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Venue specialists Forward Associates open US office

Leading venue specialists Forward Associates has opened a US head office in Chicago.

In addition to its work with The O2 and Tottenham Hotspur FC, the 20-strong London business is active across Europe, Scandinavia and South America.

While already operating in the States, Forward Associates has long held ambitions to establish themselves firmly in the US market and a permanent head office is the first step towards fulfilling that aim.

Roy Westwood is the founder of Forward Associates. He said:

Working on major projects such as the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium is really only possible if you are active on the ground day in, day out. This has hamstrung our ability to take on the largest US projects so a permanent base in America will help us establish our presence in this important market.

To facilitate this ambition, Forward Associates has partnered with experience designer experts New State. New State is the brainchild of Brian Graziano, a design veteran based in Chicago, and uses human-centred design methods to bring competitive differentiation for clients. Graziano said:

Over the years, most organisations and their leaders have come to realise the power of design and how it can work on multiple levels to bring competitive differentiation.

Successful experiences are grounded in a deep understanding of end-users. Insight can be uncovered from data, surveys, but especially from observing first-hand what real users actually do. My process can reveal the surprising opportunities and human-centred nuances that are the difference between a good experience and a great one.

This approach to guest-first experiences is at the heart of New State’s approach and chimes perfectly with the mantra of Forward Associates, making the union more than just a marriage of convenience. Westwood said:

Both companies share a way of doing things. We have a commitment to delivering remarkable experiences where the guest comes first. I first met Brian when I worked at Levy Resturants UK as the director of innovation and Venue strategy, Brian was my direct counterpart at Levy in the US.

Since this time, both men have harboured ambitions to work together and expand their collective capabilities and operations. The partnership enables New State to extend its US network and work on larger scale projects, while for Forward Associates, it means the business can become more active in the US. Westwood added:

Working together is a natural evolution for both companies.

And the spirit of collaboration was a critical facet for Brian too:

We prefer co-creation. It helps us and ultimately our clients to stay agile and attuned to the emerging needs of the end users.

It is a sentiment echoed by Westwood:

Both New State and Forward Associates work in the same way. Not just a shared philosophy but how we work practically on the ground too. Major venue projects involve many stakeholders and by working together, we can add maximum value to our clients’ projects.

Image: Brian Graziano