This year we have quite a few mid-year changes which will mean some physical moves in the showroom. We have already received the Jasper Sofa upholstered in a new fabric and the Delia chair, also in a new fabric. We are expecting 2 more new sofa frames since we have decided to drop the Stella and the Camilla mid-year. We are also constantly moving our room settings to give greater inspiration and interest. These new additions will add a new flair to our collection and our customers will see something fresh.
We also have added some new fabrics to our collection and part of my job is to make sure the hanging samples are placed in the Design Centers. My partner and I order the cuttings that we give to our customers to help them decide what they want to order. We also order the swatch books that are placed throughout the showroom so customers understand what fabrics go with what frames. As a Design Associate this is one of my secondary responsibilities within our store.
With all the mid-year changes our Visual Associate re-writes the floor plan that is changing and often engages a few Design Associates to help her in the process. We are all invested in presenting our showroom in the most beautiful and engaging fashion.
Working in a beautiful environment like Room & Board is inspirational in so many ways for staff and customers alike, so it is no surprise that maintaining our showroom is not an easy feat. Because of our love of and appreciation for our store and its beauty, we employ truly impeccable standards to ensure that we remain as in awe of our surroundings as our guests. From fluffing cushions to washing our display stemware to collaborating in order to find the perfect accent pillow, we spare no effort to uphold our aesthetics and design philosophies.
In Atlanta, we recently had the opportunity to witness our commitment to our visual code of ethics in action. Admittedly, it was simultaneously inspiriting and rather amusing when one of our Design Associates literally crawled under a bed to tuck its sheets. To expound, our display linens must often be tidied to maintain the clean, crisp R&B look. Well, this particular Design Associate took it upon herself to go above and beyond (or in this case under and beyond!) to do so. Naturally, I couldn’t resist taking a photograph.
While it’s clear that we not only adore our showroom and have great senses of humor, this act profoundly relates to the core of our company, and can be summed up by this quote from our Guiding Principles: “We need to provide for ourselves and those we love. That’s the very basic premise that brings us to work each day. But beyond the obvious economics of work, we believe that our endeavors should have meaning.”
What a perfect illustration of finding meaning in your work…no matter the task!
As I write this, our new Midyear introductions will go live on our website tomorrow and we will be getting most of our new upholstery pieces in the showroom the day after that. Midyear introductions are usually on a much smaller scale than our annual new assortment introductions which happen after Christmas. Still, staying on top of changes to our collections at this time of year can be a challenge to those of us planning on what to show and where to show it, but this is easily balanced out by the excitement of seeing new pieces come into the store.
It can be difficult to tell what an item will really look like from an image. For instance, we already have our new Streeter Floor Lamp as shown in the picture above. It replaced a discontinued lamp that was floor sampled a couple of weeks ago. I was so happy to see this when we installed it because it looks and feels so much better than I had anticipated from the pictures. Room & Board has been working to develop more of our own exclusive product in the lighting category with our vendors, and I think this particular piece is a clear win. Not only does the Streeter Lamp feel substantial and look great, but it also offers a lower price point than the other, comparable styles of large floor lamps we already offer.
Our team is always happy to see the new products arrive as it keeps our assortment fresh and up-to-date. (Personally, I’m most excited about a new sofa/sectional collection called Harrison that I think will really resonate with our customers.) However, one of the things I most appreciate, is that our company always makes a conscious choice to work with American manufacturers whenever possible–and if our buyers aren’t finding existing products that align with Room & Board’s vision, we’ll collaborate with our vendor partners to see if we can develop something ourselves. We aren’t afraid to create new items based on a company initiative, or feedback from our Design Associates and customers, or a need that our Product Teams have identified. I love that!
Being a Design Associate requires first and foremost, a passion for design. But is a formal education in design necessary to become part of our team? The answer, as always at Room & Board, is in the grey.
As Design Associates, we each have our own strengths and talents and while we may share many of these, we like to use our primary strength to support each other, our product and the customer.
