Since mentoring students is better than a shot of espresso or vitamin B-12, I have selfishly mentored at least one student every year since ASID debuted Real World Design Week seven years ago. This year, Mary Zellner, Student ASID, who is in her second-year at the University of North Texas, had me all to herself, and we were lucky enough to have the Dallas Design District as our classroom for some real world education.
First on our agenda was the exquisite Gracie showroom in the Dallas Design Center. Andrew Gonzales and McCall Bickham carefully walked us through their hand-painted, custom wallcovering production and installation process used for both hospitality and residential clients. The level of detail astounded us both.
Around the corner sits Innovations in Wallcoverings, Inc. where Showroom Manager Sara Powell delineated to Mary the differences between commercial and residential wallcoverings, and she also explained the pros and cons of specifying faux leather versus real leather.
Next on the schedule was The Robert Allen Group. Manager James Campbell greeted us warmly and spent time explaining how interior designers work in their showroom, which is stocked with coffee, tea, and other amenities often needed to make it through a hectic day. Campbell also articulated the type of service that designers should expect from showroom staff and manufacturers’ representatives, emphasizing how critical it is to establish strong relationships in our industry.
Paloma Creations, the custom furniture maker, fully captured our attention next. Eugene de Sosa, director of Business Development, gave us the royal tour, including the woodworking, finishing, and upholstery areas. We were both impressed by the range of styles and materials in which the company works and the variety of practice areas it serves.
After a short drive to the International on Turtle Creek, we popped in to Tufenkian Artisan Carpets. Despite surprising him with our visit, Manager Luis Araujo did a spectacular job entertaining us with stories of commercial and residential projects, while filling us in on the differences in production, price point, and performance between hand-knotting and hand-tufting.
Finally, we walked over to meet Jane Colclasure, an A&D market manager with OFS Brands. She generously fed us lunch and walked us through the company’s remarkable Dallas showroom that showcases the diverse product offerings of their many divisions — OFS, Carolina, Loewenstein, and First Office — all of which serve different markets.
Thank you to everyone who welcomed us and took the time to explain their corner of this wonderfully diverse industry that we all love. You made a life-long fan out of me, and you secured a future client in Mary.