Workplace design sets the scene

Oliver Ronald, Sales & Marketing Director at The Boss Design Group, talks about the emergence of settings within the workplace and explains why people are the key drivers behind workplace design.

For many of us, the phrase ‘workplace design’ conjures up images of desks, chairs and meeting rooms. Today, however, workplace design is all about settings and how people work and are managed, the technologies that enable their work, and how a company employs the workplace for its own ends.

People trends show that more and more employees view their work and life as one. Indeed, it’s proven that those companies who support their employees with flexible working patterns and technology to work anywhere, anytime, see a happier and more productive workforce.

We also know that the traditional daily commute to an office to occupy fixed desk space has long been on the wane. With the rise of telecommuting, co-working spaces, globalisation and new technology, ‘flexibility’ in the workplace is key. More and more of us are, or will be, working in both non-traditional ways and places, ranging from relying on adaptable furniture within the workplace and within hotels, to satellite offices, offshore offices, and of course, home offices.

The kingpin in today’s workplace is a new generation of knowledge workers, whose desire for innovation and creativity runs high on the agenda. They need to be able to easily switch their mode of focus – be it focusing, learning, socialising or collaborating – in order to stay fulfilled and to be productive. This in turn has led to the creation of a series of designated settings within workplace design. But as facilities managers, how does this impact on the actual design of the workplace? Here’s some considerations:

Privacy – whether it’s visual, territorial or acoustic, it’s important that space is created for workers to enjoy privacy from distracting phones and co-workers, either on an individual or team basis. There have been numerous product developments in this field over the years, including personal touchdown spaces, headspace and breakout areas that provide ergonomically sound alternatives to sitting at a desk or table. They also provide the perfect place to take a private telephone call, or to work independently, or as a group in conjunction with a laptop table.

Display – to facilitate communication and collaboration, it’s important that vertical surfaces feature throughout the workplace. From meeting booths and pods, to standalone media walls that offer TV, video and online facilities, or a fixed whiteboard, there is now a diverse choice of technological functions available.

Plug and play – technology and specifically connectivity is now ubiquitous and is becoming integral to everything we do.

Whilst it ‘s commonplace to find meeting tables that include discreet and integrated table-top power and data connection points, with cable management as standard, the integration of such devices is now common in soft office products too. Collaborative work stations not only provide innovative meeting areas that effectively break up large, open plan office spaces, they offer exceptional seating and technology combined into one striking piece.

Diversity – today, we have a diverse and entitled working population who demand a choice of where and how they work. Space trends show that those organisations that offer a mix of well-designed, shared and individual workspaces and practices that encourage employees to communicate and collaborate more, will attract and retain talent better.

Aesthetics – the trend for the workplace to become a softer environment continues. The modern office requires a balance of open-plan and quiet spaces, and workspaces need to accommodate the requirements of teams and individuals, with the flexibility to customise the working environment instantly.

Minimise costs – the workplace has always been viewed as a cost, but over the years, its potential impact on turnover, and ultimately on profitability, has become widely accepted. It’s a common fact that globally, desk occupancy only runs at around 40%, which amounts to a substantial amount of wasted space.

People no longer need to be sat at a desk to work productively, so workplace design is now all about defining upfront those areas that need to be fixed, flexible or fluid in a bid to keep costs down.

In conclusion, as the workplace continues to evolve, the key driver is people, and not furniture. In order to meet the needs of workers and their modes of focus, a holistic approach is required to support their way of working. By creating settings that facilitate modern ways of working such as collaborative, touch down, headspace and even the work café, productivity will ultimately increase and costs will be minimised. More importantly, by putting people at the centre of workplace planning, real business issues can also be addressed: such as identifying the true value that innovation, enhanced communication, and faster decision brings to the company. Workplace design is no longer about configuring the layout of desks, chairs and meeting rooms, it is a strategic asset that needs to be managed effectively.

