Bracknell-based office interior design and construction specialist Curve Workplaces is a hands-on business. Managing director Michael Potter explains why clients find the firm’s professional and consultative approach refreshing and inspiring.
“It may sound like a cliché, but people buy people. What differentiates Curve is our team,” said Potter. “Through our breadth of experience, we understand what it takes to deliver for our clients. Clients like the clarity, transparency and simplicity we provide in our relationship with them.”
Depth of experience
Curve Workplaces was formed as an office furniture dealership in 2005 and re-positioned as a design-and-build business in September 2016 in Bracknell when Michael Potter and Andy Wilkinson joined Mark Bessant, the founder of Curve. The three co-owners bring a depth of experience in overlapping industries that plays well in the competitive office design market.
Potter spent two decades advising clients on commercial property, relocation and fit-outs across Europe and Middle East. Wilkinson has spent the past 30 years in the design and build industry, advising clients in the Thames Valley. He has long-standing commercial agency relationships, which has helped develop the Curve brand. Bessant is an expert in furniture design and procurement. He has worked for clients in the UK and the Middle East, and brings 30 years’ experience of the furniture industry.
“I combine my consultative skills with Andy’s route-to-market expertise and Mark’s understanding of furniture. It makes a good fit,” said Potter. “We knew from our experience that there was a market for what we offer and we know what doesn’t work for clients. Our skill is in helping clients get the best of what they do want within their budgets.”
Curve rapidly built its team to 11, who include contracts managers, accounts, project co-ordinators and consultants. Turnover has risen from £2.3 million in 2016/17 to £7-8m forecast for the year to September 30, 2018.
The company’s customer-centric philosophy underpins everything it does. “We want to create a business that we are all proud off. Without happy employees we won’t have happy clients and won’t have a business,” said Potter.
Projects range from small fit-outs to offices in excess of 15,000 sq ft. “Typically, we deal with companies that might not have a dedicated real estate team and are looking for guidance and help through the process when they refurbish or move office,” said Potter.
Each project starts with a briefing, then consultation and a workplace appraisal. It’s all about fully understanding each customer’s requirements. “If you don’t get the briefing right then inevitably your design won’t work,” he said. “The key is listening to what clients want and advising them accordingly. You have to be flexible,” noted Potter.
He added: “Clients have to feel comfortable with us and we can show them we understand their pain during what can be a stressful period for their business.”
Curve has a thorough understanding of industry and local best practice to advise clients on the latest trends and legal requirements for offices. The firm works closely with building surveyors, commercial property agents and project managers. “They are our main route to market,” said Potter.
Curve project managers co-ordinate all elements to bring the work together, liaising with third parties to ensure high-quality outcomes for clients. The firm works with best-in-class designers rather than having an in-house team. “This means we can offer a designer who is most suitable for the requirements of each project. Our designers are key to what we do,” said Potter.
He emphasised: “Every project is different; every client deserves to be treated uniquely and that’s what we deliver.”
Office space: new frontiers
Offices have changed dramatically over the past 20 years and client demands today are more focused on people. “Office design is less about walls and doors and more about different ways of working and maximising the potential of both staff and the real estate. Businesses are rightly concerned about staff wellbeing, performance and retention. Furthermore, offices are seen as a manifestation of a brand,” observed Potter.
New technology, including CGI, helps Curve bring its office designs to life. “We use virtual reality in our presentations. Clients wear goggles and ‘walk round’ the office space we are proposing. It makes a big impact on clients to see what’s possible,” said Potter.
When national charity Make-A-Wish moved its head office to Thames Tower in Reading town centre, Curve was challenged to come up with the design. The look and feel had to fit the charity’s role of granting magical wishes to children with life-threatening conditions.
The eye-catching design of the 5,000 sq ft office space includes a special area with a racetrack woven into the carpet and a star-shaped entrance. Children (and grown-ups) visiting the office enjoy the fun and relaxing environment. The Curve team was on site for around five weeks and the office represented a big change from the corporate feel of the charity’s previous office.
“Many thanks to all at Curve. It was a pleasure working with you all. A first class company providing a first class service with great value.”
Mark Curtin, director of strategy and business transformation, Make-A-Wish
Bovis Southern Region moved from serviced offices to a 10,000 sq ft office in Chineham Business Park, near Basingstoke. Curve already had detailed knowledge of the building and designed an office that transformed the working environment for Bovis.
Curve undertook a five week fit-out and installation project for the housebuilder. The central informal meeting area, initially considered a potential ‘risk’ by the client, has been a significant success with Bovis’ employees and clients.
“My thanks to Curve. Your capacity to accommodate a client with evolving requirements was exemplary. We are delighted with the end result.”
James Dunne, managing director southern counties, Bovis Home
Lambert Smith Hampton
LSH relocated its office in Maidenhead after 25 years at its previous location in the town. As well as a change in office, the firm wanted to promote a change in the working culture by using the new 2,500 sq ft space as a collective hub connecting activity in the Thames Valley and London.
Curve’s design featured an imaginative meet-and-greet area, boardroom, co-working table and informal meeting space. A serviced area in the reception is complemented with a more conventional office space for permanent and hot-desking staff. The fit-out was completed in four weeks.
“Curve answered every question asked of them, faced with a particularly tight time-scale. Their designer understood our design criteria right from the beginning, we are delighted with the product.”
Nick Coote, regional director Thames Valley, Lambert Smith Hampton