Office furniture to meet the demands of the TMT sector

Much has been written about how, particularly in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector, the introduction of a large crop of professional New Millennials - with their unquestioning embrace of new technology and disregard for traditional status delineation and working practices - has affected the demands being placed on the look and feel of the corporate office landscape.

John Fogarty is the recently retired Director of Design at Bisley, with 45 years of experience in Furniture Design and Development. He responds to Mark Eltringham’s article on how the creative sector is re-shaping workplaces.

Responsibility for accommodating these new office requirements has fallen as much to furniture designers and manufacturers as it has to landlords, architects and workplace designers, but how are they being met

Responding to the need of uniqueness
Such a strong desire for individuality can only be satisfied by the broadest possible décor and product offer. In recent times office furniture manufacturers have striven to develop programmes that provide the widest selection of workplace types from the most logically derived kit of parts, in a manner whereby these assemblies remain beautifully detailed and uncompromised by their modular construction.

Meeting a yearning for the esoteric
Esoteric taste is most often expressed through the use of unusual furnishing materials and finishes. These can be applied to the furniture just as readily as they can be to the architecture.

Enabling the financing of buildings
The most effective way to minimise building costs is to minimise “hard” architectural spaces such as dedicated meeting and training rooms rooms; incorporating such functionality into the furniture on the open-plan floor plate instead. The furniture is moreover the property of the company; so you take this valuable asset with you when you move.

Exploiting design to adapt sub-optimum spaces
The simplest way to adapt sub-optimum spaces is to make the furniture work harder to compensate for lack of richness in the architecture:

In his previous article Mark mentioned a British Council for Offices report. The report describes three characteristics of the emerging market for commercial property that the TMT sector is helping to create, more flexible lease terms; the use of fit-out and design to express identity; and working cultures that are based around flexible and collaborative working styles.

These chime exactly with the properties of the furniture described above:

- Flexible leases will much more negotiable if the need to structurally adapt the space is minimised due to specialised functionality being incorporated into the furniture rather than into the architecture

- Individual identity can better be expressed through the versatility and variabilty of the furniture than it can through unnecessary and expensive fit-out

- The capacity to accommodate flexible and collaborative working styles is hard-wired into the DNA of furniture systems