Client-focused brand drives design of growing firm’s new office

Nov. 4, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Interstate Office Products.

After 16 years in a downtown building – and with a staff that had tripled – Cornerstone Financial Solutions needed new office space.

The wealth management firm found a solution in south Sioux Falls at 7408 S. Bitterroot Place. The newly built space offered a lot more room – but needed to reflect Cornerstone’s brand before it could become the firm’s new home.

“What’s driving our growth is that we take ridiculously good care of our clients. Clients are at the center of everything we do,” said Richelle Hofer, a partner and wealth adviser at Cornerstone.

To reflect that in the new space, Cornerstone brought in designer Nicole Higgins, owner of Regal & Rust Interiors, who worked with Interstate Office Products to furnish the building.

“I’m familiar with the Cornerstone brand identity and knew they wanted to evoke warmth, security and dependability,” Higgins said.

“Those qualities fit well into the design I created for them. Their main brand colors – a rich blue-green paired with copper – are used throughout the building, along with finishes and fabrics that look timeless and feel dependable.”

Cornerstone had moved from a historic downtown building and still wanted a classic, timeless feel in the new space.

“They wanted to make sure their building was unique and that clients felt the Cornerstone experience as soon as they approached,” Higgins said. “The classic brick with a vintage touch complements the rich building color, while the distressed copper awnings play off the copper elements inside.”

Walk into the lobby and reception area and “it feels like you’re walking into our living room,” Hofer said. “The building is lined on the east and west walls with private offices because we want confidential space for meeting with clients as well as a room large enough for family meetings.”

Clients will find “most everything they need in the front of the building,” she added. “Our meeting rooms line the front, while the back is our kitchen and private offices.”

To furnish the office space, Higgins reached out to Interstate Office Products. Interior designer Erica Endres, workplace specialist Mark Payne and executive vice president of sales and design Kristi Christensen assisted.

“They were remodeling their showroom at the time and had a large selection of fabrics and floor samples. I was able to look through a variety of options,” Higgins said.

“As an interior designer, I wanted versatile wood finishes and fabrics so I could create a rich, historic feel. I knew we wouldn’t use basic, sterile office furniture. IOP carried a line with the flexibility I wanted, and they were able to help me customize products to get the look I wanted.”

Because Higgins primarily works on residential projects, IOP was able to introduce her to commercial-grade options that met her client’s needs.

“She had the vision, and we knew what she was trying to create on their behalf; she leaned heavily on Mark and Erica for the appropriate products, and from there, she could really build and supplement her design,” Christensen said.

“We help support independent designers because they can come, share their vision, and we can collaborate around how to get the project done on their behalf.”

As a fellow designer, “Nicole was very open to collaborating, and we were able support her. She had strong communication with her client and was able to support us throughout the project, so it was a good mixing of everyone’s talents,” Endres said.

The brand colors helped hone in on furniture options, Payne added.

“It’s very nice, long-term furniture,” he said. “I would not call it overly traditional but more transitional with modern pieces.”

Most of the employee offices received the same desk – a product by Steelcase Elective Elements with bronze legs.

“My thought was to take something a little more modern and pair it with a more traditional chair and balance the modern touches throughout the space with some of the rich, traditional flair of the Cornerstone brand,” Higgins said.

Employees for the most part brought their own chairs from their prior office.

“Interstate has been our go-to for a number of years. The chairs we brought over here were from Interstate,” Hofer said.

For guests, Higgins chose upholstered armchairs, combining distressed faux leather on the back and tweed fabric on the seat. “They turned out amazing,” she said. “I paired the fabrics with a brownish-gray wood stain on the arms and legs for a distinctive look.”

Payne agreed.

“I was really happy with the way the desks turned out and thought the fabrics on the guest chairs looked really nice,” he said. “It will definitely have that non-commercial look throughout their office.”

The firm’s marketing director needed extra storage, so the designers created a “wall of storage,” Payne said.

“That office includes a height-adjustable desk, and it turned out really nice. We used a lot of the same colors but with black accents that gave it a contemporary look with a touch of traditional.”

Higgins and IOP also collaborated on the approach to Cornerstone’s main conference room, which was furnished with flip-top tables easily reconfigured and stored as needed.

“That’s going to give us so much versatility in that room, which is what we were really looking for,” Hofer said. “We can put it together as one large table, they can be used classroom-style if we have education events, or we can open up the room and use it for mingling or cocktail hours.”

The approach allows the firm to maximize the flexibility of the room, IOP agreed.

“They also wanted to take a traditional space and give it a modern twist – where it’s not just this big, heavy wood table,” Endres said.

“They kept the chairs more of a traditional wood look, but using the flip-top tables is a perfect example of how a corporate office also can use some of those more modern pieces instead of giant, bulky ones.”

In the staff kitchen area, Cornerstone chose pieces from the West Elm Work line offered by IOP, which puts commercial quality behind a popular residential brand.

“I was really excited about those,” Higgins said. “I used two square tables with gold legs paired with wood chairs with black upholstery. Those came out really cool. Throughout the process, Interstate introduced me to multiple lines I really liked for their versatility, and once I discovered they could do West Elm, that worked really well too.”

Cornerstone built in some space for growth with the new office and is using one bonus room as a personal development room.

“We’re going to have a shared library and yoga mat for taking a break, so we added a bookcase, small table and armchairs,” Higgins said.

While the process of design and installation occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, IOP remained on schedule.

“We’re finding that often we’re on time when others seem to be struggling with that,” Payne said. “Steelcase has been very strong in delivering when they say they’re going to deliver.”

Cornerstone’s furniture also arrived on time.

“I was very happy with how quickly the Interstate Office furniture came in, and we were able to schedule delivery right away,” Higgins said. “They did an awesome job staying on top of the pandemic and not allowing that to affect installation.”

The installation “went great, really well. They made sure our order was accurate and that we knew they would fix anything that wasn’t right,” Hofer said.

“The pieces really make a statement and are beautiful. We deliberately carried the brand throughout the entire building, and I love every nook and cranny!”

To learn more about how Interstate Office Products can meet your office needs in the Sioux Falls area and beyond, visit or call 605-339-0300.

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Client-focused brand drives design of growing firm’s new office

This fast-growing firm moved from a historic downtown building and still wanted a classic, timeless feel in the new space. Here’s how they achieved it.

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