origins of furniture strategist

You may have seen my recent ‘news’ on social media. This short intro is for the benefit of those who haven’t. Earlier this year I took the decision to quit my (great) job in Zürich as Head of Design Strategy at a renowned established dealer and set up as independent furniture strategist and consultant. This blog is me subjecting you to an interview with me, by me to explain a little bit about my plans. Yes that’s right. I’m a guest on my own blog. Talk about self promotion… But it’s my blog and this is actually happening, so bear with me.

Having announced my decision to go it alone I received a number of questions over recent weeks about what exactly it is that I’m up to. I’m going to answer those questions and tell you a little about my plans.

Ben, there’s a global pandemic. You’ve quit? Are you mad?

Mmm. Yes, this news hadn’t escaped me. And maybe I am. Or maybe I’m just convinced that there’s another way. And it’s time for me to spread my wings in Switzerland after spending 5 years improving my German skills, getting to know the market and winning and delivering some amazing projects as ‘Head of Design Strategy’.

How people work and live is changing. The furniture market and design industry and how people source furniture is going through a rapid transformation. I want to be a positive part of that change, be open to new collaborations and ideas and be nimble enough to respond quickly to exciting opportunities. So here I am. Nimble and ready.

What the hell is a furniture strategist anyway?

The words ‘furniture’ and ‘strategy’ are the two most important words I use to describe my expertise. When I launched this blog site in 2016, the ‘furniture strategist’ was born. Like facebook, I subsequently dropped the ‘the’.

I still don’t follow. What is your offer as ‘furniture strategist’?

That depends who I’m working with and where I can bring value and insight.

For small to medium sized businesses, the job of furniture procurement often lands on the FD or office manager’s desk. It usually isn’t their area of expertise, is often a thankless task and there is generally no long term purchasing or sourcing strategy in place. This results in countless misspent hours trying to gather information, dramatically increasing the true cost of ownership of the furniture in the process.

I assess what you need, where to invest money and where to save it, to develop a tailor-made furniture schedule for your business needs. I advise on detailed specification, organise mockups and accompany you through the process (or deal with it on your behalf). By doing this I’m giving you peace of mind, relieving you of the headaches and allowing you to focus on your day job, knowing that a professional is looking after your best interests when it comes to your interiors and furniture supply.

I assist furniture manufacturers with product development, market growth strategy, import and export related support, advice and troubleshooting. If something isn’t working or if you need an external opinion to bring perspective, I can help. Want design feedback? I can help. The market is changing and perhaps you need fresh input from someone with international pedigree working directly with architects, designers and leading global brands as an independent consultant. I have a vast network of furniture and design contacts on hand and always have an ear to the ground.

For Architects working on a building, the furniture specification and subsequent tender process is often borne from your knowledge of some furniture classics, combined with some web searches and maybe one or two existing supplier relationships. I can work as an extension of your project team to develop and source a world class, truly cutting-edge furniture scheme to complement the building’s interior whilst meeting client budget and quality expectations. It’s about playing to strengths to deliver an outstanding project on every level.

For Interior Designers and Project Managers – maybe you need support, clarity and expertise to help you work through a specification and sourcing process. Perhaps you need help to guide your client but don’t want to be sold to. Perhaps you just have too many deadlines and need to outsource this specialised area, to streamline your efficiency. You need an independent advisor; a furniture strategist (drum roll).

Interior publicists, magazines and media – I intend to be more active on this front too! Keep your eyes peeled…

So where will you be based?

Remote working works. So that doesn’t really matter. My home is in Switzerland and I’ll generally be based from Zürich or the mountains, but I’ll be travelling internationally as soon as the situation allows. In the meantime 95% of what I do will be done via video calls, email, phone, at the coffee shop with some good old face-to-face meetings as needed.

So what do you charge, Mr Furniture Strategist?

I offer a free consultation via phone or teams to understand your requirements and establish a potential ‘scope’ for the project or collaboration. Based on the value of the services provided I can put together a project fee proposal, perhaps with options for consideration. My aim is to deliver the support and expertise exactly where you need it, so it’s important to define this scope following initial consultation.

So is that it now. Your blog has become a sales pitch?

Nope. Don’t stress- it will NOT become a sales pitch. I will continue to focus the blog on design-and furniture-related themes. But the blog is now also linked to my temporary business site – which of course you are (highly) encouraged to check out!

As my new consultancy is in it’s early stages, my website has been created purely as a simple business card and an invitation for people to get in touch with ideas, thoughts and of course, projects. So feel free!

If you’ve read this far, THANKYOU! End of transmission….