allowed me to catch a mid-day Vinyasa class a few times a week. While changing jobs afforded me the chance to move from one great company to another, it was also a drastic change in my work style. Now I’m in an office Monday through Friday, and although my work is varied and stimulating, I often feel the physical and psychological effects of being tethered to my desk; and I miss that Vinyasa class.

imageIncreased Concern for Health and Wellness

I’m not alone. Ever since the Wall Street Journal’s July, 2012 article, “Sitting for More Than Three Hours a Day Cuts Life Expectancy” appeared (to be endlessly echoed by myriad media sources) it’s been clear that health and wellness has become a serious business concern. Yet compared to sustainability, which came to prominence in the mid-2000’s, and took years to produce real bottom line proof statements, compelling health and wellness statistics have quickly emerged. Insurance giant, AON, reports that for every dollar invested in wellness programs, companies can expect a $3.00 to $6.00 return. And the cost of not doing anything is even more dramatic. The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism estimates that the indirect costs relating to poor health can be 2-3X direct medical costs. As a result, health and wellness has become the latest clarion call of the office landscape. This is a big topic that would take much more space than this writing allows. To give you an idea of scale, at one end of the spectrum developers are offering more life-style amenities in new and repositioned properties. At the other end of the spectrum, sit-to-stand furniture options have taken center stage.   

Solutions to Meet a Rising Need

Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing and Development for benching and trading desk manufacturer Innovant, reports that just in the past six months, 90% of his conversations with clients have centered on sit-to-stand options. Key motivators for concerned employers are the potential health benefits of standing (or more specifically, not sitting all day) and the opportunity to give something back after transitioning employees to smaller benching applications. In providing a choice, the sit-to-stand option offers workers some control over their immediate work environment.

Because this represents a significant workplace investment, there are factors to consider before committing to the sit stand option. First, “who gets it?” Providing everyone with standing desks avoids inequality but could strain the budget. Firms struggling with this might consider supplying them to workers - like traders, call center operators and receptionists - who are less mobile during the workday. Second, a thorough cost/benefit analysis of day one vs. retrofit day two installations is recommended for anyone considering a phased approach. Other considerations include power sources, wire management and monitor arms for retrofit applications; requests for foot rests and stools (vs. chairs); potential HVAC adjustments; and user safety and office etiquette protocols. Finally, at a cost of $1000 or more per unit, sit-to-stand desks are likely to be part of a holistic solution rather than the solution itself.

image“Inconvenient Planning Strategies”

On the aforementioned spectrum between the amenities being included in new construction and sit-to-stand desks, are some planning options designers have been employing for some time to get people up and out of their seats. Called “Inconvenient Planning Strategies” by my colleague, Ricardo Nabholz, these scenarios evolved over the past decade as companies sought to increase transparency, spontaneous interaction and collaboration throughout the workplace. Conveniently, these same planning tactics also get people moving. Placing staircases in prominent locations encourages people to take the stairs; making them wide enough allows them to stop and have a chat. Dispersing support functions means people have to travel to get to copy/print rooms, pantries, cafés and bathrooms. The proliferation of laptops and wireless technologies have called traditional departmental adjacencies into question, prompting some companies to adopt an unassigned seating policy and/or provide more informal work and collaborative settings – including fixed, standing height benches - that require workers to change locations during the day. More recently, we’ve seen reports of stand-up meetings (that also save time and get people more engaged), and featured in a recent TED talk, even walking meetings.

The Choice Is Ours

Ultimately, while the workplace can indeed support healthy habits, the onus cannot be on the workplace alone. Consider that before we had email and texting, people often had to get up and go find someone to get the answers they needed. And before computers, where it’s easy to gaze and graze, it was difficult to type and eat a sandwich at the same time, so people tended to leave their stations and join colleagues for lunch. Today, it’s up to us to choose options that break our routine, even if they are less convenient. I’m reminded of childhood summers when, before central air conditioning, I spent hot days in my cool basement reading a book while my mother implored me to “put that book down and go get some sun.” Appeasing Mom, I also knew that changing it up was good for me. If Mom were here now she’d say “leave the laptop and go take a walk, think, have a conversation.” With Mom’s voice in my ear, I’ve begun to find ways to take breaks much as I did when working at home. Happily, I’ve found that not only can I still get my work done, I’ve also begun to feel more in control. I now save my Vinyansa for the weekends, but I’m delighted to say that the little changes in my work routine have started to make a dent in those 2 inches.   

