Lucie Salou, marketing manager from Office Inspirations talks about the trends, technology, and challenges in the workplace furniture industry

What are the trends in office furniture in the region?
Blended spaces – the line between public and private, work and leisure tend is becoming blurred. What was traditionally considered as the workplace is changing, we can no longer create the same spaces and expect different results. We need to redefine what the office means and change it. We need the ability to choose from a range of spaces, based on the task at hand, and enough control over their environment to accommodate their individual, unique needs.
Biophilic design – According to the Steelcase Global Report entitled “Engagement and the Global Workplace” three-quarters of the UAE workforce, and even larger portions of the global workforce, is either disengaged or in the middle, leaving significant opportunities for improvement. Biophilic design will help people feel they have the places to settle, explore, adapt and be creative leading to stronger connections, collaboration and a belief they can rejuvenate at work amidst today’s modern stressors.

How is technology changing the consumer experience?
Technology is definitely changing our behaviour and expectation as a consumer and therefore has a tremendous impact on our office environment and furniture.
Gesture Chair, by Steelcase, was designed to support the new posture and movement when we are using new technologies. Steelcase conducted a “global posture study” across 11 countries and 2000 people and found out that new technologies combined with new behaviours have led to nine new postures that are not adequately addressed by current seating solutions. There are ergonomic implications to these postures that, if not addressed, cause pain and discomfort. New technologies demand new ways of moving and working. To support these new postures the Gesture Chair by Steelcase was born. And the office furniture is overall offering more and more connectivity options. Having a USB plug or power plug integrated into a sofa, for instance, is becoming very popular and a “must have” for office furniture now.

Workplace innovations by Steelcase

Where do you source your products?
Our product portfolio originates from the United States of America and European markets. At Office Inspirations, we carefully select our partners and products based on the quality of craftsmanship, products quality, durability, design and best price point for our customers.

How important is the pricing of the product?
Pricing remains a valuable indicator of quality in this sector. However, a smaller budget does not necessary means low-quality furniture. The key is to know where to allocate the budget in your office environment.

What are the challenges in this market for the suppliers?
Lead time—our customers are requiring to receive the furniture sooner but manufacturing time is not evolving as fast as our market demand.

The market is flooded with duplicate/copies of the products. How do you deal with that?
Quality, it is essential for our industry to share the difference in quality between replica and original products. The quality speaks for itself. It all depends on us how we communicate and share the difference with our customers. Being transparent with our customers is the best solution for this situation.