Courtney Valenti and Dyson Look Beyond the Ball

Dyson is much more than its signature line of vacuum cleaners, and it designed its new HQ in Chicago to reflect that, with help from senior director of real estate Courtney Valenti

Courtney Valenti, Senior Director of Real Estate, Dyson

Dyson is perhaps most famous for the unparalleled design of its Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner, but it’s extensive suite of products also includes air purifiers, the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, lighting, and more. The company is a broad technology innovator, and it recently got the chance to highlight this fact when relocating its US headquarters to the Fulton Market district in Chicago.

The move has placed Dyson in a former industrial neighborhood that’s experiencing explosive growth. The area’s also the home to other hip tech companies such as Google, Uber, and Glassdoor. “Fulton Market presents an opportunity for us to be more forward-thinking,” says Courtney Valenti, Dyson’s senior director of real estate. “It’s like a fresh page that sets us up for continuing to offer new products in a broader range of categories.”

The new headquarters includes nearly 60,000 square feet on two floors and has been designed to support the company’s agile approach to business and its focus on technological ingenuity. Seating is unassigned, enabling staff to choose where they work and helping them to expand their internal networks. Storage has been built in, so supplies are available throughout the space. Conference rooms have large-format video technology, wireless tablet control, and acoustically treated materials that support clear communication with remote meeting participants. These smart conference rooms are managed by Condeco, a management application that uses sensors to detect if a room is still empty 10 minutes after a scheduled meeting. At that point, the system recognizes that the room is unoccupied and makes it available to reserve for other meetings. Additional functionality can be added in the future, including connections for food and beverage delivery.

The Fulton Market space also includes a fully staffed barista bar, collaboration booths for spontaneous meetings, and IT vending machines that offer supplies such as computer mice and headphones. Lighting comes from Dyson Cu-Beam fixtures, created by Jake Dyson, son of Dyson founder James Dyson. The Dyson Cu-Beam LED lamps include heat-pipe technology that employs a fluid evaporation and condensation process to cool their lighting elements, which are projected to last up to 37 years.

“In addition to attracting the best talent, we want the features and amenities we provide to unlock and optimize the potential of all our Dyson people,” Valenti says. “The new space is designed to do just that.”

James Dyson, whose official title is not CEO but chief engineer, took an active role in directing and approving all design elements in the Fulton Market space. He was also closely involved in the recent establishment of four new retail locations in Toronto; Tysons Corner, Virginia; San Francisco; and on 5th Avenue in New York City. (Those sites join half a dozen other existing retail sites around the world.)

Much of the Fulton Market space mirrors the retail aesthetic, with products displayed on minimalistic, museum-like plinths and audio-visual content that highlights the technological innovations that distinguish all Dyson products. “James is passionate about design, and that’s reflected in all our office and retail spaces,” Valenti says. “Our stores are set up to provide interactive customer experiences that help them understand the technology behind our products and why they’re designed the way they are.”

The 5th Avenue store presented Dyson with a unique design challenge. The storefront, which consists of three large glass panels, includes two panels that are 30 feet high—the largest continuous panes of glass by height on 5th Avenue. Valenti’s team had to locate a specialty manufacturer in Germany to handle their fabrication and installation. “James never focuses on the fact that something hasn’t been done before,” Valenti says. “He concentrates on the concept and doing whatever it takes to see it through. That approach is behind the innovation and success of all of our technologies.”

An overall company strategy that Valenti describes as “solving the problems that others seem to ignore” keeps her inspired and feeling as if she still works for a large startup company. “We’re all passionate about invention and making constant improvements to everything we do,” she says.

That’s true whether talking about the company’s digital motor—which is currently in its tenth version—or a real estate project Valenti might be working on with the HR department. She says that the company strategy is always to take an iterative approach focused on making refinements until “the latest and greatest version” is uncovered.

Interior Investments is pleased to join Courtney and the rest of the Dyson team on the implementation of their exciting Chicago project. Interior Investments is one of the leading Herman Miller distributors in North America. We believe that furniture procurement and associated services are a long term investment, rather than a one-time transaction. We are proud of our ability to provide our customers with fantastic places to live, work, learn and heal.