One of our showroom’s best resources is the Design Center. In my location, it operates as the heart of our store. Within it are samples of all of our materials – from table tops to fabrics and leathers to rugs. It’s a centralized hub of activity where we coordinate and plan spaces, meet with clients, strategize with our peers or just work on projects independently, all the while, remaining visible and approachable to any customer who walks through the door.
As our business changes and grows, our Design Center reflects that evolution – expanding and reconfiguring to accommodate new product lines and foster better modes of customer engagement. The Design Center’s most recent incarnation not only introduced a more efficient way for us to access all of our materials, but also changed the way we employ these resources, in effect, changing the way we interact with our customers.
When I came onto the scene, our Design Center was a kind of resource library. Anchored by a large counter with Design Associates standing on one side, and customers on the other, the space functioned primarily as a place to retrieve swatches, and if there was room, perhaps sketch out some floor plans. The giant center island has since been replaced by several smaller tables, each equipped with its own laptop and a set of counter stools that allow everyone to gather round in a more intimate way. From these individual pods, DA’s have easy access to everything from fabric swatches to online floor-planning and product information. The new set up has made it possible for multiple DA’s to utilize the Design Center simultaneously. But it’s also fostered a more collaborative environment. Working with clients in a space that is both centralized and intimate allows for in-depth interactions. As one of my colleagues put it, the new Design Center encourages us to work with clients more in the capacity of a design consultant than a salesperson.