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Cosmopolis, Take 1 & Take 2

Paul Manley, Intern, Dominican High School Student


Take 1

There was a word that was just recently brought to my attention which seemed rather fitting to write about. That word—as you may have guessed from the title—is 'Cosmopolis'. It refers to “a city inhabited by people from many different countries” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). Across our country, it is difficult to shed a bright light on our diversity without citing all of our segregation and tension. Some cities believed they were free and better than the riots that had been going on across the country. I never thought any of this would come to Milwaukee either: unfortunately, I was wrong.

I’m sure we’ve all heard enough coverage of the recent arsons and violent protests in the Sherman Park area and a lot of it is really a shame. The protests seemed to be a highly media-propagated event, with some initial headlines reading, “African American Man Shot While Running Away by White Officer.” Since more information came out, we now know this not to be the case, yet Black Lives Matter Activists took this as an excuse to riot and “protest.” However, the victim’s sister, Kimberly Neal said to reporters, “At the end of the day, acting out ain’t gonna solve nothing.” This sums up what a lot of people are thinking in the wake of all of this, and something that “protestors” like these need to understand.

The worst part about this violence is that no one is spared. Everyone feels the consequences of the few, even well to do people at home, watching all of this unfold on their local news stations. Even I have been affected by this. Because of the protests, Mayor Tom Barrett imposed a new summer curfew for teens. Instead of being off the streets by eleven o’clock, we now need to be off by ten. It is yet to be heard whether this curfew will be temporary, but so far, no one knows. It seems to have had its desired effect though, as it was respected after it was imposed, and there was no rioting that night.

In times like these, we need to work together to solve our problems, not be segregated and cause more. If Black Lives Matter wants to fight a good fight, they need to recognize that sometimes, they are wrong. Sometimes, police need to protect themselves. Sometimes, while staring down the barrel of a gun a police officer will shoot to save his own life. Racial discrimination is still a problem, but rioting will solve nothing. People need to come together instead of driving each other further apart. Only then can we solve our problems and peace can be forever restored. Free from our hatred and worries, we can then live in a wonderful, harmonic cosmopolis.


Take 2

It was around the year 1908 when the term “Cultural Melting Pot” was coined by people around the United States to try to bring to light the great diversity our nation was built upon. Since that time, diversity of nationalities has grown quite a bit in the United States, with most of our cities becoming cosmopolises. A cosmopolis is a term used to describe a city that is very culturally and ethnically diverse. And just look at our diets alone. As Americans, we enjoy not only “American Food” but also a whole multi-cultural range of cuisine.

Every year at our school, we participate in something called Multi-Cultural Day. During this day, we participate in workshops that teach us customs about certain cultures. Last year, I learned how to make Spanish street food and how to add a soulful touch to my jazz drumming. After we finished with that, it is off to lunch where we stop by various ethnic food trucks. To wrap up the day, we see performances in our theatre, mostly of cultural dances, music, and ceremonies.

But it is not only through school that I experience other cultures. Through events like Polish, Irish, and German Fest, I can delve into the food and music of their respective nationalities. Milwaukee is also a great cosmopolis with UWM on the east side, attracting many different young people from many different ethnic backgrounds. Once again, my high school is also a centerpiece of diversity, with kids of all different ethnicities coming together as friends and scholars.

Another thing unique to the United States is that we have no official language on a federal level. English is considered the de facto national language; however there are many families across the States that do not speak English as their primary language. Along with varying languages, cultures, holidays, and religions are also quite varied from family to family. Generally, these cultures and traditions are accepted throughout America, adding to the “flavor” of America’s cultural melting pot.

The diversity and acceptance in this country has been amazing and an example for other countries to marvel at. Most of our cities can be considered cosmopolises and most of our cultures and traditions can be traced to other countries. This is what makes America unique, and what should be maintained throughout the upcoming years. This is why America needs to remain diverse.




Ireland 2016 - Part 3 - Making an Irish Film

by Paul Manley


My trip to Ireland with Dominican High School had a definite purpose and that was to capture film for two short movies we will be creating. Everyone on the trip had assigned jobs and as you may have guessed by now, I was the photographer. My friends had jobs such as actors/actresses, camera operators, directors, and even executive producer. They all took their jobs very seriously and we even finished our filming early, allowing for more time to go sightseeing and hang out with each other. As well as our actors and actresses from Dominican, we also had one actress that we met in Ireland who helped us complete our movies.




Ireland 2016 - Part 2 - Ireland's Natural Beauty

by Paul Manley


Throughout our trip in Ireland, we saw countless amounts of gorgeous nature as we traveled to each of our destinations. One of the first places we visited was the Giants Causeway. This mass of hexagonal stone is a natural wonder that we all got to climb around on and enjoy. No one really knows how this abundance of stone came to be.  The group heard the legend of the causeway and some theories as to how it came to be. We, however, preferred the legends.


Another wonder, though not entirely natural, was Slea Head Drive, located in County Kerry. This road is a one way mountain pass with a road just wider than our vans. We got to stop in pockets along the road every so often to take pictures and film some scenes for our movies. At one point, were able to climb down the side of the mountain to a lookout point which was a popular spot for pictures. To the left is a picture of one of my friends standing at the lookout point.


Of course a narrative about the Natural wonders in Ireland would not be complete without mention of the Cliffs of Moher. When we arrived, the weather wasn’t terrible and we assumed we would have yet another nice day. But about fifteen minutes into our adventure, the skies opened up and we were soaked within five minutes. One thing about rain however, is that it saturates the colors of everything it touches, making for some fantastic photographs.


I’ve been to a few national parks across America and some state parks here in Wisconsin, but never have I seen such beauty in nature. The green color of the fields and pastures was so intense, like nothing I had ever seen before. The cliffs were so large and sheer—so much so that an apt appreciation of them can only be obtained in person. This trip has made me want to travel more around the world and uncover the beauty in the places I visit. Hopefully, I will be able to find some national parks around America that astound me as much as Ireland has, but so far, they have yet to do so.




Ireland 2016 - Part 1

by Paul Manley

On the first day of summer in 2016, a group of twenty-one Dominican Students, including me, and three adults arrived in Ireland. Our purpose there was to both see the wonders and beauty Ireland had to offer, as well as to film some short movies we were producing. Being an intern at Chemistry in Place, I had learned about the concept of Placemaking during the previous summer. Because of this, I was able to apply that knowledge to Ireland in both my observations and experiences throughout the country. This is the first of six articles that will be published over the next two weeks recounting my trip so stay tuned to hear more and see more photos from this incredible journey! 




Chemistry in Place

by Pat Algiers

"Chemistry in Place" - how did we come up with that?

We think that after all is said and done, the result of designing an environment - be it interior or exterior space or for the public sector or the private sector - should be the creation of a 'sweet spot'. Our definition of a sweet spot is a place that is magnetically attractive. A place with chemistry is special, intuitive, efficient & functional, memorable, and magical. We like to think our process can do just that for you and thereby deliver 'Chemistry in place' to your environment.

Chemistry in Place is mighty powerful.




Locally sustainable

by Pat Algiers

The creation of locally sustainable commerce districts is necessary for the sustainability of our nation. Ask what is unique about your particular town, city, or village and the answers to its sustainability will follow. Take a look at these cities and see what your thoughts are. Click the link below for the photo essay on communities across the county.


