Tag Archives: furniture

Office Furniture

February 24, 2017 by

A Survival Guide

Office furniture dealerships work with companies large and small to reshape their work environments. Here are some observations to keep in mind once the walls have come down.

Variety is key

Don’t just scrap the panels: Effective open-plan work areas need to offer a range of spaces. A “layered” approach may work best. Provide spaces for those people who really need quiet to focus, whether they just find it easier to work in quiet or they are more introverted. Successful spaces work when everyone in the company, regardless of personality or role, feels comfortable and confident in accomplishing their work.

Plan for the entire space, not just the corners

Create “enclaves” for collaborative working while making sure those spaces do not disrupt people sitting nearby. While it is important to provide areas for private/personal time, do not place them so far away that the trek to reach them is not worth it. Create “adjacencies,” spaces offering a phone booth or enclave where you are not walking more than 20 feet to reach them.

Design to meet your company goals

Your company needs to ask: What are our goals? “More collaboration” is a start, but “more collaboration between the product team and the sales team” is a goal that you can design your office around. Companies today often say they want to be more like Google. What is it about the workspaces at Google that you find appealing, and is that something your office’s culture can embrace? It may be more important to uncover how the company identity is expressed through physical space.

Establish Rules

It’s not enough to create spaces; you have to enforce boundaries. Open spaces create noise.  There’s just no getting around it.  Rules may be needed about how areas can be used. Certain spots for working in require a “no phone call” rule.  No exceptions!  It sounds very corporate and Big Brother to some people, but when you are working in an open space, protocols can be very important.

Get bosses out of offices

Sometimes managers may still need to function behind closed doors, but letting higher-ups spend their days inside old-fashioned private offices while employees work in the open sends a bad message. It also isolates them from the very benefits open plans promise. Once exposed to this new approach to the workplace, many executives say, “Wow, I’ve learned more about my own company in two weeks than I did in the past two years.”

While open-plan offices do not fit every company’s culture, they have come a long way from the “cubicle farms” of the past. More importantly, they are delivering an increasingly comfortable way to work.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Designing for Women in the Workplace

January 3, 2017 by

It’s a fact—more women are in the workplace than ever before, and this trend seems sure to continue for some time.

These days, many office furniture designers and manufacturers are developing their new products with much greater sensitivity to this evermore prominent audience.

What’s Important to Women as they Work? 

  • Furniture that is light and easy to handle. The majority of training programs are led by women. Female trainers are not only in charge of the training curriculum, they often end up setting up the room by moving heavy tables and awkward chairs into a variety of configurations.
  • A place for belongings. Women place personal bags and briefcases on the floor or hang them from their chairback for lack of a better option. Again, the same holds true at their desks, where purses may get stuffed into a file drawer or behind the CPU under their desk.
  • A chair that really fits. Many women complain of chairs with poor back support, are too big, and/or simply aren’t comfortable to sit in seven-plus hours a day. And women have a right to want a better solution—a recent study reported most women averaged 49 hours per week working, with 10 percent reporting they spent 61 hours per week in the workplace.

What Would Make Their Environment “Work” Better?

Recent new product introductions include:

  • Lightweight, easily reconfigurable training tables and chairs—making it easy and convenient for women to change a training environment on their own. They are simple to fold, move, or rearrange. The controls on the flexible tables must be easy to reach and trigger, making quick work to fold and nest for storage.
  • Storage hooks under training tables—in the “why didn’t they think of this before?” category. Provide a single hook under tables for users to hang purses and other personal items.
  • Height adjustable work surfaces—while “sitting may be the new smoking,” the need to adjust the height of one’s work surface is more important than ever.
  • Properly sized and adjustable office chairs—we all want a chair that fits “just right.” Many chairs today feature technology distributing back pressure and automatically adjusting support to match its occupant’s relative size, weight, and sitting style.

Other Factors in Satisfaction 

Based on my conversations and observations, other non-furniture-related preferences for women’s work environments include:

  • Women are more interested in the overall visual appeal of their office—including softer lighting and color.
  • Women prefer to work in collaboration with other associates. They are less interested in maintaining workplace hierarchy and are more interested in an environment which promotes creativity and collaboration.
  • One of the greatest satisfaction drivers for women—after “meaningful work” and “proper recognition”—is flexibility in the work environment.

