Denver Design Week Spotlight:

How Building Trust Leads to Bolder Projects, Bigger Profits, and Better Design

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When the team behind the Roth Living Showroom completed the recent project, they realized they had learned some important lessons in collaboration. They’ll be sharing those lessons on Oct. 23 in the Denver Design Week session titled “How Building Trust Leads to Bolder Projects, Bigger Profits, and Better Design.” We spoke to Brad Bolte, production manager of Vonmod, about the session.
Q: What will the session be like?

A: The Roth Showroom will be used as an example and a perfect backdrop for the presentation. The goal is to talk about building trust in the design-build industry, because there’s a lot of trust required between a client, an architect, a fabricator, and a general contractor; it can lead to bigger and better projects. We’re going to use our experiences on the Roth Showroom to talk about how we came together as a team to get it done.

Q: Is that experience unusual in the industry?

A: It’s hit or miss. We’ll talk about other situations in which things went wrong and people were pointing fingers instead of providing solutions. We have realized that a project’s success is often due to the personalities of the people—it’s not just about finding a firm with an amazing portfolio. With big projects that have really bold designs, like the sculpture project we did with Roth Living, a lot of players were involved but nobody was trying to be the hero—everyone was in it as a collaborative team member. So we want to talk about what we learned from that experience—like, what were the things we did to build trust?

Q: You talk about putting ego aside. How does that manifest itself?

A: There’s a certain humility that needs to happen so you can take in someone else’s perspective on a project—being able to say, “I don’t have all the answers” and learning to rely on everyone else working on the project. With the sculpture project I mentioned, there were a lot of changing dynamics, a lot of unforeseen circumstances with plumbing and HVAC, for example, and we all got together and looked at it—there was no one yelling at each other, there was no real tension, and we solved the problems. Also, we worked directly with the client, with the owner, and it resulted in a much better process because we knew exactly what they wanted.

Q: How is the session organized?

A: I have three to five questions that the panel will discuss for 30 to 45 minutes, and then we’re opening it up to the audience for the last 10 to 15 minutes. We started doing sessions like this at our own shop; we’d bring in design builders and have a topic to discuss, and the people who have been coming to the events love them. We want to give the audience some actual informational tips and insights to help them in their own careers. After a very easy panel discussion, everyone can hang out and chat about the industry and make connections. It’s great. We learn a lot from these sessions, too.