Posts tagged benching
An Innovant Installation Fit for Superheroes: Jet.com

Interior Design Magazine recently featured Jet.com’s new Hoboken headquarters. In a story, “ IA Interior Architects Delivers the Goods for E-commerce Newcomer Jet.com,” writer Jesse Dorris reveals the intention behind this recent FORm_office installation. 

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It takes superhuman ambition and supersize resources to challenge the likes of Amazon.com and Costco Wholesale Corporation. So why not a superhero-inspired workplace? When Jet.com was still based at an incubator, the e-commerce start-up gave the names of different superheroes to the company’s various teams. “That would be something good to keep,” Interior Architects principal and design director Julio Braga said to himself when conceiving the company’s first real headquarters, in a new building on the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Although the company had outgrown the incubator, IA intermediate designer Brie Samyn notes, “They liked the buzz of everyone being together.” That meant constantly moving through a vibrant environment. Braga and Samyn therefore settled on a largely open plan, with office areas occupying the four corners of the 40,000-square-foot floor plate. Of the 350 employees now, about 200 work in a dedicated team, while the remainder either float among unassigned desks or have no desks at all. “The CEO, the employees—you see everyone,” Braga says. Tucked between these quadrants are shared spaces, from the reception area to a variety of meeting venues.

Then there’s the question of branding. Samyn explains it as “making sure, when you walk in, that the headquarters can’t be mistaken for that of any other company but accomplishing that without a big gesture.” The winking letter J in the purple logo gave her and Braga the idea to develop what they refer to as “Jet wink moments,” subtly clever references.

Completely in the open, among the workstations, painted circles on the concrete floor demarcate break-out areas furnished with tables and ottomans. When the need for quiet or privacy arises, glass-fronted phone rooms are available. They’re nestled next to alcoves containing upholstered banquettes and shell chairs by Charles and Ray Eames.

All that still isn’t sufficient for fast-growing Jet.com. The company has leased the level below, expecting to expand there next year, and IA is once more coming to the rescue on the design front. As a way of thanking the customers behind the success story, the names of the first 25,000 to test the Web site, in beta, are listed on a purple wall as Jet Insiders. From the company’s perspective, they are the true heroes, one and all.

Read more about this project on Interior Design’s website.

Case Study, Jet.com
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Innovant is proud to share photographs of a recent FORm_office Adustable Height installation. The product is perfectly suited for the offices of this dynamic technology company.  

Client: Jet.com

Designer: IA Interior Architects

Location: Hoboken, NJ

Photographer: Eric Laignel

This office was also featured in a New York Times roundup of “Cutting-Edge Offices Around the World” and on IA’s blog, dIAmeter.

How  Plug 'N' Play Offices Have Impacted Design Culture
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While the tech field has undoubtedly changed the way in which we interact with our world, there is one field that has undergone a complete transformation in the last two years: the pre-built office. Eschewing the traditional blank-canvas method of leasing retail space, commercial landlords are turning to finished office spaces specifically for start-ups that would rather lease an office where set-up isn’t needed.

“They don’t want to do anything beyond installing furniture, telephones, and computers,” said Daniel Montroy, designer with Montroy Andersen DeMarco Architects. “They want their new space to be plug ‘n’ play.”

The presence of plug ‘n’ play spaces in commercial architecture is already widespread. The challenge of such spaces is that they must appeal to everyone. To satisfy whichever company may eventually settle into the space—particularly those in the “TAMI” industries: technology, advertising, media, and information services—it must incorporate ideal market positioning, technology, workplace organization, and aesthetic.

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“These projects call for much more than design abilities… The designer has to think like a leasing agent and asset manager, and suggest the most beneficial solutions to the landlord—the best use of the budget, the most promising tenant segment to the target, the upgrades that will increase rent rolls.”

With so many start-up companies embracing less traditional workspaces, creating plug ‘n’ play offices can be costly. “They all want an open collaborative workspace with a loft aesthetic,” explained Montroy. While ductwork and mechanical systems could previously be hidden under a dropped ceiling, today’s open-ceiling buildings require that architects work alongside engineers to ensure that the exposed mechanical layout meshes harmoniously with interior elements.