Photo essay on sustainable communities




Design matters

by Pat Algiers

Clients embark on projects because they matter. With the prime motivation of business sustainability and/or growth, the design outcome makes a huge difference in the company's viability. The following is what 'matters':

·How the space works

·How the space feels

·How the space looks

·How the space impacts

·How the space reflects stakeholders input

·How the space evolves with time

·How the space transcends cultural differences

·How the space imprints

·How the space evokes emotion

·How the space provides an experience

·How the space creates a positive, long lasting memory

·How the space was economically built and can economically be maintained

·How the space attracts and retains employees and clients

Are there other things that matter in the outcome of your project?






Problem solving

by Albert Einstein

"The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them."




Renderings to reality

by Dan Makouske

When proceeding on a path through secondary schooling, a student in the world of design (architecture) spends many hours designing detailed projects. These projects often dive into the realm of a buildable project. However, being just a student means projects dont come to fruition. Having now entered a world beyond sleeping on questionable furniture in campus buildings, its great to have some spent hours turn into a built space. Although its not my own design, even contributing a small amount as a part of team toward a project is rewarding.




Final Design




Let's stop the madness

by Abbey Algiers

I met my German friend Silke while studying abroad years ago. We still keep in touch, maybe every month or so via email. This past Saturday morning, I was awake early, doing work. Like most times that I am working when I don’t exactly feel like it, I found myself doing anything but the task at hand. Online shopping, mapping my next run, investigating last minute travel deals, and of course, checking my email. I was excited to see that my friend Silke was online at the same time as me, which is something that rarely occurs due to the time difference and our crazy schedules. I asked her what she was doing (laying on her couch on a rainy Saturday); she asked me the same. I told her I was doing work. She couldn't believe it.

"WORK? On a Saturday? What is wrong with you Americans?" The sad thing was, I didn’t really think anything of it- of course I did work on Saturdays. After razzing me for a bit more, she wrote a few more things, and then signed her email "Stop Working."

Stop working? What a concept. I considered this notion as I continued to work that Saturday-day, Saturday night at Starbucks, and then Sunday morning. It dawned on me that I work... a lot. Most of us work a lot - so much that, true relaxation is something we squeeze in between our jobs, our side jobs, our families, and the business of running all of the above. Then there's the issue of exercise, self-maintenance (manicures and pedicures are hard work, come on), grocery shopping, laundry, and bill paying. In addition, while we're doing things that actually are not related to our jobs, we still carry our jobs with us, courtesy of our phones, iPhones, Blackberries, and other devices we can't seem to live without. We are connected 24-7, so why would we expect that the notion of un-connecting and checking out would seem something other than horrendous?

The economy really doesn't help my cause for reducing the number of hours we as Americans spend outside the office. If we have jobs, we sure want to keep them... hence the cycle of madness that keeps us going like an Energizer Bunny in a suit and Allen Edmond's. While we can try to be more efficient during our workdays and limit the amount of work we do at home, realistically we are going to have to work after hours from time to time. Or maybe even more than that. So what is the solution? How can we stop the cycle without starting another one that would involve unemployment and a job search?

I think the answer may lie literally in the palm of our hands... in the technology that is designed to improve communications and efficiency, not take over our lives. At my house, the rule for my teenage step kids is no technology at the dinner table. Adults put limits on technology with kids all the time... but do we really do the same for ourselves? Personally, I develop tremors and start to sweat if I forget my iPhone at home, even when I'm leaving for a short time. Thinking back to my initial Saturday morning email exchange, I realize that if I had just bit the bullet and ignored my email and all other Internet temptations, I'd have gotten the job done a lot faster. Similarly, at home, if I would put my phone aside and not pick it up unless it... RINGS... maybe I'd get a lot more done there too. Or maybe I wouldn't get anything done at all, which would also be a good thing.

Keep working hard, but don't forget to pull the plug every now and then.





by Barcie Benzschawel

The day started off on such a high note. Sunshine and warm weather were predicted, I was experiencing a good hair day (low humidity levels) and none of my kids had late night sleepovers. Perfect. Then the breaking news emergency. . .Brett Favre was no longer retired but was leaving for Minneapolis to play for the Vikings!! What?? I am so over Brett constantly changing his mind. We all make decisions that may or may not affect others, but this back and forth is really disrupting Packer Nation and ESPN. Brett, good luck (not really), but I hope the Packers win big this year against your new team!

So now my day has had a bump in the road, but it will turn around for the better, I am very optimistic. It is still very sunny out, I’ve had a chance to get a latte with whip, and my hair still looks awesome (for me at least)! I start to pull together material for an upcoming meeting when my mind starts to wander. . .others in our business go to work for the competition like my buddy Brett. Why is his decision any different than ours? If it is only a lateral move is it really worth the agony of running into someone from your last firm or business? The awkward silence is unbearable. Is it more acceptable if you have been promoted to a more responsible position at a new firm/business thus clarifying your reason for leaving? In this economy, it is more common than not, that to get a new job at the competition is pretty tough let alone get a new job at all. I can’t wait to see the fans reaction once Brett plays against Green Bay. Will it be awkward or just business as usual?

Then there are the “lifers” at companies that never leave. This is not a good situation either. It is all the different work experiences that make you a better employee. You are able to pull solutions from your past that may be in a whole different direction.

So, the day goes on - I am avoiding the news coverage of Brett in a purple helmet (very hard to watch), and hoping that all this news coverage is over soon. I need to get on with my life, so luckily a new season of "Top Chef" starts tomorrow!




Big box v. boutique

by Tammy Beyreis

'Tis the season for holiday shopping. Letters to Santa are being written, our home's interior has been transformed into an homage to all things Christmas (yes, I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet but if you had to haul 60+ boxes of decorations you'd want to enjoy them for a good long time too.), and holiday shopping has begun. The kids are pretty easy to shop for. They're every advertiser's fondest dream with a wish list pulled right from the tidal wave of TV commercials that washes ashore every year at this time. So a single trip to any one of the many big box stores will polish off their lists in short order.

That's what I like about the big box places; they're easy, they're quick, and they're pretty much guaranteed to have all the standard mass-produced things I'm looking for. But what do you get for the 80-year-old mom who, if she wants something, will have already gotten it for herself? For the spouse of 15+ years what do you get that isn't trite or redundant? Or what do you get that friend with whom you have a "friendly" game of one-upmanship to see who can find the coolest gift for the other?

For these special things you have to "think outside the box". This is where the boutique stores shine. These are the places where you find the unique, the quirky, and the sublime. A boutique is where you find something you never knew you wanted but now that you see it you know you can't live without it. That is because a boutique operates on a personal level. The big box provides generic mass-produced items to the generic masses but a boutique takes items that the owner has lovingly chosen and offers them up to you based on your specific style and taste. Boutiques may be small, but if you want something truly special and unique, smaller is better.
So this year my mom's getting something I'm pretty confident that she's never even heard of before but will swear it was made specifically for her. To my friend all I can say is "I'm soooo winning this year". And to my spouse-nice try-you won't find out here what I got for you.




The procrastinator

by Tammy Beyreis

Everywhere we look we are bombarded with news, anecdotes and horror stories about the economy. Sometimes it seems that it is all anyone ever talks about. The last thing you probably want to read about is the economy. Well, tough, because I'd like to take this time to bring to the light one of the hidden victims of the E-word: The Procrastinator.

I'm sure you all know someone who is a procrastinator. They may be a co-worker, a friend, or even a relative (but surely not you). When times were good and work was plenty these people had dozens of plausible excuses - I mean reasons - why they just couldn't do something right then.

"You know, dear, I would love to clean out that garage but I am just so swamped at work that I really have to bring stuff home and work over the weekend."

"Really honey, you know I'd love to spend a couple weeks driving cross-country with your parents but I really have too much to do to take a vacation right now."

