I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Julie Rogowski, Vice-President and General Manager of the Boston Design Center.
I thought it would be interesting to have a chat with Julie as everyone I encounter is always so intrigued by the Boston Design Center. What is it exactly? Where is it? I wanted to speak with Julie so to get a perspective from the inside. What is it like to work for this gigantic Eight Story Design Hub?
The Boston Design Center located in south Boston on the Waterfront
A few facts before I proceed with the interview:
-The Boston Design Center is part of the MMPI the world’s leading owner and operator of showroom buildings and trade show facilities.
-The Boston Design Center has been in activity for over 25 years.
-There are 87 wholesale design showrooms in the building including 13 contract and 15 kitchen, bath and building product showrooms..
-The Center is THE design destination for interior designers and architects and their clients. Major industry brands offering fabric, furniture, flooring, tile, accessories, lighting, rugs are represented.
-The Center publishes “Cybele” an official publication mailed out to 7000 design trade professionals 4 times a year.
-The Center offers “Tuesday Seminar Series” 8 times a year.
-The Boston Design Center has a wonderful website and its own blog. The center is also actively present on social media.
–342, the BDC Designer’s Club, is a private, dedicated space for designers to use for quiet work, client meetings, conferences and even small events.
-the Boston Design center offers Designer on call services as well as the Plush membership for non-designers.
-The Boston Design Center will soon have a FARM (yes, a produce farm) on its rooftop. More on this fascinating news in the interview below.
THE INTERVIEW WITH JULIE ROGOWSKI:
Chez Elza: Tell me a little about you, Julie. How long have you been doing this job and what is your background?
I have been at the BDC for about 7 and 1/2 years now. I initially came as a consultant, then proceeded to Director of leasing and am now Vice President and General Manager.
I have no background in Design, I have a business degree and my background is in Business and Sales. I grew up in Colorado.
Chez Elza: What do your daily activities consist of? What is your favorite aspect of the job?
I have a different job every day! I am in charge of overseeing the Center’s marketing, leasing, facilities, windows, relationship with the tenants. My favorite part of the job is that it is never the same, each day brings on diverse and various responsibilities.
Julie Rogowski, photo via The Boston Home Show.
Chez Elza: Tell me a little about the history of the BDC and design centers in general?
The Boston Design Center has 26 years of a long and rich history of design, offering exclusive and custom products to designers and their clients. The breadth and depth of these products is unique. There are design centers in New York, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, to name just a few. The BDC services Boston’s core design community. 25 of the 50 largest Boston based architectural firms are located within a 2.5 miles distance from the Center. We just opened in October the 342 Designer Club on the 3rd floor which is a great space for professionals, as it allows for cooperative design work.
Chez Elza: Are there design centers abroad? Do they operate in similar ways?
There are design centers abroad, absolutely. An example is the Chelsea Design Center in London. They operate on slightly different models. Some are open to the public for instance.
Chez Elza: How has the Boston design Center changed and evolved over the course of 10 years?
Design Centers are a constantly evolving industry. From a marketing standpoint, the Boston Design Center has evolved a lot over the past years. We have become active participants in Social Media, we have our own blog, we are present on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook. 70 % of our showrooms are locally owned. We are working on showing green initiative, such as the implementation of the Roof Top Farm.
Chez Elza: the Roof Top Farm is such exciting news. I read about it on your Facebook page and love the initiative. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
Higher Ground Farm did a survey of Boston and found we had one of the largest roof tops in the city. We have a 55,000 square foot space, and this will be the second largest open-air roof farm in the world.The roof top farm is a great opportunity for us, we love that it is a way to give back to the community. Higher Ground Farm will be growing organic fruit and vegetable for the local restaurant community. Construction starts in February 2013.
Chez Elza: Will we be able to access the farm?
No, for liability reasons we cannot let people on the roof other than the Farm staff! We are hoping to have a Farm Stand in the Boston Design Center.
Founding Farmer, Courtney Hennessey admires the view from the Boston Design Center future farm. Photo via Higher Ground Farm.
Chez Elza: Do you think design centers will disappear? I hope not!
Some people say design centers are dinosaur models but I disagree. Design Centers offer designers and their clients with quality brands and products as well as custom solutions and personalized design. Interior designers and architects have a a core client base that appreciates investing in quality.
Thank You, Julie, for taking the time to interview with me!
As a designer, I find the Boston Design Center is a vital hub for my work and could not imagine working without. There is nothing like touching, seeing and appreciating fabrics, furniture and materials on site! Being able to bring samples to my clients when it comes time to select unique elements for the design of their space is vital.
Clearly, our local Boston Design Center is in the NOW and I am thrilled with the cutting edge marketing approach our center is embracing under the initiative of Julie Rogowski!
A bientôt, my friends!