According to CBRE’s Laura Bruno, real estate property manager of 180 Madison Avenue, this extra cost could be good for business. “The trend of the quality pre-built is here to stay,” she said, adding that it’s become something that tenants are learning to expect. In her experience, the market is currently split 50-50 between companies looking for a blank canvas versus a finished office space, suggesting the future may lead to a more holistic design approach.

Content originally published in Interiors & Sources, June 1, 2015.

3 Reasons Open Plan Offices Are Better After All

By Jim Belosic

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The open office concept has been around for awhile, but lately has come under fire. Apparently having no walls, no doors, and shared workspaces undermines what the concept was designed to achieve: communication and flow of ideas amongst employees… Despite what some organizational psychologists and productivity experts say, the open concept can make a team more cohesive, especially if it’s adopted by the senior staff and CEO.

It can also give leaders a better picture of what’s going on at the company. Those are just two reasons I’m leaving my company’s mostly open concept setup as it is. And it’s also the reason that I, the CEO, sit at the desk that’s usually reserved for the receptionist, right next to the front door. Yep, just like Pam from “The Office.”

Here are three reasons leaders should consider sitting in the middle of the action:

1. You’re tuned in to the office vibe.

If you sit in the same vicinity as your team, you’ll hear more of what they’re discussing–good and bad. It’s not like you need to function like some sort of NSA operative, but if you’re aware of people’s concerns, you have an opportunity to weigh in and offer guidance when it’s needed. When people need to meet privately with each other or with you, just make sure they have a place to do so with doors.

2. You’re more approachable.

I’ve never had the pleasure of working in a cubicle, or in an “old-fashioned” office. That said, I envision a corporate setup as being very compartmentalized and the kind of place where the staff don’t feel comfortable talking to the executives.

Setting up my desk near the front door and, coincidentally, next to the kitchen, means people are walking by all the time; anyone can ask me anything at pretty much any time. I can just say “go ahead” and what needs to get done, gets done. Yes, this can affect productivity. To get around that, you might adopt a policy that when people need to work undisturbed they’re free to work from home. And at the office, make sure everyone has a pair of headphones. When headphones are on, the rule is “Do not disturb.“

3. It improves interoffice communication.

Tools like HipChat and Slack make interoffice communication quick and easy, but it’s also nice to hear people actually talking to one another, which happens naturally in an open office.

As my company grows–we now have 17 people in our main office and three people who work remotely–space is becoming an issue. I’ve looked at a few spaces that have tons of character–like beautiful old Victorian houses that have been converted to offices–but I’m reluctant to move into a building where we could all go days without seeing each other. I’m not entirely sure yet how we’ll deal with the office space issue as we add more staff, but finding a place where we can still work in an open environment is a priority.

Content originally published on Inc, September 19, 2014.

Innovant Secures Top Honors for Design Excellence with 2 Platinum ADEX Awards

Innovant, a leading manufacturer of contract office furniture, has been honored with two Platinum 2015 Awards for Design Excellence (ADEX). This annual competition, sponsored by the Design Journal, is the largest and most prestigious award program for product design.

Innovant’s FORm_AV product received a Platinum ADEX Award for its revolutionary design. The freestanding unit houses video conferencing technology and supports either single or dual monitors (up to 80” in size). With all cabling seamlessly contained within the technology stand and accompanying conference table, FORm_AV offers superior utility with zero disruption of the physical environment. It also provides unparalleled flexibility and speed of assembly or relocation for the rapidly changing conference environment.  

Innovant’s FORm_office Standing Height also received a Platinum Award for its best-in-class performance. The comprehensive benching system addresses many of the concerns created by adjustable height desking: cost, reliability, consistent aesthetics, cable management and safety of operation. Ideal for collaborative offices concerned with employee health and workplace aesthetic, FORm_office Standing Height is set at 38” or 42” high. This allows all users to work in a standing or seated position without the added cost of adjustable height mechanisms.

“Both products were designed in collaboration with high profile clients whose unique requirements were not met by the marketplace,” explains Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development. “Innovant excels at this kind of design partnership.”

