Friday, October 26, 2012

It's the Holiday Season...

With the holiday season right around the corner--or at some retailers, in full swing--I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few tips for making the most of your retail space's seasonal budget and decor.
  • Window displays are an excellent way to set yourself apart from all the other retailers around you, so take full advantage of the space and get creative! Use your windows to not only sell your products, but to tell the outside world what the inside of your store feels like.
  • If you include merchandise in your displays, if possible, try to make it so that customers feel comfortable shopping from them.
  • To eliminate the need to switch displays out between Christmas and New Years, invest in decorations that you can use throughout the entire winter season. In other words, avoid themes that center around Santa, and opt for a broader approach, such as snowflakes or ever-green trees.
  • While smaller retailers may feel as if they are at a disadvantage to big box chains who are able to offer deep discount, these spaces often hold a lot more potential when it comes to decorating for the holiday season. So if you are a independent retailer, seize this opportunity to take a chance with your Christmas decorations! You have nothing to lose, so pull out all the stops and make your store a memorable place to shop!
  • Lastly, remember that you don’t have to break the bank to make your retail space stand out during the holidays. Think outside the box when it comes to sourcing the materials needed to complete your displays. Check out your local dollar store or thrift store, where you can often find Christmas decorations for next to nothing. Or better yet, take the eco-friendly approach and repurpose items you would otherwise throw away into gorgeous decorations for your space--it is incredible what a little Elmer’s glue and glitter can do for  a empty toilet paper roll. Just kidding, but you get the idea.

sources: one . two . three . four . five

Friday, October 19, 2012


Just a few videos to wrap up your work week...

Simple and inspiring ideas that just go to show, your marketing strategies don't have to be expensive to be effective!

Have a great weekend!

Check it out!

Phil Bowers, VP of Business Development at ACS, was recently featured on the Woodworking Network's blog with a great article on embracing technology within the casework manufacturing industry.

Be sure to check it out here!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cabinet Core Materials

As a designer at a fixture company, I should have some understanding of what goes in to making a cabinet--you start with some type of middle material and put a laminate on it, right? Well, yes, but while I never knew the specifics, I had a feeling there is actually a little more to it. So when my boss approached me about putting together a list of cabinet core materials, I thought, "Simple! Two, three choices max?" Wrong! There are so many to chose from, and each option has its pros and cons. Pick the right one and you have a sturdy, well made cabinet that will stand the test of time. Pick the wrong one and you may be replacing your cabinets a little more often than you had anticipated!

While you might not get the opportunity to put this information to use on a regular basis, if you play any type of role in specifying, purchasing, or installing cabinetry it is helpful to have a basic understanding of how the product is constructed.

Read on for a run-down of core materials...

