Nov 8, 201309:44 AMPoint of View

Q&A: John Michael

Q&A: John Michael

Winner Vertical Flux: The Office Tower as Fluctuating Atmospheres by Joseph Filippelli

Courtes Joseph Filippelli

(page 1 of 3)

Earlier this year, six knowledgeable and opinionated people gathered in our small conference room at Metropolis to judge the Workplace of the Future Design Competition we co-sponsored with Business Interiors by Staples. I moderated the lively discussion that stretched through the day and ended with a celebratory toast of prosecco to all 218 entrants, and the three projects that rose to the top (see our November 2013 issue).

The experts on our panel of judges included an industrial designer (Jonas Damon, creative director for frog), a workplace strategy and design specialist (Nona Gross of Siemens Corporation), an interior architect (Tom Krizmanic, principal at STUDIOS Architecture, NY), corporate real estate expert (Paul Darrah of Bridgewater Associates), and a magazine editor (Paul Makovsky, our editorial director at Metropolis). But the judge who was the most reserved among this rambunctious group, and who had the most interest in the competition’s outcome was John Michael, a 25 year veteran in contract furniture, and vice president, general manager of Furniture at Business Interiors by Staples. So I decided to get him to break his silence, talk about his impressions of the competition, and what it revealed about the future of work as this future relates to the world-wide sales organization that is Business Interiors by Staples.

Runner-Up CoLAB by Teun van den Dries, Frank van Haalen, Britt Brijder, Sander Mulders, Pauline Quast of Eckhart

Courtesy Eckhart

Susan S. Szenasy: You, John, more than the other judges, had a real business agenda when you decided to sponsor the Workplace of the Future Design Competition. What were your initial hopes for the competition and what did you come away with after that intense day of judging earlier this year?

John Michael: From the start, our entire organization was really excited about the competition sponsorship. We have great respect for the longevity of Metropolis and the role that the publication has played in the support of Architecture, Culture, and Design over the years. In terms of a business agenda, Business Interiors by Staples has a unique and compelling story to tell. And our business has evolved and matured significantly over the past several years. We need to do a better job of sharing our message, and we viewed the competition sponsorship with Metropolis as a way to demonstrate our appreciation for the work that architects and interior designers do each and every day.

The day of judging was, as you said, quite intense…but it was also an absolute blast! The combination of the quality of the submittals and an outstanding panel of judges made the day enjoyable and inspiring. My big take away was that you can really begin to see a number of key design themes converging like never before…and the result is truly innovative thinking and great design.

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