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
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.
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.
Set to move in January, the company will relocate from Park Avenue South to 31 Penn Plaza, just southeast of the future Hudson Yards area. The 215-person, Manhattan-based firm has elected to furnish its office with Innovant’s standard FORm_office bench.
In the past, TPG has introduced the FORm_office product line to many of the firm’s large projects, including Havas Worldwide, Rothschild, and DraftFCB. This time, TPG will enjoy the product themselves.
“Apart from delivering a product with clean aesthetics, Innovant’s unique ability to weave a design firm’s signature details and special requirements into its furniture without a negative impact on cost or lead time makes us a very attractive supplier.” – Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development at Innovant
This win serves as another instance of design firms such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, and M Moser choosing to work with Innovant to furnish the workstations for their new offices. The product’s popularity within the design community is clear, with more firms drawn to the intelligence and function of the bench electing to highlight Innovant’s distinctive FORm_office leg profile.
For more information about Innovant or FORm_office, please visit http://www.innovant.com.
by Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & DevelopmentLast month, I shared some thoughts on what furniture manufacturers are (or are not) doing to deliver productivity benefits to high pressure, high performance employees (traders) in dense, open plan trading room environments. I concluded that for the most part, the limited list of trading desk manufacturers have primarily developed their products to accommodate the IT personnel who service the product. Additionally, a single direction trend to compete on cost has resulted in value engineering to the point where the bulk of the market for trading desks is essentially mature and commoditized. As a result, many trading desks are being specified at a baseline quality level with little to offer in terms of end user benefit (beyond a 60x30 worktop with the same cable and technology management features that have been in place since the 90’s). Though adjustable height work surfaces that allow traders to stand while working is a significant contributor towards enhancing productivity, the reality is that height adjustability was introduced into trading desk design as much, if not more so, for the IT servicing benefit.
In the past few years, our efforts at Innovant to position ourselves apart from competition in a maturing, commodity-like market were focused on dominating the higher end of the market; essentially attracting clients seeking a sophisticated, tailored aesthetic with high quality detailing. It has paid dividends in terms of revenue, but working with more quality- and performance-conscience clients has also provided Innovant’s team with significant insight on design considerations that may deliver productivity benefits to the traders.
One “high” hurdle question that has been raised is “Can the furniture and technology support at the desk quickly morph the personal environment for the trader from open, interactive and collaborative to closed, concentrative and focused?” The grid-like, high density space planning of most trading floors combined with multi-tier monitor arrays has all but killed the line-of-sight communication and collaboration that the trading floor was intended to deliver in the first place.
I offered an idea to a friend of mine who trades at a prominent Wall Street bank, “What if the entire trading desk, complete with CPU, phone and display technology could rotate in situ somehow?” We used business cards on a tabletop to represent the footprint of a trading desk in a common cluster and started rotating them at different angles to see how possible visual sightlines could open up across a room, or how privacy could be accomplished by “cocooning” to achieve better focus. He loved the idea, but it became clear that the conflicts of rotating rectangles created big problems in terms of practicality. The answer may lie in a radical rethink of how a trading desk is engineered, opening up the concept of separating the raceway, technology supports and displays into free standing elements that can move independently of one another. My colleagues in the Innovant rendering department will be the first to help me conceptualize this. Stay tuned.
This 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.
by Rob Kirkbride of The Monday Morning Quarterback
In a world where a lot of companies do a lot, but none of it extraordinarily well, it can help to focus on doing one thing right. In a nutshell, that’s the story behind Innovant, an open plan desking company born out of the boom in New York City’s financial firms.
The company makes desking systems and that’s it. But what it lacks in SKUs, it makes up for in quality and corporate connections. Innovant recently won two major contracts: one with a financial services firm and another with a global pharmaceutical company — both highly recognizable names and jobs worth thousands of workstations.
Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench was chosen as the workstation standard for the financial firm’s 2,300 worker Newport Beach, Calif. headquarters. The pharmaceutical company chose the product as its new national workstation standard last month. The pharmaceutical company has already ordered desks for 500 at its Tampa and Philadelphia locations and more sites are coming on each month.
They represent two major wins for Innovant, who beat out Steelcase on the desking deal at the pharmaceutical company. Both clients evaluated the products in a formal review process before making their selections. After weathering the financial downturn in 2008, Innovant has gained significant momentum in the height adjustable open plan benching marketplace, especially since launching FORm_office in 2012. “What sets this product apart is the level of consideration given to all of the consequences created by an adjustable height, open plan workstation,” said Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development.
Both companies selected Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench over products from the top five major furniture manufacturers. It is notable that Innovant is not competing through a lower price either. The company’s products are at — and sometimes above — its larger competitors. The FORm_office product line won Best in Show at NeoCon 2012. It addresses the significant health concern associated with employees sitting at a desk for hours a day.
According to Innovant, 50 percent of all incoming requests for proposals for new workplace standards incorporate height adjustability into workstation specifications. Height adjustable requests are coming in exponentially more in recent months, Wells said.
“We added adjustable height to benching (in 2012), which wasn’t something completely new to us since we have sold them to financial customers (for some time),” he said. “Height adjustability is becoming a near universal requirement in open plan environments. Very few products allow that option in open plan.”
Up until recently, designers have been reluctant to specify height adjustability in open plan environments because it can look messy if not executed correctly. Desks scattered at different heights can make an office look sloppy. But when aesthetics are kept in mind and the design of the product helps keep the look of the office neat, designers are happy to specify height adjustability. Few manufacturers have height adjustable desks as an option in open planning. The pace of acceptance seems to be accelerating, Wells said.
