Monday Morning Quarterback Tours the Knoll New York Showroom

Company Leverages Workplace Research to Realize New Space

October 08, 2013

Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) tours the Knoll New York Showroom, which opened in midtown Manhattan in May, and highlights the company's planning approach and product selection in a two-part series in the September 30 and October 8, 2013 issues. MMQB calls the new space “a national destination showroom” that draws customers from “around the country and the world," and declares "Knoll is modern always."

MMQB is the contract furniture industry online publication that offers news analysis and opinion on today's top stories, ideas and investments, explaining what's new in the business of commercial furnishings and why it matters to the business leaders and investors who are shaping the future of the workplace.

The new location, which neighbors The Museum of Modern Art and the Black Rock building, is a "a bustling area" filled with tourists and city workers "heading to and from the city’s transportation hubs in the area,” observes MMQB writer, Rob Kirkbride.

“It is also a homecoming, of sorts, for Knoll," continues Kirkbride. The company was founded in the neighborhood in 1938 by Hans Knoll.

When planning for its move, Knoll faced many of the same challenges its clients face. “Knoll tackled its New York headquarters the same way it would for its customers: by examining the key financial and organization priorities, shifting work styles and changing technology,” writes Kirkbride.

"Office planning doesn’t start with products. It starts with planning,” David Bright, Senior Vice President of Communications says.  “Like a lot of our clients, we started by discussing what we needed,” continues David Schutte, Knoll Chief Marketing Officer.

Knoll required a showroom that showcased office planning solutions that Knoll has been known for since its founding, while also creating a space that would support the needs of its New York-based employees. Kirkbride notes that Knoll leveraged a broad portfolio of workplace research to design a space that meets business objectives and that reflect the way people are working and using office space today.

The new showroom and offices are based on a reduced footprint verses its prior Chelsea location. "A reduction is square footage can actually improve working relationships, create interactions and introduce adjacencies within the office," said Kim Yao, principal of Architecture Research Office, the project architect that designed the space. 

Knoll balanced a reduction in overall square-footage by integrating a variety of informal areas, called Activity Spaces, to complement individual workstations and give people freedom over where they work in the office.  Nicole Coughlin, Knoll marketing director said, "Activity Spaces create visual interest and are an opportunity for an organization to express its brand and culture. At our New York hub, Knoll used activity spaces to create a variety of spaces for a variety of work."

The new showroom is also sensitive to the technology needs of its employees. Kirkbride notes, “The company believes in being platform neutral – not building any one technology into a product, but supporting all of them.” Thus the showroom features products, such as Antenna® Workspaces and Interpole™ that support current technology needs while being easily adaptable to future demands.

The open plan offices showcase the versatility of Antenna® Workspaces, which “can be planned for both individual and common use areas; freedom and mobility.”

Interpole™, the new vertical planning system, "is based on a floor-to-ceiling H-Post that provides structure for technology, space definition and storage,” Kirkbride writes. It can also be used as a stand-alone product to distribute power, or for “for holding large, interactive flat screen-monitor and defining space."

"A flat screen monitor hung from an Interpole shows off Knoll's newly designed website -- one of the best in the industry -- that was launched in April," Kirkbride says.

MMQB also visited the Knoll Shop, the company’s first retail location – “a jewel box street-level store that has a high profile on 6th Avenue."

The Modern always™ campaign, which celebrates the Knoll 75th anniversary by juxtaposing contemporary designers with design icons in a series of print advertising campaigns, is also highlighted.

“Yes, we are celebrating the past but it’s really about how the past informs the future,” says Knoll President and COO, Lynn Utter.

At the showroom level, the showroom conveys "a sense of legacy, buy also the idea that Knoll is a company focused on the future of work as well,” writes Kirkbride. “Knoll is modern and classic at the same time, true to its past while pushing the envelope in materials and design. In short, it is modern always,” he concludes.

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