Week 6

During week 6 of my internship at Kentucky Lighting I have been able to learn more and more about lighting.  For Joe’s lighting class, we went on a field trip to Switch in Cincinnati, which is was extremely interesting.  The reason that I bring this up is because it was very interesting to compare a lighting showroom in Cincinnati vs a lighting showroom in Lexington.  Switch had many contemporary fixtures such that were LED integrated, and at Kentucky lighting there is contemporary fixtures, but the majority of the showroom is a traditional or restoration style of fixtures.  The reasoning for this is because the market in downtown Cincinnati is so much different than here in Lexington.  In Lexington, the client base is mainly residential that are looking for fixtures for a traditional style home. We do have clients who want modern, but the majority is traditional.  In downtown Cincinnati however, the majority of people coming in were wanting to have that modern type of lighting.  Joe explained how even different neighborhoods in Chicago have completely different styles of fixtures in their showrooms.  It is very interesting to see the culture of the location of the showroom come out in the fixtures that they display.

This week, there were again many clients that I helped assist while I was at work.  There were a few clients who wanted to purchase exterior wall mounted lights that were motion censored.  Kentucky Lighting does not actually carry products that have motion censors integrated within.  However, we do carry a product that is a motion censor that can be placed on the wall, and then the fixture would be placed on top of that.  The lighting fixture will be wired to this censor, making the lighting fixture motion censored.  This is a creative solution so the clients can have a high quality lighting fixture that is also motion censored.  A huge trend in residential lighting is under cabinet lighting.  I have not had too much exposure to this technology, but this Saturday I got a crash course.  We had a client come in where she wanted under cabinet lighting that was LED and could all be wired to the same switch.  When I first showed her our products she though that they were fluorescent, but all of our under cabinets are in fact LED.  Then one of my co-workers, Lee, explained to her that she could choose from two different color temperatures (2700k-3000k), and that all of them could be wired to the same switch.  Learning about under cabinets and in depth about how they work was very important to my base of lighting knowledge. Below are photos of some of the LED under cabinet lighting the Kentucky Lighting offers.

blog week 6.jpg

Week 5: Settling In

This week at Kentucky Lighting was another week full of learning experiences.  The previous week I had re-designed the sale lame section inside of the store.  Logistically, this is not as easy as it seems, just because lighting does require electrical outlets.  The way that it is set up in the showroom is that there are many outlets in the ceilings.  This is how fixtures are attached to the ceiling and are able to be turned on.  This is the same with lamps that are in the middle of the showroom.  When the lamps are backed up against a wall, it is easy just to plug them into an outlet, but if they are in the middle of the floor for a vignette, then there has to be a cord dropped from the ceiling to be able to illuminate the lamps.  Also, this has to be a discrete cord, not a typical bring orange extension cord.  Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of these discrete looking extensions cords, so some of the sale lamps were unable to be illuminated.  The good news is that we never turn on all of the lights, because that would take up way too much energy and produce too much heat.  So the solution ended up being that only a few of the lamps were turned on while other balanced the space out and remained off.

On Thursday, it was a little bit of a slow day, primarily my job was to re-configure the contemporary room.  The contemporary rooms is a space in the showroom that is somewhat separated from the rest of the showroom that features more contemporary lighting fixtures.  This includes LED lights, modern designed fixtures, and mostly a chrome finish.  The showroom is meant to feel more homey and welcoming, where as the contemporary room is meant to feel more sleek and modern.  Kentucky Lighting receives new product all the time, and we had received some new paintings.  These were placed in the contemporary room, so there were some adjustments that needed to be made.  There were some new mirrors to be hung and some new paintings, along with some new flush mounts.  Making small adjustments and re-configuring the room to make it more aesthetically pleasing really makes me feel accomplished because I am contributing to the showroom.  On Saturday, it was pretty busy per usual.  The week days are more slow and there are just designers and contractors who come in, but Saturdays are the days where mostly people come in to shop and look around. One particular couple stood out that I helped on Saturday, and they were looking for kitchen lights.  They wanted track lights above their island, and a semi-flush light over the kitchen table.  This was a little bit more difficult just due to the fact that we do not have a huge selection in the showroom of track lighting, and many of the fixtures don’t correlate with the track lights that we do have on display.  The couple did not end up making a purchase, but they had a much better idea of what they were looking for when they were done.

 

Below are examples of fixtures in the contemporary room. Blog post week 6.jpg

Week Four:

During my fourth week at Kentucky Lighting, I have continued learning new things about the company.  On Tuesday and Thursday I had a new task.  It was to look over an order that was purchased, and to record that into a computer system.  At first this was somewhat difficult, because I was using the computer system for the firs time, which was rather confusing.  But after I got the hang of it, the task became much easier.  Even though this just seems like busy work, it is very crucial to the company.  It is important to keep track of all of the fixtures that are being purchased, and which ones and how many.  This also proved to be a useful task because I got to see how the ordering worked.  I got to see how much the prices changed, the quantities of everything ordered, and which product was ordered. This gave me a much better understanding of how ordering is done, and what the new product is that will be coming into the showroom.

Saturday at the showroom is always busy.  This Saturday was not as bad as usual though.  We still had a fair amount of customers, but not too many. Since I still don’t know how to work the system properly, I cannot fully carry out a sale, but I still do my best to help customers to the best of my ability.  This includes doing things such as directing them to the correct area, giving suggestions, and finding other products that they might be interested in.  Also, on Saturday I was able to rearrange the sale lamps.  This does not seem like an exciting task, but I enjoyed it.  I took all of the lamps, which were just randomly placed on a large table, and divided them up into three groups.  The groups were based on the style, so there was a colored glass group, a neutral group, and a silver group.  Dividing the lamps up into smaller clusters really helped highlight the product and make it look for desirable for clients.  I really enjoyed this task because it made me feel very useful, and that I was contributing to the showroom. Below are photos of the clusters of lamps in the sale area. IMG_0791.JPGIMG_0794.JPGIMG_0793.JPGIMG_0789.JPG

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.

 

edgeprof

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!

wondertile

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/