While many of these items described are important to women, all workers can benefit from the changes described. Fortunately for us, the manufacturers in the industry today are listening.

Doug Schuring is the director of sales administration at All Makes Office Equipment Co.

This article was printed in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B.

Peter Cales

March 3, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Peter Cales sits on a comfortable couch and rests a glass of orange juice on a coffee table. Nearby sit shelves and shelves of record albums, and atop and beside the albums sit record carriers made by Cales.

He created the table as a summer project while attending college.  The rustic, yet sophisticated, piece foretold his career.

“I alternated between fine arts and English in college [at Creighton], but I didn’t see a clear path between that and making a living,” Cales says of discovering how to meld fine arts and woodworking.

“My father always had a woodshop,” Cales recalls fondly. “I just decided to make furniture. I wanted to do something artistic that had a practical application.”

Cales worked part-time for noted Creighton Associate Professor of Sculpture Littleton Alston, who helped him obtain studio space and taught Cales about the process of building things. He became fascinated by the beauty of woodworking. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he belonged in the woodshop.

In 2009, he became a full time wood artist in launching his studio, Measure Cut Cut. Cales’ process of woodworking turns nature into refined beauty. He finds working out, and on, details meditative. He finds inspiration in music, especially pop and rock ’n roll from the 1960s and 1970s.

Cales says. “I think it’s inspiring hearing something that someone put together perfectly. “I do a lot of furniture design, but I don’t identify as a designer because I think that could be offensive to people who went to school and studied it,” Cales says. “But I also have a hard time identifying as an artist.”

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Along with hand-crafted wood pieces, Cales also sells a line of ceramic hot air balloons.

“I just love how it was the first form of flight, and so much scientific development went on through ballooning,” Cales explains. “My parents took us [Cales and his sister] to a hot air balloon international festival around 1990. It definitely left a mark on my brain.”

Customers won’t see a similar mass production of furniture.

“Furniture is furniture to me,” Cales continues. “It’s the process of making something for someone else. That’s why I’ve never done lines of furniture. There’s nothing personal about that for me.”

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Personalizing pieces is vital to Cales’ craft. When he meets with clients he asks them about their lifestyle and what is important to them. He asks to hear stories, particularly those involving events or locations. From that meeting Cales selects materials from significant locations, particularly reclaimed materials when available.

“I like working with people and creating something that will be in their house for a long time,” Cales says. “It’s a reflection of my brief relationship with them.”

Designs are never repeated. Much thought is put into what will happen to a piece of furniture long-term. Cales wants his work to be retained, to perhaps be passed down to future generations, and he seeks clients who share his aesthetic and personal values.

Keeping these principles creates lasting relationships with the clients.

“Most of the commissions I like I have made for people I ended up being friends with. They were relationship starters.”

Leaving a lasting impression—creating a lasting relationship—that’s the essence of Cales.

Visit measurecutcut.com to learn more.

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Long Grain Furniture

October 23, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A crack appears in the top of the table Todd McCollister is showing me; actually, a couple of thin, ragged splits show through, exposing tiny strips of light. Laid into each is a cross—a kind of smooth wood stitch that echoes a sequence of crosses along the table’s center seam.

“They were inspired by a series of handmade, sculpted stuffed animals an artist I knew was making,” McCollister says. “They were mended together, and that idea of mending was kind of what I felt like I was doing, that allusion to handwork.”

McCollister is no stranger to handwork—or, on a broader scale, to stitching things together. The Omaha native returned home last year.

He attended art school in Texas and then a earned a graduate degree in sculpture on Long Island in New York, where he stayed for six more years, making and exhibiting sculptures. He gradually turned from sculptures to tables for trade shows and cabinetry for galleries. These days, about half of McCollister’s work is commissioned, the other half he builds on spec.

Really, the transition to making furniture was artful.

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“I believe that I use my sculpture training for a lot of the formal decisions I make—figuring out proportions, knowing how big something should be, what colors should go together,” McCollister says. “I also try, when I can, to bring some conceptual content into furniture pieces. I’m not afraid to tweak things in a direction that seems wrong.”