Originally published in The National Real Estate Investor, July 1, 2014.

The Not So Open Plan

imageMaking the change from cubicles to open plan office environments is a major shift for any organization. Two of the biggest concerns we often hear from clients are related to retaining sufficient storage and privacy. When shifting to more densified, open environments, the application of multi-functional solutions, such as storage elements that provide separation or privacy, can help address these concerns.

One main motivator behind this densification is the desire among companies to reduce their real estate portfolios, which leads them to look at the most efficient practices for working with less space. Corporate real estate and facilities managers ask how they can give their employees the tools to be productive, collaborative and focused, while reducing their allotment of space per person. One effective solution is to utilize furniture that serves multiple purposes, to create division and provide extra surface space; we call this, “storage as separation.”imageIn addition to space reductions, there has been a rise in corporate social responsibility initiatives, which include sustainability and LEED certification strategies. These often translate to open furniture plans, which have inherent sustainability benefits because they use fewer materials. Open furniture plans also minimize or eliminate such elements as panels, walls, and high storage that tend to obstruct lines of sight and access to natural light. As a result of these programs, more employees are sitting in the open environment, with senior management joining them outside their private offices.

By adding tailored privacy panels or storage units to Innovant’s workstations, privacy can be achieved with full utility and an enhanced aesthetic impact. What results is a “not so open plan” environment that balances privacy and interaction in the workplace.

The Monuments of Tech

Last week, the New York Times probed the rising trend among big internet companies to construct “workplaces that memorialize their products and values.” Gone are the nostalgic days of Silicon Valley companies “building world-changing technologies from the humble garage, or the nondescript office park.” Instead, tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Amazon are seeking to craft workplaces that “fuse their values of speed, change and productivity with their perceived corporate smarts and quirkiness.”

image                                                   Image: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

In most cases, these personalized workplaces subscribe to the common design trend of open plan office environments. This workplace type is not only suited for fluctuating office teams and sizes, but also helps move “work and information as quickly as possible” – a quality particularly suited to fast-moving tech companies.

By injecting their “ethos” into the design of their workplaces, tech companies have begun to create not “just offices… [but] monuments.”

Facebook’s Menlo Park, CA headquarters is one example, boasting a “Disney-like” design modeled after “Main Street, USA.” At Facebook, there are no permanent offices as employees are often moved around based on “new short-term projects.” Such elements as plywood boards hanging from the ceiling provide the space with a “visual ‘under construction’ reference meant to reinforce the company’s ethos.” Considering that doors act as an “impediment, slowing the making of something new,” the open plan office is designed to “change thinking” and inspire creativity.  

Twitter’s San Francisco office also uses its architecture to influence employees, with quirky design elements – like the front desk computer housed “inside a faux birdhouse” and nest-like twigs on walls – that reference the company’s iconic logo. Informal meetings often take place in the @birdfeeder cafeteria, in the hopes that “this low-stress setting… will help foster new ideas.”

All of the design decisions and uses of these tech offices are in service to the idea that “nothing is permanent, that any product can be dislodged from greatness by something newer. It’s the aesthetic of disruption: We must all change, all the time.” The flexibility and utility of open plan offices is particularly suited to this type of disruption and temporality that defines the tech industry.

Innovant Case Study: Societe Generale

imageTHE CHALLENGE

With Societe Generale’s US Headquarters lease set to expire in September 2013, the Director of Facilities Management organized an executive committee to study the efficiencies of moving as opposed to renovating. Upon the completion of those studies, it became clear that the company would benefit from moving its headquarters to a
new site.

In addition to this location change, Societe Generale evaluated workplace strategy, determining that it would build out a large trading oor with over 1,200 seats and create “neighborhoods” of benching for its 600+ administrative employees. The bank embarked on an expedition, reviewing all the major manufactures in order to find a vendor that could achieve the required functionality – including adequate privacy and personal storage – while also reflecting Societe Generale’s sophisticated aesthetic standards.  

