About cschrider

I am an interior design student at the University of Kentucky.

BLOG 13: DESIGN FOR WHAT MATTERS

This past week  was the last week of my semester working at Mees, however, I will be returning next spring semester. While I have been with Mees over two years now, I have learned that everyday brings a new experience and learning opportunity. This past Thursday was one of those days that I found to be very impactful and humbling due to two walk-in customers who were looking to replace their 19″x36″ vanity top.

The two customers were a mother accompanied by her 20 plus year old son who was legally blind. When I began working with the mother for a new vanity top for her son’s bathroom, I observed how she would reiterate information I had explained to her back to her son and asked if he would like to walk  with using his own cane. He responded yes and followed in tow using his cane to help detect stationary objects around him. We had walked to the very back of the showroom  at a slow pace so that his mother could help give her son some direction around the center display booths and tables.

Once we reached the back of the showroom, I reviewed Mee’s different granite, marble and quartz products that she could consider. To best understand what the stones were and felt like, the son used his sense of touch to feel the surface texture of the slabs while using his cane to detect objects his feet. There was one granite, called Black Pearl, that had a leathered finish it to it. It was interesting to see how the mother informed her son about the different stone finish and directed his hand to feel it’s different abrasions and texture. The son’s face lit up when he recognized its different surface texture/tactile finish and was able to contribute to the conversation. He paused for a moment and then posed a question about whether this particular finish would cause the stone to be more porous or sensitive to different elements. I let them know to the best of my knowledge that all natural stone must be sealed at least once a year, however, leathered finsih can do a better job of concealing smudges, marks, etc.

After reviewing the different granites, the mother found herself to be a fan of the Black Absolute 3cm and wanted to go over the different edge profiles for the vanity top. I brought her over a large diamond shaped piece of granite that displayed all of the different edge profiles she could have. After she felt them herself, directed her sons hand and told him to get a feel of the different edges. She smiled at me and whispered how it was important that he knew and understood the edges since he will be using the bathroom and that the sharper edges were something they should avoid. Her son used both his hands to scope and examine the different profiles while reviewing what each were aloud. This was really exciting to see take place as in school we discuss designing with ADA and universal design in mind; however,  I have yet to experience a real life design scenario where I see first hand how design really does impact others who may not have access to all five sense we are born with.

The son was able to provide us with his opinion on each and decided that safety and price point played a role in their decision of the demi-bullnose edge. For those who may not be familiar with a  bullnose edge, it is one where the exterior edge is rounded all the way over and under, therefore it has a radius. The demi-bullnose edge is rounded on the top edge but has a 90 degree corner on the bottom side of the top. Below, I have include a drawing that indicated the different edge profiles that one could specify.

Overall, my experience on Thursday working with these two customers was extremely pleasant and humbling. I felt like I gained an even greater perspective on design and how important designing  for our clients really is. Not only is design tackled from an aesthetic standpoint, but it must be approached from a health, safety, and functional standpoint, as well.

 

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link to image source: http://dfwgranite.com/options/edge-profiles/

 

BLOG 12: SPRING CLEANING OR HAPPY HOLIDAYS?

This past week at work, we have had an influx of customers, clients and builders pop in to pick up orders, lament material and place new orders in the rush of the holiday season. As As Christmas and New Years is right around the corner, our fabrication shop has been non-stop with templating and installing  counter tops and vanities. We have also been phasing out some manufacturers and product in replace of others, such as the tile manufacturing company, Wonder Tile. In the effort to condense the amount of samples and product and make room for the new, we began “spring cleaning” the showroom, storage closets and sample drawers. This way we will be able to navigate clients and customers to current runs, and samples and help minimize the amount of time spent on checking stock and contacting sales reps to find out information on product they may no longer produce.

First, Elizabeth and I began sorting out through our granite and marble drawers in the back of the showroom and pulling out old four by four pieces of material that we no longer have. This is common with natural stone as slabs are cut from different parts of rock where there is always variation in shade and veining. Some cuts of granite and marble are more rare than others and can no longer be found. Therefore, Elizabeth and I discarded old samples of slabs we no longer stock.

After straightening the drawers, we assisted our showroom manager in filing manufacturer books and info sheets as well as cleaning out our storage closet. A lot of manufacturers books and samples had to be thrown out due to dated information and phased out tile series. We had to update our front stock booths due to the removal of Stone Peak and the integration of Wonder Tile. Wonder Tile will be one of the larger manufacturers of tile we will stock in varied series and field tile sizes. Currently, we have a porcelain tile that mimics venatino marble as well as a bardiglio grey marble.

Below I have included an image of the Wonder Tile we will be stocking!