He shows me his 5-Degree Coffee Table, all the angles of which are five degrees off from perfect perpendicularity.

We are at Long Grain Furniture, a workshop McCollister set up himself in an emptied-out building in Omaha’s Quartermaster Depot Historic District. The army-space-turned-auto-shop-turned-workshop-space has been open about three months; McCollister spent six months before its opening building storage, buying machines, installing compression air lines, and otherwise readying the shop for business based on the last one where he worked in New York.

He hopes more woodworkers will join him. He wants to rent space in Long Grain for six months or longer to as many as six woodworkers who can use the space and the machines in it.

The kinds of woodwork created in the community McCollister wants to build need not be identical to his. Creativity is less segregated in Omaha than in a larger city like New York, McCollister says.

“In New York, an art gallery doesn’t need to show furniture or functional ceramics or glass,” he says. “One has to define oneself pretty narrowly. Here…it’s much more accessible—the art world and a community of architects and designers.”

One woodworker is using space at Long Grain to make laminate countertops and cabinets.

“We both have learned a lot from each other,” McCollister says, “sharing ideas, sharing experiences, sharing lunch.”

It’s a kind of stitching together that really does feel like what McCollister is doing.

“Here, the boundary between functional things and artworks is much more nebulous,” McCollister says. “I always thought of them as different before I came back to Omaha.”

LongGrain1

Making the most out of the least workspace

January 5, 2015 by

Whether you are working for a Fortune 500 company or out of your home, most Americans would prefer to have a larger workspace. According to IFMA (International Facility Management Association), the average American’s workspace has shrunk 15 square feet over the last 20 years. In 1994 the average worker had 90 square feet of workspace; now that has been reduced to 75 square feet. Here are some tips to get the most from your workspace, no matter how small it is.

Declutter
Purge, purge, and purge some more. If you’re going to have a functional and effective small office, you have to continually declutter. With a small space, just a few items on your desk may cause it to look cluttered. Learn how to purge all the “stuff” you don’t need. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I used this?” Recycle it or pass it along to a co-worker. Set computers, printers, and phones close to outlets so the cords can easily be hidden. Desks that come equipped with wire management grommets also ensure a clutter free workspace.

Buy Furniture that Maximizes Office Space
A well-planned office creates a good initial impression on your clients and draws in potential candidates; it also improves the productivity and attitudes of your current employees. How large or small your office space is will determine the kind of furniture you buy. Over one-third of an average employee’s day is spent in the office; quality office furniture ensures a healthy and efficient work atmosphere.

Monitor Matters
Flat-panel monitors provide almost effortless adjustments and create significant space savings. By elevating the monitor up off the work surface, a monitor arm frees up the valuable space directly in front of the user, leaving notes, documents and other work materials within easy reach. Plus, the monitor can be easily pushed out of the way to create extra workspace if needed.

Seeing the Light
Good lighting is essential in any work environment. Ideally you want as much natural daylight as possible. Natural light not only saves electrical energy, but it gives you more personal energy too. Tone down harsh overhead lights. Add an energy-efficient task light to your workstation to provide light where you need it.

With a little bit of planning, you can make the best out of any small workspace.

Make First 
Impressions Count

January 13, 2014 by

How a business furnishes its workspace can define the company culture and help employees thrive. A well-planned office creates a good initial impression on guests and draws in potential candidates; it also improves the productivity and attitudes of your employees. With the right interiors and good quality furniture, you can set the tone of your business and impress potential clients from the minute they step into your office. 
Here are a few things to take into consideration when planning your office space:

  • Lobby. Start with a reception station that is warm and inviting. Add guest or lounge seating and occasional tables to complete the welcome area.
  • Conference room. The size of the table you need depends on the number of people you need to fit around it. Allow 30 inches per person to keep meetings comfortable. Conference chairs typically don’t require the advanced functionality of a work chair, so look for low or mid-back chairs that provide basic function and support.
  • Private office. Executives and managers typically need desks and an executive chair. Consider appearance as well as functionality to strike the right mix of prestige, professionalism, and personality.
  • Seating. Over one third of an average employee’s day is spent in the office. If the office furniture causes discomfort or pain, it may create serious dangers to your health. It’s necessary that office furniture, particularly office chairs, be ergonomically designed. An ergonomic workplace promotes better work management and organization among staff and also makes the environment more relaxed and pleasant.
  • Filing area/copy center. A good mix of shared and private storage helps keep common areas better organized and employees more productive.