"I know our office space really isn't working for us but we're much too busy right now to deal with the disruption of remodeling or even trying to figure out what we need."

But now, the Procrastinator is finding himself with more time and fewer excuses resulting in what I like to call Procrastinitus. Common symptoms of Procrastinitus are: anxiety, vacant stares, sitting in a messy garage, basement, or attic staring at the piles of stuff for long periods of time. If you know someone suffering from these symptoms take heart: you can help. First, give them a task that has absolutely nothing to do with anything you actually need them to finish. This task should be unappealing. This will give them something to put off doing and bring them back into their comfort zone. Some options are; purging paper files, rewriting the employee's handbook or cleaning out the office refrigerator. Secondly, provide them with a job that supplies them with a reason to put off the nastier task. This job should be enjoyable as well as constructive. If you have a group of procrastinators this works even better because you can form a committee. Examples of this type of job could be; working with an architect/interior designer/branding expert to define what works and doesn't work in your current office space, or defining your business objectives and working with an architect/interior designer/branding expert to design a space plan that makes your company primed and ready to take advantage of the recovery. (I'd give more examples but this blog is due right now and I have to send it out. Suffice it to say, all examples would involve working with an architect/interior designer/branding expert. Subtle, huh!)

So do your part to stamp out Procrastinitus. The excuse you save may be your own.




Look into the crystal ball

by Pat Algiers

Last year at this time I spent the weekend in New York. That trip - and the financial events concurrent to it - triggered my ongoing and intensive study of how we will live, work and play in the future. I have forced myself to devour lifestyle, business and entertainment publications; attended seminars, conferences and conventions; and quizzed my friends, family, business associates, and strangers on how their worlds have changed and how they see our collective worlds converging to lead the "new normal" to a new way of living, working and playing.

Two conventions were particularly insightful: the Congress for New Urbanism Conference in Denver, reinforcing my belief that the density and sustainability of the urban environment done right will be a profound economic bailout; and the International Downtown Association Conference in Milwaukee, adding insight to how and why consumer spending will return.

To supplement my virtual education and enlightenment, I looked to great thinkers of the past to find their thoughts on the future. Here are some inspired quotes for your consideration:


"There is nothing like a dream to create the future." Victor Hugo

"The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there." L.P. Hartley

"If you do not think about the future, you cannot have one." John Galsworthy

"The illiterate of the future are not those who can't read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn." Alvin Toffler

"Somewhere, there is something incredible wanting to be known." Carl Sagan

"Whatever made you successful in the past, won't in the future." Lew Platt

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." Eric Hoffer




Unheard of

by Danny Peterburs

2009 was a year in which many big name music artists returned to pop star prominence through the release of their respective albums. Familiar names like Beyonce, Jay-Z, The Black Eyed Peas, and John Mayer made significant contributions to the soundtrack of '09, while the death of Michael Jackson ignited a rebirth of his timeless musical catalog. Along with these artists came new comers like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, whom certainly made their mark and saw plenty of success in 2009.

All of these artists you've probably heard of before, right? But what about the artists that you haven't heard of? Every year there are dozens of independent, lesser known artists that release inspiring, creative, and sometimes ground breaking music that will never be played on FM radio, MTV, or during the opening credits of Grey's Anatomy. It is unfortunate that these artists don't get the recognition that they deserve.

Listed below are my Top 10 Albums of 2009 that you've never heard of:

10. Dan Deacon - Bromst

For Bromst, Dan Deacon took his collection of synthesizers and drum machines, combined them with a wide range of percussive sounds and created a MIDI masterpiece. The over-compression and busy tempos of Bromst may turn off a lot of music fans, but the experimentation and creativity is undeniable. Stand out songs are: "Snookered" and "Build Voice."

9. The Juan MacLean - The Future Will Come

Spaced out funk is the best way to describe this album. Try to imagine Parliament Funkadelic sped up to a disco tempo, combined with the sultry vocals of Nancy Whang. Stand out songs are: "Happy House" and "One Day."

8. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon: The End Of Days

While his mentor, Kanye West, was committing career suicide (See VMA Taylor Swift debacle) Kid Cudi released this hip hop/electronic/soulful collection of songs that introduced himself as a complex jokester with a heart. Stand out songs are: "Alive" and "Make Her Say."

7. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Experimental, psychedelic, and folk rock, all make Veckatimest a great representation of this little known band from Brooklyn. Keep releasing music like this, and Grizzly Bear's popularity will blossom. Stand out songs are: "Two Weeks" and "“Ready, Able."

6. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

Probably my favorite pure rock album of the year, Bitte Orca is sonically amazing. Sometimes compared to the White Stripes, Dirty Projectors will blow your speakers and soothe your eardrums from song to song. Stand out songs are: "Stillness Is The Move" and "No Intention."

5. Mos Def - The Ecstatic

In a year where Jay-Z, Eminem, and 50 Cent all put out rap albums, this one somehow was overlooked. Mos Def's flow is infectious, and his beats provide the perfect backdrop for his gritty and sometimes soulful street tales. Stand out songs are: "Auditorium" and "Life In Marvelous Times."

4. The XX - XX

I heard someone say that the XX are like dark 80s new wave. Not a bad description of this band from London. The haunting vocals of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim will have you singing along to this heartbreaking collection of duets. Stand out songs are: "Crystalised" and "Night Time."

3. Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care

Electronic/Pop duos from Canada don't get recognized for much of anything at all. Junior Boys are making it hard to dismiss the idea that electronic music can be inspiring and soulful. Stand out songs are: "Hazel" and "Work."

2. Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion

It is impossible to categorize Animal Collective into one genre. This album is full of ear candy from melodic soundscapes, to harmonizing vocals, and psychedelic explorations. Stand out songs are: "My Girls" and "Summertime Clothes."

1. Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires

This album was originally released in 2008 but was re-released in 2009 because of a growing demand in Aeroplane's remix of "Paris." Friendly Fires combine danceable funk grooves with electronic synth pop, sometimes referred to in Europe as "dance punk." Every song pulsates with life and lead singer Ed Macfarlane's vocals will captivate you with every lyric. Stand out songs are: "Paris," "Strobe," and "Skeleton Boy."




Architecture in 4-D

by Tammy Beyreis

2009 seems to be the year of the 3-D movie (at least if you're the parent of kids who love Disney). Once, while waiting to see a 3-D movie, I saw trailers for at least four other upcoming 3-D extravaganzas. But as my jaded six and eight year-olds will tell you, 3-D is sooooooo two minutes ago. The real hardcore experience is 4-D. You need to feel the ogre sneeze on you; your hair needs to be ruffled as the alien experiment breathes down your neck; the very earth beneath you needs to quake with the monsters' footsteps.

What on earth does this have to do with architecture? I feel that architecture falls into the same categories as other traditionally visual experiences: 2-D, 3-D and 4-D. Okay, I realize that technically all architecture is 3-D but I'm speaking on a more metaphorical level. (I'm an architect, it’s what I do.)

Like movies, I believe that the vast majority of architecture is 2-D. Examples would include most mass-produced architecture like strip malls, cookie cutter subdivisions, and one-size fits all office spaces. It usually fulfils the most basic requirements adequately in the same way that a cardboard box will generally be able to hold anything you can shove into it. But 2-D architecture ultimately lacks the ability to engage the user or viewer in any meaningful way.

