The “IKEA-fication” of Kansas City

Have you heard the news, it’s the cover story of every local business publication, the teaser for the “News at 10” and has social media newsfeeds a buzz… IKEA has opened in Kansas City (insert: “Eeek!!”) Don’t get me wrong, I am excited that we now have one close by and may have even been one of the people “Facebooking” about its arrival- way back when….just maybe.

But, as a commercial furniture and flooring dealer, do we have a place in our hearts for IKEA and it’s “Ready to Assemble” (RTA) wares? I think we do.  IKEA, and it’s knocked down furniture fills a certain need, just as commercial grade furniture fills a particular need. Which begets the question – what is the difference between residential and commercial-grade furniture? Some may quickly reply, “price!” And while there may be a discrepancy in price between residential and commercial furniture, it’s with good reason. It’s a akin to likening your oven/stove at home and a commercial grade oven used in a bakery or restaurant; while they both serve the same purpose and function, one is designed for repetitive, heavy, “continuous” use, versus less frequent, lighter use.

Commercial grade furniture is built to last, from higher quality materials than most residential pieces and is tested for strength, stability, etc… There are organizations, such as ANSI/BIFMA that set standards commercial grade furniture must meet or exceed, of which residential furniture does not. Our workspaces and certainly educational environments often find furniture being used in ways not intended (i.e. as step stool, sitting on a tablet arm- in lieu of writing on it, etc…) Commercial furniture is typically made of thicker steel, higher quality woods and tested for real life applications, such as a tablet arm being used as a stool, as illustrated earlier.  In fact, one of the best parts of any furniture factory tour is seeing the testing area/facility. You may not be old enough to recall this, but for some reason images of the Samsonite Gorilla commercial always flashes in my head, as I watch the chairs have excessive weights repeatedly dropped on them, or a sofa dropped on its end over and over and over and….(you get the drift.)

While serving the same purpose, commercial-grade and residential furniture certainly share functionality; it’s the durability, sustainability, quality and lifespan that separates the knocked down, ready to assemble furniture of the world from commercial grade quality furniture.

So no love lost on Ikea,  afterall,  what goes better with furniture shopping than some Swedish meatballs?


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From Chalkboards to Smartboards…

a classroom thesis




My son brought home his first night of 5th grade homework the other night; he flipped open his District- issued personal laptop and logged on to his teacher’s YOU TUBE channel and got to work.

Somehow, despite my knowledge of the changing 21st century classroom (in my mind, I think I viewed these changes as the “Higher Education” setting, more so than the K12 realm), I sat amazed. He still had paper and pencil, but only to show and record his work. The teacher poises the question/problem via the video, students pause and complete the problem, and then resume the video to hear the answer, as well as the teacher explains the reasoning and method of reaching the answer. Such a simple concept, yet I was impressed with the brilliance of its simplicity. Isn’t the sole purpose of homework to reinforce concepts introduced during the school day, not just busy work, as generations of children have bemoaned?

This is just a small example of how technology has impacted education. Not only is the way “we” teach changing, but the environments our teachers are teaching in and our students are learning in, have also evolved based on how technology has infiltrated our lives.

Teknion has recently partnered with Gensler on a study about technology in the classroom (, which reveals some telling trends and considerations for not only our society in whole, but gives vendors and manufacturers tangible data to forecast and proactively engineer products/goods to meet those changing needs.    “Active learning, collaboration, reinforcing concepts through hyper-connectedness and ease of access,” are just a few of the trends associated with the 21st Century Classroom. How will (has) the physical classroom environment changed in light of this paradigm shift?  What are your thoughts on the changing face of Education, driven by our tech-savvy, hyper connected world?

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Colors, Constants & Vowels, Adverbs…What Do They Say About You?

Are you blue? Maybe an ISTJ?  Or do you prefer to refer to yourself as a, “Realist?”  If you’re racking your brain to figure out just what I am talking about, perhaps you’ve never been asked to participate in a personality “test,” but chances are, if you’ve been in the job market sometime over the past decade, you’ve taken some type of personality and skills assessment prior to being offered a position with a company.

For me, I love this stuff.  I eat it up, in fact. What Psychology major, ENFJ, “Connector,” wouldn’t?  These “tests” are all about who you are, what drives and excites you and what environments you function optimally in, as well as what areas are more taxing for you, as they aren’t part of your natural personality. I honestly find the topic endlessly fascinating, but not everyone does. Perhaps you should give it at least a little credence as Personality and Skill assessments are part and parcel of the vetting /recruitment process anymore, but what do these results really tell us- or moreso, our prospective or current employers?

