The Future Office – VI

“MasterFormat and Office Space”
The Future Office is one set in a very competitive space.  As business sectors grow, so do ‘me-too’ organisations and the harder it is to identify a genuine business from a shark.  Organisations have experienced the set-backs that being persuaded by the wrong businesses can create and for years have been searching for ‘competitive’ quotes in order to sift through the options.  However, ultimately this can lead into either greater transparency or isolate a purchase in one specific party’s favour – which eliminates the reason for the process to begin with.

Dealerships are primarily ‘service-driven’ organisations; we act as the third-party for manufacturers and end-users. The nature of our business puts us in a unique position, demands that we understand the standards and language used by the end-user –their project and interior teams –as well as being able to interpret the resources provided by our several different manufacturers in a way where we provide clear, correct, complete and concise information consistently and on call.


MasterFormat ( is the standard universal language for construction specification and therefore influences the majority of bids we partake in. It has been the recognized construction industry standard for more than 40 years, therefore is a very solid and reputable resource for office furniture dealers to understand in order to properly bridge the communication gap between available resources and end-user requirements.


However necessary as MasterFormat is to ensuring the end-user ultimately receives their requirements, without due care –because of the complex and sometimes political environment dealt with in office furniture bids –it can also facilitate the elimination of competition, which in turn distorts total cost of ownership projections.

If a bid is written up with the proprietary method of prescriptive specification –unless the specification writer has a broad understanding of the office furniture industry –it can discourage competition and in turn allow higher margins and a lower value to the end user. There are other suitable types and methods of specification (e.g. non-restrictive, reference standard) that allow competition for the best value package whist still maintaining the end-users performance standards.


As professionals in the industry, it is not only our job, but our responsibility to ensure that we continue to advocate the highest value and total cost of ownership to our end users at all costs. This means understanding standards and how to utilize them to the end-users advantage to present them with the best total cost of ownership package, as well value-added or value-engineered alternatives dependant on the project.

“Workplace design is undergoing a revolution, but there is also a sense that some people have been carried away…” Roger Whitehouse – Design as a Business Tool. We must still realize that design is a powerful business tool that we can use to create acceptable alternatives in specification. Only when we understand what the standards that the end-user utilizes to relay their needs, can we then use design as a tool to specify acceptable and performance-driven alternatives; fuelling competition and a higher value to the end-user.


Until next time – go change the world. P.H.


Sources cited:

1.       Design Does Matter Vol. 2 – Published by Teknion
2.       Books Referenced
• Professional Practice for Interior Designers 3rd Edition – Christine M. Piotrowski, ASID IIDA
• Building Construction Illustration 3rd Edition – Francis D.K. Ching and Cassandra Adams
• Architectural Graphic Standards, Student Edition – Bruce Bassler, Student Edition Editor; John Rayhoke Jr, FAIA, Editor in Chief
• Interior Graphic Standards Student Edition – MaryRose McGowan; Kelsey Kruse
3.       Websites Referenced
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For more information Contact: TOTAL OFFICEPlanning Services – Professional Delivery & Installation 420 Banks Road Kelowna, B.C. V1X 6A3 Tel:250.717.1626 / Cell:250.869.5304 Toll Free:1.800.558.DESK (3375) E: info@TotalOfficeBC.caW: