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.

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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.

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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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Designer Tag Sale at Red Chair Market

How about a marble top table with turquoise legs.

I am such a sucker for sales and put the word “Designer” in front of it? Ahhh, a match made in word heaven! If you haven’t heard about Red Chair Market yet then you’re in for an amazing discovery. Red Chair Market is a portal that connects buyers and sellers of design and decor items in Austin. This is not your average Craigslist everybody. We’re talking about quality items and fabulous pieces you’ll cherish for years to come. I caught up with the owner, Anita and chatted about the company and their first Designer Tag Sale.

1.From an advertising & marketing gal to a lover of design, what prompted you to open Red Chair Market?
I had always wanted to be an interior designer, but somehow ended up spending 20 years in marketing.  I have also always wanted to own my own company and have been the first employee at three local startups.  One day I was looking on Craigslist for a bench for the front hallway, and I kept coming up with trucks with bench seats! I knew there had to be a way to improve on it.  With this idea, my design, marketing and entrepreneurial stars finally aligned and with the help of a very fortunate marriage (to a software engineer) I was able to start Red Chair Market.  I think the best businesses are the ones started from a personal passion; I’m in heaven working on Red Chair every day – finding gorgeous, unique things right here in Austin! Now I just need a bigger house.

2.     As a designer, I’m always curious about new products and items and especially local vendors {support local, right?}; what would visitors and guests expect at Red Chair’s first Designer Tag Sale?

Red Chair Market is all about finding something unique and local, and we’re really excited to introduce Austin to some of our designers and craftspeople; many of whom have never showcased their products before.  We’ve got custom-made pillows from Room Fu Designs, discontinued samples of gorgeous furniture from the Treasury, unique vintage items from Retrospectives and handmade iron-and-glass furniture pieces from Happy Twigs designs, among many others.  They’ll also find a few of our own pieces at the Red Chair Market booth!  Those who want the first shot at some of these items can attend the VIP Preview and Brunch; sipping champagne while they shop.

Retrospectives Mid Century Modern Vintage Nightstands photo by Eclectic Images Photography

Or how about some Midcentury Modern Nightstands

3. You do not have to convince me of course but since you have an inside look in the wold of design, why do you think it’s important to hire an interior designer when getting a home or room/space together? 

With decorating, just like owning a business, it is really easy to get too close to the project to really see the potential.  I have a pretty good sense of style (I think!) and access to a lot of specialty items, but I still bring in a designer to help me pull it all together, especially since I have pretty eclectic taste.  There is a very fine line between “eclectic” and “messy”.  Even if someone has a more specific style in mind, the fine line also exists between a set of things that complement each other, and “matchy-matchy” (shudder).   In many cases a designer can also save money, knowing where to source less-expensive items and what elements can be economized without sacrificing style.  Finally, they do all the coordinating! As much as I love doing some things myself, having someone who can schedule the painter, tile installer and furniture delivery – AND know the quality, reliable resources – is worth its weight in gold.

Retrospectives Gold Gilt Hollywood Regency Side Table photo by Eclectic Images Photography

Or go for a table with gilted legs.

Here’s the details on the event:

A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit Preservation Austin and Habitat for Humanity’s Woman Build Project.

WHAT:            Red Chair Market’s Designer Tag Sale

WHEN:            Sunday, October 27, 2013
10:30am – 12:00pm VIP Brunch and Preview Sale
12:00pm – 5:00pm General Admission Shopping

WHERE:         Shoal Crossing Event Center
8611 N Mopac Expy
Austin, TX 78759

TICKETS:       Early Bird $25 (Available until October 5, 2013)
General Admission $30
Day of $35
VIP Preview and Brunch $75
https://rcmtagsale.eventbrite.com/    

PARKING:       Free parking available at event space

WEBSITE:       https://www.redchairmarket.com/info/tag-sale

I hope to see you there everybody! All of us needs help finding the finds, there’s going to be lots in this event!

Items by Retrospectives. Images by Eclectic Images.

Interior Design in Austin | E-Design everywhere. Contact me.

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