The Design Conference Whirlwind


The last few weeks have been a whirlwind at Grain Designs. Last weekend marked the third year we have presented and operated a booth at the Eco Chic Design Conference. Also for the second year in a row, Minneapolis’ Junk Bonanza fell on the same weekend. This concurrence of events is what set off a mad dash at Grain Designs. Between, developing a presentation, making enough products to fill two booths, and continuing to fill our usual custom orders, there is no doubt that we had our hands full.  Last week Blain offered a photo heavy review of the busy weekend but I’ve decided to revisit the weekend in a bit more detail.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the weekend was being shorthanded when it came to the operation of two booths that were separated by 250 miles. Luckily, Blain’s brother Jayden (and their newly recruited cousin Brennan) stepped up to the plate to operate our booth in Minneapolis. And Jayden, aside from dropping a booth wall onto one of our $2000 tables, you did a great job, and we would genuinely like to thank you for once again saving our bacon. Also, we accept cash or money order and you can drop that $2000 off at our shop or mail it to us whichever works best for you. By almost all accounts, Junk Bonanza went quite well and is quickly becoming a bi-annual must for Grain Designs.

The Design Conference started how it ended, with Phil, Blain and Myself carrying a poorly designed booth through the front doors of the Scheels Arena. I would like to point out that the booth isn’t poorly designed because it doesn’t look good. On the contrary, the booth actually looks quite fetching when it is fully assembled and decorated. The booth is poorly designed because it is about 1,500 pounds of steel and melamine, which makes it less than desirable when attempting to carry it through 2 sets of doors and up a flight of stairs. I would also like to point out the fact that I didn’t mention Grant’s name when I was talking about carrying the booth. That is because Grant has a not so sneaky way of getting out of hauling almost any heavy object we come across at Grain Designs. Typically when at the shop, Grant will conveniently find an obscure project to work on right when we have to move a heavy table or object. For events that require the set up of our booth, his main tactic is to stand and ponder where every item will be placed in advance. Perhaps this is done out of necessity, or more likely, since he was the main designer of the booth, he realizes just how heavy the booth is and how much work it is to carry. I suppose I should take it easy on Grant though, as I’m sure his muscles are extremely fatigued from weight lifting every day. Nonetheless, we were able to get the booth assembled and filled with product in time.

Recently in Fargo we saw the all too familiar April snow fall and it gave us the chance to see just how much things can change in only a couple of hours in the Upper Midwest.

To some degree (nice pun), this was the main idea behind our presentation at the Design Conference. We wanted to take a cold empty space and fill it with furnishings and décor to create a warm and welcoming space. We wanted to do this in front of the audience, and in only a couple hours time to illustrate how just a little effort can truly transform a space.

Phil and I kicked off the presentation by discussing the use of reclaimed wood as an option for a focal wall. We then passed it off to Grant and Blain where they discussed the benefits of sliding doors and touched on the assembly process. I used this moment to capture one of the rarest of events, which of course is Blain and Grant doing manual labor at the same time.

A few shelves, a countertop, and a table later and our task was done. The gang over at Eco Chic with the help of a pair of talented local designers then decorated the space to complete the transformation.  This before and after shows the on stage transformation. Photo Credit: Morgan Schleif, Eco Chic Boutique

While presenting and selling goods is a fun aspect of the Design Conference. I think all of us at Grain Designs agree that what we enjoy most is getting a chance to talk to you, the customers. We love to hear about your own stories and projects and we always look forward to answering any questions you have. Hopefully, everyone who attended the conference this year was enlightened and empowered to tackle their own space, and if you weren’t there, we hope to see you there next year or, at one of our other upcoming events.

Photo courtesy of Design and Living

Interested in seeing more about Design Conference?  Check out Thomsen Homes “That’s a Wrap!” overview and Design and Living Magazine‘s coverage of the event online or pick up their May issue!

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