Blending in at Room & Board

One of the important skills of being a Design Associate is enjoying the interplay of color and pattern, and finding ways to make those elements work together. As a team, we’re in tune to those elements in all of our surroundings. Photos frequently get taken and shared when two of us are dressed similarly or when we’re dressed like the product! Enjoy some photos I’ve taken over the last year of staff members matching product in the showroom.

This is Jason and Jeff blending in with our “Beach House” color story in the Complete Your Home shop. The Beach House has disappeared in 2017, at least for the winter, but this is a nice reminder of sunnier times:


Here, Janice is getting Zen on the Hess sofa in Kellen fabric. Kellen was a new addition for us mid-year in 2016, and has carried over on Hess into 2017. Last autumn, the Hess was accessorized with a bright orange pillow and a mini-pumpkin plant that reminded me of tomatillos. Janice’s bright sweater was yet another pop of color in the room.


That sweater had even more in common with the Murphy sofa in Tatum Poppy!


Kelly also had an almost exact match with the Hess accessories when she wore a scarf that looked like it was cut from an Illusion pillow:


Sonoma is known as “Sparkles” in the showroom for her love of glittery clothing, so Christmas decorations gave her a chance to blend in:


Of course there are always people who don’t like having their photo taken, but Heather agreed to pose with the pillows she matched on the Grove bed, as long as it was a blurry action shot, so she couldn’t be recognized!


And on that fun note, I’m off to explore more of the new offering for 2017. Maybe I’ll find my own perfect match!




Edina Showroom Hosts Guthrie Theater Season Kick-Off

Minnesotans are proud of any “firsts” or “mosts” that take us out of the flyover category. Keith Ellison was the nation’s first Muslim Representative in Congress. Minneapolis vies to be the nation’s most fit city. The Minnesota Arboretum has developed some of the best-known apple varieties. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has one of the best encyclopedic collections in the country, and the Walker is nationally known for its modern art. The Twin Cities’ park systems consistently take top honors at the national level. Lakeview Chapel has the finest Byzantine-style mosaics in the country. Every few years, we build a new stadium. And, until recently, we had Prince.

Of course, Minnesota is also the home base of Room & Board. Recently Room & Board hosted an exciting event celebrating its continued partnership with another Minnesota “most.” The Guthrie Theater was founded in 1963 as a regional alternative to the monopoly of Broadway. Broadway at that time increasingly relied on immediate successes of splashy musicals at high ticket prices in order to cover huge production costs. The Guthrie’s goal from the beginning was a not-for-profit environment showing “classics in rotating repertory with the highest professional standards.”

In 2006, the Guthrie opened its new space right on the Mississippi River, designed by architect Jean Nouvel. In 2016, the Guthrie redesigned their VIP reception room in this space, with help from Aaron Dahl, Room & Board Design Associate. The redesigned VIP reception room has played host to paintings by another Room & Board staff member, Customer Support Associate Josh Meillier.

The latest collaboration with the Guthrie was an event to kick off their 2016-2017 season. Singers from The Parchman Hour performed during a two-hour event which also included small bites and drinks. The Parchman Hour is a variety showcase of songs and stories from the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, brave souls known as Freedom Riders boarded buses and headed into areas of discrimination to stand up against segregation. Some were imprisoned in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary, where they developed the songs and stories that make up The Parchman Hour.

Our event to celebrate The Parchman Hour was planned by Design Associate Aaron Dahl. Retail Market Manager Elise Nicpon took an hour out of her day to pick up the audio equipment, which had been routed to an outer suburb by the rental company. Caterer Cynthia Olson expanded her usual repertory to include southern classics like ambrosia salad and shrimp and grits. Guthrie reps placed flyers around the showroom. Singers Cat Brindisi, David Darrow and Nathan Barlow performed with passion and style. And event-goers lingered longer than usual, exploring everything from the baby section for their grandkids to the Callan chair for a new apartment.

We’ve already received a thank-you note from the Guthrie reps who teamed with us on the event, noting how enthusiastic the response was. Hopefully this will be part of a growing collaboration between two great Minnesota “mosts.”






A Feast for the Eyes

One of my favorite things to do while fluffing and straightening in the Room & Board showroom is to find the fine details and happy accidents that make it such a special place for customers. People are often surprised to reach out and find that our plants are real. Our selection of coffee table books would be worth coming in for itself. And so often, the way that shadows lie or the color in a magazine cover reinforce the beautiful natural characteristics of the furniture itself.

So I’m dedicating my first blog post to some of the small touches that help make the Room & Board showroom such an inspiring place to work. Some are on purpose, some just landed that way, but they all contribute to the depth of the customer’s visual journey—

Snooter-doot goes for a ride! In the background are a Bennett dresser by Spectra, a vintage French school map, and the Nest crib by El Greco:


This one happened by chance. While hanging the new Helene pendant in our Complete Your Home department, our Cleaning Associate, Jim Pontrelli, accidentally decapitated one of the orchids. For a day or two, the fugitive bloom made a great colorful accent to the department’s pink color story. It’s lying on the James end table (in this year’s new Sand finish) alongside a Callisto bowl by Tony Wurman and some appropriately tropical prop books:


One of our Design Associates is a connoisseur of fine spirits, so his bottles help show off the usefulness of the Trace shelf as a bar. The light working through an empty Bastille whiskey bottle reinforces the gleam of Bell Manufacturing’s stainless steel:


The misunderstood vulture is one of my favorite birds, so I was glad that when Sharon Montrose did an exclusive collection of animal portraits for Room & Board, she included nature’s clean-up crew alongside the more popular horse and leopard. I have to admit, this guy does look a little ominous staring off into that dark corner, but his plumage provides a great compliment to Room & Board’s rich Charcoal paint. The luxurious walnut on the sideboard looks great in this lighting, too:


This actor’s windblown locks photographed in black and white on a New York Times magazine cover are a great color and texture compliment to the Bram sofa in distressed Lagoon Smoke leather. The table top is Fawn quartz:


Here black-and-white text and natural elements on a book cover are in the shadow of a (real) plant. The book’s colors and texture reinforce the play of black and white, as well as rough and smooth, in the Marbled Quartz table top and the Arden ivory/black rug by Delos:


This new fiddle fig plant near our front entrance has already had a couple positive comments from customers, and its shape is a perfect complement to the midcentury vibe of the Murphy sofa from Precedent and this year’s new James tables. A Case Study planter and Sequence rug round out the look, which would be right at home in the illustrations of retro artist Shag:


Here the bright orange text on the cover of Dwell magazine echoes the vivid colors of our Sunbrella outdoor pillows, while the angular, steel lines of the cover photo fit right in with the Graphite powder-coated steel of Montego furniture and an Onda serving tray:


Even the clipboard I’ve been using to update our PIM inventory list looks better in the light of a Glow pendant from Hennepin Made. So with that, I’m back to work. Keep your eyes out for all the little happy interactions that make design shine in every part of your life: