Creative Collaboration Leads to Innovation

Pear talks to potential customers about furniture–how it can foster employee engagement, collaboration and innovation–but that wasn’t happening in their own space. So, the we decided that it was time to demonstrate just that. We invited senior management and all the in-house designers to be part of the design team, of which we became facilitator.


“Mark helped us to discover the potential in our space, and in ourselves. We’d been in the space for over ten years, and renovated multiple times, but realized that the space no longer met our needs. Our fourteen designers were located throughout the office, and couldn’t easily collaborate or learn from each other. And, our accounting and HR folks were located in open workstations in the busiest part of the office, which meant confidentiality wasn’t possible.”

John Robbins, the CEO of the Denver commercial furniture dealership Pear Workplace Solutions.


The first task was to give them a fresh perspective about the space and see its potential. We drew two simple diagrams– before and after–which showed space usage and circulation. The “after” diagram was quickly dubbed the “road map” by John, and it guided the design team in their efforts.

The “road map” moves the circulation to the exterior window wall and captures the view to the city. A large design studio and eleven collaboration spaces provide unique opportunities to exchange ideas. The space allows Pear to tell potential customers the story of how they work and collaborate. It also tells the story of how employee engagement and collaboration can lead to innovation. It demonstrates how “walking the talk” can lead to exciting spaces.

The cost effectiveness of the space isn’t dependent on materials or construction; it is the result of shaping space and using circulation as a dynamic design concept. The space, not finish material, impacts the viewer. Walking along the second level glass exterior wall is exhilarating and gives perspective to the city beyond. The remodel was not about putting things into the space, but about creating spaciousness by subtracting—clearing room to breathe.

Says John Robbins, “We learned that through an engaged group process we can create innovative solutions for ourselves and our clients. And by innovative, I mean people walk into our space and see transformation. They can see a different way to work and a better way to work.”

Lobby Design: Transforming a Liability into an Asset

When Vector Properties’ Wendy Williams, General Manager of 1001 17th Street, contacted McPherson Architecture, she said, “The building owner wants to activate the Lobby.”
Nick Pavlakovich, leasing broker for the building, described the request in more emotional terms, “Potential tenants think the lobby is cold, sterile and out-of-date.”  Although beautifully designed, the lobby was from a time when large oil companies dominated the tenant market.  It didn’t connect with the growth tenants of today’s market, the entrepreneurs in technology and services who are inventing the products of the internet age.  Those tenants seek amenity rich buildings where the lobby is an extension of their own office space, and a marketing tool to help attract the workforce of the millennial age.
Franklin Street Properties, the building owner, wanted to make changes but also wanted to be smart about their investment.  Working interactively with Wendy and Nick, the McPherson team took stock of what existed and developed a design that turned negatives into positives.
Color was added to existing architectural features, and lighting was used to brighten the elevator lobbies.  Area rugs were added and expansive circular seating units designed to bring warmth to the expanse of existing granite.  Plants were added and a TV monitor to help activate the space with a view to the outside world.

The end result is an energetic, engaging space that is warm and friendly.  The budget was modest when compared to most “lobby renovations,” and best of all, the tenants have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  “Adding color to a space can be an emotional thing for people, but we worked with Wendy and chose colors that were crowd-pleasers,” said Mark McPherson.
What did Wendy Williams appreciate most about the process?  “We all appreciated the collaborative approach with the McPherson team, and best of all they stuck with it and helped us get the project done.  When the seating unit installation didn’t go as expected, Mark appeared, took charge and got everyone organized,” remarked Wendy.  “I really appreciated that!”
See the full gallery here.