Research says it depends. Skill assessments are very telling and verify that the “best indicator of future performance/habits, is past performance,” but with personality “tests” – the outcomes aren’t reliable measures of one’s success. Skills, habits and practices are, not “personality traits.”  You could be seemingly a “natural’  salesperson personality, but not succeed in sales for a multitude of reasons, the lest of these being; work ethic, resources and good old knowledge about what you do and how to do it better/more efficiently/ less costly…i.e., skills.

The true benefit in any personality assessment is what you do with the results, both personally and as an organization as a whole. Simply identifying what personality traits exist in a group is nothing more than a semi-interesting water cooler conversation. After all, you work with these people for the majority of your daily life, chances are, you could have given a tangible, educated guess as to what personality traits your co workers exemplify.  What’s of benefit is sharing that information, noting how the different traits may impact communication, office culture and how well one group of employees’ “jives” with another.  Armed with this information you can align similar or divergent personality types, along with the skill sets required to theoretically comprise your “dream team” on any given project or task.

How has your organization used personality test results to impact overall organizational success?

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The Dichotomy of Design

Tick Fabrics

Tick 3 Tick 2 Tick portrait textiles

“Opposites attract,” is a common phrase regarding relationships. One partner’s extroverted, the other an introvert. Or one partner a night owl, the other a “up at the crack of dawn.” These opposing characteristics often creates the drama or “draw” for each person to the other. The same is said of good design. The stark difference between light and dark, the blending and melding of hard versus soft surfaces, or the juxtaposition of an antique with the clean lines of an uber modern piece.  These are the very things that makes a space (or outfit/landscape) so appealing to one’s senses….the dichotomy of the pairing.

In Suzanne Tick’s new textile line for Teknion, she celebrates the relationships between the hard materials in architecture and the soft materials in weaving.  She states its the form and structure being the parallel relationship across the two; leaving no surprise that her new line is in fact called, “Form + Structure.”

A little more about the line

Tick shared that her textile designs have often been inspired by architecture and the textural qualities it posses by way of pattern, sheen, and shape. She likens the process of weaving to that of building a structure; she creates her textiles through weaving frameworks that morph and evolve with the addition of color and materials.

“Form + Structure” is offered in 9 styles; 5 upholstery and 4 panel fabrics.

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Stand In the Place That You Work

livello table

Livello Livello stand

A little knock off of R.E.M.’s, “Stand”, (there I go, “dating” myself again), but the conversation of standing at work is a hot topic of late.  Perhaps there were murmurings before Nilofer Merchant’s, Harvard Business Review article touting that, “Sitting is the Smoking of Our Generation,” but the health ramifications associated with prolonged sitting had not previously been so blatantly spelled out via cold, hard, data.

Merchant’s article sites research that states your life is cut short by 22 minutes for every 8-12 hours you spend sitting sedentary.  Aside from the physical/skeletal nightmare’s that can occur with bad posture,  poor chair design, and other ill- habits, it’s the reluctance of workers to recognize the impact of day in, day out, misuse or miss alignment of their body that contributes to its long-term effects.  Moving beyond carpel tunnel, back and shoulder aches, stiff knees, eye strain, etc….There are chemical shifts in your body while sitting.  Data shows that the enzyme the burns fats in the body, declines by 90% after just one hour of sitting! If that’s not incentive to get up and move, at least every hour, if not more frequent, I don’t know what is!

On any given day I spend up to 9 hours of sitting at work; I may switch spots – say, task chair, to conference chair to car seat, (repeat), but I am largely spending those 9 hours – sitting. On a good night, I’m talking a really good night, I am fortunate to get 6.5- 7 hours of sleep. Therefore, I sit more than I sleep each day- as that 9 hours is strictly accounting for my work day. Not drive time, not “watching TV on the couch time” or other sitting based activities.  Merchant was heralded in sharing this revelation, as the impact of our longer work days, hyper connectivity (speaking technologically) has done a number on our bodies, and not just the stress related to heavier workloads and longer hours, but the physical downfall of so much sitting.

Enter, “Stand in the Place Where You Work;” standing at work is not a passing trend in my book. With the interest in healthier work forces, reducing worker’s comp claims, and the like,  I wouldn’t be surprised if “sitting at your desk” exclusively, doesn’t go by the way side of the once, 2 “smoke breaks” a-day concept.  Furniture manufacturers have answered this need with the “Sit/Stand” table option. These work surfaces go from a traditional sit height, to a standing height – with a push of a button, a turn of a crank or a squeeze of a paddle, depending on the mechanism.