For further information contact 01242 584897 or visit


Leading shopping centre coffee shop chain selects Design & Contract Furniture again for new stores

As nationwide shopping centre coffee shop chain, bb’s Coffee and Muffins, expands across the UK and Ireland, Design & Contract Furniture has been selected to provide more bespoke furniture for the newly opening stores.

Renowned for its tempting range of freshly baked ‘made on site’ muffins and delicious barista coffees, bb’s Coffee and Muffins, as part of the Retail Food Group, has over 50 stores across the UK and Ireland with three recent new store openings in Maidstone, Ipswich and King’s Lynn and plans to open another 10 this year. As the company’s long-term furniture provider, Design & Contracts worked closely with the opening stores to provide the right furniture to match the brand’s existing theme. Amongst the tailor made furniture is a range of faux leather arm chairs and banquette seating, as well as Billiani dining chairs and solid ash dining tables.

Design & Contracts has worked with bb’s Coffee and Muffins for over 15 years and provides furniture for the majority of the brand’s high street stores.

Andrew Moyes, Group CEO (UK and ROI) of the Retail Food Group commented, “We have worked with Design & Contracts for many years and we have always found them to be extremely reliable and flexible in what they offer. As a brand we have an image that we need to portray across all of our stores and this is something we have been able to achieve through the furniture they have supplied.”

As a busy shopping centre coffee shop chain, bb’s Coffee and Muffins receives a high number of customers each day and therefore required furniture that is able to withstand constant use without compromising the quality or appearance.

Andrew Moyes commented again, “All of the furniture supplied by Design & Contracts is very high quality and robust which has made them an attractive choice for newly opening stores. The team at Design & Contracts are always very helpful and supportive and continue to provide an excellent service long after each project is completed.”

Amongst the many seating options are a number of retro-inspired Milan and Ludo armchairs, upholstered in Skai Sotega Nature and Olive faux leather. The two vibrant colours present a modern, stylish twist on classic armchairs, with contrasting coloured buttons for extra decoration. The armchairs offer exceptional comfort with cushioned seat and back pads.

Design & Contracts also provide banquette seating in Skai Sotega Nature faux leather, with contrasting buttoned backs in Begonia and Elderflower Sunbury fabric. The style of the seating reflects the retro theme of the armchairs; however the earth-coloured leather fashionably contrasts with the entire furniture scheme. Like the armchairs, the banquette seating provides a comfortable option in the form of sofa-like seating.

Other seating options include traditional Bentwood chairs with a natural wooden frame, as well as sleek Billiani Pop chairs in a light and dark Zebrano finish, are supplied to add an element of simple elegance to the cafés.

Bespoke cushions are also provided for extra decoration, using Sunbury Aquaclean Belfast fabric in a range of colours, including Lizard, Begonia and Elderflower to add to the mix of pale pinks and greens presented across the stores.

All of the contemporary seating options are complemented with a range of mixed-sized, solid ash dining tables with a natural polished finish.

Design & Contract Furniture have worked with a large number of bars, cafés and restaurants nationwide to provide bespoke furniture and upholstery services. The company prides itself in offering furniture to match any corporate branding themes, or can work with its customers to create a fresh furniture scheme according to any interior design brief.

Further information on Design & Contract Furniture is available from the company on 01344 628 108, by emailing: or by visiting the company’s website at


Sitting comfortably with the launch of ChairCompare®

Two businessmen have launched the UK’s first chair comparison website:®. John Sacks of JSA Consulting, and brand expert Adam Dunn are behind this web-based platform.

 The website will be launched at the end of March 2016 and increases choice and convenience for anyone looking to buy chairs for their business, without the hassle of going through a long supply chain. It’s an easy to use, step by step process which gives comprehensive information and allows users to quickly pick out which products they´re interested in, whether it’s office, home-office, restaurant, theatre or conference seating. A drop down menu leads to a shortlist, which shows information on products, services and third party certifications. All this takes under a minute. Chair Compare will not actually sell any product but rather steer the buyer to the supplier and products, which most closely match their needs.

