Project Office Furniture Plc Showrooms – Mark Lewis ML Design & Production 1987-96
During this period Mark worked as an independent design and production consultant to various commercial concerns and corporations. One significant client Project Office Furniture Plc, one of the largest furniture manufacturers in Europe retained Marks services having him work on a number of diverse projects reporting to the Marketing Director.
Project at this time were in the process of re-branding and enhancing their presentation within the existing show room facilities in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, their headquarters in Haverhill and showrooms within the New York and London Business Design Centres.
Part of this initiative was to commission Mark to prepare a report which would serve as a guide to inform the process. “The Showroom as a Marketing Aid and Selling Environment” titled the 4000 word document. It covered the sociological effect of the showroom on the potential client and the way it can be fully exploited as a selling environment.
Having been read by the other principle directors of the cooperation Mark, with their confidence, was able to direct the other consultants and architects each being commissioned independently to deliver the various showroom refurbishments in addition to the cooperation’s rebranding. Mark worked together with the Marketing director, whose role was to impart the authority of the company onto each element of the projects program, Mark acting as her “equerry” and guide.
In this position Mark had the privilege of working with the senior partners of three of the most significant design and architectural practices of the era;
ORMS now Orms, an architectural practice commissioned to reappoint the interior and exterior of the 9000sq ft single story London showroom.
DEGW’s Frank Duffy to consult on formats for the furniture displays as at that time he was the leading exponent of office landscaping and the mapping of the relationship between organisational structure and office layouts. He also advised on the impact on office design of the advances in Information Technology. Him having a substantial impact on key projects of office design worldwide.
Pentagram now the world’s largest independent graphic design studio commissioned to progress the rebranding of Project Office Furniture to “project: “ rolling out its implementation having just rebranded British Telecom ahead of it being floated on the stock market.
Situated in Triton Square just north of the Euston Road opposite Warren Street tube station the single storey “aircraft hanger” like building was obscured from a street vista by the adjacent office tower blocks and would only be noticed once entering the complex of concrete and glass. The refurbishment works were total (removals and demolitions were back to the brick work), replacing the interior of the shell with all new finishes, surfaces and feature elements. These included a main entrance of jade slate flooring, a frameless 27ft long window, a 36ft long and 18ft high aircraft type wing that sits half in the building and half out making a dynamic entrance to the otherwise anonymous building. Within the showroom a progressively narrowing corridor of oak flooring was set, running the entire length of the open hall. The settings for each product display on either side also included library and studio areas. Each area was carefully arranged sporting the new fabric range (see Fabric System)each complimenting the Modernist interior with comfortable warm colours of rust, deep red, gold, jade green and oak. The conference room was equipped with state-of-the-art presentation and projection facilities. Project’s new logo mounted on the 8ft high panels along the building’s side made the showroom conspicuous to have it rise like a phoenix from the gray ashen slabs.
Project – Proposal for the refurbishment of the PROJECT Showroom
The objective of this proposal is to put forward ideas which would if implemented facilitate a showroom able to attract the attention of the Design specifier, promoting a visual impact competing with the more established “Design” profile orientated agents of imported office systems presently operating in London.
The facility at the Business Design Centre will be retained for three years. It is therefore proposed to redress the showroom every four months during that three-year period orientating marketing exercises around each of the themes presented and those yet to be conceived.
An initiative has been taken by Project to consolidate a sales team to concentrate on the Design Specifier market titled the Art and Design Division isolating Projects presentation from the larger direct contract market. The ARD division inherently implies that the above facility should be refurbished to accommodate a sales office this issue has been dealt with as a proposal in Section 2.
The essence of the proposals will be to stimulate conversation and act as a catalyst for the marketing of Project office furniture systems with a new design initiative. Controversy, wit and emotion can be banded around by a company whose substance is unquestioned and whose stirrings will be observed in the market with a refreshed interest and encouragement.
Should the showroom act as a sales office?
Personnel working as a team in a unit develop a camaraderie. The team spirit as a concept prevails. This issue is catered for by accommodation six operatives in the existing showroom area by way of a communal desk. Only on rare occasions will the full compliment be present and on those occasions a group meeting will most probably be the reason.
