Collaborative effort yields materials, showroom that give customers permission to say yes to luxury appliances
In modern commerce, the most important factor driving buying decisions is not price. It’s customer experience (CX). This general trend shapes retail design and provides opportunities all along the value chain.
Roth Living’s latest showroom in Denver exemplifies optimized customer experience in theory and execution. The distributor of luxury kitchen appliance brands Sub Zero, Wolf and Cove collaborated with Denver and Boulder-based architecture firm Arch11, headed by key designer Claire Jordan, to assemble a team of like-minded specialists for the project.
“’Customer experience’ is easy to say and challenging to live by because you have to take something that is complex and make it really simple,” said Denise Knoblich, vice president of marketing for Roth Living. “I can tell when we meet with potential showroom collaborators if it is going to be a fit or not. They have to understand the end game. If they don’t, it just doesn’t work.”
The fabricators and suppliers chosen for the project also operate on customer experience models, adding value with expertise and technology. “We unburden the designer,” said Jordan Vaughn, owner of Vonmod, the custom cabinetry and millwork company that engineered, fabricated and installed the casework, millwork and sculptural components for the showroom.
Vaughn is also a licensed architect. “We are sort of a unique outfit because we are a design-centered manufacturer and our target client type is architects, designers, developers and contractors,” Vaughn said. “We prefer being a part of a collaborative process where we take an already amazing design and improve it by integrating what we know as far as use of materials and specifics of how things actually get manufactured.”
Each entity involved in the Roth Living Denver showroom project operates around the same user-centric principles:
- Concept-based design process, rather than a parts-based process.
- Simplification through curation.
- Integration of modern technology.
The approach enables a higher level of individual autonomy and mastery. It is well-suited for serving high-end clientele—where the value of the experience and built-in efficiencies trump the initial bottom line.
Roth Living’s New Generation User-Centric Showrooms
“It used to be when customers came to our showrooms, everything we told them was an education. It’s not like that anymore. Our consumers are so savvy, they spend a great deal of time researching,” Knoblich said. “We spent time studying our consumers, and we realized we have to help them navigate with minimal distraction and graduate to a decision. Many of our customers are left-brained; they’re analytical and methodical. They don’t just want to buy luxury because it is luxury. Clients want to purchase luxury with substance and to be part of the process.”
Roth Living’s 9000-square-foot Denver showroom occupies a three-story building with large, enticing street-facing windows. Visitors are greeted with kitchen vignettes appointed with cabinetry from high-end European design houses—each one carefully chosen to exemplify a different aspect of personal style. In between, curated collections of appliances clad in Premier EuroCase’s UltraMatte white present the different options against an uncomplicated luxury background.
“Premier EuroCase’s UltraMatte panels are perfect for the space because the surface is fingerprint and chemical resistant,” Knoblich said. “People lean in and interact with the appliances throughout the process. We needed something that wears well and is easy to clean.”
The layout forms a decision tree, with each area predicating the next, ultimately culminating in a 6-by-9-foot digital wall. “People go through the process of choosing a suite of appliances, but it can be difficult to envision how everything will fit,” Knoblich said. “We use digital rendering to show them a contextual view of all their appliances together. They can make adjustments and fine tune. Putting consumers in the driver’s seat takes a lot of emotion out of the process and helps them be brave about their decisions.”
A large sculptural installation of suspended fins, inspired by a small exhibit at EuroCucina in Milan, runs through the space to the second floor. Vignettes lead to a demonstration kitchen and Roth’s corporate areas. Throughout, carefully selected finishes create an experience of simple elegance. Within the corporate kitchen, lower cabinets are built from Premier EuroCase’s UltraMatte acrylic in black. The casework in the corporate pantry, storage and breakroom is finished with StevensWood’s textured TFL in pearl white with Rain finish.
“Appliances are definitely the focus of the space, but we appoint the showrooms well, using up-and-coming materials and working with people who push the envelope as far as what can be done with products,” Knoblich said. “We want like-minded people who are heroes in their trade, who are not average at anything they do. When we met Jordan Vaughn at Vonmod, we had somebody special. We gave him some scope and knew his team could execute. It is all about collaboration.”
New Generation User-Centric Processes
Before designing, Knoblich and team spent significant time on the concept—identifying what the space should look like and what roles each area should play in the customer experience.