The more prominent architecture falls into the 3-D category. This would be what I call architecture as art and as such, a highly visual experience. Architectural magazines are abound with examples of 3-D architecture. These creations are impressive and get great press coverage. However, all too often when the magazine photographers have left, and the creators and financiers have taken their bows and exited stage left, the end users of the spaces remain to try to figure out how to perform their daily tasks within the confines of this work of art. I mean. . . am I the only one here that has looked at the beautiful glass walled homes in Architectural Record and pitied the occupants' lack of freedom to enjoy Sunday breakfast in their pajamas or to behave like complete idiots playing with their children without putting on a show for all neighbors and passersbys? 3-D architecture can be beautiful and awe inspiring but is generally remote from daily routine.

So what is 4-D architecture? To me, 4-D architecture is built environments that encourage and facilitate physical interaction with users. Let's use office space as an example. A 4-D office is just as much an employee as every human that works within it. It is your head of marketing announcing to every visitor exactly what your company stands for. It is the HR director inviting in new talent and showing them how great it would be to work in this space. It is your accountant making sure that work flows efficiently and economically. A 4-D office is an active participant in a well-run business. Its beautiful but also functional.

2-D and 3-D architecture are sooooo two minutes ago. Why should the kids get all the cool stuff?! 4-D for everyone!




Business development styles - CHI MAD MKE

by Pat Algiers

For the last three years, I have been travelling to both Madison and Chicago from Milwaukee on a regular basis. I find it very interesting that each city has a remarkably different business networking style.

For instance, who would think that on a Tuesday (or Wednesday or for that matter Thursday) night dozens of Chicago downtown and near loop restaurants would be as busy as a few Milwaukee restaurants are on Valentine's Day? The thing is that the clientele aren't on dates - they are with co-workers, business associates, and clients, developing business. It was enlightening for me, and my Milwaukee business associates, to find this out as we navigated doing business Chicago-style.
As for Madison, from observation and participation, coffee and lunch are big information exchanges and signify who's in the know. When in Madison, I marvel while casually observing (eavesdropping?) on conversations at tables near mine as they hold court, Madison-style, in the places "regulars" go to around the Square. When spring comes, you'd think it was Paris as the tables and chairs spill onto the sidewalks and the who's who congregate to be seen and make things happen.

As for Milwaukee, the "third places" are the home-grown coffee shops - Alterra and Stonecreek topping the list - at least in the neighborhoods I frequent. Networking is alive and well in them but it takes a whole different form in the business breakfasts so popular with the Business Journal and Biztimes. Commercial brokers do their thing to connect over the cocktail hour (brokers like their cocktails) and golf outings. As for after hours - and the bars and restaurant scene that is alive and well in Chicago - well that is another matter in Milwaukee.

Curious to see if there was a Milwaukee after hours networking scene, a group of my business associates and I conducted an informal survey of our fellow travelers - 10 to be exact - when we recently returned from Chicago on the 8:05pm Amtrack. We asked them all the same question: Do you business network on weeknights in Milwaukee? If not, why not? Here are the answers:

1.No, my son is in soccer.
2.No, my three children are in soccer.
3.No, I have soccer practice.
4.No, Grey's Anatomy is on Thursday night and I try to get everything else I need to get done on the other nights.
5.No, I'm into Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter - hate to sound anti-social, but I'd rather be on-line.
6.No, my wife has me on a short leash.
7.No, my mother has dinner ready at 6:00 pm - oh. . .I still live at home. (The respondent was in his late thirties.)
8.No, we are into reality TV and Dancing with the Stars - would hate to miss any of it for networking.
9.Yes, but I won't call it business development - I am just trying to get a date.
10.No, I am a vegetarian and for some reason most appetizers are meatballs on a toothpick.


OK, so there you have it - our informal survey that made the train ride back to Milwaukee so much more entertaining.

BTW: do you work on business development in Milwaukee bars and restaurants after work on weeknights?





by the team at Chemistry in Place

What is an 'Innovator'? Here is what some of the Innovators think...

Tammy Beyreis
"An innovator is one who uses solutions of the past not as a roadmap but as a springboard carrying them to new heights and new solutions."

Abbey Algiers
"An innovator is one who not only thinks outside the box, but creates alternatives to the box."

Barcie Benzschawel
"An innovator creates intelligent solutions recognizing the challenges of today's world."

Eric Fowler
"An innovator looks beyond the way things have always been done in search of the best way to do a job - different tools, different workflow.This is done with the understanding that not all organizations can implement the "best" solution right away. An innovator not only finds ways to improve, but to improve incrementally. Ultimately, incremental wins (quick wins) are achieved; which gets buy-in from management and staff, and gets the client more productive sooner."

Dan Makouske
"An innovator not only develops new and creative solutions, they go above and beyond to successfully implement them."




Thoughts on what makes design successful

by Pat Algiers

Successful design is a tangible (and intangible) artistic, functional and emotional expression; strategic investment which assists in formulating, translating and expressing an organization's structure and work style. Successful design allows for almost immediate embracement and understanding of the environment - feeling "at home" within a short time. It allows people to connect and produce with little downtime. It helps clients, vendors and guests understand the company with little introduction or explanation.

Successful design is the product of a keen understanding of the company's business model and differentiation; management; employees; customers (or clients); and position in the industry. It mimics nature's understanding of form and function.

In our experienced-based society, successful design leaves a positive, long-lasting memory. It is seamless, vertically and horizontally integrated without disconnects. It references all aspects of a built environment, presenting a flawless message of who the company is, personifying the inanimate and bringing to life the answer to the fundamental question: "who, not what, is the company?"

Asking the company "who are you?" lets the design team begin the process to instill life in a seemingly lifeless entity. The answer engages a multi-disciplinary design team to create a branded solution. Truly branded solutions require input from many points of view, so consequently, a multi-disciplinary team begins the process, asking:

'Who are you?' is followed by:
What are you?
What is your vision?
What do you do?
How do you do it?
Why do you do it?
What differentiates you?

The answers to these questions give clues to the brand statement. The brand statement is a succinct statement that guides the design team to deliver a successful solution. By referencing the brand statement, the design teams ask one question of each and every decision throughout the process: Is this in keeping with the brand statement or not? Successful design corresponds with the brand statement in every manner.




Quotes on change

by Pat Algiers

How can we learn to embrace "change" from quotes that have survived time?

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are a certain to miss the future." - John F. Kennedy

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew." - Abraham Lincoln

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly" - Richard Bach




Bonjour de Paris!

by Iva Devcic

Traveling has always been a passion of mine. Experiencing new cultures and interacting in a foreign environment can be overwhelming, but I find it exciting. It may include getting lost a few times and having to walk countless miles in a pair of shoes that give you blisters, no matter how comfortable you may have believed they were, but this is all part of the experience of discovery and adventure. Ever since... For the full article please click here





New inspiration

by Adam Goss

In 1988 a gentleman named William H. Whyte created an amusing, engaging, and knowledgeable film that documented the social life of New York's Seagram Plaza. In "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" the simple tools of observation and interviews show how one can learn an incredible amount about how to make our cities more livable.

For whatever reason - expensive equipment, not enough time, no experience - films like "The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces" were never created again (at least not in a full production like Whyte's film.) However, with today's technical savvy society and more affordable equipment, films like Whyte's can be created again, even on modest budgets.

We at Spirit of Space have longed to do such a film, and our chance came this past weekend. There is a design competition currently being held at the grounds of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. "The site has become a kind of island - severed and isolated from the rest of the city - on its west, north, and south - and from the Mississippi River and points east. Now, in the spirit of Saarinen, new inspiration is being sought." Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, one of the teams in the competition, sent Spirit of Space to the arch to use the simple tools of observation and interviews to find out what people's perceptions are of the Gateway Arch grounds.

