Bounce-ing Right into My Role at Hazel Tree

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by Sophie Franchi

Note: This post is the first in a series about working on The Generator - Bounce Innovation Hub’s first floor.

When I first started at Hazel Tree, we were mid-project with most of our clients. But that didn’t really matter too much to me, because at that point, my responsibilities were pretty much limited to helping clients who came into the studio, assisting with the occasional “showroom shuffle” (our name for rearranging spaces and purposes of spaces within the studio), making sure everything was neat and tidy, filling vases with fresh flowers, posting to social media and writing blogs.

So, Bounce Innovation Hub’s first floor, which they’re calling “The Generator,” is the first project I’ve worked on since *almost* the beginning. Right around the time we solidified our contract with Bounce, one of our designers, Chelsea announced that she was moving to New York City to pursue a career in textiles (Yay, Chelsea!). That’s when I moved into more of a design assistant role at Hazel Tree.

It’s been a really exciting time for me, and for our whole team. This is Hazel Tree’s biggest project yet – 30,000 square feet of commercial awesomeness.  And the scope of the project has only gotten bigger and better as the months have flown by. I’ve witnessed this project grow from super cool, innovative design and Akron-ization of the space to something much bigger for our community of artists and artisans. Now, instead of merely peppering our design of the space with Akron-made art and artistic furnishings, we’re finding creative ways to salvage and repurpose Akron artifacts and architectural relics to use in our design, and we’re also figuring out how to have a large percentage of the furnishings made right here in Akron.

Certain things – like rolling/nesting tables and task chairs that need warranties and such – we will still order from commercial furniture companies. But for some areas, we get to work with a skilled team of artisans to make furniture that is beautiful AND functional – AND locally made! These are people that Jon and Karen have known and worked with and trusted for the last ten years, so it’s such a fun experience to get to watch them all come together and work on this project!

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So now, as Bounce has become one of our primary focuses here at the studio, I’ve been spending my days searching through product binders for just the right chairs and tables, ordering fabric and finish samples, communicating with various representatives of various companies, helping choose tile and carpet and laminate and LVT and furnishings, making spreadsheets, project managing like a champ (Thank you, Trello and Dropbox), and generally geeking out about how cool my new job is.

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The best part is that I still get to arrange fresh-cut flowers for the studio and blog about this whole experience, all while diving deep into the world of designing spaces.

What a way to begin.