1. Plywood
  •  Strong
  • Doesn't pose the cracking, warping or shrinking threat of solid wood
  • Can be manufactured in very large sheets
  • Two types:
    • Hardwood Plywood
      • Generally higher quality
      • Emits gas and formaldehyde from adhesive used in construction
    • Softwood Plywood
2. Combination Core
  •  Consistent flatness
  • Good screw-hold ability
  • Lighter than MDF or particleboard core
3. Lumber Core
  • Good bending strength
  • Good screw-hold ability
  • Excellent matching properties
  • Edges can be shaped and matched to finished surfaces without filing
  • Good bounce back, making it a great choice for long or wide shelves in cabinets and closets
  • Good choice when routed edge treatments are necessary and the edges cannot be concealed
  • This is the most expensive core to manufacture, meaning finding a supplier may be difficult
  • Only the highest grade lumber core should be considered as there is a severe drop off in the consistency in lesser grades
  • Most grades machine poorly
  • Substantial voids are often present
4. MDF
  • Very smooth surface
  • Strong
  • Not prone to warping
  • Typically consistent from batch to batch
  • Typically free of voids and blisters, which results in better veneer consistency and bond, leading to less chipping during crosscut operation
  • Easy to machine and cut edges are excellent for glue adhesion
  • Good for use in humid climates or rooms
  • Great screw-hold ability when used with MDF-specific screws
  • Less expensive than plywood
  • Extremely sensitive to heat and may experience bubbling, blistering, discoloration and peeling as the surface becomes damaged
  • MDF cabinets usually can't be repaired and generally need replaced more often.
  • More expensive than particleboard
  • More dense than particle board or plywood
  • Subject to water damage unless properly sealed with melamine, laminate, or other similar water resistant material.
5. Particleboard
  • Least expensive of all core types
  • Lighter than MDF
  • Great use of a waste product that would otherwise be discarded
  • More economical than plywood
  • Its uniform thickness, smoothness, surface integrity, ease of layup, and ability to stay flat make it an ideal core material
  • Heavier than plywood, but not as strong
  • Edges splinter easily and aren't as strong as MDF
  • Does not have the screw-hold ability of other cores, however it does increase significantly with the use of particle board specific screws
  • Its use can indicate inferior construction and materials when used in the construction of furniture or cabinets
  • Tends to swell and separate, even with brief moisture contact
  • The high glue content found in the product quickly dulls the knives and blades on processing machinery and tools
  • Emits gas and formaldehyde from adhesive
6. Hardwood
  • Expands and contracts as it interacts with moisture in the air
7. Veneer Core
  • Moderate price
  • High strength to weight ratio
  • Provides dimensional stability and good strength both along and across the panel
  • Excellent bending strength and screw-hold ability
  • Lighter in weight than other core types
  • Voids in the core and face are common
  • Not always consistent in thickness from sheet to sheet, or within the same sheet
  • The pre-veneered surface is coarser and does not accept veneer as well, resulting in excessive chipping and tearout during the machining process
  • During cutting, you will always be ripping some layers and crosscutting others, which makes cutting more difficult with a greater tendency to burn
  • Saw-cut edges are not as clean and smooth as other core types--does not take edge glue well
  • Inconsistencies in the pre-veneered surface can result in thin spots in the veneer
8. Fir Core
  • Very resilient to weather while being quite stable
  • Great screw-hold ability
  • Relative softness of the layers means that any inconsistencies in the product will even out during compression
9. Poplar Core
  • Heavier and harder than fir
  • Very stable
  • Lacks weather resistence
  • Will not compress, making voids and knots more likely to telegraph through the surface veneer
  • Poplar that is not dried properly is more prone to delamination
10. Aspen Core
  • Similar properties to Fir Core, but less dense, resulting in a lighter sheet
  • Soft and will compress nicely giving a consistent face
11. Birch and Maple Core
  • High density
  • Both species are hard and thin, making for an extremely stable product
  • It is very unlikely for a void to be found in these core types
  • Good edge strength, making them less prone to splintering than Fir and Poplar
  • Relatively attractive cores, making them a great choice when the edges of the final product will be exposed
  • Maple has slightly more grain pattern on the surface, allowing for it to be sanded very smooth
  • Specialty high-end product
  • Birch core has a tendency to splinter at the edge of a machined cut
  • These are the most expensive cores available
12. Fire-rated Core
  • Suitable for a variety of industrial and commercial building applications where stringent building codes and public safety requirements are a factor
13. NAUF Core
  • Recommended for applications where the presence of formaldehyde is a concern
  • Environmentally-friendly
14. Bamboo Core
  • Great for use in tropical or high humidity climates
  • Sustainable and environmentally-friendly
  • Strong
  • Can be made water-resistant
  • More expensive than MDF
15. Medium and High Density Overlay Plywood Core 
  • Lighter than full MDF core
  • More stable surface than veneer core plywood

Friday, October 5, 2012

Student Design Competitions

There are some really great competitions going on right now for design students! Competitions are a great way to not only see how your skills compare to other students' around the country, but to begin getting your name out there in an industry that is very competitive.

So if you are a undergrad student currently enrolled in an Interior Design or a related college program, and are interested in the possibility of winning a little exposure (and prize money--that never hurts, right??), check out a few of these competitions!
1. IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition
"The competition celebrates original sustainable design and rewards those individuals whose projects demonstrate consistent, creative sustainable principles."

Submission Deadline: November 15, 2012
Official rules and entry here.

2. PAVE the Way 3D Design Challenge 
"PAVE the Way, a 3D Design Challenge is an exciting opportunity available for students internationally to showcase their work at a major industry event, GlobalShop 2013."

The Challenge: "Design and create a 3D model or rendering of a store fixture that communicated an existing brand of headphone."

Submission Deadline: November 16, 2012
Official rules and entry here.

3. PAVE Student Design Competition
"The competition's design challenges consist of a visual merchandising category and a store design category and provide an excellent opportunity for students to obtain real-life retail design experience."

Visual Merchandising Challenge: "To create a window display AND entry merchandiser that successfully communicate the Bonobos brand."

Store Design Challenge: "To create a “pop-up” shop that successfully communicates the Bonobos brand."

Submission Deadline: November 1, 2012
Official rules and entry here.  

4. ASID Student Design Competition: Repurpose for Today
"How can you, as a designer, create an environment that helps address a current social crisis?

The Challenge: "Scour the media to come up with a social issue on which you think you can make an impact. Then find a building, trailer, bus, train or other environment that you can use to address and transform the social issue by repurposing for today. Utilize creative and critical thinking skills to develop an informed design." 

Submission Deadline: November 15, 2012
Official rules and entry here.

sources: one . two . three . four