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Wilkast Moves into Its New Building

Wilkast Moves into Its New Building

This world-class die casting company has created parts for the automotive and motorcycle industries since 1979. Tom and Kurt Wilkerson are the second generation of Wilkast owners and they saw the need for facility and tooling expansion to meet the growing demand for their services. 

First Companies introduced r.o.i. Design to the Wilkersons, and along with Dixon Architecture we were engaged to design a new building that would house the corporate office and expanded plant. 

Like most manufacturers, their processes create dust and debris, so the offices had to be planned using materials that were durable and cleanable. To aid in the effort, the Wilkersons decided to borrow from a ranch-lodge style using rustic woods and natural stone throughout. The floors are all concrete and the corridors and conference rooms have wood panels. An elkhorn chandelier greets you in the lobby. The overall feel is very welcoming, and the shiny Harley Davidson in the vestibule is a nice touch. 

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images.

© All Photos Courtesy of First Companies, Inc.

NeoCon Returns in 2021. Some of the Trends We Saw

NeoCon Returns in 2021. Some of the Trends We Saw

Scroll down to see photos from our visit. 

NeoCon was held this year at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago on October 4th – 6th. Normally the event is held during the second week of June but was postponed because of the pandemic. The 2020 NeoCon event was canceled altogether, but a virtual event was held online. This year, attendees needed to show proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test), and masks needed to be worn in all indoor areas.

Attendance numbers were low and many of the showrooms were either closed or open only by reservation. This was due both to the pandemic and “off-season” of this year’s event. Hopefully, by next June, the show will return to normal.

While there were fewer attendees at the Mart, there was still plenty to see of the newest products from the commercial design industry. It’s always exciting to see the newest designs, innovations, and trends on display.

Some of the Trends We Saw

The future of the office wants to be “happy”, flexible and accommodating; there was a definite reference to the ’60s and ’70s in colors and textures and a sense of the eclectic was a welcome surprise.

Colors:

  • Much warmer colors and lots of soft colors. Pinks, corals, teals, yellows, and blues.
  • Sherwin Williams introduced their color of the year projecting we were going to love Evergreen Fog.
  • Benjamin Moore also introduces their Color of the Year 2022, October Mist.

Textures and Finishes

  • Lighter woods, including the casual use of OSB and plywood.
  • Felt was everywhere!
  • Lots of interesting wall dividers, screens, and room dividers using all kinds of materials.
  • Fabric folks were exploring retro patterns with lots of colors.

Products

  • Many mobile products were there as they try to accommodate changing work styles; carts, desks, even rooms.
  • Many exhibitors have introduced small rooms that you can purchase, like a piece of furniture, to create spaces for employees to take private calls or have ZOOM meetings without bothering co-workers.
  • To deal with the spread of sound in an open office environment, there were acoustical wall panels and dividers, acoustical pendant lights, acoustical décor, and more.
  • Carpet manufacturers have gone all out to be “clean” and “green” with recycled products. They are also exploring patterns and colors giving us the hope of more than 10 shades of gray.
  • The return of woven rattan (vinyl) in commercial seating is making a comeback.
  • Technology and lighting impacted many designs. You can buy your conference table with built-in table lamps and ports for your phone and computer.

The Merchandise Mart had taken the time during the pandemic to update corridor finishes with new carpet, lighting, and wall accents. Most floors had their own particular look but in general, the lighting was greatly improved. This may have been in part because of the new exhibit space, Fulton Market, that is now competing for exhibitors and visitors. Herman Miller/Knoll has relocated their showroom to Fulton Market, a trendy location with an energetic urban vibe.

The world of design is alive at NeoCon and we were grateful to be a part of it.

Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge photos from our visit. 

Grand River Bank Branch Opens in Ada

Grand River Bank Branch Opens in Ada

This exciting project started with Dixon Architecture introducing us to Pat Gill, President, and Liz Bracken, Vice President, of Grand River Bank who had a branch in Grandville in 2019. That team was working on a plan to create a second branch in Ada, and they were looking for design support.  

This more than two-year process resulted in a great space that both Grand River Bank and r.o.i. Design are proud of. We are even more grateful for our relationship and the friends we made there.  

During the design process for Ada, we helped Grand River Bank decorate a leased office in Cascade that temporarily housed lenders. We also assisted their Grandville offices with COVID screen designs and resources.  

Design elements in the new facility we celebrate include:  

  • Ceiling clouds and lighting in the retail and corridors space – capturing light and creating comfort.  
  • The reception desk and teller casework design, with its warm wood and white marble textures – very residential in feel.  
  • Warm and engaging finishes and wall art. 

