In Review: Bisley’s Buddy

Sara Afkir of JLL and Carina Lima of SBID both agree that Bisley’s latest compact storage, Buddy, is “young and fresh, and a step into the future”. Read on to find out why they loved Buddy so much.




It is not often that we see pedestals and innovation in the same sentence. But things change, and who better to spearhead this change than storage experts, Bisley. We met at their showroom in JLT where Dima Nehme, Regional Sales Manager, and Peter Kay, General Manager at Bisley DMCC graciously hosted us for a review of Buddy, their latest compact storage unit.

Some companies just know how to do things right, and when it comes to designing and manufacturing high quality storage solutions, Bisley is a master of the craft. Having been in the business for nearly 83 years, this British manufacturer originally hails from humble beginnings with their first iconic success in the commercial office market, still being used  till today! In 2017, it was awarded the Design Guild Mark to signify its timeless design and quality. Bisley has since diversified their product portfolio beyond storage and into desking, seating, and accessories. 

Having adapted and pushed through the many ups and downs in the global economy over the years, the popular British manufacturer has always strived to innovate. In this review, we take a close look at the newest member of their product portfolio – Buddy. Developed as an alternative to their free-standing Note Pedestal and Caddy, Buddy is a new personal storage solution that is ideal for the new culture of work. There are some key features that Bisley thinks are pretty cool! 

The Review Crew

Above from left: Carina Lima, Senior Interior Designer, Swiss Bureau Interior Design; Dima Nehme, Regional Sales Manager Middle East, Bisley; Sara Afkir, Workplace Designer, Project & Development Services, JLL MENA

Putting the ‘personal’ in personal storage

“Bisley totally understands storage. It’s what we do best, and we aim to provide our clients with ingenious tailor-made storage solutions”, says Dima. Times change and so do people’s needs. The primary reason for storage solutions in the office was for paperwork. Today, storage is about more than just organising paper and folders. It includes phones, laptops, wallets, personal possessions and headphones. 

Buddy is a sleek, well-executed storage solution designed as a companion for your desk. The idea for Buddy emerged from a large project in New York, where a large financial services firm wanted an effective personal storage solution for its employees but was pushing for a hot-desking-based layout. To add to the challenge, the storage had to work with 4 different non-Bisley branded desks. Of course, conventional pedestals were out of the question because they added to the clutter.

Sara Afkir: I love everything about it; it is so well executed. This pandemic has forced us into new ways of working, and I’m seeing a lot of brands adapt to this new normal. Bisley seems to be one of those. I even love how it works with both, a regular and a standing desk.

Carina Lima: It’s such a nice, clean, and hip product, and will certainly resonate well with the younger crowd. After seeing this concept, I can definitely understand how someone would prefer this over a pedestal. It’s simple and secure. I especially like how it doesn’t touch the floor, and has that elevated, almost levitating look! The shape and attention to detail is also superb.

Buddy is perfect as your own personal locker that can be attached to fixed and height adjustable desks, and also works in hot desking set ups. Furthermore, it is perfectly compatible with non-Bisley desks. The dimensions suggest a vertical placement of items, but with enough space to hold more than needed. Perforated compartments inside allow you to safely organise your belongings. Buddy is designed to fit with contemporary design themes, together with features like a USB charging capability to work well with mobile devices. And while Buddy may look sleek, it is nevertheless capable of holding 20 kgs, and can extend to 100% of its length without any issues. 

There’s only one caveat – once installed onto a desk, removing it means exposing the areas that the attachment bracket was bolted onto. Having said that, it can be easily removed and reinstalled onto a new desk. Buddy can be fitted onto most desks, but if you do have any doubts, the Bisley team is more than happy to take a look at your desk’s CAD file and confirm its suitability.

Sara Afkir: It’s strong and just the right size for a personal storage solution. I personally like the almost petite dimensions. It doesn’t feel like it encroaches on your personal space and you can sit comfortably next to it. Plus, it’s so easy to use, and the drawer mechanism is super smooth.

Carina Lima: The dimensions are just right. I was worried we’d have to make sure it adjusts to the desking that is available in the market, but considering that it fits almost all popular desk brands, this should be a breeze.

Features and Finishes

Two aspects of Buddy really stood out for us – the choice of locking mechanisms and the range of finishes. 

The RFID locking mechanism is the first we’ve ever seen on a pedestal. As the name suggests, anything with an RFID can be programmed to lock and unlock Buddy, such as an Emirates ID or a building pass. What’s even better is that there is a private and a public configuration. “Buddy was built for hot-desking, but we realised it doesn’t have to be limited to only that set-up,” says Dima. “The private and public settings give that choice to the user.”

If programmed in ‘Private’ mode, Buddy can be assigned to an individual employee. In the public mode, Buddy is available to whoever takes possession of it first. The choice for public or private modes is normally agreed upon during the specification stage, however, training facility managers to configure devices is pretty straightforward.

The first thing you notice about Buddy is that it has such a fresh and vibrant look. It is available in 21 different steel colours as well as a laminate face for those looking for a natural look. The colour ranges are bright and fun too, helping to spice up the workspace. To add to the sleekness of its design, the lock mechanism can be made invisible so you wouldn’t see the RFID reader because it would be on the inside of the door. 

What we didn’t expect was the software that comes with an RFID lock. Facility managers or real estate heads who may be interested in understanding the usage, can use the software to see usage data and stats – an important step towards data-driven decision making. “Bisley has attained Fira Club Green and Club 18001 membership,” says Peter. “Our manufacturing facility, located at Newport in South Wales, is constructed from materials that conserve energy and reduce sound emissions. Plus, our capital investment in plant and machinery has had a major impact on the efficient production of our products – state of the art machinery has reduced waste, improved quality and increased safety. All steel off-cuts and other scrap metal is recycled, and manufacturing waste by-products disposed of by licensed contractors.”

Sara Afkir: I love the RFID locking mechanism. Being able to use my Emirates ID means one less key to carry around, which is so useful. On the aesthetic front, it’s sleek and comes in a beautiful range of colours that we can work with. Such a nice and fresh change from regular pedestals to add a vibrant touch to the workspace!

Carina Lima: I like the private and public options on the RFID, as well the simplicity of the set-up. As designers we want to make sure the products we specify are worth the investment. In terms of aesthetics, being able to play with different finishes is important for both clients and designers – in fact, it’s a necessity sometimes. The look and feel is important.

Final Thoughts

We love Bisley’s take on a new kind of personal storage system. The RFID system is definitely a winner! It does add to the price point, making it higher than related products in the market. But the key here is related, not similar, because there aren’t any products we’ve seen with a similar design and mechanism. The price is right for the value, and given Bisley’s reputation for long lasting quality, we’re confident it’s worth the investment. After all, it’s catering to a future-forward clientele.

Sara Afkir: Choice is very important to us designers. It helps us represent the client’s personality. In Buddy’s case, not only can you play with the colours, but you can also mix the materials. Yes the price is a bit higher, but we’re getting so much more value, but it’s still competitive, especially if you think about the quantities needed for medium to large companies. If I had just one suggestion, I would further improve on the aesthetic of the lock, making it completely hidden so we can appreciate the design even more. 

Carina Lima: It’s hard to evaluate the price because there aren’t many solutions like this one out there. But that also means it’s unique. Objectively speaking though, I think the cost is acceptable. When you look at the shape and the space it takes, they’ve done a lot more with less! If I had to add something, I would add in patterns to the colours and finishes, to add in some extra pop to the design and the space.

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