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Collaboration and product development prevail at annual nora design workshop

Rubber flooring manufacturer nora systems, Inc. recently held its annual Architect and Designer Workshop at nora’s international headquarters in Weinheim, Germany. Comprised of fifteen experienced architects and designers from throughout North America, the workshop challenged the design professionals to work together and think creatively and collaboratively during product development.

“This workshop gives us a great opportunity to look at the direction of our company and make sure that we are providing value to our customers,” said Andreas Mueller, president and chief executive officer, nora North America. “I really enjoy and appreciate getting the perspective of so many talented designers, because their insight helps us develop the products they need to be successful in their jobs.”

The diverse collection of designers gathered to help identify trends and provide input that may be used to help shape future developments for the company. In previous years, concepts and ideas in this workshop helped with development of certain products including noraplan degree and most recently, noraplan sentica. This year’s group was carefully selected, and the participants noticed and appreciated the care in which the group was put together.

“The group dynamic we had was amazing – everyone was so willing to work together,” mentioned Kristin Ledet, IIDA, vice president, FKP Architects, Houston, TX. “Being around these designers, who represented a broad range of talent, was great, because it was really, truly a team effort.”

Richelle Nolan, CID, IIDA, ASID, associate/interior designer, NBBJ, San Francisco, CA, thoroughly enjoyed the setup of the workshop. “My favorite part of the whole experience was working in the group setting. As designers, we tend to be strong-minded, but we all took the regional aspects, demographics and considerations into account and there was really no conflict. I felt like everyone’s voice was heard.”

While some of the designers on the trip have participated in other manufacturers’ product development workshops in the past, Beth Trueblood, associate director, Lawrence Group, St. Louis, MO, talked about how this process differed from any of her previous experiences.

“I have been on some local trips to mills and to manufacturer facilities to give feedback about particular projects or products, but nothing on a national level like this,” said Trueblood. “Being in a group with designers from all over the country and sharing ideas and opinions was a very rewarding experience.”

Amy Gilkey, CID, IIDA, HKS Maregatti Interiors, Richmond, VA, was intrigued with nora’s overall approach to product development.

“In general, I always enjoy learning more about the product – how it is made, seeing differences – really seeing everything through the manufacturer’s perspective,” mentioned Gilkey. “It’s amazing to get that insight firsthand, seeing how much research and testing goes into the product development process at nora, and how our feedback fits in.”

The group of fifteen designers came together from across the United States and Canada, giving the group a wide variety of perspectives. For Erin Anderson, IIDA, LEED AP, ID+C, director of interior design, SMRT – Architects and Engineers, Portland, ME, the workshop was a great way to flex her creativity at the product level, keeping the needs of her clients in mind.

“nora did a great job briefing us on their product development initiatives and seeking our input on our clients’ needs,” said Anderson. “It’s energizing as a designer when a company puts the kind of effort nora does into ensuring that their products contemplate the evolving buildings required both for today and tomorrow.”

The annual nora Architect and Designer Workshop is invitation-only. For more information, check the nora website at http://www.nora.com/us, or follow us on Twitter @noraflooring.