What came out of this was dynamic research that experientially shows the good and not-so-good qualities of the arch grounds. It features general observations about circulation, accessibility, usability, what parts drew people, what parts kept people away, what parts mattered, what parts did not. It also features interviews from individuals visiting the site: locals and visitors. We often forget that everyone uses the built environment on a daily basis, and because of this everyone has a say in what the built environments means to them. And our research proved that the everyday users know exactly what works, what doesn't, and what could be different.

William H. Whyte was on to something in 1988. Twenty some years later we are figuring that out.




Communication breakdown

by Danny Peterburs

I can remember when I was younger how hard it was to approach a girl I had a crush on. I had to muster up enough courage to walk over to her, and then somehow speak the right words to convince her that I was cool enough to be in her presence. Maybe she gave me her phone number, which is great until it comes time to make that dreaded first call. You know, the ones where you practice what you are going to say before dialing the number? So maybe I've made it this far and got through that awkward conversation. Perhaps I was even able to set up a first date. Wow, a first date! That can be more nerve-racking than what it took to get to this point. Getting to know someone while trying to exude the best representation of myself isn't always easy. But you always learn from your mistakes, and you get better with each experience, good or bad. Finally, when you grow up and become an adult, communication between yourself and other people is a lot easier than when you were 13 years old.

It's too bad that 13 year olds today are not going down this same path of learning what it's like to be a personable human being. Instead of actually approaching someone, they can send him or her a friend request on Facebook. Instead of making that dreaded first phone call, they can shoot them a text message or email. Because of online dating, and social networking sites, they don't need to worry about being adults and getting to know people through uncomfortable social interactions. Most of the information gained through first and second dates can be discovered simply by viewing someone's "profile." I am 30 years old and I refuse to call myself old fashioned, but kids growing up today are not learning the proper communication skills that I believe are necessary to be successful and happy. Therefore, listen to me when I say please:







Let the sun shine in

by Dan Makouske

Well, its March and winter is on its way out. Its once again time for a good dose of Vitamin D. If you've felt a little unmotivated throughout the winter season, it could be because we live in the northern hemisphere (and also one of the cloudiest cities in the country). Lack of sunlight can lead to seasonal depression and is a serious issue for many people. However, the seasons are changing so its time to make some adjustments. Even though its still chilly outside, make sure to spend some extra time soaking up the rays. Eat lunch with your mittens on, take a walk before work, or read the newspaper on your porch. Getting extra sunlight can improve your mood, and even help increase your productivity. Don't forget, for soon it will be June and you'll be cranking your AC and putting on hats to combat the suns devilish rays. Its the best time of year for soaking it up!




Award season

by Barcie Benzschawel

I love award shows! Should I be embarrassed? I say not. Many people plan their night around the upcoming events, right??? Wait, maybe it is just me. The day of the Oscar's I literally start watching the "E" channel mid afternoon to make sure I don't miss anything. The Golden Globes, which aired this month, are especially entertaining since the stars are grouped together with coworkers and drinks are available. This is a guarantee for good television.

My favorite part about award shows would have to be when the stars walk the red carpet. Who doesn't enjoy calling out a movie star's dress that is completely inappropriate or just ridiculous? If you did end up watching the globes, Mariah Carey is a good example. Wow, I was nervous my 14 year old son would walk into the room during her interview-that's how inappropriate she looked. Lady Gaga is in a category all by herself, she is definitely out-there. I think most of us would enjoy the opportunity to get all dressed up, have our hair and make-up done professionally, and mingle with movie stars. That probably adds to the appeal of the award show season.

No matter if it is an actor, movie, or pop-artist, there is always someone that you are "pulling for" that you want to win their category. Everyone has a favorite and that makes these shows worth watching.

As interior designers Pat and I get to attend an ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) Gala this weekend, not the same as the Oscars, but as close as we get in metro Milwaukee. No red carpet, but awards are given out, and designers get a chance to thank their clients and team members for all their hard work. I am happy to say that Pat has entered a project this year, and as a member of her team we are hoping for a victory. Go team Algiers!





Entrepeneur's Satisfaction

by Pat Algiers

As innovators, we consider ourselves entrepeneurs. Matthew B. Crawford says: "An economy that is more entrepreneurial, less managerial, would be less subject to the kind of distortions that occur when corporate managers' compensation is tied to the short-term profit of distant share-holders. For most entrepeneurs, profit is at once a more capacious and a more concrete thing that this. It is a calculation in which the intrinsic satisfactions of work count." The satisfaction of work done well and meeting client needs counts.




Dog issues

by Barcie Benzschawel

Did any of you ever see the movie, "Marley and Me?" I live with a dog that could be even worse.
Her name is "Izzie" and her chewing activity is monumental. Don't get me wrong, this is our third dog and I know what a puppy is capable of, but this is unbelievable. Many of you have dogs, but have you ever had a dog that chewed off drywall, three cell phone chargers, and three lamp cords? Every day is a new adventure to see what this dog comes up with next. What makes this story even more "Marley like" is the fact that Izzie is also a yellow lab. She too, is super cute, but I am having a hard time controlling myself when I see another chewed up item that I forgot to put away.

You may be asking yourself, if you are not a true dog lover why did you even get another dog? This makes my story even better. It was a surprise gift from our 16 year old daughter. Wasn't she thoughtful? My husband and I immediately wanted the dog gone, but all the other kids were crying and pleading with us for her to stay. I am always a sucker for crying, especially when they are all boys!

I know I have to look at the positive side. I never have to pick food off the floor, the kids feel safer at home alone with a dog around, and someone is always happy to see you when you get home.

How does this relate to interior design trends or applications? It really doesn't. . .but if I had to tie it into a subject matter that relates to interior design it would have to be the importance of finish durability. Often times clients see projects in magazines that are very pleasing to the eye, but who could actually live or work there? The selection process is more than just picking paint colors and flooring materials. Most of the designer's time is spent researching the materials they want to specify and their durability. Warranties are a designer's best friend! Designers must remember who is going to use the space, the activity level of the individual or group, and the upkeep /maintenance of the finish selections.

Heated cement floors would have been an excellent idea at my house!!





by Dan Makouske

Laughing is contagious. Here are some design quotes that made me spread the funny.

Never do anything yourself that you can hire someone else to do, especially if they can do it better. -Bill Bernback

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.

-Abraham Maslow

Embrace change or become a Design-O-Saur. -Von Glitschka

A computer without Photoshop is like a dog with no legs. Sure is fun, but you can't really do anything with it. -Benjamin Cavanagh

I make solutions that nobody wants to problems that don’t exist. -Alvin Lustig

Designers think everything done by someone else is awful, and that they could do it better themselves, which explains why I designed my own living room carpet, I suppose. -Chris Bangle

The life of a desinger is a life of fight: fight against the ugliness. -Massimo Vignelli

Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.

-Despair Poster

Calvin: You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

Hobbes: What mood is that?

Calvin: Last-minute panic.




What dreams may come

by Rohan Raj

A final farewell from our intern Rohan

To was merely several hours ago that I tossed and twisted in mangled trepidation. There I was, comatose as the fallen, compelled to continue the dance that consumed my dreams. was hardly enjoyable, for I was quarry in this particular fantasy. To glimpse:

The forest passage had led straight into an open plain. Kicking up dirt, my heavy feet strained, barely being propelled by the little energy I had remaining. The beautiful, yet malevolent monstrosity accelerated on my trail, never quite reaching, but always nearing, scaling my very flesh with talons that seemingly had been sharpened just before the chase...

I awoke...covered in sweat and humiliation. Yet, the demon remained salient in my presence. Was it an apparition? I do not know. But I must think...what dreams may come.




