Employees: 40-60 Manufacturing, 10-12 Design
Industry: Built Environment
Products: Ergonomic Office Furniture
Made in Los Angeles, Clara Reis and David Winston’s contemporary office furniture empower employees and help brands compete.
Operating an architectural design firm in New York, Winston was designing buildings and museums when the economy suddenly crashed, instigating a change in his career. He realized designing buildings didn’t make much sense anymore. "After 2008 I started focusing on furniture design and interior work for clients. A big part of that was furniture and fixtures for retail stores. The new furniture design practice started off small, but grew steadily as it expanded and I moved West," says Winston. As the practice grew, he teamed up with workspace ergonomic specialist Clara Reis in 2010, and Scale 1:1 was born.
"Clara is a workplace specialist, so we began designing workplace furniture that stimulates creativity and encourages collaboration. In time the products evolved into a small line of office furniture and other home décor products," says Winston.
The company started with small projects with orders for thirty to forty desks. It rapidly began to expand and gain popularity, primarily for their line of office furniture. "Now we are branching into other areas, like institutional furniture, and schools. One of the main things we do, that isn’t apparent on the surface, is provide built-in power and data. This is how people power their computers, charge their cell phones, and ultimately how they connect to the rest of the world," says Winston.
Scale 1:1’s products are true workstations. They run power through a space in the center and can also be adjusted into a sit or stand position for greater comfort. "We put a lot of thought into how people work, and the design of modern offices," says Reis. "We look at how the company’s workflow operates and how we are contributing to their workplace culture." Scale 1:1 uses this methodology in its own work environment. "We engage our employees and come up with new ideas," says Winston. "People’s work styles are different now. So it’s exciting for our team to develop products from the concept stage, all the way through to manufacturing."
According to Reis and Winston, branding and being connected plays a significant role when it comes to designing furniture that not only looks aesthetically pleasing but also becomes a workspace that inspires creativity and efficiency. The customization Scale 1:1 offers, alongside the quality of the furniture, has tremendously boosted its reputation and attracted blue chip clients such as Google. Now that more companies are focusing on brand identity and providing comfortable and productive workspaces for their employees, Scale 1:1’s furniture is ahead of the trend.
With competition from overseas, Reis would argue that being a Los Angeles based manufacturer offers them the advantage of listening to the wants and needs of clients, and quickly design a piece of furniture based on those particular requirements. "Our team of designers and manufacturers are very connected with one another. We have the ability to understand and touch our products closely from the production stage, because when you go offshore, you can’t really control quality," says Reis. "Manufacturing in the United States is ultimately more cost effective, it protects your copyright, and across the board, your customer is happier knowing that you are manufacturing here at home."
Needs: "I think any small business needs working capital. We’re constantly trying to do things, be innovative, and do more," says Reis. According to Winston and Reis, the California Manufacturing Technology Consulting group provided them with a good logistics consultant and additional resources to help the company get working capital and provide advice about manufacturing.
Challenges: "While most of the industry manufactures overseas, we choose to manufacture here in the United States," says Winston. "This means our production volume is much lower. There simply isn't a wealth of trained people in the job pool. We’re up to the challenge, though. We are committed to manufacturing in the U.S. and are willing to invest in training the right people."
Opportunities: Meeting with clients and emphasizing the customization Scale 1:1 can provide, are areas where Winston and Reis see potential growth. "We don’t think only from our catalog and designs," says Reis. "We also work closely with architects, interior designers and furniture dealers. This helps to evolve our product line, and create new solutions and customized details. Most of our lines have expanded and improved through this constant feedback loop."