In addition to receiving two Platinum Awards (ADEX’s highest award level), Innovant’s PRIVATE_office product was recognized as a Finalist for outstanding design and finishing. “The 2014-2015 ADEX Awards attracted upwards of 500 companies submitting thousands of innovative new products,” John Platter, Executive Director of ADEX. Categories for this award include furniture, fixtures and finishes. ADEX selects judges that are the most celebrated in their respective areas of expertise. Platinum, Gold and Silver level products will be published in the 2015 ADEX Winners Issue of Design Journal.

For more information about Innovant or its products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

Open Offices Back In Vogue - Thanks to Millennials
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Attention, Millennials: Advertising agency Grey has an office just for you. As reported by PSFK, the company’s New York location has set up a Millennial-only wing called Base Camp. Rather than being seated in separate client account teams, young workers all share desk space in a central area away from their supervisors. It’s the latest iteration of the open plan office, which has gradually overtaken cubicles as the standard workplace layout as managers look to promote collaboration and cut costs. This design will likely to continue gaining momentum thanks to Millennial workers eager to bond with their co-workers.

Over the past decade, the open office has become a fixture of the modern workplace. The private offices and high cubicle walls of yesteryear have increasingly given way to workspaces with no or low partitions. These offices often have long rows of tables where staff members work alongside managers and executives. Several big-name companies, including Microsoft, Cisco, and CBRE, have gone even further and established “free-address” workplaces with no assigned seating. Overall, about 70% of U.S. offices have some type of open floor plan, according to the International Facility Management Association. And platforms like Grind and NeueHouse even rent out similar environments to freelancers who would otherwise work from home.

Many consider open offices a less stuffy alternative to cubicle life. In theory, this design promotes transparency and fairness: Fewer walls and doors make management seem more approachable and encourage information to flow freely. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg famously applied this model to City Hall, creating “the Bullpen” to encourage openness and communication. Meanwhile, the ubiquity of open offices among Silicon Valley titans—Google, Facebook, eBay, and Yahoo! among them—has made the design shorthand for free-wheeling, innovative enterprise where ideas can be exchanged on the fly.

Companies have also embraced this design for a less utopian reason: It saves money. Open layouts maximize existing space while minimizing costs, particularly in an era when more employees are telecommuting and leaving cubicles empty.

The debate over open offices reflects stark generational differences. Those who complain the loudest about this office concept are older workers, particularly Boomers. Not only does this generation value workplace privacy the most, they also tend to see office space as representative of one’s level of achievement and value. After finding out that his employer would be shifting to an open floor plan and he would lose his office, one Boomer lamented to NPR: “I earned a window. That was important to me.”

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Millennials, on the other hand, are this layout’s biggest proponents. This arrangement is well-suited for a group-oriented generation that values the opportunity to socialize, work in teams, and get help from co-workers. Their mobile style of working also means that they don’t equate space with worth and are eager for more egalitarian spaces that encourage everyone to contribute. To be sure, young people’s perceptions of open offices aren’t all positive: According to a 2012 study of Finnish workers, Millennials find conversations and laughter just as distracting as older generations do. But they’re more likely to believe that the trade-offs are worth it.

In moving toward open environments, young adults are also going backward to the workplaces of their grandparents. Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, open bullpens for workers were the norm. This changed with the introduction of the cubicle—a modular system dubbed Action Office II—in 1968. Its creator envisioned it as a way to liberate Boomer workers by giving them more privacy and autonomy—which ended up becoming a double-edged sword as managers arranged them into dreary, uniform “farms” that packed in as many people as possible. Between 1977 and 1997, cubicle sales in America grew 20-fold. And now the walls have begun coming down again—this time spurred by a generation of employees who’d rather collaborate than work alone.

Going forward, it’s likely that the latest incarnation of the open office won’t look like its predecessors. In the light of mounting evidence against a no-walls environment, designers are offering modified spaces that allow for privacy according to job function rather than seniority. While a marketing team, for instance, could benefit from a chatty atmosphere, a writer on deadline might need space to concentrate.

