Meet CET Designer User of the Month Paul Riches

Rendering created by Paul Riches using CET Designer
Paul Riches

Longtime CET Designer user Paul Riches – Configura’s user of the month – loves how really good design can be so innocuous that most people aren’t aware of its impact.

“I had a friend who would try to rattle my cage by saying designers were just there to sell more stuff that people don’t need, until I pointed out how design influences every aspect of his life – from the car he drives to the phone he uses to the chair he sits on. That, to me, is why I love design … when it’s done well, it disappears and it’s art as part of our holistic human experience,” he said.

Paul and his team at Contemporary Office Interiors, a Herman Miller dealership in Vancouver, BC, use CET Designer to create spaces that embody design sublimity.

He’s been using the space-planning software for nearly a decade – first at a Steelcase dealership where, after graduating from the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s interior design program, he worked his way up to the role of director of design and project services. Fifteen months ago, he transitioned to director of design and operations at the Herman Miller dealership, and, for the past six months he’s also been the dealership’s interim general manager.

Seeing the evolution of the sales and design relationship through the years, Paul credits CET Designer as the catalyst for elevating the design role to one of consultative partner.

“CET Designer liberated us from that mundane level of design and put creativity back into the hands of dealer-designers – we became a unique part of the value proposition stream for the dealerships that embraced progressiveness and change. We designers became key elements in wooing and capturing new clients and project opportunities in the increasingly cutthroat bid landscape,” Paul said.

Paul and his team were inspired to think deeper about how they fit into the dealership framework; a hybrid design-sales role emerged. Today, a lot of dealerships have embraced the hybrid role.

“I’m not joking when I tell people who are about to integrate CET Designer into their dealership that ‘you have no idea what is about to happen to the way you do business,’” Paul said.

In his director role at Contemporary Office Interiors, CET Designer affects the way Paul works by guiding and inspiring new enterprise solutions – new best practices in processes and procedures.

“CET Designer has become a linchpin in the operational efficiency of the dealership. My vision has turned to levels of integration beyond design, specification and sales,” he said. “We’re looking outside our design systems and asking, ‘what if?’ and always thinking, ‘what’s next?’”

Even though he uses CET Designer at a high level, he also digs into the nuts-and-bolts of the program, such as for this rendering (above). Tip to tail, it took about six hours to create.

Paul’s best CET Designer trick is to layer multiple lighting sources. “Shadowing adds a level of dynamics and realism to renderings and can enliven even the most mundane layouts,” he said.

His favorite thing about the software isn’t the rendering engine, or the reconfiguration tool, or the new VR module, or the Yulio Extension, or the ability to draw multiple floors – “all of those things are fantastic,” he says, “but my single favorite thing is the feature request tool, and that hasn’t changed in almost a decade. I love the fact that Configura will actually take my feedback and the feedback of others, consider it, work with it and develop new initiatives and aspects of the program – it’s the ultimate compliment to their user base and demonstrates to me that they are first and foremost about the user experience.”

Not only an early adopter of CET Designer, Paul also has attended every single CET Designer User Conference since they started in 2008. He’s presented at several past user conferences and returns again as a presenter at the 10th annual CET Designer User Conference being held in Nov. 8-9 in Las Vegas.

His presentations are fun, high-energy and action-packed with tips, tricks and tons of stories. At this year’s conference, he leads two presentations: Management Best Practices, where he’ll talk about how to use CET Designer for strategic business improvement; and CET Roundtable, an open Q&A session with CET Designer power users and developers who will discuss best practices and industry trends.

Paul’s energy can be traced to the days when he was a professional musician traveling across western Canada in the early 1990s. Even before then, he met the woman who would become his wife. They’ve been together 29 years and together enjoy spending time in beautiful downtown Vancouver.