Communication via video

by Pat Algiers

Fortune recently interviewed Indra Nooyi, their pick for the No. 1 Most Powerful Woman. When asked, "Are you managing differently now?", she responded:

"Being visible is incredibly important. People need to know that the CEO cares about them and has a realistic vision for the world. I've been traveling as much as I can and doing as many videos as I can."

Videos are powerful communication tools. That's why we have added them to our service offerings.





by Pat Algiers

Here is an interesting quote by Arthur C. Nelson from his book Towards a New Metropolis

"In 2030, about half of the buildings in which Americans live, work, and shop will have been built after 2000. While these projections may seem overwhelming, they also demostrate that nearly half of what will be the built environment in 2030 doesn't even exist yet, giving the current generation a vital opportunity to reshape future development."

Question: Has the current dowturn had an impact on the opportunity he aludes to?




Design for today

by Bridget Deehr

Like other industries that have decreased their budgets and implemented organizational changes for the sake of survival, the retail industry has been faced with huge losses, as sales have slumped for the past year and a half. Several stores have been forced to fold, and many others have drastically reduced their prices to encourage consumer spending again.

Fashion designers are concerned of how their collections will sell, and ultimately how they will finance the costs of preparing for the next season. Traditionally, artists showcase their work at runway shows, where buyers, fashion editors, stylists and other fashion followers meet to preview their collections. However, smaller venues are being implemented to help reduce the costs for independent and young designers, and become established within the fashion community. These unknown artists do not have the same amounts of capital as Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger, who have shown their work for many years, to construct a runway show.

The new physical space provides a more intimate setting for the audience than the standard shows at Bryant Park. Another benefit is that the young designer doesn’t have to pay a location fee of $50,000 to show their presentations, making their opportunities to shine possible. The studio space of 80,000 square feet can be used for installations or presentations, which offer more interaction with the crowd. Also, some designers are utilizing new technologies to show their shows via webcasts, reaching more viewers and lowering their costs.

As the economy moves through its slow upward cycle, they way that physical space is used is changing in direct relation to rising operational costs and lowered profits. Planning will need to be responsive and accommodate the dynamic workforce. Whether a small-sized office or performance studio is part of the re-development process, these new settings are also bringing audiences and members closer together. Amidst the struggles in our lives, human beings are coming together to support each other and promote creativity everywhere. It will be interesting to see how all this will shake out, and relate to the place making and design of downtown and neighborhood retail districts in the future.




Trying too hard

by Rohan Raj

"Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim." -George Santayana

Every now and then, I find a profound quote that captivates me for an extended period of time. Its salience corresponds with how relatable it is to me at any given point in my life.

Sometimes I feel like I try too hard, and it ends up working against me. Spells of uncertainty occasionally obscure my mind, only to eventually be reinstated with aplomb. Santayana’s quote has provoked me to reflect on my goals throughout all that I do for several years now, and I wanted to share it with all of you. I think, at times, we all feel unsure of ourselves and our situations, especially in this variable economy.

What’s to be learned? There is no such thing as “trying too hard”. The same people who conjured up this absurdity are the same people that developed an equally absurd concept in the unstoppable force paradox. But an immovable object…is an abstraction of the mind. An unstoppable force cannot be detained.

Enshrine your goals and keep working towards them.





by Tammy Beyreis

The end of summer is here and I'm actually excited about that. I'll freely admit that I was one of those weird kids who looked forward to school starting in the fall. This is probably less weird if you know that for most of my pre-college school career I lived so far out in the middle of nowhere that my only summer companions were squirrels and deer (I've been told this explains quite a few other things about me but we won't get into that now). To me back then the return to school was about new looks, new books, and new things to learn. Now that I'm a "grown-up" and my own children are getting ready to head back to school I get to re-live that long ago excitement through them.

But this "fall" I have an extra sense of excitement that has nothing to do with getting the little darlings out of the house and back into school. I feel the renewal of a change for the better in the air. I get the sense that other people, like me, are tired of the economic limbo we've been in, tired of inaction and uncertainty. I believe that many of us are ready to stop waiting for change to happen to us and start making that change happen.

How to make this happen may be a bit difficult. But just as in school we had teachers waiting to teach us what we wanted to learn in today's world there are highly-skilled people ready to help you take your business back to school so you can graduate on to the next level. And I'm not talking about sitting through endless seminars on "thinking outside the box", “taking it to the next "level", or whatever the catchphrase du jour is. I'm talking about the physical business environment which is so often taken for granted but which affects the business processes more profoundly than many realize.

So I'm excited because I know there are so many businesses out there that want and need to make that change to their physical environment. I'm excited because I see some of the fear changing to determination and hope. And I'm excited because I know that what emerges in this season of renewal will be stronger and smarter than ever.

So it's time to brush off that heat-induced languor of summer and get ready to send your business back to school.




Serve the ego

by Bridget Deehl

Taking care of our appearances is a powerful act because it serves as a presentation of ourselves to the outside world.

According to the New York Times, many unemployed people are getting dressed for work even though they don't have an office to go to. Sure, they could just stay in their pajamas and slippers all day, but researchers have found that those who take pride in their appearances may benefit from others, and people are starting to take notice.

Keeping up with your appearance does not imply that you should be extremely vain, or spend huge amounts of money for personal maintenance. It refers to the fact in that making even a minimum effort on your looks, you are showing pride in yourself. If you let yourself go due to lack of employment opportunities, the people who see you - the neighbors, the sales clerk at the grocery store - will view your unkempt appearance as a sign that you have thrown in the towel, and have given up on your own potential.

The next person you share a casual conversation with could become your best client or your new employer. So before you rush out the door to grab your morning coffee, remember to perform a quick check in the mirror. Brush your hair. Leave the bathrobe at home. Having a positive attitude and showing self-confidence expresses a higher social status, which makes you seem more likable and approachable while you search for your next gig.




To blog or not to blog

by Rohan Raj

When I sat down to write this blog, I said to myself...I should write a blog about writing a blog.
I do so will be so mind-numbingly preposterous, that it will force the reader into a catatonic state, leaving them defenseless against my resolute mind infiltration.

What is a blog? How does one blog? Is a blog your friend? If so, what's his/her name?
Unfortunately...the answers to these questions lie in the catacombs. However, I have scaled the bastions of the abyss and have written this piece to unveil the ciphers of blogging.

Countless websites and articles aim to inform you about how to effectively gain online exposure for yourself or your company. The majority of these sites and articles are consumed with fluff, deeming them ineffective to the common reader.

Let me break it down...
A blog is basically a collection of thoughts recorded in an online space. Blogs are commonly written to exercise one's mind on various issues and chronicle ideas. It is a method of expressing one's individuality to the rest of the world. Some call this branding. Others call it branding.
Some of you have procrastinated creating a blog due to whatever reason. But if you don't start to leverage the web now, you'll soon find yourself left in the wake of the information revolution.
Maintaining a blog on a topic you are passionate about illustrates your personal taste and sense of style. If recruiters or long-lost friends want to see what you've been up to or want to get in touch with you, a blog might be the key.

You are the master of your domain. In your realm of the blogosphere, you determine the look and feel; the design, content and rules are all a reflection of your personal brand. You can invite others to participate in the "conversation" by allowing comments or creating a forum.

People all over the world could arrive at your blog, some of whom may be able to help you or contribute to the conversation. Hundreds of millions of Google searches are conducted a day. Consider the chances of someone landing on your blog if you have information posted relevant to what they seek. Now, for gaining high ranking on search results you need to consider keywords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO); but let's take it one step at a time.

If you blog continuously, you will develop clarity in your writing and your thinking. Your writing will become of product of its environment. As you interact with site visitors, their comments will help you determine what's working and not working. Over time, you'll become adept at conveying messages clearly and cohesively.

