Each day we begin our day with a morning meeting. Everyday is a different topic which can range anywhere from new product launches to changes in SAP. Since many of our team members have secondary roles, we also have education days based on our specialty.
Our Wellness team consists of a group of Design Associates who are responsible for not only creating a healthy work environment, but also for introducing us to new ideas and foods that contribute to our well being. This past week, our Wellness team had a guest speaker who introduced us to Kombucha!
Kombucha is a fermented tea-based beverage which dates back to ancient times. Logan was gracious enough to bring his secrets and enlighten us on all the wonderful properties of Kombucha. Our demonstration began with showing our team the Scoby, or the culture that is the essence of how Kombucha is brewed. It’s a bacteria culture base which reacts with sugar when mixed with black tea and fruit, and which usually takes about three days. The result is a fermented, fizzy, tart but slightly sweet beverage that has amazing health benefits. The best part is, you can brew this powerhouse health drink at home.
Logan brought in samples of his home grown batch for us to sample. We tasted blueberry, pineapple, strawberry, ginger and orange. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at how delicious and refreshing it was and we loved it! We loved it more when he described the benefits such as probiotics for digestion, detoxification for the liver, energy, and antioxidants for our immunity to fight off illness. Its benefits also go beyond physical, but also aids our mental and psychological health by improving our ability to focus and is a mood enhancer.
Logan, using his creative abilities, has even designed his own label and given his brew a name. We all enjoyed being enlightened by this positive new wellness drink. Now if only we can get Logan to brew a few gallons a week for our entire team. That’s something that the Wellness team will have to work on!
Following my colleague Dana’s post, I think I may have a work life balance issue. An intervention is probably necessary. Perhaps in the style of one of my fave shows, “How I met Your Mother.” I wouldn’t mind if Marshal, Ted, Lily and Barney showed up with a banner to sit me down and discuss the extreme matter at hand. Not Robin though, she sucks.:)
This week my colleagues pointed out that I match the furniture. And by “match,” I mean perfectly coordinate clothing-wise. Yes, I love this place so much so I chose to dress like it. Some owners match their pets, some parents match their kids, and since I have neither, I chose to match the furniture. In all seriousness readers, this was not purposeful. Maybe it’s just the brand ambassador in me. #Brandisfun Maybe it’s that I so desperately want a French bulldog (if I live in the city) and a Bernese mountain dog (if I live in the burbs), and three kids (two boys and one girl: Nathan, Lucas and Luciana, if you are wondering). #OneTreeHill Or maybe it’s that I live and breathe Room & Board so much that I subconsciously selected my color block navy and white sweater and my bright orange pants to coordinate with our outdoor vignette. Let’s just say the white Palm sofa and navy Isles accent chairs and orange and white color block Mast pillows are on fleek, on point, lit, not basic and certainly trending.
After much persuasion, my colleagues forced me to pose for a pic for Room & Board’s “Outfit to Room Comparison” social media content. Let’s hope my début blows up Insta, the only book: Facebook, Twitter, the works. And let’s definitely hope I get to meet Marshal (Jason Segal) as a result.
Every year we collaborate with the Minneapolis College of Art and design to offer a scholarship to one of their students. This year we are looking for an original lighting design that we could potentially produce and sell at Room and Board. The winner would receive a $3000.00 scholarship prize!
The criteria would be that it must be manufactured domestically, must be environmentally friendly, functional, fit Room & Board’s aesthetic and include dimensions, assembly, materials and pertinent manufacturing instructions. Full scale models are required and our store will exhibit the top five student designs. During the exhibition, our customers can vote on their favorite model.
It’s always fun for us to interact with the students and customers as they look at the entries and vote on their favorite design. Then, on April 20th we will host an awards event in the store with snacks and beverages for the students and their families. Our panel of judges will make their selection and present the award. I know we all really enjoy this event and get pretty excited about knowing that we are helping to encourage students with their creativity and entrepreneurial instincts.
Who are Design Associates? What did they do prior to starting a career with Room & Board? Since there are three-, four- and five-day Design Associate positions, some of us engage with customers only on a part-time basis and depending on our role, the Room & Board philosophy of a work/life balance can have different meanings. For full-time DAs, it’s important to balance off-day down time with work life and since we work as a team, any Design Associate can help a customer who needs assistance on a day off, thereby allowing an off-day to be just that . . . an off-day.
For DAs with four- and five-day roles, the meaning of work/life balance often means balancing days at R&B with perhaps another job. I’m a four-day DA and balance my days here with running my own web-based business where I create archival books of children’s artwork. Being a job that entails production rather than a lot of customer interaction, I’m happy to have the opportunity to engage with customers when I’m at Room & Board.
Logan, also a four-day associate, is active in creating logos and illustrations when he’s not charming customers with his Kiwi accent and Alex, not only balances his full time architect student studies with his role as Design Associate, but also takes on extra responsibilities such as being the Boston Facilities Manager and serving on the Wellness and Brand teams. It’s not always easy to balance two jobs and still have time for fun but for me, coming into Boston and to Room & Board is a day where I can let go of all my responsibilities at my business and enjoy engaging with customers, creating beautiful spaces, and simply having fun being in the city. For me, that is the perfect work/life balance.
