In your time in the market what has been the most significant, defining moment?
Without question the use of BIM technology in the construction industry has revolutionised how we do things and has given us greater creative opportunity. For example, it would have been difficult to design the complex geometry of Alder Hey without it, particularly given the speed of construction expected in the current market. The specialist joinery supplier Garrif Construction produced shop drawings using Revit, which we could coordinate directly with our model. We are now pushing the technology even further and are using Oculus Gear headsets to present concepts to clients and end users in virtual reality.
Whilst we cannot say that a shift in the generation is a single defining moment, we must give recognition to the way the Millennium/Generation X are deciding how and where they work. Technology has shaped their world with Google, Facebook etc. all being core to lifestyles and deemed basic intuitive means of communication. This generation group is growing into the decision makers and because of their high level of self-confidence, are influencing decisions on how to attract more like minded and culturally attuned individuals. One might consider this group as self-centred, which counters the argument for collaborative workspace.
In the early 80’s, Canadian entrepreneur Lyle Blair saw desking and chair design change but file cabinets, whose drawers ate up corridor space in America’s new skyscrapers, were a problem. Design engineer Scott and production engineer Greg turned the cabinet through 90 degrees and the Lateral File was born. The Storwal cabinet revolutionised office design. Lyle bought Maine Engineering in the UK and I became part of that order-taking team.
For me it’s not a moment but a period when technology finally released us from the shackles of working in bland offices, breaking down the barriers of time, language, distance, race and nationality, allowing us to work rest and play whenever and wherever we wanted to. A whole new world of ideas, opportunities, knowledge, communication, interaction and fun was suddenly at our fingertips, and it has changed the way we think and plan, what we did then, do now and will do in the future. This technology is not without its negatives but these are far outweighed by the positives.
I would say that the most defining moment in my 20 years of financing furniture and fit-out was the end of 2008 when the financial crisis hit. The country went into immediate recession with businesses putting moves and refurbishments on hold. But more fundamental for us was the fact that our funding lines for financing the fit-outs just dried up. Thankfully, eight years on, our funding is more available then ever!
The most significant moment has to be when Simon and I addressed the room at our 5th birthday celebrations back in 2014… looking out at the packed room at Manchester Central Library, a space we designed, and seeing so many great clients and partners, who were all there to support us, was really quite humbling. Talking about our achievements over the years, seeing our incredibly talented team looking so proud to be a part of it and realising that this was just the beginning was amazing.