Sacks says: ‘Before ChairCompare, users had to carry out lengthy searches to find the right product and manufacturer that met their needs. Whilst a quick Google search might give a wide choice of products, the user might want to buy, let’s say a sustainable product. As a result, was born.’

 Dunn adds: ‘When someone is spending £1000 on a chair for a new office they want to know where to get independent advice to make sure they get the best product available. We are not selling chairs, but we are helping consumers to get as much information as they can before deciding on a product. If a buyer needs five chairs for the new office, and wants information for example on office chairs that are ergonomically correct, then this is the site to go to for independent advice. ’

 The website allows leading manufacturers from the UK and Europe to participate and promote their products, and adds a wealth of additional information especially on sourcing, sustainability and other certification which is important for the user. The ChairCompare team is currently working with the British Contract Furnishing Association, BCFA, to support its services. 

About the Directors

Directors f. l.: Adam Dunn and John Sacks
Directors f. l.: Adam Dunn and John Sacks

Adam Dunn is a brand expert, with over 30 years experience in the trade and office seating industry. He has worked with UK seating manufacturers as well as being an agent for leading European manufacturers. His passion for all beautiful things in life is best reflected in his long-term project, the AAD Agency, where he has been promoting new brands for the UK trade for over a decade.

 John Sacks is from the office furniture industry. A Chartered Accountant, he has more than 45 years’ experience of owning and managing office furniture manufacturing businesses.  More recently, he has been advising and steering the corporate and marketing strategies for the international clients of his firm, JSA. He was Chairman of the UK office furniture trade association for six years, and for two years, President of FEMB, the European office furniture manufacturers’ association. 


New modular seating system offers inspired flexible solutions

A new and innovative modular seating system has been pioneered by Komac; a brand within the Boss Design Group. Designed to take flexible design to new heights, Raft+ offers specifiers thousands of layout configurations – from classic and distinctive, to fun and organic – with each solution designed to breathe life into office and hospitality settings.

Raft+ is available in straight and curved single, double and triple units, benches and corner pieces. With choice of two back heights – 1100mm and 1400mm – together with two base options, this pioneering system delivers ‘create and connect’ versatility. It provides specifiers with creative licence to bring fresh inspiration to their projects.

Raft+ is an evolution of the popular Raft range. It not only lends itself to the modern office environment, inspiring both collaborative and private spaces courtesy of high back units, it is equally at home in café bistro settings with traditional banquette configuration.

Julie Skipp at Komac says: “Thanks to Raft+, specifiers can now meet the brief for multiple locations from one single collection, without compromising on style or quality. Whilst Raft+ is the perfect auxiliary piece to a variety of other seating products, it can also create a stunning centrepiece in its own right. We are confident that this unique collection will bring a whole new dimension to flexible design.”

Boasting a solid hardwood frame, all Raft+ modules feature integral lumber support for ultimate comfort. With a choice of individually polished aluminium legs or plinths, and with optional power and data connections, Raft+ facilitates the flexible design of any space. Raft+ comes fully or part assembled for ease of installation with linking mechanisms also featured.

For further information contact Komac Headquarters: +44 (0) 1384 455570 or the London Showroom: Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7253 0364. Alternatively, visit


Unifi helps create a bespoke and flexible working environment

Renowned for its bespoke office pod solutions, Unifi – a revered brand within the Boss Design Group – was the perfect choice for helping create a temporary and collaborative workspace at the Dublin offices of Citrix Systems Inc. whilst major refurbishment was undertaken.

The Citrix brief was to create a customised suite of rooms for group and boardroom meetings, combined with informal settings using soft seating. Being future-proof, this could then be used when relocating to new premises with possible reconfiguration, to work with their changing work landscape. Citrix turned to interior solution specialists M J Flood (Interiors) to find a solution that was bespoke, adaptable and flexible.

M J Flood (Interiors) specified nine bespoke and individual Unifi office pod systems to be installed within office space adjacent to Citrix’s main building. The focus being on customised areas offering varying levels of power, data and media, together with the ability to add branding to reinforce the company culture, as well as looking at the new ways of working approach to the office environment.

