Monthly Column By Women in Office Design
This month’s Women in Office Design column features Joanna Knight, Partner at The Knight Partnership and Sustainability and Circular Economy Manager at Women in Office Design (WOD). She will be hosting the Sustainability seminar for the forthcoming BCFA/WOD ‘Clerkenwell Open’ event.
The Journey in the Workplace Sector
Joanna started her career in the workplace and interiors sector in the late 1980s working for OEP Office Furniture within a London based PR and advertising company. She subsequently launched her own agency with several furniture clients. During that time, she was also editor for a number of titles including Office Horizons and Public Service Workplace.
Joanna became one of the founder directors of Amaryllis – a company specialising in the supply and management of furniture, fittings and equipment including product specification, reuse and renovation as well as support services including porterage, removals and onsite repairs.
The Company was arguably ahead of its time and a leader in renovation, remanufacturing and recycling of office furniture and equipment. The Company worked with major Government departments and private sector customers – even establishing workshops in prisons! It won various awards back in the 2000s including one with British Airways – the first environmental award for the airline!
During a career break, Joanna also established an art gallery in Bury St Edmunds and online!
Joanna’s Current Role
Just prior to the pandemic, Joanna decided to relaunch a consultancy business focussed on furniture and interiors. She retained her interest and passion for sustainability within the workplace sector and is now a published writer too. Earlier this year, she became Sustainability and Circular Economy Manager at WOD as well as being appointed a council member at FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association).
Hope and aspirations for sustainability in the workplace sector
“When I recommenced my career, I realised that the focus on sustainability had stagnated during the last five years,” explains Joanna. “I was attending various webinars about ‘the future of the office’ and was shocked that all the anticipated changes would potentially lead to massive amounts of waste.”
“There are great intentions in terms of charity donations for reuse but there needs to be a more commercial, wide-scale approach. We cannot simply switch to ‘greener’ raw materials. We must work towards a more circular economy – recognising the value in existing products and the reuse potential. The industry operates to a highly linear model. It is a big ‘ask’ but change MUST happen.”
“I am also excited to see developments in terms of new financial models. Amaryllis won a ‘furniture as a service’ contract with LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) but the concept really hasn’t evolved. It is interesting that the domestic furniture market seems to be taking a lead with Sofology, for example, offering sofas and armchairs as rentals.”
Joanna is Sustainability and Circular Economy Manager at Women in Office Design