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Brock: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today for the second edition of Five In Three, the Sonus Sound Off. I have two, two illustrious guests today. Brian MacKenzie, the Vice President of Sales at Sonus. And Tina Steer, she's an interior designer and she will talk a little bit more about her background. She studied in Copenhagen and I was wondering. During her time studying in Copenhagen, what did she learn in Europe or specifically in Copenhagen that is different about how kind of the architecture industry, interior design, products, any of that kinda stuff works, to what you currently have experienced in the states over your career?
Tina: I think the biggest thing that I learned in Copenhagen or what I was observing in my time over there and then just traveling throughout Europe is it seems like there's much more, there's a higher social value placed on the environment and the design of spaces. Personally, it's, it's an aesthetic that I love, so it was really exciting to see it not as sparingly implemented as it is in the. But it just, you went into the most mundane spaces and it felt like everything was considered, everything was thought through, and it's a much more, I mean, there's, there's a lot of variation in the sign aesthetic, but it seems like there's a, a stronger voice. One of the great things about the Melting pot of America is that. You know, there's all things, but it means that we don't really have as much of an identity when it comes to, our built space.
Brock: Yeah, it's interesting. Just recently I just, this week I encountered a study about acoustics. I'm always looking at studies cuz I'm an acoustics nerd now, and it was done in Sweden and it's, you know, a researcher in Sweden. And that's all that she focuses on is acoustics and architecture., and then I was looking up other things about just the different fire ratings and things like that, that are European standard of what we have in the States, but it's, it's different and they have multiple boards and, and things like that. So yeah, it does seem like they have, more of a focus on kind of the environment, inside of a space which is directly good. And I think, I think as a company we have a lot to learn in that. And, and see what other companies are doing and, and, and look at other standards that we could, that we could adhere to.
Tina: What is the most obvious? There is just the aesthetic, but when you spend time in the space, you realize it's so much more.
Brian: What do you think is the most memorable challenge that you've encountered? And this could be. Client-related, product related, the type of space that you designed in, and the most memorable challenge?
Tina: Most memorable challenge...
Brock: that you can talk about out loud
Tina: ...that we can all identify with and that we're all still facing is just lead times. It's so hard right now to be intentional about design and in detail. When you get to the project actually being bought and constructed and something all of a sudden is delayed 20 weeks or what you thought was gonna be a 20-week lead time becomes a 30-week lead time. We have a project right now that is gonna be done hopefully in the next few weeks that was supposed to be done, and moved into before Christmas. And thank goodness this client is just, they know what they want and they're patient and they're willing to wait for things. But you know, when you're designing around a certain system and then that system is all of a sudden delayed, and that holds up the whole construction schedule. Do you make a sacrifice and use what's available? Which is what we have to do in a lot of situations. And actually, we're kind of changing how we're approaching a lot of projects now in that it's like don't, don't design based on specificity, knowing that who knows how things are gonna work. We were on the same project. We were waiting on a tile trim piece. That's the most prominent corner in the space is this beautiful little triangle champed piece. So they can have two oversized tiles come together, and that looks like one piece of stone is all carved out. It shipped two times by freight, you know, on a cargo ship from Italy. Arrived, broken both times. Eventually, they were like, you might wanna do something else, like, we can't do anything else. This is. The first moment that you see when you walk in, you know, we designed the project based on being able to do this thing. We would've changed the details if this thing wasn't gonna work out. And thank God, try nber three worked and they air freighted it instead of sending it on the ship. And half of it still arrived broken, but there were enough pieces cobbled together to give us this one run of trim with how unpredictable things are now, it's really hard. Get everything that you want in the way that you've envisioned it. So where can you, where can you make concessions knowing that, you know, things can't be as precious as you would hope?
Brock: Do you think the aesthetic of, kind of interior design is going to change over the next five or. 10 years, let's say, because of lead times? Do you know?
Tina: I don't, I don't know how it's gonna play out exactly. I think there's, you know, there's obviously bigger socioeconomic things at play. Like none of us want a huge recession. That would be awful. I entered the industry or the field in 2008 and I actually didn't, I worked as a trends analyst in a branding agency for two years before I came back to interior design. The way things have been over the past few years just doesn't feel sustainable. And then you. Products, availability, unpredictability. You know, money has been cheap for a really long time, but should all the money that is available be taken? Should it be spent? It just doesn't seem like we are on a sustainable track. Labor shortages. Skilled labor shortages, but also say, I think there are so many things that are gonna be influencing what this industry looks like in the next two years that I, we're all just gonna have to be much more agile. I think we're gonna get a lot better, at reacting and just being creative with what's available.