Some tech companies, like AECOM, have created “coding caves” that require total silence; inside, workers aren’t allowed to chat, take phone calls, or play music. And on the main floor, they follow different guidelines governing conversation volume and appropriate times to interrupt colleagues. In some sense, open offices might come to resemble the military—where soldiers have long followed strict protocol in order to operate in close quarters. In this way open offices will not only allow employees to be social, but will also teach them sociability.

Content originally published in Forbes, March 31, 2015.

It's Time to Stop the War Against the Open Office

by Blake Zalcberg

It’s no longer fashionable to hate the cubicle. The hot new trend is to bash the open office.

It seems like every week there’s a new thinkpiece arguing that the trend towards more open- office layouts in American businesses is bad. Not just bad. Terrible. Literally, the worst thing ever.

The headlines tell the story: “The open-office trend is destroying the workplace.” “Why the open-concept office trend needs to die.” “The dark side of open offices.” “The open office trap.”

We’re told that open offices cause distractions, reduce productivity, irritate introverts and maybe even spread the flu and other germs.

Some of this criticism is grounded in genuine concerns. But at this point, it feels like a lot of these pieces are not accurately describing the ideas behind the open-office movement. Yes, there are bad examples of open offices: free-for-alls with no privacy and no protection against noise and nosy coworkers. But as someone once sort-of wrote, every unhappy office is unhappy in its own way. There are also cubicle farms where workers feel isolated, flexible workspaces with uncomfortable chairs, and even corner offices that feel cold and uninviting.

The critics are right about one thing: the open office is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every workplace. Nothing is. Every industry, every company and every department has its own needs and deserves an office design that works for it.

Consider human resources. No one thinks that the people who advise staffers on delicate personal situations should do so while sitting in a wide-open space.

At the same time, creative types working on a group project shouldn’t be tucked away in quiet rooms where they never interact with each other.

The open office works best when it involves small- to medium-sized groups of people who frequently collaborate on projects that require creative thinking.

But no office should be 100 percent open–or closed for that matter. There’s always going to be a need for a private office where business deals and personnel matters can be discussed or a conference room where a small group can hash out a new strategy or even a cafeteria table where a couple coworkers can informally trade ideas over tuna sandwiches.

The truly effective modern workplace isn’t just a mindless off-the-shelf floorplan based on whatever the hot trend of the moment is. It’s tailored to the needs of that office’s employees. With so many of today’s workers engaged in creative work, that means open offices where people can trade ideas, easily gather in spontaneous group meetings and tell at a glance which of their coworkers are available.

An open office also requires a different office style.

People who don’t want to be bothered right now should be comfortable putting on headphones without their coworkers taking offense. Companies should also create some flexible spaces where people can go when they need more privacy. And managers should accept that workers may need to sometimes goof off on the Internet to recharge their brain.

The open office isn’t for everyone. Some people may never want to work in one. Some businesses may be better with a more traditional layout. And some examples of open offices are no doubt poorly designed and implemented.

What businesses and organizations alike should consider is the idea of a modular office with versatile furniture. An office should be designed in a way that you can create a certain layout when you need it. Sometimes privacy is necessary, but there are times when having an open-office layout that fosters collaboration makes sense.

Office design isn’t an all or nothing. Under one roof a company can have some traditional offices, a few cubicles, a conference room, and some open-office space where its employees can work collaboratively. It doesn’t have to choose an open-office plan or not. It doesn’t have to decide to have a traditional office design or not.

But bashing the open office is getting a little too easy. It’s not destroying the workplace or trapping America’s workers on the dark side, and it doesn’t need to die.

Originally published on The Huffington Post, February 2015.

Innovant Case Study: Biopharmaceutical Company
imageTHE CHALLENGE

With the joint venture of two pharmaceutical firms came the challenge of merging two distinct cultures, brands and office environments – one European, one American. Thus, the focus for the companies’ new office design was to create a fresh, contemporary and singular workplace signature.  Adjustable height desks were specified from the onset as the European partner already used similar products. This decision was also motivated by the influx of firms choosing to improve their desk and staff performance with height adjustability. The challenge, then, was to find office furniture of a high enough caliber for companies that rely on cutting-edge technology for their work.