We started the process with a consultative approach, engaging the Grand River Bank team with a series of meetings to understand the company’s goals, team preferences, and methods. The Grand River Bank leadership team moved the project forward cautiously considering COVID, knowing that they had a sound customer base in Ada. They partnered with BDR Custom Homes of Ada who was the general contractor, a partner, and a potential co-tenant of the building at 50 Crahen. Page Woodworking, a customer of Grand River Bank, created all the custom casework and countertops. 

Grand River Bank brands its bank as a more personal, hands-on bank, offering daily delivery and pick-up services and welcomes face-to-face engagements. They pride themselves on creative solutions to funding and financing. That combination created a design challenge for the new offices, one-part friendly retail, and one-part corporate lending, but both needing staff to have facilities that offered efficient spaces and accommodations to create the best in service. 

 Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge photos.

DLN Integrated Systems’ New Corporate Offices and Manufacturing Plant

DLN Integrated Systems’ New Corporate Offices and Manufacturing Plant

DLN Integrated Systems was introduced to r.o.i. Design through First Companies along with architect Ken Dixon of Dixon Architecture.

DLN’s growth is a result of their commitment to their customers, creating customized solutions for material handling and automation.  That commitment and attitude was also seen through their process of interior design of their offices: clear, consistent, simple, and innovative.

r.o.i. Design worked with DLN to select interior finishes and to make recommendations for lighting design and lighting fixtures. We teamed up with their furniture providers to coordinate plans and finishes.

The result is a space that is industrial yet engaging with the use of wood and warm colors. We are the proudest of our influence on the lighting design and selection and design of the wood walls.

© All Photos Courtesy of First Companies, Inc.

Wolverine Building Group Updates Their Conference Room

Wolverine Building Group Updates Their Conference Room

r.o.i. Design has a 25-year relationship with Wolverine Building Group, and we are grateful for the work they give us in the industrial and retail builds. 

When Aaron Jonker and Curt Mulder purchased the company and became the new presidents and co-owners of Wolverine, they looked to redesign their office spaces. While Wolverine does have designers on staff, they wanted outside help with their first-floor main conference room which is highly visible and used frequently. 

Our design included updating the lighting and finishes. The back accent wall of the room is clad in large monolithic ceramic tiles with a metallic finish. The carpet tiles create a unique gradient pattern along the length of the room. Wolverine replaced their old conference table with a new custom table using an ash burl top and a base of reclaimed steel girders designed by Robert Mulder. r.o.i. Design also provided custom glass white boards.

The room was transformed and will stand the test of time for the next generation of leadership at Wolverine Building Group.

Click on thumbnails to view larger images.

The Importance of Gathering: How to Keep Breakrooms and Communal Spaces Safe when Returning to Work

The Importance of Gathering: How to Keep Breakrooms and Communal Spaces Safe when Returning to Work

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

A large part of r.o.i. Design’s success is our collaboration and engagement with each other. So naturally, we are looking forward to our return to the office after the stay-at-home quarantine. 

While gatherings are being scrutinized, we know for many groups, being together adds a level of performance and creativity that can’t be achieved otherwise. 

So, what can teams do to make safe gathering engaging and enjoyable?  Here are some ideas from our customers and peers:  

  • Create an outdoor breakroom with the appropriate distance between chairs. That may mean clearing some space and putting in a temporary railing to give the area a sense of space. Outdoor furniture and accessories, including a fire pit, umbrellas, space heaters, and bug repellents could be added.
  • Stagger breaks and the use of breakrooms so fewer occupants are present at one time, allowing for social distancing.
  • Remove some of the chairs, so people are spaced apart.
  • Post interesting facts about co-workers and the company in the breakroom to encourage staff to leave their desks. 
  • Run games in the breakroom to create friendly competition between shifts. 

One of our customers removed the breakroom tables and brought in two ping pong tables for people to eat at, meet at, and of course, play ping pong. They created circles on the floor to help folks visualize safe distances.

A more extreme change was by a medical customer who hung clear shower curtains in the space to create “booths” to maximize the use of their cafeteria. They reorganized seating to allow for wide aisles that lead to the booths. The reports are that folks are sitting in adjacent booths so they can still have a conversation during lunch. 

Another group with more than 50 employees agreed to stagger its in-office work schedules. They removed cubicles in order to create a much larger open space. They populated the open area with chairs, physical therapy balls, and lounge seating positioned six feet apart. In those areas, large monitors are being used to engage with others, who may be working from home that day. They plan to move people back altogether before the fall. 

For more information on why it is important for people to gather and how the pandemic is challenging our mental health, read the best selling book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, by Priya Parker.

“The way we gather matters. Gatherings consume our days and help determine the kind of world we live in, in both our intimate and public realms. Gathering—the conscious bringing together of people for a reason—shapes the way we think, feel, and make sense of our world…”