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION

After a thorough review and comparison of the major manufacturers’ product offering, price and on-site mockups, Innovant was chosen for both the benching and trading desk solutions. This decision stemmed from numerous details in Innovant’s product design that set them apart from the competition. The product is “sturdy, well built, and easy to assemble due to its unistrut frame. The desktop design, monitor arm track and undercarriage framework for wire management are well thought out and manufactured with the highest quality materials.”

Throughout the mockup process, Innovant prevailed in terms of aesthetics, quality and framework. As a result, FORm_trading was chosen to outfit the bank’s trading floor. The product incorporated tailored technology management solutions for CPU housing and access, as well as bespoke personal storage pedestals for a premium fit and finish. Innovant’s proven sensitivity when using sophisticated materials and superior finishing capabilities resulted in the bank’s selection of FORm_office for its administrative benching. The bank’s “neighborhoods” incorporated tailored millwork storage units and end-of-row storage centers using mitered construction. These finely-finished elements afford employees a sense of enclosure despite working in open plan.

THE RESULT

By presenting the best solutions for both the trading and benching scopes of this job, Innovant could provide a single-source solution for Societe Generale. Since then, both the FORm_office and FORm_trading installations have received “rave reviews from the end-user community as they are both functionally and aesthetically pleasing.”

Check out other case studies on Innovant’s website.

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Interior Design Walk-Through: Gravillis Office by SmithGroupJJR

imageThis month’s edition of Interior Design Magazine featured a walk-through of the Gravillis office in Los Angeles, CA by the firm, SmithGroupJJR. The installation features Innovant’s conference table and FORm_office benching. Read the story, “It’s Their Baby,” by Edie Cohen below.

DeAnna and Kenny Gravillis were running their Los Angeles graphics firm, Gravillis, from a small studio attached to the house where they lived with their 4-year-old daughter when they met an architect named Mark McVay. Fast-forward 10 years. McVay had become a studio leader at SmithGroupJJR, and Gravillis had gone on to create movie posters for Inglourious Basterds and Only God Forgives and album covers for Mary J. Blige and Robin Thicke. It was time for a major office expansion.

And that’s precisely what Gravillis got: 6,200 square feet in a downtown low-rise, plus 1,500 square feet of roof deck. Thrilled that the 13-strong team could now really spread out, the Gravillises were nevertheless leery of losing the teamwork benefits of the original close-knit setting. So McVay made sure to provide plenty of openness and communal spirit. Reception, boasting a Ping-Pong table, flows toward the glass-fronted conference room, which shares a freestanding volume with the library. In the design studio, the benching system forms three  compact rows of six stations apiece. 

Graphics being what Gravillis does, they appear throughout. In a big way. A graffiti artist contributed a mural in a constructivist-futurist aesthetic, overlaid with the words Made for Designers. Another in-house work combines those motifs with a blow-up benday-dot portrait of the Gravillises’ daughter when she was an infant.

The final component of the brief, McVay says, “was about adding amenities.” Foremost among them is the roof deck, which extends in a triangle off one side of the building. For inspiration, he notes, he looked to old Hollywood: “People in entertainment used to work outdoors, from their beach bungalows.” 

Sliding doors at the widest end of the triangle provide direct access from the Gravillises’ corner suite, complete with private lounge. There are two private offices for executives, too. And the screening room, while relatively small, offers plush seating. Democratically, everyone gets a turn to attend the screenings, even the interns.

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These photographs tell a small part of a large project story. Our client sought a single furniture solution that could service multiple divisions and subsidiary companies. Thus, the decision was made that Innovant’s FORm_office bench would meet the client’s range of needs in its various iterations. For touchdown workers, FORm_office’s basic spec was chosen, while creatives work at FORm_office Standing Height and studio workers sit at FORm_office Adjustable Height.

For the full story about this installation, please look out for our upcoming case study.

innovantgallery:

Proud to share these beautiful photos from our recent installation downtown.

Client: Havas Worlwide

Designer: TPG Architecture

Location: New York, NY

Featured Product: FORm_office, FORm_office Adjustable Height, and FORm_office Standing Height

Expert Series: Storage as Separation

by Julie May, Strategic Account Executive

Making the change from cubicles to open plan office environments is a major shift for any organization. Two of the biggest concerns we hear from clients are:

“We need to make sure that our employees have as much storage as they do now.”

