VT Interior Design Firm

Celebrating Best Places to Work in Vermont

Best Places to Work Vermont Celebration - 2017

Best Places to Work Vermont Celebration - 2017

Tonight we attend the 11th annual Best Places to Work in Vermont held in South Burlington. A sold out event, experiencing it shines a light on successes around the State in businesses large and small following their values and passions building thriving companies. 

By embracing 'Best Places to Work' processes and organizational strategies, companies drive culture building and engagement helping attract and retain talent, improved performance and more. 

We have always wanted to attend to be amongst all of this amazing positive energy.  And being here certainly doesn't disappoint! Vermont is a special place to live, work and run a business.  

There is so much variety in the business focus and value sets of the award winning companies here. What they hold common is their passion for measuring the success of their environment, employee survey results, levels of engagement in programs and other factors.

Another factor is having clear and persistently lived and shared values in their workplaces. Building successful organizations is clearly a team sport requiring many hands and brilliant minds working together. Strength in values and strength in a team of operations, administration, and in many cases, the field, or manufacturing floor all counts. 

16 of the 45 companies here tonight are here for the first time. It's our impression building a best place to work takes years and requires a big vision to get there. Companies following Best Places strategies over the long run, research shows, perform 50-100% better than industry peers. Long term commitment to the process really matters to building success. 

Consider pursuing a Best Places to Work mindset in 2017 and beyond. You won't regret it!

How to optimize your firm's social media work for success

It Started with Headlines

About six weeks ago we re-evaluated how we did our social media work, recognizing we needed to get more organized. We felt something lacking from a coordination standpoint in all of our social media postings across the platforms we regularly use.  We took a deep breath and looked around a bit knowing something was missing.  At some point we remembered the headline analyzer offered by CoShedule we had been using successfully for well over a year to help us write our headlines for articles and blog posts.  Why not explore the headline analyzer and other aspects of CoSchedule's products.

First a little bit more about the headline analyzer.                                                               

The analyzer, with a learn by doing process, helps you write your headline. By using it we became more adept at writing headlines in active rather than passive voice, the importance of character length, word count and word balance.  Word balance proved especially interesting as the higher ranking headline scores achieved a balance between common, uncommon, emotional and power words.                                                                                                            

Using the analyzer helps us write more pointed and directed writing as well.  The best writing advice we ever received usually begins with well, you guessed it, a great headline. What's helpful about letting the headline lead your writing is the clarity and focus of your thoughts which evolve out the act of ideating multiple headline concepts.  

Screenshot of running this headline through the analyzer - An example

Screenshot of running this headline through the analyzer - An example

The calendar organization tool

One day, we checked out what lay behind the Headline Analyzer and learned more about CoSchedule the company which runs it and its social media tool set, most notably the calendar. The calendar is the one stop place to organize your social media and marketing work.  We use it in solo-preneur mode with only one team member in charge of organizing it and doing our social media and blogging updates through it.  

Through the calendar we can set up in advance a week or two in advance social media activity across all of our social and professional network sites.  Doing so helps us stay focused doing our regular architectural, design and creative work for our clients.  We use the calendar to target our messaging about news, information, tips and best practices we think our various communities would like to hear and learn about. 

A screenshot of our emergin calendar. (Last week is greyed out)

A screenshot of our emergin calendar. (Last week is greyed out)

Along the way, we sprinkle in targeted messages highlighting recent design work, in the news bits and blog posts about us all creating convergence to our website and ultimately our contact us pages.  Using the calendar helps us share our connective content out there freeing us up on the back side to interact, respond and engage with our growing social community on and off line from those scheduled posts and shares.  

Right now we mostly post social media messages, choosing what optimized times and day of the week and which platform we share from.  We seek to offer inspiring ideas and best practice information on Mondays and Fridays. Then during the middle of the week we share more about our architecture, interior, workplace and creative examples and services paired with specific advice, unique stories we follow which fall in the quirky category.  As you can imagine with a new tool like this we continue to test new ideas regularly and open to suggestions and community feedback on how to add more value to you our Arocordis Design community..

Here's a how to video on more about CoSchedule

Next steps for our Calendar

Over the coming months we hope to use The calendar and its functionality in more ways to deepen our engagement and interactions with our Arocordis Design community creating positive brand energy.  And you will continue to see engaging and to the point headlines from our work with the headline analyzer.  

We will check back in on this process and tool sometime in the next six or eight weeks to tell you how it is shaping up for us. 

If you would like to learn more about our architecture, interiors, workplace and creative visualization work click on the contact us button below.  

Looking around for inspiration

When designing your home, office or place of work where do you turn for design inspiration? We often look for inspiration locally, in the place and region we are working in. We do so to help clarify the mood and character of the place and spaces we hope to cultivate and design. We think its crucial to the place based design we favor. We think its critical to get outdoors, to take a walk, hop in a canoe or get in the car and go experience and see your surrounding looking for inspiration in unlikely places. 

Here is a recent example from Stephen Frey.