Design Associates have diverse backgrounds and work experience. As a result, we can offer our customers a different perspective on the creative aspect of furnishing your home. Some of us have a specific background in interior design while others have experience in furniture construction: knowledge of wood and its characteristics or in fabric: fibers, weave & dye process. Here in Boston, we also have DAs with an architecture background. Regardless of what our primary design strength is, we collaborate with each other to give the customer the best advice to make the best purchasing decisions.
I recently had a customer who wanted bold color and pattern blended together. I honestly had a difficult time pairing together patterned, upholstered furniture pieces with a colorful rug. So I called on another DA whose background is fabric, textiles and design history. She was able to assist the customer much better than I in this specific area. I joined in the process to learn and the customer was able to find just the right look for her room.
The customer’s experience was a fantastic one and after she had gone, the DA was able to work with me to show me how to blend colors and patterns that I would not normally be comfortable doing. So thanks to our different work history, education and strengths, our customer was able to have a team, not just a Design Associate help her create not just a furnished room but a beautiful space.
So I moved recently.
“I love moving!” said no one ever. Moving pulls at all those comfort zones that you think you have down pat. Yes, you’re a neat and tidy person, but why are you keeping the twisty ties from every loaf of bread you’ve ever bought? Sure that book was a best seller, but if you can’t get through the first two chapters do you really need to keep it? And do you really need to keep that faded bloom from a special someone? I mean, it’s dusty and half the petals are falling off.
I once read that if you’re deciding to keep or not keep something, you should hold it in your hand and ask the question, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is “no,” it needs to go.
I’ve done a lot of this recently. There are things that, at one time, I thought were very important to me, but that I am now able to part with. There are other things that, when I look at them and hold them, I hear a resounding, “Keep Me!” in my head.
Through this process I’ve found that one of my favorite pieces is the Devin Media Cabinet. The Devin was one of the first pieces I purchased after I started with Room & Board. It’s in walnut with glass doors and its clean lines – well, they make me happy. They bring me joy. And although I’ve been in the home furnishings retail business for over a dozen years, it was one of the first new “good” pieces of furniture I’ve ever purchased. I want to take care of it. I even went so far as to tell the moving team that this was my favorite piece and to be extra careful with it.
That admiration for our furniture, my furniture in particular, gives me confidence to specify our product every day. I know that it’s well made and that, with care, will serve our customers well for many years. We hold ourselves and our vendors to high standards. Our ability to stand behind our furniture and all our products runs to the core of our business. It helps make us successful. It brings us satisfaction. You might even say it brings us joy.
Oh, and that faded bloom? I’m going to go ahead and keep it for now.
Last week the Boston showroom held a public event honoring the craftsmanship of one of our local New England vendors, Lyndon. Lyndon Furniture is located in Vermont. #maplesyrup Founded by Mr. David Allard, Lyndon has held a successful partnership with Room & Board for many years. Mr. Allard was unable to attend the event, but members from his team conversed with our attendees about their quality product and design. We have many amazing vendors at Room & Board, hands down; however Lyndon is incomparable to the rest in my mind.
Lyndon makes most of my favorite pieces from our current collection, including the Chilton table. If I was asked to describe the Chilton in one word, it would be boss. There is really no other way to describe it, but if you needed further elaboration, well I guess I would define it as a solid slab of sanded and finished walnut wood with a live edge, braced with maple, butterfly joints for extra support and steeze, if you will. #notbasic The Chilton is one of a kind, literally. No two tops are the same. You can even select the exact top you would like straight from our website. Why? Simply because Room & Board and Lyndon are awesome, but also because of the unique qualities of walnut, the tables vary slightly in size and design. If you are a boss or act like a boss or hope to be a boss in all aspects of life, you need the Chilton table, emphasis on the verb need. You don’t have to be Beyoncé, Brady, or even Frank Underwood to agree. #likeaboss
A day does not go past that I do not catch one of my colleagues saying “I work with the best people!” We really are like a work family.
Our team is so diverse in the sense of talents, style and personalities. We come from a variety of professional backgrounds and from many areas of the world.
I actually believe that our differences help us in our day-to-day tasks. We are always collaborating, learning from and assisting each other to produce great work.
We place as much importance on the strength of our relationships with customers as we do our professional ones. We all genuinely care and want the best for each other!
The difference between success and failure is a great team. I am proud to say that I am part of one.