ARIDO Award Winner: McCrum’s Office Furnishings

Balancing the needs of “Our People” with the reality of client sales and customer needs presented an interesting design challenge. From early collaboration with McCrum’s, the project focus was ‘our people’, meaning the McCrum’s staff team, clients and suppliers. Although a working furniture showroom, the space was built on the sense of family and community through exploration of various non-workplace environments.

Category: DISTINCT

Interior Designer: Megan Russo, ARIDO
Design Firm: Zeidler Architecture
Photographer: Klassen Photography

All employees were interviewed at the onset of the project, ensuring their thoughts and opinions were heard. After compiling this information, five common themes emerged: collaborative, family, quiet, proximity, and a good story.

Several settings were selected, patio/pergola, dining room, café/restaurant, away niches and living rooms. The common element was to promote interaction, collaboration, and encourage spontaneous conversations. WELL methodology, though not formalized, was layered through the integration of lighting, fitness, and mind, further emphasizing a sense of belonging and wellbeing.

Previously, staff teams were spaced out drastically over a large square footage and could go days if not weeks without seeing each other. In order to promote interaction, employees were grouped in one area. This space is large enough for not only those who work in the showroom but also field staff who are encouraged to use the space when they can. The café and social stairs were placed together to allow for larger gatherings between employees.

Some existing elements were quite dated which made it difficult to incorporate within the solution. The existing water mains were front and centre to the entry doors which was addressed through an angled entry that echoes the walls of the water closed. The reception area, custom screen, and the water closet create a ‘peek’ into the Client Care area, enticing clients to move through the space.

At reception, the custom welcome desk resembles a dining room table and allows for the ‘welcomer’ to sit, perch, or stand. Visitors are greeted at eye level instead of looking down at the receptionist. Branding is not the forefront of the reception, but a sense of comfort and calmness is encompassed by various textures through the richness of the wood panelling, the softness of the area rug and the gentle glow of the decorative pendants.

The team addressed the reduction in dedicated showroom space by providing versatile solutions that can be adapted based on activities of the modern office. With products changing regularly, product neighbourhoods were created allowing McCrum’s to swap product in the same way a stage changes with each production.

These neighbourhoods were planned based on the narrative of how McCrum’s walks visitors through the space, with the variety of product colour offerings interwoven throughout. For example, a pass-through meeting space showcases product colour on the pulls of white demountable doors. This type of application with colour is seen through the workstations, ancillary furniture, and demountable partitions. A special area for mockup reveals enables that special “Wow!” reveal moment for these products, and lets the sales rep prepare a client before the reveal.

Two existing skylights were challenges, which became inspiration for the location of the pergola space to provide a biophilic boost from above during harsh prarie winters, and enabling all staff to have access to natural light. The pergola’s roof and integration of green high pile carpet mimicking grass enhances the intimacy of the space.

With the owner of McCrum’s being part Métis, equity, diversity, and inclusion was a focus from the outset. The movement through the space and how that translated to their narrative, the interaction between people, and the input of all employees during the pre-design phase resulted in ‘our people’ as the driving principle for the project. The inclusion of all employees allowed for the input of various cultures, perspectives, and beliefs to be heard and reflected in the design.

For example, one individual in particular has an extreme sensitivity to noise, and the interior design team wanted to accommodate this need while integrating the employee within their team and office culture. Locating this individual away from the main corridor next to a demountable partition, and increasing the surrounding acoustic treatments addressed this issue. These are the types of concerns and inclusions that were explored throughout the project.

When speaking about ‘our people’, McCrum’s focus was not on one specific grouping. They considered their showroom to be a destination for all – employees, clients, designers, and community members.

Upon occupancy, McCrum’s was eager to welcome the community into their space to host various events at no cost. With the flexibility of the space built in, multi-functional areas provide a functional venue to host these events including award nights, educational workshops, and student functions.

Supporting the local community and Canadian companies through specifications, fabrication and décor strengthened the community connection. A Calgary based artist was selected for the art in the client welcome area and integration of heirloom pieces were displayed throughout the rest of the space.

As a provider of office furnishings for over 50 years in Alberta, the new space reflects who McCrum’s is today and has been well received by all occupants. What was once a disconnected, sprawling showroom, with designated support spaces spanning 50,000 square feet, became a place of connection and collaboration, creating a closeness among all users.

Project Details:

Project Location: Calgary, AB
Project Completion Date: October 2018
Project Square Footage: 17,500 square feet