Blog

OFS Madrid Chair Donation - Umlauf Sculpture Garden

Written by Ally Maxey, Ind. IIDA of MDI Resources.
 
When I moved to Austin, I discovered the most beautiful & creatively inspiring place on earth. Tucked in the heart of 78704, across from famed Zilker Park, Town Lake and Barton Springs Pool, is my favorite gem of all; The UMLAUF Sculpture Garden & Museum. The former home & 8 acres of noted 20th century American sculptor, Charles Umlauf, now a hip oasis where art+culture meet nature, only blocks from the heart of a sprawling capitol city.
 
UMLAUF is proud to be fully accessible, beautifully lit, and perfectly maintained. We recently added plaques with brail to every single sculpture, and all sculptures are coated with wax so that everyone can feel art. We work closely with the Texas State Schools, and offer after school programming to children all over Central Texas. UMLAUF offers health & wellness classes, event space, and rotating exhibits showing work from both Umlauf and other artists. Right now we are displaying the work of Umlauf’s most famous art student at The University of Texas, Farrah Fawcett. She and Umlauf remained close for decades, and they both made great impression on one another’s point of view.
 
After 5 years volunteering at the Umlauf, I am now serving on the board as this year’s Garden Party Chair. The Garden Party is our biggest annual event, where we raise the money used to keep the Garden & Museum preserved throughout the year. Now in my 8th month at MDI Resources as a rep for OFS Brands, would you believe I had the BEST idea for an amazing silent auction item that would wow the 1000 people in attendance!?! Words can’t express how grateful I am… the Umlauf is… for this donation; a Madrid High Back Lounge Chair. With Natural Walnut Shell and the perfect crème shade of Camira Flow, people were literally freaking out over the chair. I had to print off a second bid sheet because we had over 75 bids. At the close of the night, the chair sold for $4,200.00. That’s enough to provide a bus for over 60 Austin area classrooms to take a field trip to the garden.
 
There’s a common denominator between my job, my personal life, and my volunteer gig; creativity & nature preservation. During my speech at the Garden Party last week, where we raised over $300,000.00, I signed off with: “ART. CULTURE. COMMUNITY. Like the sculptures, life, and supporters around me tonight, we are all planting roots, sharing the same sun, and growing the only way I know how: together.”
May 15, 2017 BLOG/Design

Patient-Centered Design Innovation Summit

April 6th - 9th, 2017
 
Heather Shoop, Healthcare Specialist, OFS Brands
 
“The Institute for Patient-Centered Design is on the forefront of thought leadership and innovation in the patient environment and we were thrilled to be both a sponsor and participant in Patient-Centered Design Innovation Summit, April 6 - April 9, 2017, in Savannah, GA.  Delegates representing health systems across the US collaborated with design practitioners, researchers, clinicians and patients to develop solutions for health facility design and accommodations. 
The conference was held at SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, which fostered the creative and open thought processes to understand the challenges in existing healthcare design and propose new solutions moving forward.
Personally, I found it very informative to interact with the clinicians, nurses, patients and patient families to understand their view of the role that design and furniture plays in the healing atmosphere. Listening to their personal experiences in healthcare systems with frightening diagnoses, I didn’t think the furniture would be important at all. So I was surprised to have a patient tell me she thought it was the most important feature in the design of the space. Our furniture does matter!”
Here is what a few of my colleagues thought:

 
Allison Ruff, Major Accounts, OFS Brands
 
“The Institute for Patient-Centered Design summit was an interactive, hands-on experience.  All weekend, I was surrounded by Clinicians, Architects, Interior Designers, Stakeholders, and Patients.  We all came together to problem-solve several different aspects of the Continuum of Care in Healthcare: Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, Women and Infants, Chronic Illness, Major Surgery ICU, and Emergency Department.  Hearing every perspective on these topics was informative, eye-opening and a little humbling.”
Lauren Coffey, Healthcare Marketing, OFS Brands
 
“The Institute for Patient-Centered Design and Health Environment Innovations asked OFS Brands/Carolina to participate in a focus group during the Innovation Summit this year. We decided, what better opportunity to show our newly-launched Serony Behavioral Health lounge furniture than this! Having registered nurses, architects and interior designers review it as a group allowed us to gather feedback from all perspectives. We concluded the focus group with survey questions:  what are your first impressions, what applications would you see this product in your facility and what improvements would you make?
What we took away from the focus group is truly invaluable. It reminded us of the importance of listening to the field and what Human-Centered Design really means.”
 