Spring may have officially sprung, but here in the Atlanta showroom, staffers are still reveling in the excitement of one of winter’s most time-honored and glamorous traditions – awards season! With a steadily increasing number of productions shot and filmed in Atlanta, the city is quickly becoming one of the country’s foremost entertainment hubs. Celebrity sightings at the showroom are not unusual and several weeks ago we received notice of disruption to traffic surrounding the showroom due to a film shoot which was taking place right outside our front door! In the spirit of Atlanta’s growing industry, as well as our own fascination with movies and pop culture, we hosted a special design challenge.
The Oscars Design Challenge began with a ceremonious, blind drawing of a 2016 Oscar-nominated film.
We then used all of the available resources at the showroom to design a room inspired by our selected film and incorporating pieces from the 2016 Room & Board New Product launch. What resulted was not only a fun and unique way to express our creativity, but a collaborative and engaging way to educate ourselves and each other on aspects of our offerings which could be applied to new customer interactions.
With a number of period pieces up for Hollywood’s most prestigious honor, our Design Associates used Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn to set the backdrop for a discussion on the history of modern design and its influence on such standout newcomers as the Ira Chair and the Oliver Sofa. The extreme climates and rustic natural environments featured in films like The Revenant, The Hateful Eight and Mad Max encouraged an in-depth conversation around the gorgeous leather incarnation of the Macalester and the new Ash and Bark wood stains.
Mad Max-Inspired Collage
I remember when I first began working at Room & Board a little over a year ago. Having absolutely no experience in interior design (unless decorating my own apartment counts as experience), I watched my colleagues present their 2015 Oscar Design Challenges. I was blown away by the inspired concepts, bold mixing of colors and patterns and intricate floor plans and wondered if I’d ever be capable enough to stand in their place and do the same. What working on the Oscar Design Challenge has reinforced for me is just how much I’ve learned over the past year and all at the hands of my team members. They’ve continually exemplified one of Room & Board’s guiding principles, to foster an environment of support, collaboration and respect. Being able to take the knowledge they’ve imparted, apply it to my own design and share it in such an open, comfortable space was an award in and of itself and a worthy celebration of my first year as a Design Associate.
It is Sunday morning at Room & Board and the ratio of children to adults is much different than normal. The showroom is crawling with kids who are climbing on the couches, tumbling by the tables and running on the rugs. Today we are hosting our Family Fest event where we invite parents to bring their kids to the third floor Kids department and take part in arts, crafts and fun. It is our way to introduce families to our wonderful kids furniture and also allows us to create a happening that makes us feel part of our new neighborhood. It was a smashing success. I mean, when you have miniature donuts, Pirates Booty and a “decorate your own cookie” station, what do you expect? In addition to hyping the kids up on sugar, we had someone creating balloon animals and there was face painting and storytelling.
I read a story.
After perusing several books, I finally landed on one called ‘How to Catch a Star” about a little boy who dreamed of having his very own star as a playmate. I offered to read a story from Chapter 3 of my own book, “The Bitchy Waiter.” That chapter is called “I Hate Your Children,” but we thought it might not be appropriate. (You can order my book at Amazon, available on April 5th. Seriously, I wrote a book that comes out in a week and a half!) When it came time to read, I had an audience of five kids, one with a face painted like the Incredible Hulk. I settled into the Ellery chair as one little girl sat in the Vineyard Pink Tilly Chair that her mom had just entered to win. To my left were three kids sharing space in a Nest toddler bed as one little girl wandered around the general area in a circle like a dizzy chicken. The kids all stared at me, rapt, and when I say “rapt” I mean “totally not paying attention.” The little girl in the Tilly chair quickly lost interest and ran away, presumably for another mini-donut. The wandering girl kept wandering and eventually disappeared, perhaps deciding that a balloon shaped like Elmo was more to her liking. The three remaining children listened to my story of the little boy who climbed a tree in order to reach a star. With each passing page, they became more vocal, eagerly yelling at me that they couldn’t see the pictures or that it was silly to catch a star, “everyone knows that.” I persevered. By the end of the story, they were clearly ready to move on to a new project, but they politely waited for me to say “the end” before bolting off to find something else to do.
Overall, the event was very successful. We had 60 folks enter to win the Tilly Chair and of those 60, 38% said YES to opting in! There were some crumbs on the floor and the place looked like a hurricane had hit it, but still, we had a fun day and gave parents something to do with their kids.
Many of our furniture designs take inspiration from famous furniture designers. Part of the education in our store is looking at the kind of influence these designers have had and I want to share a recent conversation.
Hans Wegner was a Danish furniture designer who lived April 2, 1914 – January 26, 2007. His style is often described as Organic Functionality, a modernist school of thought with focus on function. He designed over 500 chairs in his lifetime, many of which were never produced. “A chair is to have no backside. It should be beautiful from all sides and angles.”
Here are examples of how his style inspired the Boden Chair, the Paris Chair, and the Aiden Chair.