There was never a doubt in Angie’s mind this was a design project she felt honored to be part of. A Design Associate at our downtown Chicago store, Angie told me it was just by chance she happened to be standing at the front of the store when Tammy walked in with an incredibly unique and heartfelt mission.
Tammy Bivona, VP of Facilities Services at Mesirow Financial, disagrees about her experience with Angie, calling it anything but “by chance.”
“She said it was like kismet that she found me because I gave her exactly what she envisioned – warm, comfortable and serene spaces,” Angie smiled as she told me.
Tammy had accepted the opportunity to help create Mesirow’s Cancer Awareness, Resources, Education and Support (CARES) privacy rooms. Employees at the Chicago-based financial firm brought forth this initiative to provide guidance, resources and support to employees affected by cancer or other chronic conditions. A cancer survivor herself, Tammy took a friend’s suggestion and sought out Room & Board to help create new, comforting rooms at work.
Understanding from the beginning this wasn’t a typical Business Interiors project, Angie took some of the emotional pressure off Tammy and infused it into a purposefully and personally designed space.
“I knew these rooms were going to be a place for people who were not feeling well at work, but [as I worked with Tammy] I learned more about who these rooms were being dedicated to and why they were so important,” Angie remarked.
The privacy rooms will provide Mesirow employees a quiet place to relax as they balance work and cancer treatment, have private conversations with doctors or family members, meet with their Mesirow Mentors (employee volunteers who have gone through similar challenges), or use as a break as they re-enter the workforce when they’ve attained remission.
Angie spent time discerning the magnitude of the Mesirow project and its emotional complexities, which thoughtfully came through as she began crafting a mood board filled with Room & Board fabrics, furniture and accessories that felt connected to the company’s look and feel and, of course, to its employees.
To create a serene atmosphere, Angie thought about how people would use the rooms, as well as how they’d want to enter and leave it.
- She made sure to fill it with soft, homey touches like throw blankets and sheepskin pillows.
- Crew hooks make it easy to hang up a suit coat or a blazer.
- Employees could do a quick touch-up with help from the Loft mirror before leaving the space.
- Soft lighting was also a consideration, as anyone who’s worked in an office knows that overhead lights can be overwhelming at times. To infuse a soft, soothing glow into the rooms, Angie added our Smokebush pendant with dimmers.
- Larger pieces like the Harper recliner, Jasper chaise and Eos swivel chair were also intentional. All incredibly comfortable, they’re easy to get in and out of and are made with low-maintenance fabrics.
- The Moro cabinet was also strategic so that each person could have a shelf, allowing them to keep whatever personal items they may need or want while in the space.
After Mesirow’s dedication ceremony that was held on January 20, I asked Angie how she had approached such a meaningful project. Some quiet reflection passed then Angie simply told me, “I listened.”
“Everyone at Mesirow was so easy and gracious to work with,” she noted. And continued: “It reminded me how much a company can care for its employees, which is the same way I feel about Room & Board. But to see that translated into this ultra-business financial world – it made me feel so warm.”