Tammy S. Thompson, AIA, EDAC Director Institute for Patient-Centered Design, Inc
 
"Our goal for the 2017 Patient-Centered Design Innovation Summit was to connect patients, families, clinicians, designers and students to allow them to share experiences and brainstorm on new solutions.  The synergy in these teams exceeded our expectations.  They made lasting impressions on one another and took away great ideas and fresh inspiration."  
 
May 11, 2017 BLOG/Design

Designology Wellness Symposium

Written By Jane Colclasure
 
The OFS Brands Dallas showroom was the site of the first annual Designology Wellness Symposium on April 19, which also coincided with Earth Week 2017. The Wellness Symposium was conceived as a curated educational forum and a sustainable product showcase, sponsored by a group of industry reps aptly called Designology. It was a fun and educational day comprised of CEU offerings, a round table luncheon, and an interactive terrarium class. CEU topics focused on evidence-based design, acoustics, workplace wellness, and WELL building certification. Designers from all around Dallas attended to learn more about the relationship between human health and the built environment.
 
The highlight of the day was the lively lunch hour round table discussion titled The Whole Wellness Story: how to increase employee engagement, design spaces that foster social connection, and encourage occupant health and wellness. The moderator for the discussion was Kaitlin Snow, A+D Market Manager with OFS Brands Dallas. The panel members that participated were:
 
Jose Montoya, LEED AP BD+C, ID+C, O+M – Project Manager, Corgan

Angela Ramer – Design Anthropologist & Research Analyst, HKS

Melody Lenox – Vice President of Human Resources, Axxess

Vanessa Englert – WELL AP, LEED AP, Director of Product Education, OFS Brands
 
The conversation got off to a very insightful start with Melody Lenox providing her perspective on how HR professionals can encourage employees and stakeholders to embrace WELL building concepts. She stated that a key step is to ensure there are policies developed with consideration for all occupants and how they will be using the space. Once they are put in place, it is essential to educate employees on the policies and continue to evolve them as needs change. She noted that the development of such a program can be a lengthy and intense process, and you don’t always get it right the first time, so you need to be prepared to tweak the program.
 
This led to a shift in the discussion regarding the fact that design is now less “transactional” and is more collaborative. This puts the designer in the “driver’s seat” as she is now interacting with a wide variety of users, and it is essential that the perspectives of those users are accounted for in preliminary project programming. All the panel members agreed that this can be a very messy process, but is worth it in the end. Jose Montoya also noted this can help to scale the project appropriately, while also planning for future growth. 
 
Angela Ramer, providing an anthropological perspective, had some ideas about methods that might modify behavior in constructive ways. Employees may be more prone to buy into a program by using a “gamification” model which allows users to make a game out of healthy behaviors such as exercising and achieving ideal circadian rhythms. 
Vanessa Englert ended the conversation by again focusing on the role of the designer and stressed that it is necessary that the designer tie together information from all different directions: code, building systems, human behavior, LEED and energy consumption, and possibly WELL building standards. The client needs to understand at the beginning of the project the scope of what is being addressed. 
 
After the educational portion of the day, each attendee was able to participate in a succulent plant terrarium workshop led by Energy Gardens of Dallas. Everyone was able to get their hands dirty and learn about how to take care of the plants.  The Designology Wellness Symposium was so well-received, it will be held at the same time in 2018.  The topics and discussion will evolve and focus on principal-level involvement at design firms to make next year even better.
 
Questions about the development and planning of this event can be directed to Kaitlin Snow at ksnow@ofsbrands.com.
May 08, 2017 BLOG/Showroom

Styline Logistics Receives Award

You've probably passed them on the highways or have seen them on your job sites. Styline is the name of our logistics division that hauls our furniture around the country. Our dedication to company-owned freight has been a true differentiator. "It's all about controlling the experience and making it easy for our customers." says SVP of Sales and Marketing, Ryan Menke.

Craftsmanship goes beyond just furniture; it's about taking care in what you do and owning your outcome... And these guys are great at what they do.

The Indiana Motor Truck Association held its annual Spring Transportation Summit Awards Luncheon in Indianapolis, IN, and we are very proud to announce that Styline Logistics, once again, was honored with a top award.

Styline was designated as the 2016 Indiana Fleet Safety Grand Champion for having no recordable accidents in our local and over-the-road fleets within the state of Indiana.