Three bespoke Vista acoustic pods, featuring both straight and curved corners were specified to create the perfect meeting rooms, and to provide a contemporary and flexible addition to the fixed partitioning. Alongside this were six Qube pods in a variety of sizes and configurations. This solution provided Citrix with a result that not only gives them the ability to control their current environment, but the future landscape of their workplace.

All pods were sympathetic to Citrix’s branding and aesthetic requirements, and featured complex Audio Visual systems, light boxes, dry wipe panels and cantilever tables throughout. The modular Boss Shuffle with a contoured back for enhanced privacy helped create informal touchdown areas.

Commenting on this specification, Marie Casey at M J Flood says: “Unifi products were chosen following a careful selection process and were deemed ideal for providing individual work rooms, as well as conference/training rooms for this project. Unifi’s quick and simple installation proved ideal for Citrix’s temporary move, and their ability to be reconfigured meant that the pods would provide added flexibility for Citrix when relocating.”

Phil Duggan, Director of Unifi comments: “Prior to talking to us, the only solution the client had was partitioning, but this would have incurred dilapidation costs at the end of the lease term. Other pod systems were considered, but a suitable alternative wasn’t forthcoming, therefore Unifi offered the best solution. Working in collaboration with M J Flood and Citrix, we were able to meet the client brief and exceed expectations through effective communication and consistent project management.”

Rares Miron, Manager Real Estate and Facilities Services EMEA at Citrix Systems Inc., concludes: “MJ Flood and Unifi were able to translate our requirements into a contemporary solution that not only fulfilled our needs but also exceeded our expectations end to end.”

For further information contact Boss Design Headquarters: +44 (0) 1384 455570 or Boss Design London Showroom: Tel.: +44 (0) 20 7253 0364. Alternatively, visit


Creating supportive, patient-focused environments

With recent statistics[1] suggesting one in four people will develop a diagnosable mental health condition each year, Jason Brown, Director of Design and Development at Knightsbridge Furniture discusses the importance of providing facilities capable of giving appropriate treatment.

Aside from medical and clinical treatment, which continues to improve as our understanding of certain conditions grows, one of the most important elements is to provide care environments that promote calm and peacefulness. There are a number of ways to do this, from selecting the right paint colour for walls to choosing furniture and fittings that support treatment and recovery.

Creating a supportive environment

As an approved supplier of furniture for the NHS and SNH for more than 60 years, we have come to understand that the quality and style of furniture offered by care facilities is key. No matter how an individual’s condition might manifest, we must remember that they are ill and deserve to be treated in an environment that we would all find comfortable and accommodating.

With this in mind, furniture which looks inviting and as un-institutional in appearance as possible should be provided. Consider pieces more in line with what you might expect to find at home or in a hotel. Thankfully we have moved beyond the days when furniture for mental health facilities looked more like medical apparatus, and there are many examples of great design-led items on the market.

In an environment where tempers can occasionally flare, providing furniture that is robust and sturdy is imperative. Additional weighting to make pieces heavier is a solution to this but one which comes with its own set of issues. Making a piece of furniture heavier does make it harder to be used as a weapon but it also makes it difficult for staff, and those delivering it, to move, and accidents can happen.

At Knightsbridge, we deal with projects on a scheme-by-scheme, product-by-product basis, working closely with our customers to ensure we provide the correct solution to problems like this.

In addition to the practical side of our products, it has also been proved that a pleasant, airy and vibrant environment can improve staff attitudes to work. It’s therefore important to fit-out spaces with furniture made with fabric selections and designs which support this. At Knightsbridge, we design our furniture to really stand out, utilising colourful shades of green, orange and blue, amongst others, to put a smile on people’s faces, staff, patients and family members alike.

