It must be satisfying to work with tech companies, which seem to have less conventional ideas about office space.
Well, with benching in particular, here at Quirky we recycled bowling alley tops. It’s just that—it’s really cool. I mean, picture the benching being produced by all of the great manufacturing companies—the Herman Millers and the Knolls. We found this material, with Ben, up in either Newbridge or Hudson, N.Y., just in this one major center, and he bought all of the bowling alley tops at pennies on the dollar.
Do you have regular spots where you hunt for this repurposed material?
To a degree. You know, it comes to us, plus we go there. And we have friends in the business who can direct us to places where, say, they’ve just gotten a massive shipment. Also, furniture recycling companies tell us about a few different spots. But this one we discovered together. I think Ben had also been there before.
Is using repurposed material becoming more popular among more conventional clients, like law firms and financial services office users?
I think that as you see the social networking sector much more open and much more comfortable. You’ll also see it elsewhere, so yes—but with that specific clientele. The beanbag is back! In other words, I think the open plan is shifting. The aesthetic is not—or not yet. But some have tried to transition. We’re working with a few different law firms right now and the ratio of paralegal and legal secretary to partner is not 1:1 or 2:1 or 3:1 anymore—it’s more like 5:1 or 10:1 these days. So you have five open work stations for one principal compared with just one before.
The Spector Group has been working with NASDAQ in 2002. What have you done for them lately?
We started with them almost when we broke into the city. We just finished a 60,000-square-foot installation for them in Rockville, Md., in their regional facility there. It’s now the NASDAQ-OMX, since they bought the Norwegian Stock Exchange. We just did an installation there borrowing some of the standards that we created back in 2002, believe it or not. But we did a shift. A lot more people came out of offices in this move than they’ve ever had before. I mean, basically there are no offices there—none. Even their legal group came out of private offices. And it’s been received by their vice president of corporate services and their director of real estate quite well. I think there was the natural pulling people out of offices into the open plan over the process that was challenging. I mean, you had people who had been in offices that were 10-by-20 for 10 years, and they’re going into an enlarged workstation or interior suite setup. It took a lot of education. We installed a lot of acoustics, mini phone rooms and caucus rooms to give that comfort. But once they’re there and they have to live it, it’s been received well.