See more photos from Scott Raffensberger on Instagram @highway_man
Apr 27, 2017 BLOG/Awards

Environmental thinking, years ahead of its time

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” — Greek Proverb
 
On Sunday, January 28, 1968, the Indianapolis Star published an article detailing a vision for the future of southern Indiana’s environment and inhabitants. The article used language around conservation and environmentalism that was uncommon for the time, but we hear frequently today. The vision proposed collaboration between people in government, academics, and private corporations to create a conservation project that would benefit the natural ecosystems, communities, and economic activity of this area. 
 
The author of the article was Robert H. (Bob) Menke. At the time, Bob ran Styline Industries (which would later become OFS Brands), and was an Indiana University trustee and former state representative. His unique experience in these different domains equipped him to lead a new effort to revitalize the region’s forests.
 
Bob wrote fervently and often about the immediate need to introduce forest conservation programs in the region: “Time is running out. Forestry conservation is needed to save the land and the prosperity of its people in Indiana.” 
 
At this time, agricultural lands (originally created by clear cutting native forests) were beginning to be depleted of their nutrient bearing soils. Poor soil results in poor crop production, which in turn leads to poor farmers, poor economic growth, poor communities, and continued deterioration of the environment. 
 
Bob saw a solution but needed help to achieve it. So he reached out to his broad network, formed new relationships, and called on multi-disciplinary partnerships to create a proposal for associating natural land with a dollar value through new zoning policies, increasing conservation education, and implementing basic changes in Federal agricultural policy to protect natural resources, reduce waste, and avoid over-farming.
 
In 1985, the first farm bill was introduced and the modern day Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) was established. The new CRP included incentives for landowners to plant trees for long-term vegetative cover, wildlife habitat, and native plant habitats. The program addressed not only erosion control but water quality and environmentally sensitive areas. Much of the bill’s language was very similar to what Bob had written 17 years earlier. 
 
As we celebrate Earth Day this year, it’s amazing to see how environmental sustainability and human health and well-being have become central focuses for organizations today. Most have even integrated these priorities into their mission statements and business practices. 
 
Five decades ago, Bob was labelled a “conservationist” for these views—not necessarily a title many people admired at the time. But Bob pushed on despite the naysayers. Maybe because he saw that the status quo was causing severe damage. Maybe because he could feel the impending departure of something he cherished and felt responsibility for. Whatever his reason, he felt time was running out. So, Bob put pen to paper and proposed a set of priorities that were years ahead of their time. 
 
From helping to develop the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs to playing a key role in establishing the Indiana Forest and Woodland Owners Association and Indiana Forest Education Foundation, Bob and his colleagues’ efforts both figuratively and literally planted the seeds of conservation for this region. Today, in this small corner of the state, we can delight in the shade they knew they would never sit in. 
 
- by Jarod Brames, Director of Sustainability
 
Apr 21, 2017 BLOG/

Advice in the Pursuit of WELL AP™

  
 
Director of Product Education, Vanessa Englert, WELL AP™, LEED®AP, and Director of Sustainability Jarod Brames, LEED Green Associate, WELL AP™ are both associates with a long OFS Brands tenure and a passion for doing things the right way.  They both passed the WELL AP test this March.  We sat down with them to get some advice for anybody out there considering the pursuit of this achievement.  
 
Why was this so important for you personally to get this certification? 
 
Jarod:
As Director of Sustainability I am frequently asked questions regarding the emissions, chemical content data, and overall impact our furniture products have on human health and well-being as well as the impacts to the environment. Pursuing my WELL AP credential was the perfect opportunity for me to take a deeper dive into all aspects that affect human well-being in the built environment. 
 
Vanessa:  
I obtained my LEED®AP in 2008 and with jobs specifying the need for green building expertise, the LEED credential is a clear commitment to professional growth. With a renewed industry focus on occupant wellness in the built environment, I wanted to further my professional commitment to sustainability, health and wellness by obtaining my WELL AP. I believe that in addition to LEED and other established design and construction-focused sustainability rating systems, the WELL Building Standard will continue to evolve into a more prominent standard of focus in the future.
 
Jarod,  What did you find most interesting in your WELL education journey? 
 
Jarod:
I probably found it most interesting that Light and Sound can have such an effect on our overall well-being. We are taught from an early age that we are supposed to eat well, get enough sleep and exercise. We also have natural senses that can tell us if the air is stale or the water tastes funny. I don’t feel that it is as obvious or noticeable when bad lighting or sound reverberation and lack of absorption is impacting our moods, internal rhythms and ability to perform at our best. 
 