THE INNOVANT SOLUTION

Innovant’s product was evaluated in a formal review process against Steelcase. With its superior performance and quality, FORm_office Adjustable Height was selected as the companies’ new national workstation standard. Every employee was instantly granted improved ergonomics with a well-designed desk for sitting, as well as the opportunity to stand at the simple push of a button.

imageMeasuring 78 inches wide, the large scale desks offer plenty of workspace. Configured in short rows separated by wide aisles, the benching clusters create a pleasant, open experience. Low-level, but deep storage elements offer plenty of room for stowing items and help to delineate personal space for the end users.  These cushion-topped storage elements were injected with brand personality using a variety of colored fabrics grouped by segments around the office floor. Side dividers finished with whiteboard material function as both writing surfaces and privacy elements. All of these details and product features have helped render this workplace a “state-of-the-art facility.”

THE RESULT

Though it is not always easy for a client to achieve its complete furniture wishlist when adopting a new workplace strategy, these pharmaceutical companies found in Innovant and the FORm_office product a solution to meet all their objectives. Not only is IT pleased with the furniture’s performance, but the end users also enjoy their workspaces and the facilities staff feels that the new environment has helped in the merger of two very different firms. Initially deployed in the Fort Washington office, FORm_office Adjustable Height has also been installed in Tampa with an expansion to follow.

5 Workspace Trends to Look for This Year

image1. A Balance Between Public & Private

Though office spaces are becoming more collaborative, private areas are still required for phone calls, closed-door meetings, or focus work. Many companies are mixing up their space design—incorporating open desks and impromptu break areas, as well as small meeting spaces, phone booths, and conference rooms to support the various types of work that are required in a given day.

2. A Breakdown of Barriers

With more CEOs and senior managers moving out of private offices and into the open floor environment, the hierarchy of working relationships has shifted. This transparency encourages collaboration and community for everyone across the organizational chart. Sharing the floor also allows management to stay involved, know what’s going on and participate in a more meaningful way.

3. A Focus on Employee Health

We’ve all heard the news: sitting is the new smoking. In addition to the physical pain associated with slumping over computers all day, research has proven that sedentary lifestyles take a toll on health. Thus, more employers are encouraging employees to move throughout their day.

Popular desk alternatives include adjustable and standing height desks. Other than the health benefits gained by using this furniture, many companies suggest that greater creativity and a freer flow of ideas have been seen among employees who stand while working. Other chair substitutes including bosu balls and treadmill desks. In addition to furniture alternatives, companies are also promoting physical health through office design, including bicycle storage and spaces for quick workouts or stretching.

4. Collaborative Spaces

Breakout zones also encourage employees to collaborate outside the boundaries of meeting rooms. These playful gathering spaces that promote socialization lead to encounters among individuals from separate departments who may not usually interact.

5. The Workplace as a Home Away from Home

Many workspaces are becoming more casual, adopting a homey aesthetic. Rather than stiff chairs, formal desks and closed doors, today’s workplaces are incorporating breakout areas with cozy seating. These areas gives employees the opportunity to “create experiences that energize and inspire.” Employers therefore give employees options for a variety of comfortable yet productive environments to encourage longer work hours.

Content via Fast Company, January 8, 2015.

"The Creative Class" by Interior Design Magazine

To view more photos of this installation, please click here.

Innovant Case Study: Pandora Media

imageTHE CHALLENGE

Pandora Internet Radio acquired a new, two-floor office space in Midtown Manhattan to serve as its NY Headquarters. Both the company’s culture and the “abstract, spatial experience” Pandora offers online were inspirations for the workplace design. From break out rooms, to casual gathering areas and heads-down workspaces, the design team involved in the project sought to incorporate cutting-edge technology, fine materials, and unique shapes throughout the open plan office. Thus, the design required a benching product that could integrate seamlessly into the environment, while remaining sensitive to the client’s desired aesthetics and holding up to daily use.

imageTHE INNOVANT SOLUTION

Delivering Pandora’s vision far better than any other manufacturer, Innovant’s FORm_office product was selected to furnish the 300-person office. A local partnership was easily established due to Innovant’s proximity to the client team, which helped the design and specification process. Innovant achieved Pandora’s custom aesthetic by incorporating an assortment of color accents into the bench configuration. From cushion-topped storage pedestals, to fabric-wrapped privacy panels, Innovant successfully delivered Pandora’s fun, playful aesthetic along with the superior technology management and performance benefits inherent in the FORm_office product.

