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Walking the Talk

Nov. 16, 2017

As a full-service contract furniture dealership with a nearly 70-year history—and the only Haworth dealership in Chicago with in-house capabilities to see a project from initial planning through delivery and installation—BOS recently decided to refresh its brand and re-introduce its position in the market. To that end, the employee-owned company seized the opportunity to showcase its workplace solutions with a relocation to a new facility located in Roselle, Ill. 

“We help our clients with space moves,” explained BOS Executive Vice President George Lucas Pfeiffer. “We’ve worked with thousands of companies over the last 70 years to help them move into new spaces whether it was actually changing buildings, changing locations, or just needing a refresh of the current building they’re in with a new workspace. So, we wanted to ‘walk the talk’ when we moved into this new headquarters by laying out the space in line with modern work trends.”

For example, BOS decided to outfit every workstation with height-adjustable desks to embrace and encourage the wellness movement that’s been taking the industry by storm. Collaborative spaces and touchdown areas are also incorporated throughout the showroom in step with the ubiquitous open office trend. Additionally, BOS lacked a proper gathering space in its previous location—a common element in many of today’s workplaces—so when designing its new facility, Pfeiffer said the team created an expansive room called “Collaborate” that’s connected to its cafeteria, “Nourish,” to accommodate larger groups. Divided by a movable glass wall, the two spaces can open up to one large room to host events such as lunch-and-learns with clients, video conferencing, or company-wide meetings. 

One of the difficulties when designing such expansive open spaces is effectively addressing acoustics, which was especially true in this location as it features 35-foot ceilings. 

“The challenge we had in that room, because it [has] such a tall ceiling, is that the acoustics were outrageous,” Pfeiffer noted. “[It] sounded like a racquetball court and when one person was talking on one side of the room, you couldn’t hear anything on the other side. Because we opted to go with a very clean and polished look for this facility without a lot of color or any decorations, the room was also not very inviting.”

To address these issues, BOS installed Zintra, a wallcovering product from MDC, to help mitigate noise. The acoustical material, which is often mistaken for artwork, absorbs sound to prevent reverberation in the showroom. Contemporary patterns adorn the walls, square and circular “clouds” hang from the ceiling, and a solid gray panel of Zintra extends horizontally across three sides of the room. The acoustical improvement was immediate and the visual effect rarely goes unnoticed.

interiors+sources recently spoke with Pfeiffer to find out more about how this wallcovering solution helped improve BOS’ new showroom’s functionality and design.  

interiors+sources: What were the goals you had in mind when looking for an appropriate solution for the Collaborate space?
George Lucas Pfeiffer: When we talked to MDC, the goal was twofold. First, for functionality to introduce some sound management so that we can reduce the reverberation and the chamber-type acoustics that were going on. Then, to double as a visually inspiring wall or ceiling treatment that would complement both our brand and the purpose of that room and the space in general. [Zintra] does both of those things; it significantly improves the acoustics and adds an interesting visual element. We still utilize our technology integrator to bring in some speakers and microphones, and that’s actually the newest thing we have done. But with the product that MDC provided, it was a massive improvement from what it was before. It also had a visual impact and we were very happy with it.

i+s: What other benefits have you realized since installing Zintra?
GLP: [MDC is] really easy to work with. In fact, we met with them a couple of times and they were very friendly and had a lot of good suggestions. This is something that we hadn’t really done before so they gave us a lot of good feedback and their product is very easy to install. We have a team of installers here and they were able to put it up themselves. That was a nice thing, to be able to do it ourselves; a lot of people probably don’t have their own installation team. But this is also a product that we are interested in offering to our clients and the fact that we can install it for them is a bonus for us. 

i+s: What has been the response from people using the space?
GLP: We have multiple meetings in there each week with various groups or with our entire team. The room looks great. People love the design pattern of the product—the cloud-like drops hanging from the ceiling. They work well with the lighting that we chose for the space. So the job—what we had set out to accomplish—was certainly achieved. 

One of our employees just got married and she actually had her whole wedding party come in here and take photos in front of the product. We just posted those on our social media accounts [@BOSworkspaces]. 

About the Author

Robert Nieminen | Chief Content Director

Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of Architectural Products, BUILDINGS and i+s, sister publications of Smart Buildings Technology. He is an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience reporting on the architecture and design industry.

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