If you were trying to reach the movers and shakers in Washington, DC, you’d need an office in the nation’s capital. But to reach the movers and shakers among Seattle’s design professionals, you’d want a showroom in the heart of Seattle’s Design Center, a giant shopping mall of sorts for trade professionals in the kitchen and bath and home design industries.
That’s exactly the concept behind this month’s opening of Fixture Universe/Knobs and Hardware, where the company’s extensive line of products will be available to trade professionals in the Seattle area who are looking for hard-to-find kitchen and bath products, including faucets, fixtures and hardware.
“Those who shop in the design center are looking for inspiration, convenience and quality products, and our showroom offers that and much more,” believes Vernon Learned, regional showroom manager for Allied Trade Group, the parent company of Fixture Universe, which owns five online stores and nine showrooms.
The company, whose enterprises include Decor Universe, Knobs and Hardware and Floors and Surfaces, among others, already has a Lighting Universe showroom in the Seattle Design Center.
“We saw the Fixture Universe as a natural extension of our Lighting Universe showroom,” Learned notes, pointing out that, “The Fixture Universe Seattle Design Center location will give our [existing] trade audience a resource for design-focused fixtures,” while also creating more cross-promotional chances between both showrooms.
The 2,500 sq.-ft. showroom, located on 6th Avenue-South in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood, opened early this month, with the actual grand opening event scheduled for October 11th.
To spread the word to the design community, the firm is planning to make the formal grand opening a major event – one that will have the added draw of special guest speakers who will discuss award-winning regional and national kitchen and bath design trends. Industry professionals and their clients will be invited to view the new showroom, meet the staff, shop the latest products and take advantage of networking opportunities.
Kitchen and bath experts will also be on hand to answer questions and provide expert advice to consumers, along with designers, architects, builders and others who specify products for the kitchen and bath market.
That event is “piggy-backing” on an event that the Seattle Design Center is already hosting to spotlight kitchen and bath design, so organizers believe that the timing for the showroom’s grand opening is perfect.
In fact, the new showroom will get plenty of support from the Seattle Design Center, which is advertising the event in local magazines such as Seattle Metropolitan and Seattle Homes and Lifestyles. The center will also tout the event with an extensive e-mail campaign which reaches members of the kitchen and bath design community, along with the American Society of Interior Designers and members of the Northwest Society of Interior Designers. Information about the event will also be posted at local condominium sale centers.
Fixture Universe will also promote its new showroom with an advertising program that includes press releases to local and national magazines, postcards with grand opening information, an e-mail campaign, Web site promotional info and more.
Going forward, other forms of local and regional advertising are also being planned to keep excitement going even after the initial grand opening event.
TARGETING THE TRADE
Fixture Universe already has a showroom geared for the general public in Kirkland, WA, about 30 minutes from the new location in Seattle. But the primary clientele in the new Fixture Universe showroom will be design professionals who frequent the Seattle Design Center.
In one central location, the showroom will allow kitchen and bath professionals access to a wide variety of products from an assortment of manufacturers, including Hansgrohe, American Standard, Bristol & Bath, DeRose, Regatta, Sonia, Barwil, Tosca, Forms & Fixtures, Neo-Metro, Ginger, Jado, Glasco and many more.
In fact, offering variety is one of the showroom’s key strengths, according to Learned. He explains: “Our goal is to create a look that will match any home design. Whether it’s country or contemporary, we have a style to match.”
However, Learned believes that showrooms can hold a limited number of products before they begin to look cluttered. However, he also recognizes that offering an extensive product selection is key to a showroom’s success. For that reason, Fixture Universe is including an in-store kiosk to allow customers to shop thousand of kitchen and bath products from a variety of manufacturers.
“Our showrooms allow the clients to get a feel for what they want, the style and finish… and then our kiosk provides more selection,” he says.
The new showroom contains a variety of bath and kitchen vignettes, in both traditional and contemporary designs. Each bath display includes a tub, sink, vanity and special lighting, such as chandeliers. The kitchen vignettes feature a variety of styles of sinks, countertops and appliances. Track lighting is set up throughout the showroom to further highlight different kitchen and bath products.
At press time, the showroom windows were still being finalized, but Learned notes that “the windows to the showroom will contain at least two full vignettes to attract visitors,” helping to ensure plenty of walk-in traffic.
Learned adds that the most appealing displays are those which look the most realistic and create the best-feeling environment – and this is equally true with consumers and design professionals. “It’s important for the customer to be able to picture the fixture in [the] home [setting]… that’s what our displays try and do.
“Any showroom can display a shelf lined with sinks, but we try and create a space to give our clients an idea of what it will look like [in the finished project],” continues Learned, whose company has been in business since 1999.
“The addition of Fixture Universe/Knobs and Hardware showroom at Seattle Design Center is a great step forward in our commitment to providing designers and their clients with a truly complete selection of… unique kitchen and bath products,” concludes Jessica Morgan, the Seattle Design Center’s director of leasing.
The center is home to a variety of other stores showcasing lighting, flooring, furniture, rugs, etc., with a goal of providing a comprehensive, one-stop-shopping venue for both consumers looking to remodel and the design community as a whole.