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BLOG 11: COMMUNICATION IS KEY

This past week, I learned that communication and following through are most vital in sales, jobs or a relationship in or outside of the business.

We had a customer that was eager to order stone panels for their fireplace mantel. However, When natural stone is chosen, we always make aware that there is always chance that there will be variation in all stone. We inform all customers of this, however, sometimes new homeowners are so excited and anxious to  start the design process that they’re willing to take chances about the physical appearance and aesthetic of varying product. With this said, they were not interested in ordering an updated sample of the natural stone panels. Unfortunately, when they receive the ordered stone, the product’s color varied from our showroom sample piece.

One of the spouses had placed the order and the other had originally seen the product before ordering; their was a lack in communication about checking with the other in regards to whether they should order an updated sample or not. Because of this, they wished for the manufacturer to take back their special order in replace of other product or to refund. This can become an issue when dealing with different manufacturers due to their policy. Fortunately, the manufacturer was willing to take back the disliked product order. However, we had placed a new  order for updated samples for the showroom and clients, and the manufacturer took two weeks to get the product to use because they had forgotten to send use the newly requested samples.

Normal lee time on special orders is five to seven business; however, because the manufacturer forgot to ship out new samples, this caused a lack of communication or awareness of the situation from the manufacturer to us and from us to the clients. Moreover, this lack in follow through and notification from the manufacturer’s end caused us to contact the manufacturer’s reps and points of contact multiple times in efforts to track down the sample tiles and find out what the issue was. Due to their internal issue of lack of communication and follow through, this effected our ability to efficiently provide samples back to our clients in standard time.  However, the issue had been resolved after the manufacturer reassured us that they would send out new samples as soon as possible and would refund our clients due to the discolor/inconsistency of the product from the sample.

This was a learning lesson for all of us as while we always inform our customers of the chance of variation in natural stone and offer the option of ordering an updated sample, we now will enforce this so our clients know EXACTLY what end product they will be receiving when dealing with natural stone. Moreover, we realize that while sometimes things accidentally fall between the cracks on the other end, we will continue to contact and be persistent to solve the issue and find the solution!

BLOG 10: REFLECTED EXPERIENCES

This past week, I actually presented to UK 101 design class on my experiences thus far as a design student, intern, and participant in the shadow-ship program through UKCoD. It was really rewarding to have the opportunity to share personal endeavors and experiences I have had since I began my journey at Mees and within the School of Interiors.

I explained to the class how I heard of the opportunity to work as a PAID design intern at Mees and how I tailored a design resume as well as went through two interviews to receive the internship. Moreover, I explained how my internship blossomed into what is so far a three year employment and have gained broad experience co-working with others in the design field as well as assisting licensed interior designers within the state of Kentucky who bring their clients into Mees to help pull together different materials for their projects. Something that I really harped on during my presentation was not being afraid to reach out to others and get outside your comfort zone to seek opportunities for yourself. As I had reached out to Mees on my own, I reaped the benefits of what was only to be a one semester paid internship that had turned into a permanent part-time job. Then I was able to later  earn internship credit for my continual work at Mees. Moreover, I have learned an extensive amount about product beyond tile, such as different natural stone like granite and marble, as well as its applications and adjacent products, such as grout and transition strips. One of the cool things about working as a design consultant in a showroom is that I get to work with real clients as well as their designers. For example, we had one of the interior designers come in from Anderson  & Rodgers, located out of Lexington, who brought a couple in who were building their new house. they were interested in two tiles from the Fiandre French Clay series: the 12×24 Sombre and the Flume. The couple originally matched both tiles with a coordinating 4×12 subway tile of the same colorways but then switched to two different mosaics from the manufacturer Onyx. The mosaics were 12×12 sheets of  1×1 squares of mixed material such as porcelain and glass with an iridescent touch.  My showroom manager was working directly with the designer and the couple while Elizabeth and I assisted in collecting tile dimensions, pricing and providing our personal feedback. It is always a great learning experience to see how a real designer interacts with her clients as well as allied workers in the field. The designer was extremely obliging, bubbly and quick to help pull samples and  provide appropriate design advice. She also was very understanding and empathetic with her clients, realizing that the design choices made were very important as they were permanent unless changed otherwise. Overall, I appreciated the process that was taking place and learned through observation how to communicate and collaborate on ideas with your client and allied designers for the best possible design solutions. Thinking back to my presentation  I gave on Tuesday to my experiences at Mees this week, I really am thankful of the design experiences AND opportunities I have received through UK as well as at my internship at Mees.

