Commercial furnishings go high tech

Rarely do you hear comments about furniture in a doctor’s office or about the lighting in a law office. Commercial and contract furnishings do not concern the consumer unless something about them causes discomfort; where it all comes from is of little consequence. After 2000, noticeable changes were afoot in the commercial and contract furniture industry.

With advances in technology, after the millennium, furniture had to accommodate the changes; multi-purpose office kiosks were no longer a luxury and no one liked the messy appearance created by multiple wires and receptacles, usually in a dusty bundle under every desk. Grommets kept the wires tucked away under furniture; however, the need for more power sources for numerous electronic devices meant designers had to be more creative in streamlining the office environment.

20171107 Walden Design WM 011
Terry Berding stands outside of turnerboone on Cherry Street. Woody Marshall

A fresh face in the heart of downtown Macon

In 2004, Atlantans Ellen Turner and Laura Boone became partners in turnerboone, a design company that addresses business and commercial interiors from space planning to accessorizing the last detail necessary for maximum proficiency. In February, 2015, B.J. Dunwody and Shelley Donaldson opened a turnerboone showroom in the heart of downtown Macon, on Cherry Street.

Dunwody and Donaldson had previously worked together in the office furniture business and knew their individual strengths meshed well, a necessity in a joint venture. Both are senior account executives and managing partners; however, Dunwody is in the office and showroom more often, “because I handle the sales and specifications and Shelley is responsible for the space planning,” she said.

The showroom, at 484 Cherry Street, is furnished in samples of the more contemporary lines turnerboone represents. There are partitions separating work spaces, accessorized with the latest in lighting, power sources and tools for maximum efficiency in organization. The lighting serves double duty, with receptacles for charging electronics and with sensors that turn off the lights, when not in use, for conserving energy.

20171107 Walden Design WM 003
The turnerboone showroom on Cherry Street in Macon. Woody Marshall

The ergonomic seating decreases work space tension for employees that spend hours at the drawing boards or on computers. Samples of storage cabinets feature multiple finishes and surfaces, from laminates to veneers, for coordination to the schematic on each project.

Expanding the client base

To date, Dunwody says the business has attracted primarily clients in the health-care industry, government and in institutions of higher education. Recently, she has seen an increase in clients engaging turnerboone for services and for furnishings in the hospitality field.

Although the focus of the firm is on commercial interiors, turnerboone can access residential furnishings which might be requested, for instance, for contract, loft apartment furnishing or other areas where a residential ambiance is better suited. The construction of commercial furnishings is held to higher standards for durability. For this reason, Dunwody said the warranties on the commercial products are very appealing to their clients.

Protecting personal space

Sound abatement in the work place and in public areas of any commercial establishment can be a necessity, particularly in buildings which are not insulated during the construction process for noise attenuation. Dunwody pointed out the acoustical material that can be added to office partitions for tamping down sound, but the innovations in furniture, for the same purpose, are making chairs, upholstered and designed for sound abatement and for conversational privacy, a must, especially in the health-care field and in public areas of colleges and of universities.

“A student can sit in one of these wrap around chairs for hours, talking on the phone or using another personal device without disturbing anyone in the vicinity,” states Dunwody. Another example of the use of this furniture is in areas of hospitals or medical offices, where patients require privacy for personal conversations with family or clinicians.

On the wall of the showroom is an abstract collage of textile art which can be configured in several ways. The components are fabricated from an acoustical felt and are interlocking, so the piece of art can spread across a long wall as the focal point or be used as a decorative accessory in smaller form. It is a cleverly combined use of art and science for sound absorption and is very eye catching.

20171107 Walden Design WM 018
An abstract collage of textile art that cleverly combines the use of art and science for sound absorption. Woody Marshall

Hanging in the showroom is a painting by Joe Adams, local painter and real estate agent, whose work is in the homes and offices of his clients throughout the Southeast and beyond. Dunwody liked the contemporary feel of the canvas, with the predominance of bright teal, a color that is part of turnerboone’s branding. However, she emphasized that the firm recommends and uses the work of many local and regional artists as much as possible.

For years, commercial furniture dealers were on side streets, in the industrial section of town or in locations that did not attract a lot of attention. turnerboone is highly visible, on the main street, and is well lighted at night for window shoppers. The decision to locate the business in an area of high pedestrian traffic was purposeful.

Colorful unique furnishings

People are curious about the colorful array of furniture displayed in the windows and may never have seen a break room table like the one that sits in the middle of the showroom. It is an adaptation of a picnic table, in rough sawn wood, with attached swing seats on each side that can keep the seating out of the way of traffic in a break room. As light weight as the bar stools are, the construction is sturdy and the seating is impervious to damage — the finishes and materials on this office furniture do not have to be dull to be efficient.

Although most of the samples in the showroom are from contemporary collections, Dunwody said the firm has designed and furnished the interiors for numerous offices for clients that prefer conservative finishes and materials and a more classically traditional ambiance. The sources provided to Dunwody and Donaldson by turnerboone are numerous and versatile — the selections and combinations of styles are endless.

Turnerboone continually provides the resources and the training needed for the local office’s owners and for their clients. At this time, Dunwody uses a combination of local installation crews and of those provided from the Atlanta office, to guarantee an efficient turn-key project for each client. The goal is to eventually have a well-trained local team for that purpose.

Turnerboone is a vibrant addition to the downtown street scape, a reflection of the interests of Dunwody, her partner and her family, that have been involved in the development and rebirth of Macon’s inner city for generations. The tradition continues.