Brian: So I got a quick follow-up question with lead times. What is the mix between having to. Make changes on the fly because we went into the project thinking the lead time was one thing, but then as we got closer to the completion of the project, we found out the lead time is another, or we knew it going in, that the lead times were gonna be crazy. What would you say the mix would be between those?
Tina: I think more so now it's the latter. Like we know that everything is unpredictable and crazy. We, this is our best guess going. Luckily, you know, everybody has been living through this together, so most people are forgiving, and you just kind of go with the flow. But I'd say it's based on the client. You know some have to move in by this date, or they start paying rent by this date. So the project completion needs to happen by this date, and you just, do what you can to get there. We had a project that we worked on with Rine in another life in another role. I wanna say a six-month delay on exterior cladding that it just kept being told like three more weeks, four more weeks, three more weeks, two more weeks. You just kept getting pushed back, pushed back, pushed back, and the tenant who was moving in just said, we can't move into a building that doesn't look done. People are gonna get sent home. We're gonna be working from home again where we hadn't planned to. We're gonna delay the moving out of our current space as long as we. Everybody's required to be a little bit flexible right now from
Brian: so many industries. And I even just think about the airline industry and this isn't a knock on in, you know, industry-specific stuff, but it's, we are having to change as what citizens of the world, how we go about living our lives because of so many other conditions that are forcing us to do that. Right. And I, and I think you're right. I think the next two years is gonna be so telling. What happens in the design industry? Are standards gonna change? Is it gonna be, Hey, you get what you get cuz this is what we could get our hands on? Or, you know, is, is it, is it gonna go the other way? Which is, I think what most of us are used to where it's no, the customer, you put the customer, you put the client in the center, and the businesses in the industry should conform to that, not the other way. So I think that's gonna be really interesting over the next couple of years.
Brock: Yeah, I think about like specification docent, right? Are you gonna end up specifying three different manufacturers of a single product if they don't have this? We go here. If that's 16, 18 weekly times, we're gonna do this six to eight weeks. You know, and how's that going to change? Or do, does somebody like, you know, I build products in certain colors and fabrics and styles and things like that, so if it comes down to it and a space needs acoustics, I can ship 'em out in two weeks., it might not be exactly what they want. You know, how am I going to change?, it's, it's fascinating, Tina, to hear you talk about all of the dynamics at play and how that's something you're considering.
Tina: We often talk about how the architecture team is quarterbacking everything, and you, you might see what we do in this very narrow window, but the breadth of our responsibility is, you know, from day one through punch list and making sure that everything. Being considered thought through responded to, coordinated both from, you know, GCs and subcontractors, which, you know, we're not handling directly, but we're responsive to them through client management.
Brock: It reminds me of a conversation I had with an interior designer last year that, she felt like she was becoming an interior designer slash scientist because of, you know, she was like, when I, you know, graduated school 20 years ago, I never thought I was going to be the person in my company who was going to be responsible to understand, you know, airflow and things like that. So we're all changing,
Tina: specializing in ways we never envision. And, we talked. My background is a little bit, but those two years as a trends analyst have been so beneficial in what I do now in the like, so right now we're trying to figure out what does office space look like? Post-pandemic, do landlords, what do employers need to be providing to entice people back to the office? And you know, it's not unique to me, but it's what we're all doing. Like, what can you do that? It doesn't erase, but, but adjusts and reacts to the past two years that we've been living through.
Brock: This is gonna be an excellent segue. Like I'm a professional., I admire you for taking, taking in and ingesting all of that information and, and all of those trends and. Using it to inform your, your design. Speaking of admiration, I'm wondering if there's somebody in kind of your realm, your world that you admired lately, or it could be a company, it could be a brand, be a product. Is there anything that comes to
Tina: mind? So I've cheated a little bit on this one. Somewhat an adjacent relation. There is a fashion designer, pure pilot Petro, who's the val, the head of Valentino, right? And he did this show, the Pink Show. I don't know if you guys have seen anything from it, . It was the auto Winter 22 show, and every single garment was bright pink, the exact same color. The carpet, the room that it was presented in, everything was this exact same color, and it was all about form. So like if, when, when you strip out one element of design, what are you left with and what does it look like? And back to our previous conversation, when you don't, when you can't control necessarily like you get the exact finish that you want, what can you do with form to make sure that it's a good project regardless and just, I mean, check out the show. It is, it's amazing.
Brock: Yeah. Mono monochromatic has been, has been big these last couple of years. You know, you'll, you'll understand this, that a lot of times your limitations can bring out your biggest innovations
Brian: when it comes to soundproofing and absorption, what do you think is the most important, or the first question you would ask a decision maker?