“Our employees are used to having privacy. They sit in 6’x8’ cubicles with 60”H privacy panels.”

These are understandable concerns.

There are many factors that drive organizations to move into densified, open environments (see previous post, "Expert Series: The Changing Workplace" for common factors). Under these parameters, the application of multi-functional solutions help address many of these concerns. 

One effective solution that Innovant has routinely provided to address these concerns is the use of storage elements that serve multiple purposes: create division, provide extra surface space, and establish additional informal meeting spaces.
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Face-to-Face Storage as Separation: The personalized storage cubby units that sit in the center channel of a double-sided benching cluster do not take up any additional real estate. They provide plenty of above-work surface storage for books, binders, and personal effects, while also providing separation between colleagues. This separation helps provide a sense of privacy, while sitting low enough to meet LEED Daylighting requirements.

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Side-by-Side Storage as Separation: The bookcases and storage units pictured below are at 42”H and divide colleagues that sit side-by-side, while minimizing the overall footprint of each user position. Storage can be configured with different components depending on the client’s requirements. These units can also function as informal meeting areas.

These types of solutions help maintain privacy and provide storage, while also keeping the open plan “open” and conducive for collaboration. As Innovant continues to evolve with the ever-changing workspace, these types of storage solutions are flexible and easy to modify, which enables users to replace their storage units with new solutions in the coming years.

Expert Series: The Changing Workplace

Innovant is proud to announce the launch of its “Expert Series,” which will feature blog posts written by our very own industry experts. We’ve invited our sales team, engineers, and senior management to share their thoughts on all things related to workplace design.

Tune in each month for insights on the evolving workplace, product design, office tips, and more – all from Innovant’s team members at the forefront of workplace strategy and design.

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First up is Julie May, Innovant’s Strategic Account Executive. Her first post will be published in two parts. As an introduction to her upcoming account of storage used as separation in the modern workplace, Julie describes the factors contributing to the evolving workplace. See her breakdown the common factors below: 

Real Estate Efficiencies: Many companies are reducing their real estate portfolios and are looking at the most efficient practices for working with less space. Corporate real estate and facilities ask how they can give their employees the tools to be productive, collaborative and focused, while reducing their allotment of space per person. The average square foot per person has dropped from 225 sq ft in 2010 to 176 sq ft in 2012, with prediction of being reduced further to 100 sq ft per person by 2017. (*Data sourced from CoreNet Global.)

Sustainable and Corporate Responsibility Corporate Programs: In addition to space reductions, there has been a rise in corporate social responsibility initiatives, which include sustainability and LEED certification strategies. These often translate to open furniture plans, which have inherent sustainability benefits because they use fewer materials. Open furniture plans also minimize or eliminate such elements as panels, walls, and high storage that tend to obstruct lines of sight and access to natural light. As a result of these programs, more employees are sitting in the open environment, with senior management joining them outside their private offices.

Multiple Generations: “Collaboration” is a common word used in planning meetings to discuss strategies for boosting employee productivity. With multiple generations existing in a single workplace, studies have been conducted that show contradictory results: 1) Collaboration between multiple generations is effective in increasing productivity. 2) Younger generations like being in an open environment and older generations struggle to focus. 3) When done right and with the right worker types, the open plan can be productive and a successful platform for multiple generations to share information, develop mentorships, socialize and connect.

Workplace Tools: What works for me, as a salesperson, doesn’t necessarily work for, say, an engineer or accounting person. Each department and worker type has different requirements for work, which means that “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t necessarily work for every organization. Developing effective tools for different worker types is becoming more common and easier to manage for facilities.

Please check back next week for Julie’s insight into how “Storage as Separation” fits into these new work environments. 

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The WSJ Says Goodbye to the Office Cubicle

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Say Goodbye to the Office Cubicle, Ben Kesling describes how workplace design has changed to reflect the way people now work. He states that “postcubicle offices began to crop up in earnest about a decade ago, inspired by changes in the way people worked. They feature lower walls between desks, or even no walls, and more areas designed for conversation, to encourage impromptu problem-solving sessions.”

Apart from the benefit of increasing productivity with open plan office environments, Kesling explains that benching helps “shrink [the] space and costs” of previous office plans. Other benefits of benching include “workspace flexibility” and the sense that workers are no longer “tethered to [their] workstations.”