Another benefit of blogging is establishing your expertise on a topic(s). Writing on the same topic regularly will increase your knowledge on all aspects of that topic. The time you invest in learning about a topic will ultimately determine the quality of your blog. If you invest due time, you will eventually position yourself as an expert. If ever seeking employment, your blog will differentiate you from the next guy or gal.

Creating a blog is a good idea for everyone. Not only will it help you gain a wealth of knowledge, it'll help you define your voice and your brand. Defining your personal brand is essential for any and all professionals.




A picture speaks a thousand words

by Pat Algiers

A picture speaks a thousand words. . .David Quick (the 12 year old son of my friends Mary Reinders and Paul Quick) obviously knows something about the food chain and supply chain economics. His drawing is a commentary on the economy. . .in good times and bad. BTW: David not only is an aspiring artist but gives a lot of thought to what is going on in the market today. I recently had high-level lunch with him and his father discussing many aspects of the current economy and concluded that I needed to share his drawing with you in my blog.






Survival of the fittest

by Bridget Deehr

Every day we hear the same kind of news; the economy is terrible and consumer spending is at the lowest level we have seen in most of our lifetimes. The relentless negative consumer reports dampen our spirits, as well as cause us to tighten our wallets for the sake of saving for an uncertain future. As consumers, our current spending needs to be more thoughtful, unlike the impulse buying habits we had in previous years. To better prepare ourselves for the next phase on the economic horizon, we need to visualize beyond here and now. We also need to educate ourselves about the products and services that are essential in our lives, and learn to recognize which of those are going to realize long-term benefits or profits for us.

Whether you are a small business owner or a medium-sized firm, there are spending choices that you should consider for maximizing your services and products. Are you promoting yourself effectively, or are you missing out on the benefits of using new mediums to obtain new clients? We need to utilize the various methods available to market ourselves so that we are poised for the revival and growth that we hope to experience.




It's all in the message

by Rohan Raj

The common thread in each discipline of design is the need to communicate the right message. Architectural design serves to provide a space consistent with the values of the organization for which it is being designed. Web design serves to create sites that generate high traffic while maintaining a genial aesthetic. Across the board, design involves utilizing correct functionality, structure and materials to get optimal results.

For example, to communicate a message effectively for marketing collateral requires good design and copy. These two elements must complement each other well enough for the consumer to make a connection, and be driven to action due to its compelling message. A good design doesn’t necessarily have to be highly decorative or elaborate. It can be simple. However, it has to ensure it doesn’t obscure the message, or conflict with the copy in any manner. If it is indeed a good design, it will make the copy easier to read for the consumer. If it fails to do this, the message will be ineffective.

Effective communication requires the appropriate combination of images and words. This combination will work to build brand recognition, establish trust and credibility with consumers, and sell products and services.




Art history influences design

by Kristie Farahbakhsh

Having the opportunity to study both Art History and Interior Design has given me a better understanding of how design has evolved and where design is headed. I, for one, am constantly looking to the past to understand what societies valued aesthetically, and how those societies have made modifications to create functional architecture and interiors. The history of design and architecture, have given us great insight in aesthetics, the limits of materials, building techniques, and even ergonomics.

As an emerging Interior Designer, my designs are often inspired by art and architecture. Color palettes, textures, materials, found in paintings, textiles, sculptures and buildings excite me because of all the possibilities. Looking to art and architecture for inspiration has also taught me that good design tends to be repeated (often times with very little modifications). Take for example the chair, I am always amazed to see something as universal as a chair, and how it has evolved aesthetically, but the functionality has remained the same.

From studying the history of design and architecture, I find that it is a bit less frightening to take risks since one has a better sense of what "works" in design, as well as knowing how people react to it. Many of us have a better understanding about the limits of materials because of what history has taught us through trial and error. History has also taught us that architecture and interiors have only begun to take shape. There has been so much taking place within the last century that it is almost unimaginable to think about what the future holds (just look at what is occurring in Dubai, UAE).

The history of art and architecture inspires us, directs us, grounds us, and can even enlighten us, and hopefully with this knowledge we have only begun to touch on the possibilities for the future.





Design as a journey

by Kristie Farahbakhsh

As an emerging Interior Designer, this is a fascinating time to be learning about design. New products, building techniques and new technologies have been introduced on what seems to be a daily basis. Learning about these new innovations during the course of my program has been very stimulating and at times a little overwhelming. With all that has evolved in the design world within the relatively short amount of time I have been in school, it is difficult to predict which direction design is headed. However, due to the current economic situation, the recent Green movement, and new technologies, it is easy to predict that drastic changes in how we design are well on their way.

With that being said, I think that this is an exciting time for Interior Design. What I have observed through independent work and collaboration as a student, is that emerging designers are not just focusing on creating aesthetically pleasing spaces, but they have become increasingly concerned with the emotional well-being and health of the end users. What I find interesting is that it opens up another realm of Interior Design. During my course work, I have observed how much design can vary when given the same parameters because we have so much to be concerned about when we are designing. With this increasing concern for the emotional and physical well-being of the end users, emerging designers have been willing to share more of their ideas and knowledge with one another. Responding more to the users needs, designers can only improve the way in which they design.

I admit that this is not a new idea or mind blowing for that matter, but what I do know is that with this way of thinking in combination with new innovations and practices in place, the future of design has an interesting journey ahead, a journey that I am eager to take.





Remember school days

by Barcie Benzschawel

Memorial Day weekend is coming up fast, gas prices are on the rise, and my interior design students (did you read my bio and learn that I teach interior design and also practice interior design?) are working hard to get their final interior design project completed. Summer is approaching. It is always nice to look back and remember finals weekend, knowing we no longer need to endure the torture. I think since most of us are in the working world we forget how hard it is to memorize a semester worth of material-especially if the class was not that interesting. It reminds me of a line from the new show "College Life" on MTV. A guy said "I will never have to take a math class again." I don't know about you, but that line really hit home. I hated math classes. This reality TV show is hard to watch, not only because the students are filming it themselves (can you say irritating??), but you find yourself looking back and wondering - have things really changed that much since our days in college?

The whole messy dorm room thing, the feeling of disappointment when a guy you had been seeing blows you off, and the constant drinking. These issues are still current. What's new? Text Messaging, cell phones, iPods, Facebook, and laptops. Let's just say technology is the main difference. I hate to date myself, but I worked for many years without the use of email. Now you can know at all times where someone is and what they are doing. Good or bad, at least everyone's typing skills are improving!!

So, with a busy baseball and basketball schedule in my summer plans (kids, not me) I will be using most of the technology I mentioned above to keep current with everyone. School is almost out for the summer. Enjoy the warm weather - I only wish I knew how to twitter people or what it actually is...Tammy can you help me out with this one??





Making connections

by Eric Fowler

How do you connect with others? You may remember Mark Heuer ( ) from Kewaskum, WI. He put up a billboard to get hired as a sales and operations manager. Last I heard, he has had several interviews, some of which hopefully will lead to job offers.

His approach got me wondering how we connect with one another; when there is a need for it (for a job or other business need) and the many mediums in which to connect - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, moblie, etc.

Mark’s approach is unique and will obviously get results. If 1,000 people did it, it probably wouldn’t be as effective. His goal was to get a job, and to do that he had to meet a potential employer face to face.

In the process of getting that interview, I’m sure a lot of impromptu networking occurred, either through news coverage or someone talking about the billboard to colleagues.

