Keeping in Step from the Showroom to Santiago

In previous posts, I’ve espoused the importance that teamwork plays in the day-to-day showroom experiences of a Design Associate. With its own tenet in the organization’s Guiding Principles, Room & Board is a strong proponent of teamwork, encouraging employees to “build relationships based upon mutual respect and collaboration” with customers, vendor partners and peers. Teamwork is especially pivotal to the success of the Atlanta market given its relatively small size. With a staff of 12, we rely on one another constantly. I ask my colleagues for their opinion when creating intricate design schemes for customers, when I’m posed a question that I can’t answer, and when I can’t figure out why I’m not able to complete my order in SAP. In our market, where multi-way switching is not an option, it’s a team effort to simply turn on and off every one of the hundreds of lamps decorating our showroom at the beginning and end of each day!

As such, it should come as no surprise that when one of my colleagues is away from the showroom for an extended period of time, the impact of that absence is especially impactful. Faced with the imminent departure of our own Sandra Pawliger on a two-week backpacking adventure along the Camino de Santiago (commonly referred to as the Road to Santiago) in Spain, we decided to join her in spirit.

What resulted was a market-wide ‘Step Challenge’ in which we electronically tracked the number of steps taken during our work day. Because Sandra’s journey involved an amount of walking considered obscene to most of my teammates, we cheated a bit at the onset and tallied the total number of steps taken by each staff member as we progressed down the trail. Only in this manner were we able to keep up with Sandra. At each stop on her itinerary, we celebrated by sharing a bit of knowledge about the sights, people and cuisine she was encountering at the moment!

This effort not only raised our collective consciousness surrounding our level of fitness in the showroom, it increased our knowledge of a historically and culturally significant pilgrimage, embarked on by hundreds of thousands of travelers each year. For an idea of the sort of experience that our market was able to partake in, both firsthand and vicariously, see below for a sample of some of the gorgeous photos that Sandra shared with us upon her return.

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A Special Event Celebrating How Salesforce Helps Us Help Our Customer

One of the tenets at the heart of Room & Board’s Guiding Principles, and one which impacts the job of each Design Associate on a daily basis, is the commitment to recognizing the unique experiences, perspectives and talents of our team members. For some, this translates into additional responsibilities as a Business Interiors Liaison, Design Center Liaison, Marketing and Branding Liaison or liaison to virtually any aspect of the business which serves to enhance our work environment, showroom presentation or customer experience. For me personally, I’ve helped to bridge the initial gap between my prior experience in event planning and my role as a Design Associate by assisting in the execution of in-store events.

Events at Room & Board result from cross-branding opportunities and while always fun and exciting, in the midst of celebrating book publishings, trends in menswear for the fall season and local restaurateurs, it’s rare that Room & Board has the opportunity to bask in its fair share of the spotlight. Several weeks ago however, I was lucky enough to be present for just that sort of occasion.

This past May, the Atlanta market hosted a reception for customers of the Salesforce Corporation. Salesforce, in their own words, is the “innovative company behind one of the world’s leading CRM platforms and as it turns out, Room & Board is one of their best customers! As such, our own Kimberly Ruthenbeck, Director of Web Experience was invited to speak at the reception to an audience of over 75 about the success we’ve experienced working with Salesforce over the past seven or so years.

It wasn’t until I caught sight of a small AV team erecting an 80’’ monitor in our showroom that I became fully aware of how important the presentation would be to the reception program. We’re talking headlining attraction and at that point; my anticipation for the event was significantly heightened. Shortly after beginning to welcome the attendees to our showroom, I heard introductions being made over a microphone and as quickly as I could (which was not quickly at all) I made my way through the crowd towards where the presentation had begun to take place. Long story short – I missed it! Well, most of it anyways! Between pausing to speak with guests, weaving my way around other guests rendered statue-like by their attentiveness and periodically darting about the showroom to pick up and dispose of precariously placed pates and sweating cocktail glasses, I could barely make out more than four or five consecutively strewn sentences.

Luckily for me, I was able to view an exceptionally well-produced video which highlights exactly what it was that had so thoroughly captured everyone’s attention that night. My teammates and I found this video to be truly inspiring and believe that it perfectly communicates Room & Board’s philosophy on customer service which is of course, what Room & Board is all about. Hopefully this video inspires you as well!

http://www.salesforce.com/customers/stories/room-and-board.jsp

Design Associates Draw Inspiration from Oscar Contenders

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.

Red Carpet Photo

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.

MadMAx

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.