Working together

Our growing understanding of mental health conditions has challenged us as a business to ensure we create products that meet new and constantly changing demands. As you can imagine, this has a direct impact on our products, from the way they are manufactured and the materials used right through to the costs and possibly even the skill set required to deliver the right solution.

Consequently, it’s critical to ensure we’re getting things right; and working with facilities to test products for suitability and effectiveness is a great way to do this. The subsequent feedback we have received from these trials has helped us to further the development of our furniture and fittings, adding, removing and creating new features as a result.

This collaborative approach is perhaps best demonstrated with our recent work on The Harbour, a new state-of-the-art mental health hospital in Blackpool. The facility is one of the largest in the UK and we were tasked by the NHS to fit-out specific areas of the hospital with appropriate, and in some cases bespoke, furniture and fittings. Together with input from both clinicians and patients, we were able to help bring this outstanding new hospital to fruition.

Working collaboratively with a contractor you trust can be hugely beneficial to your project and result in the perfect environment for patients.


Developing spaces which encourage people living with mental health conditions to relax is an important part of offering treatment and support; it is also an incredibly complex process. New issues inevitably emerge and it is up to us, as an industry, to provide the solutions. As our understanding of mental health conditions develops, along with advancements in technology, we can continue to provide effective solutions that will help to aid the comfort of those living with a mental health condition.

About Knightsbridge Furniture

Knightsbridge Furniture is one of the UK’s most respected contract furniture manufacturers, supplying the mental health, health care and care markets with quality British products for more than 75 years. From the timber mill to the customer’s doorstep, the company takes enormous pride in facilitating the entire production and delivery of its products onsite and is dedicated to quality and design excellence. It has been an approved supplier for the NHS and SNH for more than 60 years.



Reading Uni creates new comfort zone for students with Design & Contract Furniture

Reading University Students’ Union (RUSU) has worked with bespoke furniture suppliers, Design & Contract Furniture to modernise the recently completed expansion of two of the university’s social hotspots.

Located at the Whiteknights campus, the largest of the university’s three sites, the Maluco Lounge has joined the RUSU Mojo’s Bar and Mondial Café to increase capacity by 30% as part of a two year redevelopment programme for the students’ union.

The expansion of the building has increased the capacity to 1000 which required additional seating and tables from Design & Contracts to accommodate the larger crowds.

Richard Lines, Business Development Manager at RUSU commented, “Design & Contract Furniture is definitely our preferred supplier when it comes to requiring new furniture. Having used many of their products before, we are confident with the quality and reliability of their furniture which secured our decision to approach them for the expansion of our students’ union.”

Design & Contracts were asked by the RUSU to suggest a range of furniture for the new extension, with many of the company’s products already in place in the bar and café. Working with the RUSU committee, guided by Richard Lines, Design & Contracts supplied a range of colourful furniture to modernise the look of the entire students’ union, including sofas, chairs, barstools and dining tables for a variety of uses across the bar and café.

A particularly popular choice amongst the furniture supplied were seven Colin tub chairs in red and green, and purple and green Skai Sotega faux leather. These not only add an element of vibrant colour to the room but provide a relaxing and comfortable seating alternative to armchairs or sofas for socialising students as they are designed specifically in a natural lounging seating position.

Design & Contracts also supplied a range of Skai Sotega faux leather sofas and arm chairs for the extension. Amongst these were six Darcy high-back double sofas in red which are used to break up sight lines and offer private seating or dining area for students.

Maintaining the colourful theme of the extension, a range of red and purple Quadra sofas and arm chairs are used throughout the new café in a ‘ying-yang’ arrangement, as well as 13 cube and round pouffes to offer a wide variety of seating options for large groups of students to socialise together, or separate into smaller groups.

The extension also offers an additional, separate dining area with 14 brand new dining and poseur tables with stylish Altofina concrete style laminate tops. These are accompanied by over 80 Trend side café chairs and bar stools in a light Zebrano finish from Pedrali, a well-establish Italian furniture designer.

The wide variety of furniture available at the RUSU new café ensures that students are offered an enjoyable and relaxing experience whether they are there to socialise with friends over a drink or lunch, or catch up on their studies in a more comfortable atmosphere than the university library.

As with all of Design & Contracts products, the furniture supplied to the RUSU was personalised to the brief put forward by the students’ committee.

Working with bars, cafes, restaurants and other hospitality businesses, Design & Contracts work directly with its customers to source high-quality and reliable bespoke furniture to meet the requirements of individual projects.

Further information on Design & Contract Furniture is available from the company on 01344 628 108, by emailing: or by visiting the company’s website at


Ready for the BIM Revolution

Knightsbridge Furniture BIM Components Now Available Online

A comprehensive series of Building Information Modelling (BIM) components has been developed by Knightsbridge Furniture covering the company’s collections of seating, tables and cabinets across the hospital, care and mental health sectors. The components can be downloaded free of charge from

Set to become mandatory for all public sector projects by 2016, BIM is the process of designing a building by computer, using downloadable ‘smart’ components – representing everything from structural elements to furniture and furnishings – which contain data about their use and purpose as well as variables like energy efficiency and sustainability. The computer-generated model then becomes the basis for all documentation about the building, enabling contractors to start work, schedules and workplans to be generated, collaboration to be facilitated and margins for error reduced.

“As a furniture manufacturer supplying to the public sector, we feel it’s vital to have our BIM files ready for architects and specifiers to access well in advance of the 2016 deadline,” says Alan Towns, Managing Director of Knightsbridge Furniture. “We are delighted to embrace the future of BIM technology with the introduction of our open source Revit format BIM files. It was our goal to become one of the first UK contract furniture manufacturers to offer our clients the opportunity to easily download these files and it’s a credit to our team that we have launched ahead of schedule.”

Knightsbridge Furniture BIM components have been formatted using Revit 2014 and are hosted by the Modlar website where AutoCAD 2D and 3D models are available for free download. To register, visit


Knightsbridge Furniture Helps Create a Calming Ambience

With its carefully-chosen colours and comforting upholstery, seating provided by Knightsbridge Furniture is helping to create a calming and welcoming atmosphere in Roseberry Park, a specialist mental health hospital in Middlesbrough, run by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.

The winner of several RIBA and BBH design awards, Roseberry Park provides adult and older people’s mental health inpatient services, children’s learning disability respite services and medium and low secure accommodation. With 365 inpatient beds, the facility comprises a series of self-contained ward units clustered around landscaped courtyards: the single, en-suite bedrooms are on the ground floor and have access to secure gardens and recreational areas.

‘Much care and thought has gone into the design of Roseberry Park,’ says one visitor, whilst another comments on the ‘…effective use of natural light with clever accents of colour.’ The sofas and chairs have been chosen from the extensive Knightsbridge Furniture portfolio to complement the interior scheme: models from the Shelley, Marlowe and Millie ranges are distinguished by their soft lines and domestic styling, whilst the citrus and berry shades specified for the supple faux hide upholstery bring zesty bursts of colour into the hospital’s family rooms and community spaces.

Despite their ‘home-from-home’ levels of comfort, the easy chairs and matching sofas have all been manufactured to the Knightsbridge ‘Extreme’ specification, which is an intrinsic part of the company’s Challenging Behaviour Collection. Design features include reinforced frames and feet, additional weighting, solid under-bottoms, non-retractable fixings and invisible stapling: the Knightsbridge QA team also ensured that all metal back-tacks were removed prior to despatch.

The Knightsbridge Challenging Behaviour Collection is a portfolio of furniture designed specifically for use in demanding environments, including psychiatric hospitals, residential homes, prisons and other facilities accommodating those demonstrating challenging behaviour. For details on the full collection, visit or the main Knightsbridge website at

The Knightsbridge Challenging Behaviour Collection is manufactured at the company’s plant in West Yorkshire: Knightsbridge Furniture is an Approved Supplier to the NHS and carries NHS Mental Health Contract Number 2012/S 38-061381.