Project profile

Financial Investment Firm

A cohesive, revitalizing new space allows a firm to flourish

Mar 13, 2024

4 minutes

A private office furnished with Saarinen executive chairs, Life chairs, and a Reff private office system overlooking luscious green trees


When a financial investment firm in Charlottesville, Virginia decided to redesign their outdated office, they wanted their new space to reenergize employees, foster connection, and better reflect the company’s mission-driven culture. The firm services not-for-profit organizations, and their clients include universities, private foundations, endowments, and public charities in the areas of health, education, and conservation.

While their approach centers on collaborating with each client, their space hampered the firm’s own in-office collaboration: it was split across two suites with an elevator lobby in between them.

In 2022, they relocated from their divided setup on the building’s first floor to one space across 10,000 square feet of the fourth floor.

A conference room featuring a large conference table, grey rolling task chairs, and windows overlooking green hills and a pond.

Project goals:

  • Improved collaboration

  • More access to daylight and outdoor views

  • Attraction and retention of younger staff

  • A better reflection of the firm’s culture

  • Increased flexibility across the floorplate

  • Ergonomic furnishings for enhanced employee wellbeing

Conference room #425 featuring a Saarinen round table, five grey rolling chairs, see-through glass doors, and a mounted TV on one wall.

Designing a hospitable, flexible new space to connect

Pye Interiors—with a team that “believes good design does more than simply meet an aesthetic vision: it positively impacts daily life”—helmed the project. Their areas of focus included unifying the space and creating a more sociable atmosphere.

“It almost felt like two different companies when you walked from one suite to another,” said Susan Cash, principal designer at Pye Interiors. “Unless someone had to get to the breakroom or the printer, there was hardly any crossover.”

An individual workstation and computer featuring a Knoll Life Chair
A communal seating area with a large amount of wooden shelving on one wall and several Florence Knoll Lounge Chairs

Entering the new office, employees and visitors now find a welcome area that “feels more like a living room than anything,” Cash said. The hospitable new entrance features Florence Knoll Relaxed Lounge Chairs and a beverage station—a marked improvement from the old space’s reception desk that felt cramped and difficult to maneuver around.

Down the hall and around the corner, a large café now provides both a social hub for the staff and a place to host clients. “It definitely gives the employees a sense of community that they didn’t have before,” 
Cash said. The café is adjacent to a large conference room that can open to connect to the café and form one large space—ideal for all-hands meetings or hosting events and adaptable depending on the needs 
of the day.

Private offices remained a necessity given the confidential nature of the work, but the redesign offers desk hoteling for interns, as well as open workstations and shared private offices. “There are spots for people who want to get out of their office and into a more social setting,” Cash said. “And, if anyone needs more focus, they can pop into the open private offices.”

The multipurpose café space and the addition of flex spaces provided a positive culture shift and highlighted the importance of giving people control of their environment. When spaces are designed 
to adapt to employees and not the other way around, engagement, performance, and overall wellbeing grow.

A communal seating area furnished with blue Florence Knoll lounge chairs and a glass coffee table

Choosing high-end, inclusive furnishings

The investment firm and Pye selected MillerKnoll as a furniture partner and pulled from the world-renowned Knoll brand. “We wanted a contemporary look that felt timeless, classic, and high-end,” said senior designer Bethany Angalich. “And Knoll definitely offered all of that.”

They chose an array of premier Knoll products, including the Reff Profiles private offices, Dividends Horizon workstations, Life task chairs, and Interpole power access, as well as classics by Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll—all of which helped them realize their design goals.

MillerKnoll believes in a participatory approach to design—requiring engagement with the people who will be using the furniture. The Pye team agrees, as the designers took a group from the financial investment firm to Washington D.C. to tour three different brands’ showrooms. “They got to sit down and do the touch-and-feel test,” Cash said. “When we left the Knoll showroom, everyone was completely blown away.”

This showroom visit let a wide range of people test the furniture they would be interacting with on a daily basis, including ergonomic chairs and sit-to-stand desks. This proved the products in the new space would inclusively support everyone, no matter their size, and offer an overall sense of wellbeing.

Pulling from the rich textures and ample colors available via Knoll Textiles allowed Pye to seamlessly blend the furnishings with their existing color palette. That palette includes warm, earthy colors that complement the rich mahogany floors and the greenery of the outdoor environment. With ample natural daylight from the perimeter’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the palette, materials, and outside surroundings further aid in employee wellbeing.

Pye also found the support from the MillerKnoll sales team and the local dealership they worked with to be instrumental to the project. “Knoll was also able to provide presentation materials for different office layouts, and when you can show exact components in various configurations—rather than us trying to pull it together from brochures on our own—it’s invaluable in terms of getting the client’s buy-in,” Cash said.

We wanted a contemporary look that felt timeless, classic, and high-end.

Bethany Angalich, senior designer at Pye Interiors

An open office area featuring several individual workstations furnished with Knoll Life Chairs

Experiencing a welcomed in-office culture shift

“Our new offices have transformed our image from stuffy, stodgy, and heavy to highly functional and modern,” the firm said. With more of a buzz in the space, engagement and recruitment have both increased.

“They said they might even need to expand shortly to accommodate everyone who wants to come into the office, which is not necessarily a common story right now,” Cash said.

She also noted that in the old space, employees hadn’t personalized their offices. “They didn’t have knick-knacks, there wasn’t any art on the wall. When you walk through the space now, there’s so many personal touches that you can tell they really want to be there.”

Our new offices have transformed our image from stuffy, stodgy, and heavy to highly functional and modern.

The financial investment client

3-point recap

  • A financial investment firm needed to combine their cobbled-up office space into one cohesive space in the same building to foster connection.

  • The firm sought to increase collaboration, recruit a younger staff, and better reflect their culture.

  • MillerKnoll helped achieve these goals with ergonomic comfort, timeless classics, and a breadth of rich materiality.

Featured products

Explore the Knoll products that helped facilitate connection and provide ergonomic support.

A Reff Private Office and task chair on a white background

Reff Profiles

Reff offers a comprehensive scope of components to create a wide range of private office environments.

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A front 3/4 view of a black Life chair on a white background

Life Chair

This chair’s advanced control automatically responds to shifts in body weight, providing personalized ergonomic support.

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Two rows of Pixel Training Tables on a white background

Pixel Training Tables

Designed to meet the needs of multiple tasks and audiences, Pixel delivers an innovative update to flexible meeting and training tables.

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A front 3/4 view of a Saarinen Executive Chair on a white background

Saarinen Executive Chair

This classic provides a soft organic shape with a subtle flex that delivers exceptional comfort.

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A Saarinen Round Dining Table on a white background

Saarinen Round Dining Table

The table boasts a simple and elegant design with an iconic pedestal leg.

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A front 3/4 view of a blue Florence Knoll Lounge Chair on a white background

Florence Knoll Lounge Chair 

The Florence Knoll Lounge Chair has a spare, geometric profile that reflects the designers rational design approach.

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