THE RESULT

This Pandora office balances technically sophisticated products and materials with a modern, yet whimsical design aesthetic – all in within the confines of a classic 1920s New York City skyscraper. The project was featured in Interior Design’s May 2014 Technology Offices Roundup, “How Tomorrow Works: 5 Offices for Tech Companies.”

Check out other case studies on Innovant’s website.

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Innovant: Evolution via Innovation

By Mallory JindraimageThe ability to successfully transition into a new market in order to grow is perhaps the defining measure between maintaining a business and skyrocketing into a sphere of innovation inhabited only by the top talent. To say this is a ‘tricky’ venture is a gross understatement, but it’s what growing a business is all about, and it’s certainly attainable.

Innovant is a growing company taking smart, conscientious stops to evolve itself from an expert in one area, in this case the trading desks of the 1990s, to a viable competitor in the broader furniture manufacturing market. The company’s very name self-prophesizes its ability to do so, but only recently has it begun to branch out into new product categories. Now, in its 25th anniversary year, Innovant has 160 employees in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state area, plus Chicago and San Francisco who are busy elevating the company to the next level with a broad product offering.

Innovant formed in 1990 (originally known as CBA) as a supplier of trading desks to the financial and energy companies. Its signature claim was introducing to the marketplace the concept of tailoring catalogued product without increasing cost or adversely affecting lead time. In 2008, after opening an office in London, England, Innovant recognized the workplace shift to benching products and decided it was ready to spring from trading out into commercial offices.

“Trading desk manufacturing has changed little in 10 years,” said Bruce Wells, Innovant Director of Marketing and Development, “and trading desk design innovation has plateaued. Trading often cannot take risks – it goes with guaranteed techniques. We knew that benching was going to be the future, and we made a decision to rebrand and expand our offerings.”

Once a company makes the decision to jump into something new, it must address a list of predicable but important questions. What does this new customer segment need? What have they always wanted, and what have they not experienced yet that we can provide? Do we have the knowledge to successfully execute? Or is it too far off the mark/too big a leap? In its leap to benching, Innovant found logical, intuitive answers to all of the important questions.

“A trading desk is similar to a benching workstation, but more sophisticated,” said Mr. Wells. “It has a similar footprint, but there’s about three to four times more technology than normal. And the end user is different. Traders are high-strung, high-demand alpha personalities. It’s easier to scale down a trading desk to suit a typical workstation’s needs than to scale up a typical workstation to a trading desk. In that sense, it was a natural progression.”imageFORm_office™, Innovant’s benching system, offers four types of benching/workstation solutions, all designed with Innovant’s “trading eye” expertise in integrating technology above, below and within the furniture: the full product overview reads, “The other side of the story is inside the bench, where superior cable management, technology accommodations, and rugged superstructure make FORm_office a benchmark of intelligent engineering and clean, contemporary design.” FORm_office Adjustable Height, which won Best of NeoCon Gold for Benching in 2012, utilizes sleek control switch options, and the system can be built with shelving in between workstations to minimize the oft-awkward feeling of not using the same height as the person in the spot next to you.

At NeoCon 2014, Innovant displayed the newest innovation to its benching solutions, FORm_office Standing Height, a fixed standing height open plan workstation that, when combined with stool-height task chairs, allows users to work in a seated or standing position without the cost of adjustable height mechanisms. The solution proposes to benefit “collaborative offices concerned with employee health and workplace aesthetic”, and the logic is there; why not just start with a fixed standing height option and then use a stool height chair to sit? And aesthetically speaking, who wants to sit at an adjustable height desk working lopsidedly three feet below your co-workers on either or both sides? Because the workspace is kept level, the solution is also much more conducive to teamwork and can double as a conference table.

Visiting Innovant’s showroom, one sees the full range of its expanded lines of conference and private office solutions, which it debuted in 2013 and continued to enhance at NeoCon 2014. Freed from the constraints of the concise, predictable trading desk aesthetic, Innovant has also put serious thought into how its product looks. Wells describes the brand as clean, sophisticated and robust, with a determined move to sidestep the Ping-Pong conference tables and beanbag chairs of so many playful workspaces existing today.

