By Sarah Bousquet
ONE Global Design took shape in the mid-1990s as Norm Liedtke, CEO of Philadelphia-based Meyer, and Ron Carlson, CEO of Chicago-based Partners by Design, realized their clients’ growing need for servicing their clients in multiple locations with the same attention and expertise provided locally. The solution blossomed after the two collaborated on several projects and committed to creating a national alliance.
The concept turned collaborative quickly, and gained client and partner interest with its new approach: Independently owned design firms from different cities, even different countries, working collaboratively and seamlessly all in service of, and for the good of, clients and their projects.
Today, ONE Global Design is a network of principal-owned and -led design firms in 18 cities from Vancouver to Mexico City, Atlanta to Los Angeles. The alliance represents more than 750 professionals and $95 million in revenue. In 2014 alone, the firms collaborated on more than 40 projects and continue to gain ground.
Green Operations met with Roy Huebner, the group’s first executive director, to learn more about ONE Global’s mission, vision and industry insights.
Q: HOW DOES A CLIENT’S EXPERIENCE WITH ONE GLOBAL DESIGN DIFFER FROM THAT WITH A SINGLE A&D FIRM RELATIONSHIP?
A: ONE Global Design’s size and singular interior design focus distinguishes the client experience from others. As a network, the group is able to provide a high degree of attention to the needs of clients in a variety of cities, giving design teams direct access to the client. This means the firm has boots on the ground in both an operations and an aesthetic sense.
Q: DESIGN INNATELY HAS A COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT. HOW DOES ONE GLOBAL DESIGN STRATEGICALLY MAKE THIS NETWORK A BUSINESS MODEL?
A: Relationship building between firms is the key to our success. We provide a principal-led level of commitment that centers on respect and trust, so our clients know they will receive the type of service and expertise they expect for their projects.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SOLUTIONS ONE GLOBAL DESIGN WAS LOOKING TO PROVIDE UPON ITS CREATION? AND HOW SUCCESSFUL HAS IT BEEN?
A: ONE Global Design’s inception was incubated when Norm [Liedtke, CEO of Philadelphia-based Meyer] and Ron [Carlson, CEO of Chicago-based Partners by Design] realized the need for solutions that would maintain local clients with a national presence. They were looking to provide seamless project delivery to clients, while staying in close relationships with local clients at a global scale — there is clear value in face-to-face relationships and business partners in each market. After working together on several projects, they decided to establish a national alliance to do just that. The success is evident by the growth and stability of the organization today.
Q: HOW DID YOU RECRUIT YOUR MEMBER FIRMS?
A: We’ve been very strategic in our growth, making sure we have coverage with like-minded firms across all major metropolitan areas.
Q: HOW DO MEMBER FIRMS DECIDE WHEN/IF A PROJECT IS BETTER SUITED FOR ONE GLOBAL DESIGN?
A: Again, it’s about being in business with the right people. Our members always have the best interest of the client from a cost and service perspective in mind, which informs the ultimate decision.
Q: WHAT ARE THREE PROJECTS THAT EXEMPLIFY YOUR “GLOBAL REACH WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH?”
A: Epsilon, Comcast and Lockton.
Q: LOOKING AT THE GREEN BUILDING SEGMENT, HOW HAS ONE GLOBAL DESIGN IMPACTED SUSTAINABLE , BIOPHILIC OR HEALTHY BUILDING KNOWLEDGE OR EXPANSION?
A: While we take sustainability into account, our focus on design really depends on the client direction.
Q: DO ANY OF YOUR MEMBERS PARTNER WITH MANUFACTURERS IN PRODUCT DESIGN (SPECIFICALLY FLOORING)? IF YES, WHAT FLOORING PARTNERSHIPS HAVE YOU BEEN A PART OF, AND WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE?
A: So far we’ve teamed up with Mannington Commercial — just this year — to create two collections. Infused LVT is a mosaic of five sophisticated, graphic patterns inspired by five different cultural centers. It, like ONE Global Design, captures the spirit of the Americas, from Atlanta to Chicago, Mexico City, New York and Philadelphia. The second collection, Intrinsic, offers carpet planks inspired by nature’s details.
It was quite a unique experience from concept to launch, as 25 to 30 principal-level design professionals from different firms, cities and even countries worked seamlessly together on product design. I don’t believe there are many precedents for having senior level involvement from this many independently owned firms who are also geographically diverse. This was really collaboration and diversity at the highest level.
Q: WHAT COMMERCIAL FLOORING TRENDS HAVE YOU OBSERVED SINCE YOUR INCEPTION IN 2011? AND WHAT TRENDS DO YOU SEE HAPPENING AS WE HEAD INTO 2017?
A: We’ve seen an uptick in LVT, carpet tile and manufactured surfaces, which we believe will continue trending in the coming year.
Q: DESCRIBE ONE GLOBAL DESIGN IN THREE ADJECTIVES.
A: Personal, collaborative and effective.
Q: HOW HAVE YOU SEEN ONE GLOBAL DESIGN IMPACT THE A&D INDUSTRY THUS FAR, AND WHERE DO YOU SEE THE NETWORK IN FIVE TO 10 YEARS?
A: We intend to stay focused and maintain high project delivery standards as a criterion for membership. The goal of the alliance is about providing exceptional service and not our ‘size.’ We are also always looking for continued improvement through stability without compromising quality.
Q: WHAT’S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR THE A&D COMMUNITY AS THE INDUSTRY CONTINUES TO CHANGE?
A: Always listen to the client — they know their business. And don’t impose “trends” for the sake of design