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Trends in the Workplace



Cosmopolis, Take 1 & Take 2

Paul Manley, Intern, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee


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!





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






by the team at Chemistry in Place

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

Olivia Algiers
"An innovator combines past experiences from many aspects of life to create solutions for the future."

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."

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




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.




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?





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.







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??





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.