Tina: We are often asking them, you know, what do you want? What's the sound quality that you're looking for? You know, if we're doing a law firm, sound absorption, sound ging. Sound deadening is really important. Versus, you know, some restaurants, they want the lively buzz., so it's like understanding what the, what the sound story is that they're aiming for. Unfortunately, a lot of times sound attenuation isn't necessarily sexy, so it can be an easy thing that's cut. So another thing that we try to do is make it a design feature and not just an applied surface that makes it a little bit harder to be dropped out or to be cut in the VE process.
Brian: Do you guys run into situations where it gets cut, but then the client moves into the space and says, why did we do this? All the, like we need all the time. That's interesting.
Tina: All the time. We did, a big hospitality space in a brewery, and they dropped the sound attenuation and then nearly everybody that I've talked to who had been in there in the first few months were like, it's great. It's just so loud. I think they ended up doing something about it within the first few months of Operation
Brian: Isn't that, isn't that one of the nber one reasons why people either choose to go to or leave a restaurant or a bar is noise levels?
Brock: Yeah, we hear that stuff all the time. I recently worked with a restaurant inside of a hotel, or actually under a hotel that is like a boutique five-star hotel, and you could hear every convers. Every baseline of music, every touchdown of the TVs that hang over the bar. And if you went and read the reviews, almost every single one of them mentioned the sound in their space was horrible, and that everything else was perfect. What is the experience like for the people in your space? That's the kind of the first question. And then let, let us, let the pros, right, let, let Sonus figure out how to make that happen for you. A design intention or whether it's a cost or a color story or anything else, you know, tell us what they're looking for and we will, we'll make it happen.
Tina: It's great to have, you know, partners on projects with experience and knowledge like you guys have too, because there's, you know, what we're trying to accomplish, we don't necessarily know how to get there. And having somebody that you can lean on to help figure those things out is really, is really great.
Brock: So, you know, is there a concept or, or even a product that you've come across that you've been interested in? I kind of knew this about myself and then I was reminded of it this smer, but I, when I'm building concept boards, I don't just pull interior imagery.
Tina: And one of the things I often look to is animals like snakeskin, petals, and butterflies. You know, feather patterns. I think like when it's naturally occurring, there's a certain timelessness because it's a combination that the ether put together and it's something that's identifiable. And then I was in Spain this smer and went to lasso gra Amelia, which I had never been into any of Gaudi's projects, but that was, you know, you're supposed to feel like you're in a forest when you're in there. And that was designed in the early 19 hundreds and feels. Otherworldly and unique and timeless in that it did what it set out to do, that it feels like, you know, you're amongst the trees. And I know biophilia has been a big word lately, but I think it's not me, it's not mimicking nature, it's pulling inspiration from it.
Brock:, I've seen interior designers and systems designers get inspired by ant hills and things like that. Mm-hmm. of. Back and forth in what passageways go, which directions, and in that, you know, the different, the different worker and doing different things. I think all of that stuff is, is kind of out there.
Tina: Yeah. And like there's, there's also natural discord or what we would think isn't necessarily like a, a color combination that makes sense, but there's familiarity in it, whether you know it or not, that makes that like burnt orange and that green. Whatever else worked together. You know, things that you wouldn't necessarily pull on your own that you can see does exist in a pleasing way. Yeah. It just pushes us outside of what we like, what we asse works.
Brian: Yeah. And it makes you think about the sustainability aspect of things too. Right. So a couple of questions. What would you say, I mean, is, it sustainability? More and more of a focus for your clients?
Tina: I think it's still client by client, but we try to be responsible in what we're stocking. You know, it's not necessarily what's driving everybody, but it's, there's so much, innovation in the industry that it's, it does, it's not as hard to be responsible as it used to be. Like a lot of them, I feel like carpet started with the whole cradle-to-cradle and I feel like they're still doing it really well and that. If you're doing a renovation project, they'll come in and take all the carpet out and they'll recycle it and they'll, whether it's theirs or somebody else's, and I can't remember which brand's doing this, they'll take it out of a project and they'll use the nylon for their backing or if it's there if it is their project that's being taken out of projects, even if they're not involved in the new one, they'll come and get it so that it doesn't end up in a landfill. That's a really easy thing for us to say, you know, let's, let's use them the next time around. Knowing how aesthetic trends go, there's a chance that this won't be here in the next 20 years. And, it feels better for us knowing that it's not gonna be not break down in a landfill somewhere. We have a client right now that's intrigued by the idea of 3D printing architecture, and that's fascinating when it when you start thinking about building ways and just like how wasteful the builtin part, you know, construction can be when you're cutting down studs. You know, trimming, drywall, there's, there's just a lot of waste, you know? And so what does, is that something that can actually scale and change the industry, or is that just gonna stay as, like the, it makes sense if you're building 500 at the same thing, but if you're trying to do one-offs, are we, how much longer are we stuck in? The more traditional methods?