Teknion’s table lines offer several sit/stand solutions to the sitting epidemic- offered in Electronic, Incremental and Counterbalance mechanisms. The  LIVELLO counterbalance option is their most recent addition. The internal spring mechanisms counteract the weight on the surface for a fluid, seemingly intuitive, motion.

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The Wall

Just about every conversation surrounding the trend of more collaborative spaces and open office concepts also includes the issue for privacy and how to address it while maintaining the open plan aesthetic. This is where reconfigurable wall can paint a very compelling picture. The variety of materials that can be used to establish huddle rooms, private office, conference rooms and “phone booths,” to fill those needs range from fabric to white board to butted-glass storefront and all points in between.

Teknion Wall Install

Optos Low profile Walls_4_w_Model_B (1) Optos low profile md_Walls_3_Model_B altos optos 2 altos optos 3 optos altos

Our Teknion Optos/Altos product is a frequent conversation starter due to its non-marring installation, “green story” – based on its stick built qualities and the fact that reconfigurable wall is looked at as furniture and depreciates at the same rate, which is 4 times faster than that of fixed wall construction.

Many people have the perception that reconfigurable wall is inaccessible; the thought is often that it will be more costly than fixed walls. While the product cost may/may not price out more than some fixed wall applications- the speed of installation, the versatility of applications and reconfiguring down the road, the greatly reduced amount of time the area/workspace is non functional, the “waste not, want not” features, and the aforementioned tax benefits certainly are considerable benefits to weigh in on when comparing the two.

Our organizations and workplaces are in constant flux in some capacity or another; smaller footprints, evolving head count and being a relevant business today means you must be fluent to survive. The Optos/Altos product allows that versatility, while also proving to be a prudent investment.



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What I Did On My Summer Vacation…

If you are of a certain age, writing an essay on this topic was status quo sometime the first week of school for most of your youth. Some teacher’s are still assigning this task; only they are likely not done with freshly sharpened #2 pencils and wide rule loose leaf paper as they were, “back when I was in school” (where I walked up hill, in the snow, both ways, etc…), but rather, on tablets and projection keyboards!

No matter the mode of communication, here at our BA Designs Kansas City office, we can say that we have spent a large part of our summer “vacation” (if by vacation you mean work week), readying spaces for those writing tasks to take place!  We have been fortunate to partner with several schools on projects this summer, with quite a few of those being in the Olathe School District.  One we imagine Olathe USD# 233 is extra excited about is their newest Elementary School, Millbrooke Elementary.

It’s always exhilarating to see a school come to fruition from empty building – to being adorned in colorful hallways and bulletin boards, rooms outfitted with new furniture, and books carefully organized on shelves, ready to instill a love of learning for the students.  An extra special privilege for those that will call themselves the very first, Millbrooke Mountain Lions!

Take a look at what the students at Millbrooke are about to see at their ‘Sneak Peek’ August 11th; the school is ready and the teachers are too. With that,  get in some more summer while you can – that means school is back in session in just a month!

Millbrooke cafe to stage Millbrooke Classroom 1 Millbrooke Classroom BRC Millbrooke Construction Millbrooke Elem- cafe Millbrooke Main Millbrooke sign

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In a world of Buddy, Harry, Chloe, Scout…meet Larry. Our office fish.

Larry blog

Yes. Our office fish. If you haven’t been privy to the latest data regarding pets in the workplace, here’s the skinny:

Pet’s in the workplace are becoming commonplace. What may have started by virtue of their humans working longer hours, and a pet’s “needs” remaining the same; a pet in the workplace has turned into quite commonplace, especially in certain professional fields.  And studies show…not only do we love them being here, but we benefit from them sharing our work day.

With more demanding work loads, constant stressors, and longer hours, by virtue of having to tend to a pet, it forces us those much needed, highly beneficial short breaks from our heads-down work. Data reveals that several short breaks throughout the day, allows for greater productivity when we return to task work. There are physical perks as well- our autonomic (think cortisol levels), and cardiovascular function improves, as our blood pressure lowers, when we engage with animals. While there are very distinct camps on the “my pet is better than your pet” front, cats edge out dogs in yielding the best body benefits, or at least so says the data, (those of you allergic to cats would likely oppose these findings!)

