Design Firm Draws Strength from 'Mosaik' of Skills

PORTLAND, ORFabulous mosaic designs have long been a popular way of making a statement in the kitchen or bath, perhaps on a uniquely tiled backsplash or striking stone carpet. The idea of combining several distinctively different yet complementary elements to create one unique whole is an essential component of good design.

However, this concept got a whole new twist when three Portland area design professionals got together to create Mosaik Design, a mosaic of a different color, so to speak. "Our team is 'the Mosaik' and it reflects the integration of our individual skills and 27 years of combined experience in the design remodeling world," states owner/kitchen and bath designer Arlene Lord.

"We have all studied everything from commercial design, tile and window covering showrooms to real estate, previous remodeling business ownership, technical and project managerial expertise and wood product sales," she explains. "Our backgrounds are wide and varied, and bring a unique view and pool of talent to each project."

Of course, just as the best mosaics are most effective when set off by a fabulous backdrop, Mosaik Design needed a fabulous showroom. For that reason, the principals chose a 1905 Folk Victorian as the setting for their own personal "Mosaik."

According to Lord, "We had to be clever and daring in our use of every square inch [of the 800-sq.-ft. space]. We have nine vignettes and multiple flooring and lighting options."

The showroom also showcases a variety of design styles to give customers a sense of all the possibilities. "We show a fully functional Northwest contemporary kitchen of cherry, stainless steel and specialty glass in the same space as a traditional, white-painted cabinet kitchen vignette with soapstone countertops and an apron sink," Lord notes. "It all works together to present a variety of ideas and fresh approaches to traditional as well as contemporary designs."

The location in a well-trafficked area that is currently seeing a resurgence of interest due to new development along the waterfront also helps to attract customers, many of whom "have been watching the progress of our remodel and appreciate the final product," says Lord.

Team Spirit

At Mosaik Design the principals believe that "three heads are better than one." Indeed, a team approach imbues everything the firm does.

"The three principles/owners came together after having met through working together via other remodeling companies," relates Lord. Having worked together previously, each came to respect the skills and talents of the others, and a synchronicity developed that made the creation of Mosaik Design the next logical step.

Now, working together, "We approach everything as a team," Lord states. As she explains: "Our clients work as a team with us, as well." The result, Lord believes, is that "our clients end up with very thorough and innovative designs" that capture both the designers' and clients' vision while capitalizing on the strengths of each.

The firm's business philosophy is simple: "We believe in bringing together individual components and creating an environment of openness, fun and teamwork. Listening and teamwork are two key elements in successful designs."

Lord adds: "Because [we focus on this], we have an exceptionally high referral rate. Additionally, our team approach with each other, our subcontractors and our clients helps people to feel good about spending money with us."

A holistic approach to projects further differentiates Mosaik Design from its competitors. As Lord puts it: "We don't remodel the kitchen without considering the adjacent rooms, the clients' personal style preferences, the architecture of the home, etc."

The firm does everything from kitchens and baths to entire homes and additions. Popular product lines carried include Wood-Mode, Brookhaven, Nichols and Decor cabinetry, as well as Best by Broan ventilation and Zehnder towel warmers.

However, Mosaik Design does not stop there. Instead, it integrates a host of services, including in-house interior design, which Lord believes "really helps pull together a very cohesive design approach."

She notes that the one-stop-shopping appeal gives the design firm an edge, since clients can get a kitchen or whole house completed from A to Z, right down to specifying fabric for a banquette cushion or picking out window treatments. "That additional attention to detail really helps bring the design home," states Lord.

'Green' with design

Everyone knows the most successful design firms get that way because they key into the specific needs, issues and passions of their clientele. Lord takes this responsibility seriously.

For instance, she notes that people in the Portland area tend to be quite concerned with environmental issues, and, as such, she makes sure that "take-care-of-the-planet" mentality is reflected the firm's design choices. "We automatically work in earth-friendly products, [such as bamboo floors], recycling options and energy-efficient windows and appliances wherever we can on projects," she states.

As an example, Lord cites a recent project which was driven in large part by environmental concerns. To meet these specifications, "We worked with the clients to provide earth-friendly products, have recycled and donated materials removed from the project, and designed in spaces for recycling that fit their particular needs." The end result was impressive enough to be featured in the December 2004 issue of Renovation Style, Lord reports.

Spreading the Word

Marketing is another key to the firm's success. Though Mosaik Design only recently celebrated its grand opening, the firm has already retained an advertising company "to help guide us on where we spend our advertising dollars, designing a stellar Web site that has been really successful for us and guiding us through public relations promotions and events," Lord says.

Referrals are also key to Mosaik's continued growth, and Lord encourages these through a special program that rewards clients who refer the firm. Mosaik Design further draws leads from write-ups in regional and national publications. "We were even on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens special kitchen and bath edition!" Lord exclaims. And the firm continues to work hard at getting exposure in a variety of venues.

Future plans include hosting educational seminars about various products and services something that's easier to do since the showroom has a live kitchen with fully functional, high-end appliances.

But, in the end, Lord believes it's really all about relationships. "We are dedicated to building long-term relationships with our subcontractors, employees and clients," she concludes.

Mosaik Design

Location: Portland, OR
Principals: Scott Jaworski (owner, project manager), Erin Davis (owner, kitchen and bath designer); Arlene Lord (owner, Interior and kitchen and bath designer); Stephanie Ness (associate designer, office manager)
Showrooms: One 800-sq.-ft. showroom in a fully remodeled 1905 Folk Victorian
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. to Fri.; showroom by appointment only.
Number of Employees: 4
Major product lines carried: Wood-Mode, Brookhaven, Cabinets by Nichols, Decor, Best by Broan, Zehnder
Specialties: Innovative, high-end kitchen and bath design/build.
Business Philosophy:' "We believe in bringing together our individual skills as a cohesive team in an environment of openness and fun. We are dedicated to building long-term relationships with our subcontractors, employees and clients."