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See Inside Sam Clar Office Furniture’s New Warm, Inviting Showroom in the San Francisco Bay Area

May 18, 2020

After suffering a warehouse fire in 2015, Ware Malcomb helmed the modern redesign of Sam Clar’s newly rebuilt headquarters.

After suffering a warehouse fire on Thanksgiving Day in 2015, the offices of Sam Clar Office Furniture needed an obvious overhaul. The commercial office furniture dealer, headquartered in Concord, CA, turned to international design firm Ware Malcomb to helm its redesign.

“The inspiration was to create a contemporary and professional-looking facility that provided a modern, calming, and soft environment for Sam Clar employees and clients,” says Gary Drew, regional vice president of Ware Malcomb’s Pleasanton, CA, office. “The former space was extremely dated and no longer matched the direction of the company. Sam Clar ownership wanted to design and create the new space to accurately reflect their position in the market.”

Photo: Albert Law

The 2015 fire forced Sam Clar employees to operate out of a different facility for the past few years—now, they’ve returned to a space that has been completely rebuilt.

The new, nearly 19,000-square-foot facility comprises a showroom for clients and an open work space with multiple collaboration areas for employees. The showroom layout is meant to recreate functional areas found throughout the office, from an open plan to meeting and huddle rooms. Drew says the space was designed without physical divisions between the showroom and employee office areas.

“The only distinction between the two is that the showroom area is on polished concrete, and the employee office area is on carpet,” he explains.

The goal of the new showroom is to provide a full-service contract furniture showroom for clients and designers in the East Bay area of San Francisco. Previously, “anyone who wanted to see the latest contract furniture products had to travel 40 minutes west to San Francisco,” Drew says.

He adds, “The space is a resource to inspire, educate and provide the ability to see the latest products in a real-life setting. Sam Clar has been fortunate to host meetings and events for industry partners, and hopes that clients, partners and guests come away with a full understanding of the many options available to them to complete their projects.”

Photo: Albert Law

The new office and showroom hosted a soft opening at the end of 2018 and officially debuted in mid-2019. “The universal feedback from visitors entering for the first time,” Drew says, “has been an enthusiastic ‘wow!’”

“As a furniture showroom, the facility has been designed to easily rotate and update to display a wide mix of current contract furniture products,” says Gary Drew, regional vice president of Ware Malcomb’s Pleasanton, CA, office.

In the main entryway, employees and guests are greeted by a 6-by-12-foot living wall, meant to improve air quality, add color and bring the outdoors into the space. The ceiling was left open and unpainted to balance the natural wood against the updated, sleek metal ductwork and wiring.

Meeting Maggie acoustical booths from Framery are strategically positioned in the space for impromptu meetings. The main distinction between the showroom and office, the polished and buffed concrete, is the building’s original concrete flooring that survived the 2015 fire. A major feature of the new space is the reclaimed wood slats on both primary walls, sourced from a supplier in Montana. “The owners wanted to use materials that reflected their environmental and design sensibilities,” Drew says.

Credit: Albert Law

Another highlighted product in the new facility is KI Lightline glass storefronts, used for all hard wall meeting rooms and offices to help maximize natural light. The facility’s design features a mixture of permanent hard wall construction and demountable walls for future flexibility.

Read next: How Will Offices Change Post-COVID?​

About the Author

Sarah Kloepple | Associate Editor

Sarah joined the BUILDINGS team as an associate editor in August 2018. She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, where her focus was magazine writing. She's written and edited for numerous publications in her hometown of St. Louis.

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