News & Press: Press

BIFMA Names Deirdre Jimenez President/CEO

Monday, September 21, 2020  
Posted by: Brad Miller
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(HotelBusiness Magazine interview with Deirdre Jimenez by Abby Elyssa on September 17, 2020 - LINK)

NATIONAL REPORT—BIFMA, the not-for-profit trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers, has appointed Deirdre Jimenez as its first president/CEO.

Jimenez will be responsible for leading BIFMA and partnering with its board of directors, membership (regular, supplier, service and international) and staff by connecting and advancing the industry’s common interests through a period of disruption and growth.

Jimenez is both an architect and interior designer with more than 25 years of leadership experience serving in executive and ownership roles in corporate real estate and national AE consulting firms. Most of her career has focused on the workplace environment, where she developed an understanding and appreciation of the role furnishings play in the emerging practice of workplace strategy. She is a registered architect in several states, and has earned the NCIDQ certification and numerous professional industry awards.

What do you hope to accomplish during your first year in the new position? To continue the momentum of the strong programs that currently exist; to expand outreach to organizations and customers who would benefit from the work BIFMA provides in support of product quality, safety, sustainability and wellness; and to elevate the significant role furniture serves in achieving functional and aesthetic design in places we work, learn, heal and play.

How has your career prepared you for this position? Looking back, my decision to dual degree in architecture and interior design provided a broad appreciation of the human space and set the tone for a career in interior renovation work. The interior design curriculum revealed the significant role furniture fills in both our history and society today. As a corporate real estate manager, I gained an appreciation for the investment furniture represented and the risk associated with getting that decision wrong. The national design firms I worked with shared strong core values in quality and safety, in the field, in the office and in the design solutions recommended to clients. As an architect, I believe that professional duty extends to all industries that support the built environment. My career path has been the result of many mergers and acquisitions. Managing change developed into leading change, eventually applying my training in the design process to improving business processes. It seems a natural fit that this next step in my journey would combine a passion for design, a respect for technical performance, and business perspective.

What are some challenges the industry is facing right now? Many of our members are already pivoting to address customer needs as a result of COVID-19. Schools, hospitals and hospitality customers will continue expecting a high level of quality, safety and durability in their furniture selections and are increasingly showing a greater interest in sustainability. However, more so than in office settings, a high percentage of furnishings are shared and with increased sanitizing protocols, material selections may change. Conversations regarding antimicrobial materials have already started.

Why is this such a crucial time for the furniture industry? Innovation, style and functionality is developing at a rapid pace in response to demands for flexibility, collaboration and wellness. The emerging practice of workplace strategy and the proven positive impact good design has on productivity, engagement and retention has blurred design trends merging hospitality with office space, office space with learning environments, and learning environments with healthcare. The less discussed common denominator in good design is the appropriate selection of furnishings to help the space achieve both functional and aesthetic goals. Furniture is a large capital investment and an asset that will be in service for a period of time. Customers are looking at those purchasing decisions from multiple perspectives, and the furniture industry is responding.

What are some unique opportunities in the hospitality furniture space? The hospitality industry is a great study for furnishings. There are so many different spaces within one place, from guest rooms that lean into residential to lobbies and cafés that influence open office design, and from restaurants that reflect in dining halls to conference facilities that serve as classrooms. Not to forget there is also office space. As highly public spaces that cater to both personal and business use, there is need for a variety of creative furniture solutions that meet industry standards. I like to think of hospitality design as the perfect incubator for innovation.

Are there any new initiatives BIFMA has in the works? Recognizing there are many furniture choices on the market, product selection can be confusing. To support buying confidence, BIFMA is launching a compliance program in early 2021 that will provide customers and specifiers with a database of products that meet quality, safety and sustainability standards developed for the furniture industry. BIFMA is also expanding those standards to support the growing home office market and extending outreach with other industry organizations and educators in sharing information and knowledge.

Another new program we will be introducing in 2021 is Confluence Chicago, which will coincide with NeoCon, a premier furniture industry product trade show. BIFMA partnered with NeoCon and The Mart to create Confluence Chicago as an adjacent platform for all design-loving professionals. It will be a multi-day creative summit that explores the universal qualities of design and creativity that connect us all.