“What often happens is people go in and immediately start designing the space. We operate differently. Roth Living worked with Arch11 to bring the space and brand identity to life. Claire Jordan and her team are specialists and the perfect partners to assist with building a vision,” Knoblich said. “By the time we get to building, we have spent enough time with Arch 11 on concepting so that the design process itself is quite short.” To date, Arch 11 has been the architect of record for Roth Living’s Kansas City, St Louis, Salt Lake City and Denver showrooms.
Roth’s process aligns well with Vonmod’s customer-experience approach. As an architect-turned-panel-processor, Vaughn was able to sit at the table with the teams from Roth and Arch11 and retain autonomy over his part of the project.
“With Roth, I had a unique opportunity to be involved early on and to operate outside of the scope of the general contractors,” Vaughn said. “I love designing for owners and architects who value design. When they let us do our part, we’re able to optimize our processes and expertise. It empowers us to create higher-quality end products more efficiently. Those are the best partnerships.”
A user-centric approach enables Vonmod to maintain independence while better serving its target customers.
“While one of our specialties is manufacturing casegoods, we essentially create amazing spaces and experiences that have high function for clients,” Vaughn said. “They trust us, from engineering and production through install and warranty. We make their jobs easier.”
Vonmod operates on a concept-driven model, both in design and production. (Read more about Vonmod’s production facility on page xx). Rather than the transactional production of already-specified parts, Vaughn’s partnership with clients begins with a general idea and commitment to the project from both sides.
Before any component is designed, Vaughn meets with stakeholders to fully understand the concept of the space. He visits the site and takes comprehensive digital measurements accounting for its entirety, not just the casework dimensions. “We ultimately save a lot of time and money by proactively addressing any special considerations of the environment,” Vaughn said.
Vonmod also works from a curated palette of materials. “The team from Arch11 is really knowledgeable and made great specifications for Roth Living. But generally, part of our process is material education for the client. It saves all kinds of challenges,” Vaughn said. “We know what we specify is not going to delaminate; we trust our suppliers, and we know how to fabricate quality with their materials.
“Here in Denver, we have local access to amazing materials,” Vaughn continued. “We know Premier EuroCase’s UltraMatte and high-gloss Reflekt product lines are quality. It’s another layer of providing a customer-centric experience. The acrylic material from Senosplast has a UV-lacquered hard-coat, so it is extraordinarily durable and won’t yellow. It’s ideal for a touch-point application. The panels reliably arrive in perfect condition, machine as expected and look like new in the application day in and day out. Ultimately, our name is on the installation, and we want our customers to appreciate the value of our work, so we work with products we know will perform. Their Roücke HD-textured TFL products are excellent. (Read more about Premier EuroCase’s recent investments to reduce lead times from 10 days to five days on page xx.)
“We also like working with StevenWood, and Uniboard has an impressive embossed-in-register TFL. If clients request veneer, we use Shinnoki. And if a customer doesn’t want to work within our specifications, or wants something other than flat-panel European modern style, then we aren’t the company for them. No apologies.”
Vonmod’s approach allows it to make investments in innovation that bely its size. The team is seven individuals. Vaughn designs projects with CabinetVision software and, as a modern manufacturer, works with an engineer to develop code to maximize the robust program.
“I really like how dynamic CabinetVision is. It’s a highly powerful platform that is not only for cabinets. There’s opportunity there if you want to leverage it,” Vaughn said.
The team recently worked together to integrate a newly acquired SCM Omal 1300 CNC inserter to take advantage of Lockdowel’s channel lock hardware systems. The technology is expanding Vonmod’s design capabilities and simplifying assembly and installation, ultimately improving product quality while reducing budgets.
“I love to push the limits,” Vaughn said. “For example, the suspended sculpture in Roth Living. They gave us the design and said, ‘What’s the best way to build this?’ Five-foot-by-8-foot MDF panels would be ungodly heavy. We were able to reduce the weight by 75 percent by using a progression of Kerfkore products. With specialized software files, we milled the parts to accept Lockdowel, which greatly simplified the installation. For us, that is ‘bridging the gap’ between architecture and fabrication.”
New Generation User-Centric Projects
Roth Living’s Denver showroom’s customer-centric retail experience gives customers permission to say yes to luxury. The project’s success is due to both the careful concepting of Roth Living and Arch11 and the careful team building of like-minded specialists to execute the build.
“What we set out to accomplish was to make a space for people to enjoy the process of creating their custom appliance suite,” Knoblich said. “Vonmod and our other team members were able to go beyond what is typically asked, to achieve things that haven’t been done before.”