“We have a product that balances the drastically different aesthetics of both Silicon Valley and Wall Street.”

Wells cites the company’s strong history of offering affordable customization as an asset that has allowed it to accelerate its position. “The ability to tailor to the extent we can is exciting, and the quality of the full experience we’re offering our clients is so high that they find they can actually achieve much more than what they had expected and still stay within their budget. When they come to our showroom, they receive a tour of what’s possible, rather than just what’s available.”

Securing the fundamentals of excellent customer service and the design quality of product is certainly top of the docket when you’re in transition. And Wells notes that Innovant’s reach extends far past its regional tri-state home market (both its main office and factory are located in its home market) so that a large percentage of its business is now conducted on the west coast. But as Innovant moves past these initial years of expansion to more involved projects, we wonder, what’s next?

“We want to shape the team room. The true collaborative team space, which exists somewhere between the workstation and the conference room where employees can act as a team rather than simply co-workers, is a complicated one.” Innovant’s recent work with two notable technology giants has provided a window into what the needs and parameters of this type of space are.

“This type of space is becoming more and more important in the work environment, especially in light of the mobile nature of how people work and the fact that they very well might not have a personal cube to themselves anymore. We don’t think it’s been done justice yet, and we want to lead that effort.”

Innovant’s recent products demonstrate its ability to evolve through innovation. Its lineup is strong, and we’re paying attention.

Originally published in the Office Insight, August 25, 2014.

Innovant Proudly Enters its 25th Year of Business

July 31, 2014 marks the commencement of Innovant’s 25th year of business. On this anniversary, the company celebrates over two decades of clean, intelligent, and tailored workplace furnishings. imageInnovant proudly celebrates its 25 year milestone as one of the fastest growing office furniture manufacturers over the last five years. This growth is attributable to the success and expansion of Innovant’s open plan workstation product FORm_office™.

After opening an office in London in 2008, Innovant recognized that the open plan office strategy would soon take root in the US. This led the company to launch FORm_office™, which quickly became the top selling benching product in New York City, particularly for prestigious clients with complex technology requirements. Since its inception, FORm_office™ has been selected over competing products from major manufacturers because of its superior engineering, pleasing aesthetic and Innovant’s proven history intelligently integrating technology and cabling within its furniture.

In 2012, Innovant launched FORm_office™ Adjustable Height as an extension to the series and was immediately awarded Gold for Best in Benching at the prestigious NeoCon furniture tradeshow. Since then, Innovant has rapidly expanded its product offerings with the introduction of FORm_office™ Standing Height and the launch of both a private office line and a conference collection; this includes the FORm_AV video conferencing product on display at NeoCon 2014.

Innovant continues to win major benching projects for its high quality products and unparalleled tailoring capability. The company has also set itself apart by offering clients “The Innovant Experience,” a uniquely collaborative design and development process. To learn more about this collaborative experience and some of Innovant’s success stories, view the company’s case studies online.

For more information about Innovant or its office furniture products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

Outside the Box: How the Office Opened Up

imageNikil Saval’s Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, charts the rise of the modern open office plan. See a summary below.

1958: No More Walls
German brothers Wolfgang and Eberhard Schnelle come up with the Bürolandschaft (“office landscape”) concept. It replaces private offices with free-form, flexible desks, a communal break room, and a few mobile partitions.

1967: Opening Up
DuPont is the first American company to realize that a flexible office is a cheaper office. But the open plan doesn’t muffle telephone calls or typewriters, and “some crucial values for the performance of work were lost.”

1968: The First Cubicle
Robert Propst, a researcher at furniture company Herman Miller, creates the Action Office II. It has three movable, disposable walls at obtuse angles, sitting and standing desks, and pushpins to add décor.

1980s: Tiny Cubes
Workers are hemmed into cube farms, arranged in “six-packs.” By the 1990s, cubicles had shrunk as much as 50 percent; by 2006 the average size is 75 square feet. “One wonders to what extent the extravagant growth of the American bathroom  … is a reaction against the shrinking of cubicles.”