Storage for leaflets, product information prospect client and contact files etc., inclusive of the household implements fridge, kettle, polish, duster etc., are catered for within the perimeter purpose-built floor to ceiling cupboards. The permanent attendant in the showroom will be controlling the sales leads and directing the sales team’s appointments in addition to receiving the occasional spontaneous visitor.
Activities specially arranged may require outside caterers using the central desk as a servery.
No opportunity will be left for sales staff on such occasions to retire to a smoky back room.
The Rock concept in terms of marketing themes are as follows:
Project takes you out of the stone age
Project office systems evolved with the wheel
Project as steady as a rock
Project will endure the waves of times
The desk elements metamorphose from a simple 600 desk unit to an 800 desk unit with wire management surface link quadrant with screen. So demonstrating the development potential of the original simple system to accommodate the clients future requirement without having to totally re-specify every stick of furniture originally ordered.
An intriguing display made more so by the use of dramatic lighting casting shadows of the display pediments against the harsh surface finished off the bare black unit walls and concrete floor.
The folios created by luxurious gold Persian or Oriental rugs. Demonstrating that you have not been mean in your presentation.
Aids for communication will be the TV monitor for Project videos and a high table to stand or lean at or as use as a podium.
The screen if implemented within the existing fabrications would not enjoy such a dramatic lighting effect but would still imply the marketing themes.
Extra props should be available to expand the plinths out into the showroom frontage.
The enlarged closeup shots will illustrate details of the designs and carry the Project logo into the showroom. They will also dominate the wall with the product colours presented in a semi abstract way. Each print will be mounted on a bulky frame and individually lit.
Section 3 – Flying desk design
The Flying Desk Design in terms of marketing themes are as follows:
We’re Project fly with us
Project propels you into the future
Project is a growing crystal of office systems
Take your business over the horizon with Project
We don’t mind you looking under our skirts
The full-sized desks will appear to be elements of a sculpture. The center steel boxes growing like crystals around the arced 4” diameter steel poles.
The visitor will be confronted by a dramatic vision and more intimately the underside of the furniture he is considering specifying. This will give an opportunity to inspect closely the engineering details incorporated in the desks and other projects.
Dramatic lighting from the floor will cast shadows in the ceiling and of course illuminate the underside of the display.
As a contract from the hi-tech look the wall of the display will be hung with a luxurious curtain in gold, cream, and grey, brown as sampled and be skirted by gild gravel at the floor. Aids for communication will be the TV monitor on a wood finish contemporary type design and a table with chairs for meetings or conversations.
Enlarged close-up shots will act as with scheme 2.
A reception desk has been placed in the rear of the display offering a generous working space with extra back-up storage taken from the back-office area.
The existing marble floor will be retained the overhead cotton canopy to be removed, lighting adjusted.
Section 4 – Prizma Man Design
The Prizma Man Design in terms of marketing themes are as follows:
Prizma Man is a little abstract but could be used as an “Oscar” or Mascot. Little Prizma men could be issued to the Designer Specifiers as a token. The Robo Cop enforcer concept could be referred to. Prizma the guardian of office efficiency
Prizma 1. Prizma 2 as in Rocky
The desks are simply placed as the prominent feature in the showroom apart from the Prizma man. The emphasis on the display being the cable management. Cascading from the sky are hundreds of cables that are easily accommodated within the desks. This demonstrates an important theme emphasising the unique selling point of “accommodation fibre optic and LAN communication links”.
The Prizma Man will be fabricated out of plate brass, an expensive material welded and randomly polished the armour like statue will be a sculpture and commissioned as such and given the reverence appropriate to such a sculpture if not quite Michael Angelo’s David. Like David the anatomy represented is to be of the athletic type.
As with the Flying Desk display contrasting traditional luxurious curtain will be hung on the perimeter walls leaving a generous overhang gathered on the white marble floor.
The communication corner set at the rear will comprise a contemporary bar type arrangement in the solid timber and black metal supports allowing the viewer of the video to perch against the bar.