Brian: Is there, is there another material that's caught your eye, aside from carpeting, from a sustainability perspective? Like, I know live walls are a big thing, right? And there's a lot of mosses and you know, I know that that's maybe an obvious one of people, but just curious if there's like a new up-and-comer that you see or something that's like, man, this is really interesting. I don't know a lot about it, but it seems like it, solves more than one problem sustainability and good materiality.
Tina: I think more than anything, and this is like, Part of my realm., but it's just energy efficiency and energy generation. Like when are we actually that, that's one of the more wasteful parts of our built environment. So what can we do there, as we act? So I do have a product in mind. I can't remember the name of it. It might come to me by the end of this. It's like a barrier or something like that where they will go into a building that has been, I. Studded but not drywall yet. And they spray this compound and it kind of, you know, you do these airflow tests when you're getting lead points where it pushes air through the building, but this sucks it all out so that this fiber fills every single gap anywhere in the building. Like the most minute grains, you know, a grain of sand size fold will be filled with this fiber. And the way that it changes your building performance is astronomical. And I can't remember what all the metrics were either, but like that presentation came to our office and we were all like, so you can take one of these leaky old 1860s buildings that we'd work on and make it tighter than the construction. Yeah. Wow. Okay.
Brian: My, my condo needs that in the winter,
Tina: my 1860s house needs it It reminds me of something that we talk a lot about, just kind of the limited narrow view of, I hate to say it, but ticking boxes for people in the industry. It seems like, again, I don't want to speak out of turn, but, if it has a certain designation, then it's like, cool.
Brock: Throw that in there. We've kind of ticked the green box. Yeah., but you know, one thing that we've encountered a lot in this, Is something can be extremely sustainable and recyclable and recycled, but it's shipped from the other side of the world. And so, are we factoring that in there or are we just deciding not to talk about that right now?
Tina: Well, yeah, and, with the box-checking, there's, there, I feel like there are some points for like the proximity of product, but it's not nearly as valued as some of the other items on the list. And it does feel like it all goes back to like the higher overarching building performance. And, you know, we're lucky that we do a lot of renovation work, and that's a huge point because you're already, you're starting with something rather than starting from scratch. Yeah. And I don't like, there are so many factors that it's just like, we're the greenest thing over here. Don't look at, don't look at the back end. We can, we can say at the end of the day, like, it's a super sustainable and green product, but you, you have to wear a hazmat suit to make it. Yeah, how does that factor in?
Brock: And we'll probably cut this part out, so Hold on. Whoever's editing this, but, We're back,
Tina: back to usable content.
Brock: So this is the fun, exciting, lightning-round part. You have a Saturday totally free. You can do anything you want on that Saturday. What activity or hobby or people are you gonna see, or what are you doing for that 24 hours of a totally free Saturday?
Tina: This is so foreign because I have two small ones. I would start with the yoga class, and then I would go to our local farmer's market here, Bentley Market, which is just right over there. I would buy a bunch of fresh food and I would ideally do some sort of other outdoor activity, like a hike or go kayaking or something like that. But then from, let's say three o'clock on, I would cook. I don't know what I would make, but I would make something, Whatever you were able to make from your hall at the. That would be my perfect Saturday.
Brock: Would there be kids involved that Saturday or would they be at Grandpa Grandma's house or..
Tina: They would be there. But they would miraculously sleep in that day so I could go to yoga class and not feel like I'm leaving, leaving the brunch with my husband. They're, they're great in the mornings, but they're just more people to take care of
Brock: your current favorite restaurant and your perfect order.
Tina: So this is funny. My current favorite restaurant has been my favorite restaurant for probably eight years now. We keep trying other places and then we go back to this place. It's called Bouquet and it's a little I Guest Farm Table is their claim to fame, but it's a new menu with each season, and so my perfect order would be they usually have a great salad, some sort of seasonal salad, and then they do a pork chop depending on whatever flavors or ingredients are available. That is always just amazing. And then they are also famous for something called the Motherboard, which is just a decadent spread of charcuterie and house-made pickles and jams and mustards and stuff. I like to do that for dessert and that's my meal with some very yummy sauvignon blanc paired and I try to, a good thing. It's almost lunchtime. That's where we can go. When you're back, we'll go.
Brian: Yeah, good call. Good call. I know your time is so precious, but thank you so much for doing this.
Tina: Yeah, no problem. It was nice to meet you, Brock. Safe travel.
Brock: I will echo Brian's statements and, and say thank you so much for your time. All of your answers were incredibly insightful.