Below, I have included a link to the tile series which the designer and clients were incorporating into their master bathroom and guest bathroom.

http://www.granitifiandre.com/porcelain-tile/made-in-usa/french-clay/sombre/

BLOG 9: WHO KNOWS ABOUT ADA?

This past week, there was gentleman who came into Mees with questions about the waterproof shower system we carry called Wedi, and what we knew about ADA codes. I had asked him what his project was and he informed me that he was remodeling an apartment bathroom to be ADA compliant. He said the tenants of the apartment needed to be able to navigate throughout the space in a wheelchair. He had shown me his quick sketch of the shower and I saw that he did not have enough space for a five foot turning radius for an accessible wheel chair which is crucial for his  client. His stand up shower was only three feet in deep and four feet wide and he had a toilet sticking out from the right wall that took up close to two feet. As the toilet was protruding into the walk space, his options for fixing the issue were to orient the toilet in a different direction and change the plumbing, knock out the opposing wall to make for more width in the shower, drop his shower pan so he did not need to build a  small ramp for the wheel chair, or potentially water proof the bathroom and make the entire bathroom as accessible so his client did not have to squeeze into a tight shower. My boss and I reviewed our Wedi shower pans with him and the shower drain options. We sell three by five, five by six and five by seven shower pans which you can cut down to fit your shower better. We also have on center drains and offset shower drains both in circular and linear options.

One of his concerns was whether or not he needed 1 x1 inch tiles or if he could use 2 x 2 inch. If he used the larger 2 x 2 size tiles, he was concerned there would not be as great of a pitch to the shower drain, which could cause water to build up and not drain out. If he used the smaller  1 x 1 shower tile, he thought he may not have to change out the shower pan or drop it lower. As he was not 100 percent certain on all ADA codes, he shared with me that he really enjoyed doing this kind of remodel work  (ADA remodel) as he felt he was giving back and doing good in some form of way, he really wanted to learn how to properly build an ADA compliant space.To my surprise, he said he had contacted a number of sources to try to learn more about the standards and requirements, having contacting contractors and even officials who are in part of the ADA legislation. However, he struggled to get any solid help or feedback. I had suggested he get in contact with a certified interior designer, particularly one who specializes in kitchen and bath who has knowledge and experience in ADA accessible spaces. He exclaimed that was the best suggestion he has had yet. Moreover, he did not even realize that a wheel chair needed at least a five foot turning radius. While  I am still a student and am no expert in this area of design, I felt like I was applying what I had learned in school at work and was able to help someone else in the design work field advance on a job.

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BLOG 8: SOHO TILE IS ALWAYS THE FAVORITE!

This past week had been a fast and crazy one. For studio on Monday, my class took a roadtrip to Chicago and arrived back in Lexington on Wednesday. Needless to say, my work week started on Thursday instead of Tuesday. However, I jumped back into the showroom, sorting through new sample pieces and contacting the manufacturers for updated price sheets. One of the new series that Mees received was Soho’s new line of Baroque mosaics, featuring a Crackled, Floret, Lantern, and Ornate collection. All of the Baroque collections came in four color ways in a crackled or glazed finish. These are some of the more unique series that we have in our showroom as we do not have matching collections to the Floret, Lantern, or Ornate. Moreover, I am personally a fan of the Floret collection due to its organic lines, shape and color ways. The Floret also features a blend of both glazed and marble tile within the pattern. Overall, the design of the mosaic  reminds me of dolphin tails or sea plants.

SOHO’S website: http://www.sohostudiocorp.com/baroque

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BLOG 7: 6 FOOT, 7 FOOT, 8 FOOT….

One of the most applicable tasks that I have had to do at Mees which I can apply to my own work in design is calculating square footage. Before I began working at Mees tile,  I knew VERY little about what a  “square foot” actually meant, or how many inches are in a square foot. One thing that I had to pick up quickly was standard tile dimensions and how to calculate how much square footage there was per installation job. A square foot is 12 inches by 12 inches, which gives you 144 square inches. So, 144 inches equals one square foot. If I had to find out how many square feet there were in a shower install, I would take the number of inches provided per side of wall (ex. 60 inches x 108 inches) and divide it by 144 gives you the total square feet of that particular part of the shower. In this case there would be 45 square feet on that one side of the wall. If the inches were converted already into feet (60 inches = 5 feet) than you would multiply 6 by 9 (108 inches = 9 feet) to get 45 square feet. All this may seem like simple math, but sometimes it can get confusing when you are converting feet to inches or vise versa.

This past Tuesday, I helped one of my co-workers find the approximate square feet needed to tile part of her client’s bathroom. Below I have include a quick sketch and calculations to demonstrate how I figured the total square feet of the shower and half wall.

 

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