Recently I drove around where I live looking for design inspiration for our architectural, placemaking and creative work.  The hills outside of Montpelier have lots to offer this time of year with the seasonal transition from winter to spring.  I look for intriguing forms, shapes, textures colors and compositions.  Here's a historic 100 year old plus 1-1/2 story cape style farmhouse, mid-house and barn combination I found.  The creaking bend in the barn frame caught my eye evoking the timeless play between building and landscape, and the inevitability of nature and time.  Also, the simplicity and sturdiness of the forms intrigued me as well as almost matching roof slopes between home to barn.  

For me, I find inspiration in the barn board, the red time worn color on the siding, the white trim, field stone walls and foundation, and yes the grass, mud and snow.  I also get a kick out of the form follows functionality of the barn windows sizing and layout. Often these windows are laid out reflecting the internal milking stalls providing views outside during milking.  Also, the front-house, mid-house, back-house barn connected building layout is an enduring aspect of our vernacular landscape.  Note how the site is cut with the barn's levels allowing easy access to the middle floor and lower levels at opposing grades?  This appears to be a smaller general purpose barn used to farm a small tract of land with a small amount of animals and room for hay above. 

Barn on Kent Corners Road - Stephen M.  Frey 

Barn on Kent Corners Road - Stephen M.  Frey 

What do you have around where you live? Do you have common to your area vernacular building forms or traditional buildings?  They often have a lot of endearing qualities, even more so, if you don't own one and are trying to keep up with all of the quirky ongoing maintenance. 

That's another story.  Bottom line, get outside and take a look around and really look to see what lies in plain view for inspiration for your design project's materials, colors, mood and detail character.  Try to suspend your preconceptions about what's there and really take your time looking.  You won't regret the effort.

You will no doubt find unexpected insight and a treasured memory.  

Design thinking and doing: Arranging rocks

Sea glass and rocks in hand - Stephen M. Frey

Sea glass and rocks in hand - Stephen M. Frey

     What do you do to cultivate your creative design capabilities? Practicing architecture, art, photography, graphic design means just that, practice and training.  

     So practice means doing and sometimes practices means playing.  

Sea Glass and Stones, 2.23.17 - Stephen M. Frey

Sea Glass and Stones, 2.23.17 - Stephen M. Frey

     One of the things we do is play with rocks and creat impromptu compositions. We do so to quickly iterate an idea and test it. We look to create balance, variety and visual interest while creating a point of focus.  

     Sometimes we photograph these ideas. Other times we just play. Setting up a layout again and again. Admiring each for a moment, then rearranging them. Over and over again. This is practicing how to compose, to see and to self-critique. 

Marblehead Rocks Rearranged - 11 x 22 Watercolor on 140lb Cold Press, Stephen M. Frey

Marblehead Rocks Rearranged - 11 x 22 Watercolor on 140lb Cold Press, Stephen M. Frey

      Sometimes these arrangements make it to a painting. Here's one such example from a few years ago. That day the sun shone really low providing illuminating side light to the stones and the green sea glass. It caught our eye as a metaphor for the passion of creativity emanating an inner light which models how it feels creatively from within.  Kind of warm inside, glowing and knowing we call it!

      Do you practice like this to hone your creative eye and hands? What do you do? Please share! 

#creativity, #designthinking, #design, #making #HowTo

 

American Meadows New Offices

A New Home

      Driving down Shelburne Road in Shelburne, Vermont a new workplace for American Meadows and High Country Seeds rises along one of the busiest roads in Vermont.  
     Their new workplace displays our mission and values driven design and work process. We designed their interior architecture renovation including front of house offices, meeting spaces, collaboration areas, and shipping/ receiving areas. We provided space planning, workplace strategies and more.  
      We worked closely with the owner on the design who then collaborated with Christine Burdick who provided finishing touches of targeted finishes, furniture selection and wall graphics. 

The Process:

      Together we created a new workplace environment echoing their brand DNA of a disruptive e-commerce company operating in the gardening and seed space.  The owner purchased the former site of a venerable area outdoor recreation store which became a high end furniture store seeing new possibilities for re-purposing its' tall floor to floor heights and vast open areas into a high functioning collaborative focused open office workplace and seed shipping and receiving warehouse area.  

View of open work area towards "garden shed" meeting space and kitchen work cafe beyond.

View of open work area towards "garden shed" meeting space and kitchen work cafe beyond.

      There's more to be done in the months ahead but these images show what's emerging.  Like their brand, they've planted a new seed in Shelburne providing the area with renewed energy and vitality.  We helped create meeting spaces in close proximity to open work areas and common spaces like the kitchen commons which also doubles as a flexible meeting space.

A Kit of Parts

       We developed an interior kit of parts of interior elements which evolved out of a garden shed aesthetic with common everyday materials like galvanized corrugated sheet metal, rustic shake shingles, a timber frame. The client was extremely interested in bringing a feeling of nature near into their new workplace with natural materials including repurposing as flooring in the central common area reclaimed bleachers. 
      Improving daylighting and access to views outside was also critical to American Meaodws. We campaigned for opening up the center of darkest area with a generous skylight to let daylight and the sunshine in over the kitchen / common area.  To further lighten the space on the south elevation, a series of large windows matching existing windows on other elevations were installed.

View of open work area from main entry.

View of open work area from main entry.

See this gallery of more photos of their new space.