Vanessa,  What would you say to others in the industry wishing to pursue WELL accreditation? 
 
Vanessa: 
The WELL Building Standard is very impactful in its ability to put people at the center of design, focusing on the benefits our built environment can have on human health and well-being. When I decided to pursue this credential I had many questions – Where do I start? What should I focus on? How do I ensure I’m prepared to pass on my first attempt? For others who may feel it’s important to join this movement, here are some of my suggestions on becoming a WELL AP: 
  1. Spend an adequate amount of time studying the materials. I spent 2 months reading the materials, reviewing flash cards and quizzes, but dedicated the final week prior to my exam to focusing solely on the WELL test prep. 
  2. Memorization is key! I focused on various memorization techniques suggested in the exam preparation guides that were very helpful. Example – 12-34-45-56-65-76-88 is mentioned in a study guide and denotes the features that serve as the cutoff numbers between preconditions and optimizations of the 7 concepts. I also found or created references to remember certain features I had trouble recalling specific information on. Examples – NiCoLe is MeAn with Aresnic. This represents feature 31 inorganic contaminants, part 1 dissolved metals of nickel, copper, lead, mercury, antimony and arsenic. Once I had the reference to the inorganic contaminants themselves memorized, it became easier to memorize mg/L limits of each. 
  3. Ensure that you feel prepared, but don’t overload yourself with too many resources or references. The amount of materials available online can be overwhelming. My suggestion is to focus heavily on the WELL Building Standard, WELL AP Candidate Handbook, and WELL AP Exam Preparation Guide (must purchase) through IWBI, and additional resources available to purchase through GBES (Green Building Education Services) and GBRI (Green Building Research Institute). 
  4. We should put people first. We spend 90% of our time indoors and the buildings where we live, work, learn and relax have a profound effect on our well-being and how we feel. It’s our responsibility to focus on best practices that create the healthiest indoor environments as possible. This is why I chose to become a WELL AP. 
 
Jarod,  What has changed about the way you view space after this education? 
 
Jarod:  
Before beginning my WELL education I felt I was fairly knowledgeable about how buildings operate and what systems influence occupant health and comfort. After my WELL education, I realized I wasn’t! The WELL Standard does a phenomenal job covering nearly every aspect that could potentially impact the health, comfort and overall well –being of a building’s occupants. It is a standard that provides guidance on how to construct spaces that do much more than providing shelter, work stations and break rooms. It provides guidance on how to construct spaces that are dynamic and truly take care of their occupants.  
 
Apr 06, 2017 BLOG/

OFS Brands featured in Timber Design and Technology Magazine

Our 2016 OFS Brands Magazine featured an article by Jarod Brames on our history and passion for wood and the natural world. This passion inspired the popular log-cut graphic that framed our showroom entry this year. The article and imagery was picked up by Timber Design & Technology and featured their latest magazine. Timber Design & Technology is the first dedicated platform for the wood industry in the Middle East offering news, analysis and in-depth features examining all aspects of the regional timber industry. 
 
Mar 30, 2017 BLOG/Design

OFS Brands' Sherry Mason Brown Joins International Women's Day Panel

 
Sherry Mason Brown joined OFS Brands 3 years ago and has played a key role in our continual effort to be a more customer-centric company.  On March 8, she took the stage with a different agenda though. 
 
Mason Brown and 3 other panelists including Janine Davis, founder of Girl Talk Foundation, came together at Delhaize America on March 8, 2017. The discussion was titled "Be Bold for Change" and addressed worldwide workplace gender gap and focused on strategies for moving forward. “This is something I’m very passionate about. I’m honored to be a part of this discussion and to represent OFS Brands on the stage” said Mason Brown. “We are thrilled that Sherry was selected for this. Workplace diversity and gender equality is a topic of incredible importance to OFS Brands and we are fortunate to have Sherry’s strong and intelligent voice be heard by so many” said Ryan Menke, SVP of Sales Marketing for OFS Brands.
 
About OFS Brands: OFS Brands is headquartered in Huntingburg, Indiana and has been crafting furniture in America’s heartland with neighbors, friends, and family since 1937. Focused on creating experiences, we believe that what we make people feel is as important as the things we make. OFS Brands designs and builds furniture to support what we need as people for the places we work, care, learn and live.
Mar 24, 2017 BLOG/

OFS Brands Announces New CEU: OFS - Well Building Certification

OFS Brands is pleased to announce that we have been approved for CEU-IDCEC credits for the OFS - Well Building Certification presentation.
 