What if you wanted to connect to others through networking? LinkedIn? What if you wanted to network in-person not just virtually. . .
The idea of LinkedIn is to test the 6 degrees of separation concept. Wouldn’t it be great to meet your connections and THEIR connections?

One idea is a "Connection Dinner".

The premise is to have those interested on LinkedIn send a notification to their connections - who then send a note to their connections, etc.

People would sign up to attend a gathering in their city.

Maybe only 50-100 RSVP to attend. But the main idea is to get people together to network and to realize how interconnected we are - one or two separations away from that one BIG IDEA.

A chart at the event would show all attendees how their connected to the other attendees. People would be seated one separation from their immediate connections – this would promote networking and they would have a common thread to talk to others at their dinner table and possibly network for new business or new friendships.

I think the virtual method of networking is here to stay, but it could also be used to bring together in some pretty cool ways.

Recently a memo was sent around that stated in-person contact is necessary every so often, especially for remote workers in order to sustain an emotional connection. Conference calls are necessary and work, but an in-person meeting held periodically is also necessary. This is the same approach with in-person networking. LinkedIn and other networking sites are great to keep up with what is going on day to day, but the in-person emotional connection is critical.
Enjoy your virtual and actual connections today.





Tools of design

by Dan Makouske

No matter your profession, many tools are required to get the job done. A professional golfer has a bag full of them: putter, driver, irons, tees, etc. However numerous, however simple or complex, these tools have one thing in common: they help their users become more efficient.

When it comes to providing clients with the best possible solution, efficiency is king. Imagine Phil Mickelson wandering down the fairway taking stroke after stroke with only his putter. (bad example, maybe he'd do better.) Regardless, that putter can successfully finish a round of golf, just not very efficiently. Being able to cut front-end costs to provide more affordable service is every businesses struggle. Having the right tools is 'instrumental' to this service.

As for me, everyday work tools are inside of a glowing 19" box on my desk. In the field of design, computer technology is an efficiency dynamo, with new, specialized programs coming to light often. Being able to use many programs enables me to do what I do. When it comes to technology and using complex computer programs beyond the normal bubble of email, internet, and word processing, many people may be wary. However, I have found that with most programs you'll only need to really know roughly 5% of its functions. Beyond that, you are getting into very advanced work that most users never need. You may find that your new program (or tool) does even better than your already super-efficient old program. Additionally, 'new' does not necessarily mean brand-new-state-of-the-art; it could just be new-to-you. For example, today I found myself using a boring old word processor to re-do a layout I did in the finely-tuned graphic layout program, Adobe InDesign. Much to my delight (or dismay) I found the word processor produced a nearly identical document requiring only tools most computer users can grasp.

So, attempt to use a new tool today. You may be surprised to find that your state-of-the-art-thingamajig may get you to the green, but not drop the putt for a birdie.




Trends and spring

by Barcie Benzschawel

In my first attempt to write a blog for this website, I found myself interested in thoughts of spring, outdoor activities, and new clothes. What? How does this relate to interior design or emerging trends in our industry? Among interior designers, if you throw out a word like "Trends", it comes back with the usual - Sustainable Materials, Downsizing, Evidence Based Design, and Web Access Meetings - to name a few. These are some heavy topics that currently I'm not an expert in but do get involved with on a weekly basis. Many of these topics have been discussed on a national level, but I wanted to add my two cents and not become depressed about how not to spend money or how to retain my job. Honestly, this economy is a "downer", and I want to discuss items that make us happy about our environments - not something I can't control (i.e. downsizing).

For example, Spring is forcing me to think about topics like color, cleaning, and simplifying my surroundings (oh yeah, and yard work!!). Color trends are usually forecasted by the paint and fabric industry. It is typically based on what fabric colors are "in season". This is what I have always been told. I have done little to no research on this conclusion, but it does make sense. If you ever want to clean up a room, just buy high sheen white paint and use it on your trim. (I am obligated to mention that white jeans are a must-have for spring)(women only) This can really brighten up a room - especially if the existing trim is oak stained. Of course once you paint all your trim white, you start to rethink your color scheme and how you can freshen up the entire room. This all costs money and time. Dilemma.

I always say: if you can afford it (sometimes even if you can't), and it makes you happy, spend the money. If you can't afford it, there is nothing like going through a closet, file drawer, or storage bin and cleaning it out. This costs you nothing and your sense of accomplishment is fantastic.
Nothing I've stated in this blog is mind shattering; I just wanted to get the point across that you can make yourself happy by altering your interior environment. Not all changes have to be expensive. Update your space and benefit your well being, there is nothing like stopping at Pier 1 for a little pick-me-up!





Waiting for spring

by Abbey Algiers

If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything.

- Win Borden

Technically, my calendar says it is spring.

Yet, outside my window I hear a howling wind that tells me it is anything but spring. It sounds like a January night, and the temperature and forecast for snow echo January as well.
This is a bit disheartening, as it feels like we've had about five and a half solid months of January chills.

Maybe that's because we have. We have, and right now we are ready to say goodbye to wind and cold, and hello to sunshine and warmth. But, as Mother Nature has reminded us of continuosly, this transition from winter to spring isn't going to happen with the snap of our fingers. We have to wait it out, and go about our business in the meantime. Life as we know it isn't going to stop because we're chilly.

Similarly, I think it's safe to say that Old Man Winter is a close relative to our friend, Bad Economy. Bad Economy has done a good job of wearing us out like a cold winter day...and like Old Man Winter, we want Mr. Bad Economy to go away. Adios, amigo. Buh-bye, friend.

But again, as much as the world wants a quick and painless economic recovery, this wish ranks on the "granted" list about as high as a kid's desire to have Christmas every day. Not going to happen folks. At least not as soon as we'd like it to.

So, with this in mind, we again realize we have to tend to the business of our lives... and of our businesses. While we're waiting out this storm, it might not hurt to consider a few things.

If we can't change the economy, how can we change the way we do business in the meantime?
If literally every system, every business, every man, woman, and child is experiencing this economic challenge and crisis, then how can we positively reinvent ourselves to meet needs we may not have considered before? And what are those new needs?

Is there any sector of the marketplace that may have a renewed interest in our business at this time?

Finally, how about a little spring cleaning? What areas of our businesses- from marketing materials to web presence to our physical surroundings- needs a little sprucing up? Dress up, feel up... maybe it's time to tear up the carpet and snazz up the office space a bit.

This down-time doesn’t have to be a downer... if we use it to think of the possibilities for tomorrow.

And the best thing - using our imaginations costs nothing, but can bring about the biggest and best changes.





Website debut

by Pat Algiers


It is with pleasure that we debut our website.


We hope that it gives you a glimpse of who we are and how we think.

We are a spirited team of urban & corporate innovators, using our process, Chemistry in Place. We look optimistically at our world as it is in order to see what it can become. We work with clients to develop strategies to increase their ability to compete and flourish in the marketplace.


We realize prosperity begins with systems, organizational structure, facilities and neighborhoods that work synergistically and are in sync with human nature, behavior, and marketplace economics.


In each and every project or problem we encounter challenges that test us to integrate our diverse skill sets to design solutions. We see design as the outcome of a process that respectfully considers all stakeholders. The product is successfully designed spatial solutions intuitively mimicking nature's understanding of form and function.


This is indeed a time when the ability to look at a "glass as half full, rather than half empty" is essential. Similarly, we look at each situation and identify those things which are controllable.

We gain inspiration from a quote by Eric Hoffer "In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."


So here we are: change agents, poised to see the positives, connect the dots, integrate our skill sets and find solutions that better your situation and contribute to broad-base change. We see a promising future and hope to help you find one related to your urban or corporate space in either the public or private sector.