Visit the All Makes showroom at 25th and Farnam streets in Omaha to see the latest office furniture and design trends on display. The All Makes team is trained to help you make design and furniture purchases that fit your office atmosphere, your work style, and your budget.

Antiques at Revival

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Partners Joe and Amanda Johnson are committed to reviving history. Through their new antique shop, Antiques at Revival, they are attempting to do just that, one piece at a time. In June, they opened their business on Leavenworth Street with the goal of giving the Omaha community not just a run-of-the-mill antique shop but one that provides knowledge, advice, and lessons to its customers.

“In January of this year, I accidentally found myself without a job,” Amanda remembers. “We’ve always had dreams of opening an antique shop, so Joe says to me, ‘You can either go get a job, or we can create one for you.’ The rest is history.”

The shop carries a large variety of furniture, home décor pieces, and other odds and ends. Items so odd, in fact, that you can find air plants, terrariums, and even farm-fresh eggs. The couple continuously hunt for items all over the country to bring back pieces that customers might not usually see in this region. Those that ultimately end up in the shop date from around the 1790s to the 1970s. In addition to selling items, Amanda says Antiques at Revival is the only antique shop in Omaha that offers interior design and furniture repair and refurbishing classes.

“We do our best to specialize in high-quality, well-preserved merchandise,” Amanda explains. “Some of our pieces need a little TLC, and we put in the time, effort, and skill that it takes to bring them up to par. The craftsmanship that is put into antique pieces isn’t something you come across today.  It is truly amazing to look at a piece and see the detail, history, and pride that went into making it.”

With their shop, the Johnsons strive to be involved with the Douglas County Historical Society to help support their efforts of preserving Omaha’s history. Each month, Antiques at Revival donates a portion of their profits to the DCHS.

“We truly believe in the efforts of the historical society and all they do for Omaha and Douglas County. Without the historical society, a lot of Omaha’s history may have been lost forever,” Amanda says.

These monthly contributions are just one way this eclectic antique shop is striving to keep history, particularly Omaha’s, alive.

Antiques at Revival
4541 Leavenworth St.
402-315-9761
antiquesatrevival.com

Hutch

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It all started with a hutch.

From the moment Nick Huff and Brandon Beed traveled to Lincoln to retrieve the cabinet furniture piece, they knew that the thrill of finding the hutch would ignite a passion for preserving and selling Mid-Century furniture. Shortly after that trip, they transformed that passion into Hutch, Inc., an antique and vintage furniture shop with Huff and Beed both serving as president.

Hutch, Inc., specializes in “high-end, Mid-Century furniture finds.” Anything from lamps, coffee tables, and couches to record players and dishware can be found at Hutch, but each item must fall into the Mid-Century style—something modern with a Danish influence.

“We define Mid-Century to be 1950s to early 1970s. Now, not all pieces during this time are what we want. We specifically focus on the modern, bright color, pointy leg with beautiful, clean wood pieces,” Huff explains. “We have rummaged the Midwest to bring Omaha the finest Mid-Century furniture under one roof.”

What makes Hutch different from other antique shops is that Huff and Beed preserve the furniture themselves. Whereas similar shops may paint or distress the furnishings, Hutch focuses on making the original character of the furniture shine.

“The furniture is so iconic and beautiful as it is that the only thing we try to do is make it look like you went back in time and were buying these pieces new,” Huff says.

In July, Hutch moved from a shared basement retail space in the Old Market to their own shop in Midtown Crossing. Huff says that the reaction from the Omaha community was humbling, and they hope to continue that success at the new location.

“We always thought Hutch would be a hobby—something we do just for fun,” Huff says. “We thought we would sell a few pieces online here and there, and always keep our finger on the pulse of Mid-Century furniture. We couldn’t be more excited.”

Hutch
3157 Farnam St., Ste. 7111

402-995-9842
facebook.com/hutchomaha

Create the Perfect Study Room

August 16, 2013 by

It’s already hard enough to get kids to study when they’re at home. After all, they’ve just spent several hours at school, and all they want to do now is relax in front of the TV or play outside with their friends. But homework always comes first.