Led by OFS Brand’s VP of Development and Wellbeing, Paul Anderson WELL AP, the presentation ties directly to the exploration and pursuit of the International WELL Building Institute and The Well Building Standard.  It outlines the criteria supporting certification in which 100 performance metrics, design strategies, and policies work harmoniously with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). 
 
The framework of this innovative and extremely relevant standard encompasses seven concepts of wellness: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.   It’s often a slight adjustment or just a focus on a specific concept that can make a tremendous difference to employee health and wellbeing.
  
“This CEU reinforces OFS Brands' commitment to offer the most current and relevant education to our partners, and supports our continued investment in delivering experiences that focus on people,” says Anderson, WELL AP.
 

 

Mar 24, 2017 BLOG/Design

The New Musical Chairs

3rd spaces answer how many seats per person as the music plays.
Written by Nick Blessinger

Think about the last time you played musical chairs. Count the participants, then gather one less chair than the number of persons. The music stops, and the person standing is out. Take away a chair and do it again. In today’s world, the music never stops. Individuals just keep going, tackling their day through meetings, tasks and general interaction. When the music does pause, where are you sitting? Is that space conducive towards the activity at-hand?

Many conversations today revolve around how many seats per person are needed in today’s workplace. Is it one? Maybe three? It depends on the organization, department and the type of work needed to get done; however, when you think about primary, secondary and social spaces at minimum, what is truly needed are choices.

Technically, 1st Place is home and 2nd Place is work. 3rd Place was originally described as places outside of home and work, designations such as cafés, coffee shops and local gathering places. This approach as a community is thoroughly covered by urban sociologist, Ray Oldendburg, author of “The Great Good Place” (1991). Just like there have always been makers (i.e. blacksmiths, cobblers) but now we’re in a maker movement, there have always been third places (i.e. libraries, parks, general stores), and we’re in a third place movement. Today, similar to maker spaces, third spaces benefit in popularity from greater awareness of a connected world and a shift towards right-brained appreciation. And, even more so, the evolution of these movements simply resonates with boomers to digital natives without effort.

Starbucks and establishments of their ilk benefited greatly from the onset of third place. Then, third place, generally reserved outside of home and office, became the “3rd Space” and was planted internally among organizations to benefit from the great atmosphere and interaction these spaces generated. Casual collisions, the bump factor, all became rooted in the reasons to dedicate prime real estate to informal spaces that accommodate individuals and small-to-medium-to-large groups with various levels of public and private applications. Why are organizations doing this? Because it works.

“Clients ask me, ‘what’s this space over here you planned with nobody’s name on it?’ I respond with ‘that is where the most work will get done.’ We purposely plan in 30 to 40% of third space because the research and our experience shows how important it is to productivity and overall culture. They reply, ‘what’s third space?,’” Pam Light, Senior Vice President, HOK Los Angeles, relates.

What is 3rd space? It’s that inviting lounge chair next to a window with tablet and power and some seclusion where you can knock out 45 minutes of work before your next meeting. It’s the small round table with three chairs where your project team can meet for an impromptu meeting. It’s a highback lounge configuration that replaces four walls, yet has all the privacy four colleagues need. Now, add LinkedIn-type networking to an external third space with cool amenities and charge for access...say hello to co-working, another movement that fits the generational blend and evolution of work/home/play.

Technology, more so the untethering of it, combined with transient workforces spawned third space activity as designers recognized that individuals needed only a percent of time in the office or at a dedicated or primary space.

“We coach our clients through a deep-dive assessment of dedicated space. What’s the run-rate on daily office capacity? How mobile is your workforce? The allocation of primary, secondary and third spaces is a measurement. Then, the proximity of the third space is just as important as recognizing that it is needed,” adds Pam Light.

What’s more, just like musical chairs, third spaces create movement and flow by being a destination, just like that last open chair. Individuals remove their bodies from statue-like positions and walk to a new space to work. Movement is well-being. Interaction is well-being. Third spaces done properly will be just like the kitchen at a house party...it’s where everyone ends up.

So, let’s play the new version of musical chairs where everyone has a couple of seats to choose from, depending on what’s playing on the day’s to-do list. The new musical chairs isn’t reserved just for the workplace. Education and healthcare environments dance right along to this tune too!
Mar 13, 2017 BLOG/Design

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