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What’s key to great FFE?

Design expert Vee Kessner on the importance of furniture, fittings and electrical

FFE is not architecture and often this oversight results in specifications that are costly or not fit for purpose.

The specialist design and selection of the furnishings can lift a hotel from ordinary to extraordinary – it is the touch point of your guests and your point of difference.

The furnishings and fittings that guests interact with, be it budget or luxury should closely align with the hotel offering to provide a cohesive experience for guests.

FFE key drivers:

  1. Durability and fit for purpose

Off the shelf residential furniture is generally not manufactured to take the wear and tear that hotel furnishing is subjected to. There are also no warranties available for this resulting in early replacement costs.

Gradn-papua-Restaurant-247x300 What's key to great FFE?
The Grand Papua Hotel, Port Moresby. Image supplied

To that end, given the limited nature of available off the shelf product in New Zealand, this leaves owners with one of two options – purchase from offshore suppliers who hold stock of ranges or have the furniture selected/specified and manufactured to order. Numerous offshore suppliers have ranges available that can be selected from.

Using a designer and procurement agent with extensive supply chain knowledge, to assist with this process such as sizes, suitable aesthetic, quantities and knowledge of the vagaries associated with shipping into New Zealand, is recommended.

Be aware as well that some soft furnishings will require NZ fire rating certificates of fabrics to meet with local fire requirements and the rating of the individual property.

Where furnishing and fittings are custom designed, it is highly recommended that prototypes are reviewed prior to the full order of quantity to check for quality and detail. And that warranties are specified.

Key point: invest in appropriate FFE at the outset thereby reducing future replacement costs

  1. Aesthetically appropriate

New developments have the advantage of a fresh view with a clear design direction that can be implemented. To this end clarity of the offering and overall design intent of the property should drive the design and selection of furnishing.

In the course of our work we often see properties where over time items have been added as replacements have been needed.

The result is a haphazard presentation of spaces added to which maintenance and housekeeping must deal with a variety of different setups.

For refurbished properties it is essential to have a clear vision as to the design aesthetic for the total property which may need to be delivered on over a few years.

When selecting items off the shelf the overall property aesthetic should be considered.

Key point: have clarity of the vision for the property as a whole to drive decisions and maintain a cohesive presentation.

  1. Budget

Utilising a specialised procurement agent will help significantly at the outset to schedule and establish a budget based on your property’s requirements at current values. It also allows for the assessment of cost against returns on the property. The submission of well developed budgets by reputable procurement companies, based on current market values, will assist in obtaining funding for the FFE.

SpaceStudio©MichelleWeir-CORDISAUCKLAND-300dpi-019-300x200 What's key to great FFE?
The Cordis, Auckland. Image supplied

Initial budgeting based on current market values for a significant slice of the development budget will assist in the correct development of funding models and reduce frustration at the end when FFE is required to be ordered.

Furthermore, where the design and procurement consultants are closely aligned, elements can be redesigned and revisited to meet set budgets without impacting on the overall outcome of the project.

Clear communication and collaboration between designer and procurement agent is essential for the best outcome and delivery to budget.

Through tender and selection of suppliers, the budget can be reported against to ensure the FFE is delivered within agreed budgets.

Key point: use a reputable procurement company to plan and reduce risk.

  1. Replacement

The consideration of spares versus one off replacement will be determined by where the FFE is purchased from and the likelihood of that item having to be replaced through damage or shrinkage.

Warranties should also be considered as part of the tender process.

Key point: replacement should be one of the criteria in the tender evaluations when supplier recommendations are made.

  1. Installation

In developing new properties, allow for approximately 9-12 months for your FFE planning. This allows for the tender process to be thorough and keeps your options open as to who to utilise for the various packages.

In managing the placement for new properties, the procurement agent should be engaged with the construction team to understand handover timing and process to avoid delays or damage. Coordination of hard fitted items will also form part of these discussions.

Installation to an operational property is always a little more challenging but good planning and close coordination with management to reduce the impact on guests can be provided everyone works closely together.

Good planning will also reduce storage costs.

Key point: plan, plan, plan


Vee Kessner

Vee Kessner is the director of NZ specialist interior design company Space Studio

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