The Red Chair Workroom

I’m not sure if this research has been done yet but I’m pretty sure Austin is high up there as far as population density of people working from home or coffee shops or co-working spaces, etc. It’s also the most collaborative, creatives seeking co-creatives. It’s the same in the interior design world here in our small, big town. That’s why when I heard that Anita Erickson, founder of Red Chair Market is building a place that will nourish this camaraderie, I had to know more about it. I asked Anita a few questions about this new project, it’s goals and dreams for the Austin interior design community.

red chair workroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a design enthusiast and having met a lot of design professionals in Austin, how do you think the city’s interior design environment is evolving?

I’m a design enthusiast but not a professional designer, so I had a chance to ask a lot of “dumb” questions as I’ve been researching this project and have learned a lot!  Austin is definitely coming in to its own as a respectable design city, but I love that it’s maintaining its character. There is a desire to work with local retailers, craftspeople and artisans and to make sure projects have a unique flair. There has also been a lot of talk about the business model of the design profession, some are going the straight fee route, some are doing the traditional product markup. The internet has changed a lot of things, with clients being much more able to access products and ideas on their own.  I think there is an opportunity to really educate consumers on the value of a professional beyond the product-acquisition role; from making sure that all the creative ideas fit in to a real home to managing the headaches of installation.

Some formally trained designers have embraced other designers who are not formally trained, others haven’t, what is your take on this debate?

This is a dangerous one for me to dive in to! I respect people who are passionate, professional and dedicated to what they do.  People like this come from many paths, and for some projects it’s most important to find someone who you connect with personally and aesthetically.  For others you really need someone with formal training or lots of specific experience.  Fifteen years of experience can substitute for four years of schooling, but I think the frustration comes in in that it’s hard for the average consumer to know how to evaluate. If everyone can call themselves an Interior Designer, there’s a concern that an experience with someone who isn’t professional will taint the whole industry.

red chair workroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me more about the Red Chair Workroom & how it sees itself in the next 5 years.

In a nutshell, we want to create a hub for the design community.  I’ve met with over 70 design trade pros in the last few months: architects, registered designers, decorators, retailers, vendors, even color consultants!  Many of them are independent practitioners, and what I hear most frequently is “collaboration”, followed by access to products and help with managing the business details. All this input guided the vision for the Workroom; summed up by our mission statement: Together, we are more productive, more profitable and have more fun. 

We’re building the space right now, and I often daydream about a day in the life of a Workroom Member to keep me focused.

You walk in to the Workroom and are greeted by name by the receptionist who asks if you’ve found the perfect side table for the Smith project. In the nearby lounge there is a member you’ve been meaning to connect with, so you grab a cup of (fantastic) coffee and sit down with your colleague to get some suggestions for a tile installer.  A clients is coming that afternoon, so you head back to the quiet area to plug in your laptop and finish up the presentation, then to the print room to make some handouts.  Lunchtime comes and you join some of the other members for a lunch-and-learn in the conference room; it may be a vendor presentation on the latest wallcoverings or a “business basics” discussion on employment tax.

At this point your clients will arrive soon, so you start to set up the reserved meeting room.  The presentation will be shown on the flat-screen monitor, but samples are also tacked to the wall. You head back to the break room and put together a tray with coffee cups, a fresh pot of coffee and real cream.  When your clients arrive they are shown to the meeting room and a lively discussion begins.  Halfway through, someone wonders if hand-scraped oak or Brazilian cherry floors would be better, so you pop out to the resource room and grab a sample of each. Decision made, without leaving the Workroom. 

It’s been a productive day but you decide to stick around; realtors from a local agency have been invited to happy hour to meet and network with the members.  You’re busy, but it’s always good to make new connections!  At the end of the evening you scoop up your project materials and stow them in your locker for the next visit.  Tomorrow’s a work-from-home day, but you’ll be back again on Friday to see what’s new.

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Thank you so much Anita! Thanks to visionaries like you, the Austin interior design environment will continue to flourish. To help this project, please click here.

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>

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