1993: Virtual Failure
Los Angeles ad agency Chiat/Day eliminates walls, desks, and cubicles. Instead, workers are handed a cell phone and laptop and told to work together in a conference room. The experiment backfires: Employees stop showing up.

2005: You’re Stuck Here
Google sets the Silicon Valley standard in Mountain View, Calif., where employees move among meeting rooms, quiet libraries, and tents. That flexibility, combined with food and amenities, discourages them from ever leaving.

2014: Office Goodbye Party
“Contingent laborers”—freelancers, temps, etc.—will soon comprise 40 percent of the workforce, according to one Intuit study. Saval says cubicles, corner offices, and white-collar jobs could shortly cease to exist.

Originally published on the Bloomberg Businessweek, July 10, 2014.

A New Kind Of Grind

imageIn last month’s issue of Interiors & Sources, one feature explored the question about where America’s independent laborers will be working as their numbers rise from roughly 25-30% to almost 50% of the workforce in the next few years. According to the Intuit 2020 report, both large corporations and small businesses will develop larger networks of contingent workers, “minimizing fixed labor costs and expanding the available talent pool.”

As independent workers “begin to account for a large chunk of the American workforce, they’re going to need a place to work that isn’t Starbucks… Enter the co-working space.” Gone is the simple co-working space with the requisite power access; this has been replaced with “full floors providing all the amenities one could ask for.”

Apart from the physical attributes of new co-workings offices, the intangible benefits are significant. The collaborative community that is housed within modern co-working spaces has rendered these offices “open-sourced knowledge banks… based on collaboration rather than self-interested competition. On a purely psychological level, co-working spaces are healthier, more productive, and more in line with a healthy society than traditional work spaces.”

Interiors & Sources learned three valuable lessons from visiting Grind and Fueled Collective, two co-working office space brands. The first lesson is that “designing a successful office share is about designing a culture as much as a space.” This idea takes shape in the offices’ “highly designed professional” aesthetics, which not only create a pleasing work environment, but also serve to “curate a lifestyle.” As a result, members are stimulated to cement both professional and personal connections with one another.

The second lesson, “let your end-user be their own layout specialist,” promotes flexibility and choice among members. By eliminating walls, barriers, and partitions, co-working spaces like Grind encourage “collaboration [through] proximity.” The office therefore “does with furniture what most people do with walls,” by allowing members to adjust the space and layout of the office to suit their own needs.

Finally, lesson three warns designers that “the end-user is [their] new competition.” Business owners and end-users have developed such a strong voice and influence on their work environments that they are “sometimes the ones designing the space themselves.” With the “market’s growth potential being an exponential one,” these lessons could prove very valuable for designers and manufactures alike.

Innovant Designs Breakthrough Standing Height Version of FORm_office Benching System

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For collaborative offices concerned with employee health, workplace aesthetic and cost, Innovant’s standing height system is the ideal choice.

The standing height bench bridges the gap between Innovant’s standard FORm_office system and its adjustable height bench by raising the height of the work surface. At this elevation, users have the option to stand or sit at the desk using stool-like task chairs.

“Many clients are challenged both by the cost of adjustable height furniture and the aesthetic it creates.  A sophisticated standing height benching system may be the answer that has been hiding in plain sight for years.” - Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development

The standing desks are a breakthrough for office health concerns. As more studies and news articles convey the ill effects of sitting for extended periods of time, Innovant’s standing height bench provides a comfortable and healthy choice, without the additional cost required for an adjustable height mechanism.

Aesthetically speaking, Innovant’s standing height bench overcomes some of the concerns posed by adjustable height. Unlike adjustable work surfaces, which can compromise the appearance of a workplace landscape when set at different heights, standing height desks produce a clean, uniform look. Additionally, since it can be difficult to hide stray cabling under a moving work surface, Innovant’s standing height bench keeps unsightly cables hidden from view.

“The product has just been deployed in a downtown New York City location for an international media company. Our entire office is buzzing with the health, aesthetic and financial implications of standing height benching. It’s a revelation.” – Deborah Herr, Marketing Designer

For more information about Innovant, its FORm_office line, or any other products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.