Dealer Designers Gather in Scottsdale for ‘Family Reunion’

Configura’s annual CET Experience conference isn’t so much a tech gathering as it is a family reunion. The dealer designers who use the company’s powerful space planning software, CET Commercial Interiors, work at aligned and non-aligned office furniture dealers across the country. 

They might be competitors the rest of the year, but at the CET Experience, they are part of the family of designers, more than 20,000, that use Configura products including CET Commercial Interiors and want to learn about how to get the most out of the powerful software. 

CEO Stefan Persson (as Obi Wan Kenobi), Founder and Configura Evangelist Johan Lyreborn (as Indiana Jones) and Vice President of Customer Success Peter Brandinger (as a desperado) playfully opened the CET Experience conference. Photos by officeinsight

Configura held its annual CET Experience conference last week in Scottsdale, Ariz. and the family reunion this year brought together more than 350 attendees. 

“It has always been about making the complex simple,” said Stefan Persson, chief executive officer. “We are still the same Configura, with some slight tweaks.” 

Representatives of HON speak to designers at the CET Experience between breakout sessions.

The CET Experience isn’t about Configura. Instead, it is about the companies and the people that use CET Commercial Interiors. CET Commercial Interiors is an intelligent, highly visual and intuitive space-planning software that simplifies specifying and selling. It’s a complete solution that quickly and accurately handles every step of the sales and order process. Users drag and drop components into 2D and 3D virtual environments; behind the scenes, the software tracks components, calculates pricing and prevents user errors, which is possible since it is a parametric-based design software. Users can create and generate layouts, quotes, renderings, movies, installation drawings and reconfigurations with the click of a mouse. Drawings automatically change and update as the designer works on them. 

While it really does feel like a family reunion, explaining the tweaks, software updates and best practices is at the core of the conference. These are outlined during break out sessions. Interestingly, only a handful of sessions are actually led by Configura staff. A few are held by manufacturers and industry partners to explain their extensions — the company-specific information created by manufacturers that lives within CET Commercial Interiors. The majority are run by actual users — peer-to-peer learning on how to best use the platform. 

A group of designers make s’mores during the Wild West Party at CET Experience.

The break-out sessions ranged from “Mission Impossible?: Leading a Remote Team,” led by Ginger Cookson and Lisa Haugen from Kimiko Designs, to “Installation Basics: How to Get There Before You Get There,” led by Rachel Krull, lead designer at Sedgwick Business Interiors. 

Manufacturers and Configura’s industry partners also actively participate, with some like HNI and OFS holding sessions to update users on their specific extensions. INDEAL, which works closely with Configura, was a diamond-level sponsor of the event and was there to show off its new Spaces platform that provides designers with typical layouts in multiple categories that can be pulled directly into CET Commercial Interiors. Other partners were also at the conference, including project management software provider e-manage One and My Resource Library, a digital binder platform. 

Designers gather for breakfast on a sunny morning in Scottsdale during the CET Experience.

Steven Dunn, e-tools manager at OFS, outlined updates and improvements to the OFS extension on CET. He described a new feature of the extension. When a designer pulls a desk and credenza into the space planning program, it will automatically set them at the right distance apart and sitting in the proper direction. It may seem like a small tweak, but it will save designers a lot of time, which will save their dealerships a lot of money. 

“One of the things we’ve alway focused on is design,” said Dunn. “We want you to design, not just specify.” 

During a breakout session, OFS explains changes and updates to its CET Commercial Interiors extension.

The keynote speaker at the event was Ben Nemtin, the New York Times bestselling author of “What Do You Want to Do Before You Die” and co-founder of “The Buried Life,” which became a popular MTV program about achieving bucket list goals and helping others do the same. 

It is a serious conference, but it also provides time for the designers to unwind and connect at the end of the day. A Wild West party was held Tuesday night, complete with line dancing lessons, an old time photo booth and plenty of food and drink. 

During the pandemic, Configura held virtual CET Experience gatherings. Last year, it was in person in Grand Rapids and streamed live for virtual attendees. Next year, CET Experience will be virtual and going forward, held in person and virtually every other year.

A falconer introduces his bird to attendees at the CET Experience in Scottsdale.