2006/03: Ask Me
Q&A 14 years ago No Comments

We are finding accessorizing more and more important as we enter past jobs and find our design work hiding behind a bad choice of planter, clock or task light etc. Does anyone know of a good accessories resource for commercial interiors that offers a catalog”


(submitted by Amanda C.)

Great question Amanda! All too often, it seems, the accessorizing portion of a job is deemed “not important” by the commercial client or the budget runs out before we get to finish out a space with accessories ” or as our talented friend Sha Pierot calls them, “the jewelry of the room.” And she”s absolutely right ” those finishing touches can make or break a space, just as the wrong necklace can doom an otherwise gorgeous outfit.

In the absence of the designer”s practiced eye and overall vision, well-meaning office employees who either volunteer for or have the accessories shopping duties thrust upon them may just doom your once-fabulous design.

Here”s my advice: arm your clients with catalogs or websites that provide consistent, affordable high style and tell them to stay away from that generic, drab office supply catalog!!! Listed below are some companies that you can”t go wrong with. Look into them ” all of these companies offer printed catalogs in addition to their website. Meanwhile, if any of our readers have some tried-and-true suggestions, send “em to us. We”ll pass them along!

Topdeq Office Furniture & Accessories supplies clean-lined, mid-priced office furniture and accessories to industrial, commercial and self-employed customers. This beats any “office-supply catalog” hands down!

Once you have the planters, what do you put in them” Real plants and trees are always desirable, but some companies don”t have the maintenance budgets for interior landscaping, or they don”t have the right growing conditions due to lack of natural light and poor indoor air quality. Technology has come a long way, and now artificial alternatives are available. Commercial Silk International offers a wide array of options, and some are even fire retardant to meet code requirements.

Design Within Reach has high-style options for the modern office. They also offer authorized reproductions and reissues of many mid-century pieces. Unlike most design showrooms and sources that only sell to the trade, the public can buy directly from DWR, so it makes it a fantastic alternative for your clients. Familiarize yourself with the Workspace section of the website before you send your clients there.

IKEA stores are popping up in several states and they”re a great place to shop for high-style, low-cost accessories. I just took a tour of a wonderfully renovated hotel, and the lead interior designer admitted that he used many frames and accessories from IKEA due to the project”s limited budget. Both the public spaces and guest rooms were incredibly well finished out, and I wouldn”t have been the wiser had he not told me.

Storehouse focuses more on the home office, but offers good-quality, transitional style accessories ” not too modern, but not too traditional either. Price points are usually reasonable, and they even stock some very believable artificial flowers that would be perfect for reception areas and boardrooms.

If your client has a sense of humor and prefers something a little different, have them check out Chiasso. They”ve got very fun office accessories, clocks, mirrors, vases, planters, etc. Not for the stodgy and boring client, however.

West Elm offers simply designed, yet funky, accessories that tend to have an Asian influence. They stock basic items from vases to frames to accents. Wood finishes are limited, but the color palettes change seasonally.

As with Storehouse, Ballard Designs is more of a home furnishings company, but you can find some acceptable accessories here that would be perfect if your client is a little more traditional. Note: They have a designer specification program, so if you wanted to order and resell to your client, you could.

If your client actually allows you to choose accessories, you can use any of the ideas mentioned above, or you could access some to the trade only sources. One I like is Peter Pepper Products, Inc. They offer everything from display shelves and magazine racks to coat hooks, clocks and screens.

Finally, Smith McDonald Desk & Office Accessories is a good source for many of those items your clients never think about until they start working day-to-day in their newly designed space: desk and conference room accessories (multiple types of metal, a limited array of leather); wastebaskets (multiple styles and sizes in metal, leather and plastic); planters (metal, fiberglass, and painted, big and small, round and square). They also offer custom-design accessories for large quantity orders.

My last and most important tip: When working on costs and design development during the early phases of a project, mention these important items to your client so that they can be factored into the furniture budget. Explain how these finishing touches not only make employees feel a sense of pride about their work environment, but in turn boosts morale and well-being, which then results in improved productivity and less turnover. And what company doesn”t want that”