Executive space: Three presidents invite us into their offices

Jan. 22, 2018

This piece is presented by Interstate Office Products.

One wanted something classic.

Another wanted to modernize.

A third went for an urban, custom look.

All three top executives wanted offices that reflected both who they are and how they work, as well as how their organization sees itself.

Here’s a look at how they achieved it with help from expert designers at Interstate Office Products.

The classic

When Brett Bradfield took over as president of the University of Sioux Falls in 2017, he called the admissions office and asked that the president’s office be part of the tour for prospective students.

“I wanted the office to become an accessible place, a friendly place, a place people felt comfortable dropping in,” he said. “I look at it as a privilege and honor to have a nice office, and while I get the privilege of using it, it belongs to the university and exists to serve the greater good, and I want to make it available for that.”

He told IOP workplace specialist Mark Payne he wanted “something very professional, ageless and dignified.”

IOP delivered with a classic but functional space highlighted by wood furniture.

“It’s a traditional look. It’s very simple. However, he has a main stationary desk for guests to visit at, and to his left is a height-adjustable wood piece that has a traditional look to it,” Payne said.

“If you’re going to answer emails for an hour, you raise up the workstation and start. We worked out the space and furniture pieces so they all match nicely.”

Bradfield has found that he loves the height-adjustable station, estimating he uses it 80 percent of the time.

“It actually makes me feel better at the end of the day because so much of my job is sitting in meetings,” he said. “And Interstate helped get a keyboard, so I can have that feature and still have a nice sit-down area if I need it.”

He also has a table and seating for small group meetings and a television on the wall that is used extensively for professional presentations and to keep up with relevant news and weather reporting.

Bradfield and his wife, Jane, contributed to the project, “and the class of 1963 generously donated to get it up to speed,” he said.

Personal touches on the walls include a No. 23 jersey, which was a gift from the athletic department as the 23rd university president, a Terry Redlin print of a church and a copy of the Beatitudes – “a grounding thing to me to remember who we are and where we came from and what our commitment is to humankind.”

Bradfield’s goal “was to make sure it ties in with the university and can stay there for a very long time even after he’s gone,” Payne said.

Both say that goal was achieved.

“I’ve had people flying through here since the upgrades,” Bradfield said. “Unsolicited, they said it’s beautiful, warm and professional feeling, so that’s what I was trying to achieve. I really appreciated the work of Mark and Interstate Office to help me achieve that. They were excellent to work with. They always have been.”

The modern

After Chris Ekstrum was promoted to president of The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, he also inherited Bill Baker’s office.

While completely making it his own is still a work in progress, Ekstrum and the team at IOP were able to make some immediate changes that had a big impact.

“They asked how I wanted to use the space, and the team presented me with a couple different options,” Ekstrum said. “I immediately pointed to one I liked.”

His choice was inspired by finishes IOP provided for the fourth-floor wealth management department. It’s a more sleek, modern look that integrates the bank’s signature red color. Many employees in that department use their desks elevated so they can stand while they work.

Behind the scenes: From ‘old-school bank’ to modern wealth management office

“My office also has a more modern look and the variable-height desk,” Ekstrum said. “I use it probably 40 percent of the time, and for someone like me who likes to move around, I much prefer to stand than sit.”

The desk has a newer finish to give it a more contemporary look, “and you can’t tell when it’s down that it’s height-adjustable,” said Payne, who collaborated with colleague Marcia Young on the project. “It’s really attractive, and even when you raise it up, it’s still attractive.”

A round table was brought in for meetings to replace couches that had been used before. Removing some furniture also allowed for more space for quick staff meetings.

“For me, the space flows much better. I prefer huddles to meetings,” Ekstrum said. “Eventually, I plan to have a monitor on the wall where my team can work through documents together.”

He also loves his chair – “it’s bright red” – consistent with the corporate colors.

“I’m incredibly happy with what Interstate has done,” he said. “Their service team was fantastic, and the installation went without a hitch and was done in hours. It’s just a very good relationship.”

The finished space “is much more updated and just has a nice, current look that I think reflects his style of doing things,” Young said. “That’s important, when you walk into his office, to see that when he took that position he wanted to bring his flair to it.”

The urban

It doesn’t get more urban than New York City. So when Michael Bender chose a large print of the city’s iconic Flatiron Building as the focal point for his office, it set the tone for a one-of-a-kind design.

“I just said I wanted an industrial, kind of retro look, and they started giving me options,” said Bender, the founder of Bender Commercial Real Estate Services.

The IOP team enlarged a print of the Flatiron and put it against an exposed brick wall at the back of the office in the historic downtown Beach Pay Building.

“That’s probably my favorite part,” Bender said.

The desk is a zinc-plated Restoration Hardware piece because “Michael wanted something eclectic and rustic and not corporate,” said Young, who designed the space.

“And he wanted a height-adjustable that doesn’t look height-adjustable, so we have a scissor-lift with a big crank. That was a unique solution, but this is a unique building, and he wanted it to look different.”

A custom credenza uses a traditional wood surface with legs built to match the desk and style of the office.

The crowning touch, though, is a floor lamp that fills one of the corners.

“I couldn’t find anything,” said Van Singrey, an IOP interior designer. “I was looking for something tall to put in the corner and didn’t want a tree. So I decided to go out to a couple of antique shops.”

He emerged with the top of an old windmill, part of an old hair dryer, a discarded milk can and a wire rack used to dry Mason jars.

“I said, ‘That’s exactly what I’m looking for. It’ll work perfect,’ ” he said.

Now that takes some vision.

“So I cut up everything, painted it, sealed it, put a lamp kit and toggle switch into it, and it’s a fun little piece. We used an Edison bulb to give it a vintage look.”

The lamp “really was the final, personal touch,” Bender said. “It really set the whole office off. It’s a conversation piece.”

The final office design accomplished his vision, he added.

“I’m 100 percent satisfied. It sets the tone for who we are and gives the clients a sense of what we value. It values the history of the building and our community, and it’s very nicely done, and I wanted to make sure we did that.”

To learn more about how Interstate Office Products can help you reimagine your office space, contact IOP at 605-339-0300 or i-o-p.com.

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Executive space: Three presidents invite us into their offices

One went classic, another modernized and a third opted for “urban eclectic.” Take a look inside three executive office redesigns.

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