Most kids do their homework in their bedrooms, on the living room couch, or at the kitchen table. Yeah, that’s a bad idea. Their beds remind them of sleep; the couch reminds of them of watching TV (if they’re not already); and the kitchen table reminds them of eating. These locations are recipes for distraction. What they need is a designated study space in their home.

Have an extra room in the basement or a guest room that hasn’t been used in months? Turn it into a study room for your kids! A place where they can go that can help them focus on doing a good job on their homework, as well as finishing it before the next day’s bell, can help them bring home better report cards.

Here are some great tips for creating the perfect study room in your home:

  • Only use furniture that applies to what kids will need for studying—desks, supply bins, bookcases, lamps, a comfortable chair, and maybe even a beanbag chair for reading. Absolutely no TVs!
  • Paint the room with solid colors. Neutrals always work, but primary colors like red, yellow, or blue will keep them in “school mode.”
  • Use décor that continues the theme of studying and learning. A chalkboard or dry erase board would be good, as well as a wall clock. If you want more art as inspiration, find educational posters or search through Pinterest for other great decorating ideas.

Whatever you decide to do with this study room, just remember that the point is to help your kids focus.

Freecycle

June 20, 2013 by

One of the most daunting aspects of downsizing possessions is trying to figure out what to do with all the excess. Perhaps you don’t have a way to haul that old chest of drawers to Goodwill, or it’s not worth it to you to try to sell your broken lawnmower on Craigslist, or those unused landscaping bricks are too heavy to set out for the trash.

Freecycle just might be the answer to your downsizing dilemma. It’s an online organization devoted to keeping useable items out of landfills by giving them free of charge to people within your own community. Local groups are found in most cities across the United States (Freecycle.org states that its network includes 5,096 groups and 9,332,889 members globally, as a matter of fact). So it’s quite similar to Craigslist, except all exchanges are, well, free. Omaha’s Freecycle group has over 11,000 members, and objects are requested and offered online daily.

“As a green-accredited professional, the whole idea of putting all these samples in a landfill was just abhorrent to me,” says Amy Boesen, an Omaha interior decorator. A friend clued her into Freecycle last year, and Boesen gave a book of wallpaper samples to a guy for use as crafts in his wife’s daycare. Another batch of upholstery swatches were turned into hammocks for an animal rescue. Gazing ball stands were used as birdbaths. “When stuff started moving and I could see how it was being used, it was so awesome for me,” Boesen says.

She, herself, has only requested one thing on Freecycle: fishing poles as event décor. “It’s a fantastic way to very quickly get rid of things you don’t need and find things you don’t want to buy,” she says.

Participating in Freecycle does mean dealing with Yahoo!’s Groups feature, which is inelegantly linked to Freecycle.org. You’ll need a username and password each for both Freecycle and Yahoo!

To join the Omaha group, follow these steps (thank goodness you only have to do this once):

  • Go to freecycle.org. In the Find a Group Near You window, type in Omaha. Select Omaha from the search results, and click the Sign up/Log in button. Choose a username and password, and you’ll be taken to Omaha’s Group Info page.
  • Click Visit the Omaha group and see the posts. You’ll be taken to a Yahoo! Groups page. Click the blue Join This Group! button.
  • Log in to Yahoo! Create a Yahoo! account if you don’t already have one. If Yahoo! isn’t your normal e-mail client, you can choose to have e-mails forwarded to, say, your Gmail address instead.
  • Choose how you want to find out about new posts. Consider opting for Web Only. Don’t forget to click Save Changes.
  • Browse posts. You can also post messages yourself and respond to other members’ posts.

Once you’ve posted an item (called an Offer), your post will go through a moderator who will make certain you’ve included essential info such as a nearby cross street (never put your address in a post). When another member e-mails you (via Freecycle…your e-mail isn’t exposed) expressing interest in that chest of drawers, you can respond with your address and let them know it’s waiting for them outside. They’ll pick it up without needing to set up a specific time and without having to meet you. All you have to do is enjoy your decluttered home and the knowledge that you’ve done your part to save the Earth.