Aside from physical personal health, having a pet in the workplace brings people together in a unique way; making the office appear friendlier, more welcoming and unifies the employees in a way typical team building cannot, says pollsters.  Let’s face it, it’s hard to not drop the professional façade when you are knee deep into a pressing deadline, stressed to the max, and “Buddy/Harry/Chloe/Scout” (insert your office pet name here) is relentlessly nudging at your arm for a kind stroke, or has placed his/her head in your lap despite your averting movements and position, with those puppy dog eyes longingly set on you.  At some point you cave. We all do.  We concede to their assertions and science says it’s a good thing we do!

Here at BA Designs, we too have an office pet. He is a very quiet guy that keeps to himself and many times, we forget he is even here. Meet Larry- the fish. Ok, so it’s not quite the furry, loveable office pet that will likely yield the aforementioned health benefits, but he works for us. Sure, I’m the only one that talks to him (at least audibly) and at least 2x in any given week someone while waiting for the coffee to brew proclaims, “Larry’s dead” (his favorite game is to play opossum), but he’s ours and the office just wouldn’t be the same without him.

So we’re curious, who has an office pet out there?






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Let Furniture Ring!


The 4th of July conjures up a variety of Americana-esque images for most of us:  the flag, fireworks, bbq’s, and of course, our Independence! So as the well-celebrated day approaches, we our honoring our own Independence and saying in unison, “Let Furniture Ring!”  Ok, so the saying is, “Let Freedom Ring,” but we are a Furniture and Flooring Dealer, people, work with us!

We would like to take a moment this holiday week and not only focus on the fact that so many of our vendor- partners are American made businesses, but that so many of those businesses started decades ago based on the time-honored American work ethic that this fine nation was built. Not only did they start from humble beginnings, but they have weathered the economical storms and ever-changing buying practices and have evolved to meet those changing times and remain standing today! USA! USA! USA!  (Perhaps I shouldn’t be writing this with the World Cup in full swing?)

Along with honoring those businesses, we’d also like to send a shout out to all our fellow small, locally owned businesses who have managed to stay relevant and financially sound amidst years of economic turmoil and change. Is there a one of us who hasn’t had to play “Fortune Teller,” to some extent as to how/when/what the next turn will bring, or in a moment of reflection think about how things,  “used to be” and long for a more predictable time?  We honor you for your investment in your community by way of jobs/ investing in local property/infrastructure, for your fortitude in putting in all the hours in front of and behind the scenes, and the personal sacrifices you have made to have a piece of the “American Pie.”  May it be topped with a generous helping of your favorite ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top for good measure for many years to come!


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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Necessity is the mother of invention they say…and invent, or, design, they did! NeoCon 2014 did not disappoint so far as inventive, exciting, forward-thinking new products.  Here are a few of the BA Designs team favorites:

Teknion offered many chatter-worthy releases including: the Livello counter balance (versus pneumatic) height adjustable table, the Sabrina & Variable chairs, Studio Collection’s Lite Wall, and Form + Structure Textiles by Suzanne Tick.  The Lite Wall from the Studio Collection being a Gold Award winner this year at NeoCon.

Hon’s Endorse line was well received; most notably for the breadth of line it offers. From 4- leg stack guest, bar & counter height stools, to conference and welcome areas – Endorse can provide a multitude of seating solutions.

Kimball’s Xsede open office solution, offering a common kit of parts was welcomed with enthusiasm as more and more work spaces move toward benching applications and touch-down points.

National released new additions to their Fringe line, including the innovative Fringe Bistro that can be mounted at various heights and offers incredible versatility with one line, in a minimal footprint. The Essay chair was introduced as a “Coming Soon” teaser.  Its innovative base – allowing the user greater ease to access the items stored under the seat, a non-handed tablet, and additional seating solutions that will be offered in the line was met with great anticipation.

Mixed Materials by Patcraft was another NeoCon favorite- the ability to seamlessly marry hard surface with carpet in creative, organic,  integrated patterns yielded a Gold Award for the company.

Innovation collides with durability and design with Ghent’s Acrylite Acrylic Marker board. The surface is 2x more scratch resistant than glass and ½ the weight of glass. Look for this to be used in a variety of applications.

It’s always a thrill to see what the Design teams at our manufacturers have been up to; it’s especially exciting when you see that they are investing in taking to heart what their customers  want and need and bringing those products to fruition.

BA Designs is a dealer for all of the manufacturers mentioned.

Check out these new productsEndorse-Banner NeoCon-2014-Litewall nof_essay1 PatcraftShowroom_5 8572731, what are you most excited to see in your own office space?



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