Brands and owners that put as much thought and consideration into their physical space as they do into their luxury products often come against obstacles during the procurement process. We caught up with Renee Santalo, our global procurement and sustainability expert, to ask her a few questions regarding this process.
1. What was the impetus behind a dedicated global procurement team at Shawmut?
Finding flawless, one-of-a-kind materials can be a complex and lengthy undertaking that leads to cost and schedule overruns. While global procurement of materials is not a new trend, in the past few years we’ve seen a shift in projects requesting custom finishes that require a more in-depth procurement process. For example, in April we were in Italy sourcing slabs for a retail project in New York City and in China purchasing stone at the request of a residential client in Beverly Hills.
Having a dedicated team allows us to continuously expand our access to quality materials and exceptional craftsmanship, easily organize buying trips, and ultimately enhance the choices for our clients and partners while affording creative options for budgetary parameters.
2. How do you ensure you source and obtain the right materials for clients?
The key to delivering value without compromising quality is tapping into and establishing the right resources—stateside and overseas—that can source and help engineer these materials. While the internet is a useful resource, it cannot replace the real-time conversations and eyesight of an on-site technical expert. For these reasons, Shawmut has established a global procurement program that operates out of Italy—with a team member on the ground overseeing fabrication—Los Angeles, and New York. The team of experts focuses on supplier relationship management, the global marketplace, and customs formalities—all of which translate into time and money savings for our clients, as well as an expansive selection of the highest quality materials to choose from.
3. What recent projects required global procurement?
We’ve procured high-end and larger format materials for projects spanning retail, corporate, and residences. Forty Five Ten’s flagship in Hudson Yards features five glass-brick storefronts that we sourced from Venice, Italy. The team created a new brick-laying process for this installation as it had never been done in the U.S. before. Bottega Veneta’s flagship on Madison Avenue features a floating staircase made of one continuous piece of Basaltina stone that we sourced from Italy. A Beverly Hills residence we’re constructing from the ground-up will feature stone from both Italy and China.
4. What have you learned from your experience of procuring materials for projects?
We’re accustomed to working on logistically challenging projects with highly demanding architects, designers, and clients; as the world becomes more connected with access to more sources of inspiration, demand and expectations have increased. To meet their required expectations, the right suppliers will be the ones who can deliver these sophisticated fabrication techniques to realize bespoke, one-of-a-kind finishes; sourcing and servicing these materials rapidly, cost effectively, and at the highest level of quality.