Opening the Door to Discovery

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Opening the Door to Discovery

Creativity is not reserved for the artists, it is a critical process for successful businesses. To company leaders, creativity is about seeing past the way things have always been done and making way for new, original ideas. 

This is exactly what three Boston business leaders discussed on Tuesday night at Opening the Door to Discovery: Cultivating Creativity in B/A/D Companies. The event was produced by United Marble Fabricators, Kochman Reidt + Haigh Cabinetmakers, and New England Home, and panelists included Paul Lukez, principal of Paul Lukez Architecture; David Winston, co-owner of Winston Flowers, and Sean Clarke, president of Clarke Sub-Zero/Wolf of New England. B/A/D Talks occur throughout the year, but this event at the North Bennet Street School coincided with Boston Design Week, so there was added energy and enthusiasm.

“Creativity implies the idea of change,” said moderator Kyle Hoepner, editor-in-chief of New England Home, who went on to add that each of the three businesses in attendance has successfully progressed.

Paul Lukez, principal of Paul Lukez Architecture, explained that his company started in an artist’s studio in the North End and now it competes for large project contracts for universities and medical simulation centers. Lukez said he and his colleagues are now doing work they didn’t think was possible in the beginning. He credits much of the success to his team. Lukez said that architecture is a field that attracts imaginative people, but he believed it was very important for his team to collaborate. “It’s one thing to be creative as an individual and a whole other to do it as a team,” said Lukez. “It was a goal of ours to create an environment that allows people to be part of this process.”

David Winston, co-owner of Winston Flowers, said his company’s transformation was natural. He and his three brothers worked for their father. What started as a flower cart on Newbury Street has turned into an operation that includes eight retails stores and 40 designers. Winston also wants his staff to have the ability to be innovative and he said knowing his staff’s strengths has been crucial. “When you try to make a designer a manager it’s not a fit, but when you surround a designer with people who are good at their work in sales or administration, it works,” he said. When asked if social media has oversaturated the design market, Winston said it has just allowed his company’s clients to have access to more ideas and feel more confident in what they like, but Winston creates original concepts. “None of the ideas [customers] show us will be exactly what we present to them. The goal is for them to say I couldn’t have imagined this, it’s way better—that’s our goal,” he said.

Sean Clarke, president of Clarke Sub-Zero/Wolf, told the story of Clarke’s showroom experience. “Fifteen to twenty years ago we saw a hole in the industry,” said Clarke. When customers went to pick out an appliance, they weren’t displayed properly or it was hard to visualize the appliance in their space because it was in a corner of a store. “That’s not how people wanted to buy an expensive appliance, so we dove in and heightened the customer experiences.” Now Clarke Sub-Zero/Wolf has three showrooms in Norwalk, Connecticut, Milford, Massachusetts, and Boston’s Seaport District are equipped with kitchen vignettes, expert consultants, and chefs, so you can taste before you guy.

“We’re not afraid to try new things, learn, and adapt,” said Clarke. 7 Tide was new for Clarke; it was the first time they worked with other companies under one brand. Clarke Sub-Zero/Wolf, Marvin Windows and Doors, and Reflex Lighting opened last year and by collaborating the three companies have learned from each other and grown in new ways. 

Of course, creativity is all about change. Next week, Kohler Signature Store by Supply New England will open its doors, so even more creative collaboration is just ahead for 7 Tide.