“We are being asked for height adjustability on almost everything,” he said. “Even in the last 60 days, we are getting more and more requests to participate in projects — and these are large projects — from $100,000 to $10 million. We are seeing adjustable height on at least half or more and that is helping us win those projects.”
Part of the company’s success comes from its focus on a few products. It has desking, storage, conference room tables and the ability to do custom work. But that’s it. It does not sell seats, lounge furniture or anything else for the office. Still, the products they do have are opening the door for large projects. For example, 2,300 workstation financial firm win came first from a request from the customer for Innovant to bid on the trading desk portion of the contract.
“We told them we would be happy to bid on the trading desks if they allowed us to bid on the open plan as well,” Wells said. “We were able to win the entire building on the merits of our benching product.”
At first, Innovant was looking to supply the customer with static benching desks. The customer asked for height adjustability, which was added later. It is a huge project — a 24-story building that Innovant will fill with desks from top to bottom. Other office furniture makers will supply the seating and other products. Innovant is thrilled to have the desk portion.
“Innovant has a narrow range of products, but we have never been a cubicle manufacturer. We are specialists in the open plan. Historically, we were only a trading desk manufacturer, but with everyone going to open plan, we saw the opportunities there too,” Wells said.
Innovant is not winning projects because it is cheap. In fact, the company takes pride in the fact that its products are superbly engineered with a well thought through product line. The company focuses on the details as well such as safe and effective cabling, pinch points, privacy and other concerns that come when height adjustability is added.
The company has quietly emerged from the New York financial market and is beginning to gain traction in other sectors. “We are doing our best to get discovered,” Wells said. “We have been walking the alleys of New York City and Chicago for the last 20 years, but we have really emerged strongly out of the last recession. We are becoming a darling for big specifiers.”
Based in New York, Innovant has manufacturing in Long Island. It also has showroom offices in Chicago and San Francisco. The company was started in 1990 by industry veterans Charles Braham, Garrett Pluck and Joan Gullans and it fed off the growth of the financial sector, specializing in the relocation of banks, investment firms and hedge funds. The company continues to branch out from there.
This article was originally published in the October 7-13, 2013 edition of The Monday Morning Quarterback, “The Business of Furniture.”
by Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development
For decades, trading desk manufacturers have attempted to leapfrog each other’s product value by building what I have always called “the better mousetrap.” Predominantly, this has involved a never-ending development cycle to improve the performance of IT and cable management as technology changes from year to year and client to client, which ultimately results in faster, more efficient moves, adds and changes. This design evolution, however, has mostly effected the efficiency of the IT and facilities support teams that keep the trading floor functioning.
One noticeable design evolution, for which I believe trading desk manufacturers deserve significant credit, is the development of multi-screen monitor arm products. These now ubiquitous products directly improve user productivity. However, my experience tells me that monitor arm selection for the trading room continues to lie in the hands of IT as they are the ones tasked with installing, relocating and servicing the product, not the traders.
So, can we say that trading desk design development over the past two decades has had a direct impact on the productivity of the traders themselves? No doubt, some in our field will take offense to this question. Designers and engineers of leading trading desk manufacturers take great pride in their work, seeing their efforts as sophisticated, unique and forward-thinking. These meticulous efforts are all undertaken in the name of delivering ROI and garnering respect amongst IT leaders and facility management in the financial marketplace.
Over the past 18 years I have been involved in the development of four highly successful trading desk product lines that have been deployed worldwide by many of the most prestigious financial institutions. But when a marketplace design consultant recently asked me, “Can you help me understand how trading desk design directly impacts trader productivity?” I had to acknowledge the reality that this has not been the focus of trading desk manufacturers because our “client” is largely facilities and IT, not the end user. Most trading desks, irrespective of manufacturer and internal design, are essentially the same in: height (including adjustable height), depth, legroom, width, etc. – all predetermined by industry norms or client standards. Additionally, notwithstanding noticeable variances in workmanship and design quality, all trading desks are fundamentally made of the same materials. With such limitations, what can be done in trading desk design to boost trader productivity without sacrificing the impact on those who service the trading desks and the technology within them?
In the coming weeks I will be posting some personal conclusions from my experiences within the niche world of the trading floor. I will also discuss some of the exciting new furniture designs and workplace strategies being deployed outside of the financial sector by some of the fastest growing companies in the world. I can tell you from recent experience that these bold moves will inevitably draw attention from Wall Street.
Innovant, a leader in collaborative work environments, announces two major commercial contracts for height adjustability.
A large financial services client selected Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench as the workstation standard for its 2,300 person Newport Beach-based headquarters. The product was also chosen by a global pharmaceutical company as its new national workstation standard.
Both companies selected Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench over solutions from the top five major furniture manufacturers. According to Innovant, 50 percent of all incoming requests for proposals for new workplace standards incorporate height adjustability into workstation specifications.
“While adopting a new workplace strategy, it’s not easy for every client to achieve their complete wish list when it comes to furniture. I believe [this pharmaceutical company] found in Innovant and the FORm_office product a solution to meet all their objectives.” – Charles Braham, President at Innovant
Both clients evaluated the products in a formal review process before making their selections. With these latest victories, Innovant has truly taken a leadership position in the height adjustable open plan benching marketplace since launching the groundbreaking product in 2012.
“What sets this product apart is the level of consideration given to all of the consequences created by an adjustable height, open plan workstation.” – Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development at Innovant
This FORm_office product line won Best in Show at NeoCon 2012. It addresses the significant health concern associated with employees sitting at a desk for hours a day.
For more information about Innovant or FORm_office Adjustable Height, please visit http://www.innovant.com.