We join the WSJ in saying farewell to the confines of the cubicle. Hello to flexible, open plan workplaces. 

Innovant Expands Westward  
  Innovant is proud to announce that it has moved westward, with a new showroom opening in San Francisco, CA this April 2013. Conveniently located at the cross of Market and Montgomery streets, this site rounds out the company’s US locations. It joins the ranks of Innovant’s New York City Headquarters and Midwestern showroom in Chicago.   
  Our formal opening event, scheduled for May 2013, will celebrate the display of Innovant’s latest benching, conference, and private office collections particularly suited for the progressive West Coast office market. Included in this showcase will be Innovant’s adjustable height benching line, which won gold at Neocon 2012.     
  Innovant designs and manufactures intelligent office furniture systems for the modern workplace. A recognized leader in the industry, our collaborative approach with client teams and commitment to ongoing design innovation has resulted in a portfolio renowned for its intelligent and adaptable designs. Every Innovant product is designed for efficient installation and easy reconfiguration over time as new features are introduced. All of our products are also environmentally sustainable, with our standard products conforming to a variety of eco-requirements.   
  For more information about our San Francisco showroom, contact George Schoenwald, Bay Area Regional Manager (  info@innovant.com  ).   
  SF Showroom: 607 Market Street, 4 th  Floor (at Montgomery Street), San Francisco, CA 94105

Innovant Expands Westward

Innovant is proud to announce that it has moved westward, with a new showroom opening in San Francisco, CA this April 2013. Conveniently located at the cross of Market and Montgomery streets, this site rounds out the company’s US locations. It joins the ranks of Innovant’s New York City Headquarters and Midwestern showroom in Chicago.

Our formal opening event, scheduled for May 2013, will celebrate the display of Innovant’s latest benching, conference, and private office collections particularly suited for the progressive West Coast office market. Included in this showcase will be Innovant’s adjustable height benching line, which won gold at Neocon 2012.  

Innovant designs and manufactures intelligent office furniture systems for the modern workplace. A recognized leader in the industry, our collaborative approach with client teams and commitment to ongoing design innovation has resulted in a portfolio renowned for its intelligent and adaptable designs. Every Innovant product is designed for efficient installation and easy reconfiguration over time as new features are introduced. All of our products are also environmentally sustainable, with our standard products conforming to a variety of eco-requirements.

For more information about our San Francisco showroom, contact George Schoenwald, Bay Area Regional Manager (info@innovant.com).

SF Showroom: 607 Market Street, 4th Floor (at Montgomery Street), San Francisco, CA 94105

S4 Installation in California

FORm_office S4 Installation - Redwood California 

Innovant recently installed Form Office S4 benching system for YuMe Video Ad Network in Redwood. Founded by Jayant Kadambi and Ayyappan Sankari in 2004, YuMe is one of the most innovative leaders in the field of video advertising, directing campaigns for Mini Cooper, Wells Fargo and eBay. Their headquarters are in Redwood City, California, and with sales offices throughout the United States in addition to the European headquarters in London.

Our award winning S4 Form Office benching system elegant and modern complements the urban interior of this unique office environment. The exposed brick walls and the wood beam ceiling are the perfect match for the modern and contemporary Form Office S4 benching system. Its contemporary design, advanced technology and cable management provides creatives with an optimal workstation. Each desk is outfitted with privacy panels, personal storage cubes and data/usb ports for the user’s convenience. Form Office S4 is in a class of its own, perfect for collaborative or ‘touchdown’ spaces like YuMe’s offices are. Furniture that makes for a creative and collaborative environment can also empower your staff by granting new modes of expression. Devoting space that allows this is important, but furniture designed to promote collaboration greatly increases productivity. This is the great contribution that Form Office S4 offers to all creatives of YuMe’s offices, encouraging them to share their ideas and creating a collaborative work environment.

Form Office S4 installation in Redwood has been possible thanks to the full-service dealership Inside Source, which offers office furniture and services to customers throughout the San Francisco and greater Bay Area. They help companies achieve their goals faster and more reliably providing a complete menu of services, including project management, space planning, warehousing and installation.

Interested in S4? Email info@innovant.com for more information 

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