Furniture, Fixture, and Equipment services, or FF&E as it’s often referred to, is an important piece of any interior design project. They play an essential role in the look, feel and operation of any building. They fill a space and give it life. Imagine a school without lockers, or a classroom without chairs. The purpose and function of the building no longer work.
FF&E refers to anything that’s not structurally a piece of the architecture. This includes systems furniture, ancillary furniture (including all fabric specifications), and specialty equipment. FF&E should not only meet life safety codes and standards such as flammability, toxicity, and slip resistance but also fit the user’s functional needs, budget, aesthetics, and durability standards. That’s what we provided for the North Clackamas School District as part of a bond project to modernize existing and build new elementary schools and middle schools.
Contracts, Vendors, and Purchasing
One of the trickiest parts of any FF&E project is working with various vendors to find the right product for a client. It’s not unusual for larger organizations, especially public organizations, to have purchasing contracts with vendors. These purchasing agreements provide leverage and discounts that are important to consider.
Bainbridge helped the North Clackamas School District make those decisions, facilitating their FF&E purchasing and installation. On projects like this, we act as middlemen between vendors and our clients, making sure they get furniture, fixtures, and equipment that fit their needs and budget. Occasionally we go outside of existing purchasing agreements if it’s right for our clients, in order to find the right products. For example, when tasked with sourcing the furniture for the choirs and bands at NCSD middles schools we realized the best pricing, delivery timeline, and installation teams were accessible by buying directly from the manufacturer.
Finding Furniture That Will Last
Anybody that has worked with kids knows they can be rough on furniture. This is especially true in schools, where desks and chairs see constant use and abuse and budgets don’t have the luxury of much replacement. This poses an interesting challenge for interior designers, how do you deliver a unique and vibrant space that is guaranteed to last? Longevity and utility are of the utmost importance to NCSD, and we were able to find an FF&E solution that fulfilled their needs.
We got an initial idea of what fixtures, furniture, and equipment the schools needed by pounding the pavement and reaching out to multiple manufacturers. We talked to teachers, administrators, and janitors to hear which items broke most often and which needed to be constantly repaired. Durable items with long warranties and replaceable parts automatically rose to the top of the list and gave us a basis by which to make selections.
FFE Solutions Instead of Sales
One of the most difficult parts of finding FF&E solutions as an organization is not knowing where to begin. At Bainbridge, we take on the role of middleman between our clients and vendors. We don’t sell furniture but instead act as an impartial advocate for each client to find the right vendor that best fits the needs, budget, and project type. By partnering with one of the many great local vendors we can help facilitate specifying and purchasing the best furniture to meet the end users needs.
When juggling so many other aspects of a project, having to also focus on getting the best FF&E solutions at the right price can get complicated. Bainbridge takes the time to research all of the options and present clients with the top choices so that they can be confident in their decisions. It’s just one more way we used smart design to create inspiring and durable spaces that North Clackamas School District can implement for years to come.