5 – 1 : : DesignPlan : :

: : DesignPlan : :      The Interview

This week

Interview with Burt Dalfen, President, Dalfen Sales Inc.

Dalfen Sales has been a mainstay business in Montreal for over a quarter century.

A small and compact, but incredibly agile enterprise, it has developed into a specialist niche in supply chain management. 

Fact is, until Burt’s son Brian joined him last year, Burt single-handedly managed the whole volume of work the company did.
Think of them as a combination furniture rep/agent and purchasing agent…..working with firms like Bernhardt, Lexington Furniture, 
Stanley Furniture, Hekman Cabinet and dozens more, they have access to an incredible range of products.

 Their specialty is split between retirement homes, homes for the aged and hospitality projects. However, in my work with Burt, 
over the years, it has ranged from luxury residential to unique challenges for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Burt, quite simply, is a master problem-solver – in all things pertinent to ordering, shipping, logistics and management
of on-time delivery – always. He has never let me down on any project. And with Brian at his side,
a fresh MBA graduate, performance is even better.

 DesignPlan wanted to speak with Burt in particular, about current trends and patterns in the retirement housing industry.
It has, changed – if you know anyone who, in the last couple of years, needed to seek out such options, you will know that many,
or most establishments are equal to high-end hotel living.

DP:  Burt – always good to see you….to check in with what you’re up to, business-wise. I know you’ve established a unique recognition
in projects related to retirement and/or aged living. What has been the single most significant change you’ve noticed in the last 2 -3 years?

 BD: There has definitely been an uptick in both renovations and new builds in the past few years. And the majority of retirement
homes are doing their best to offer a very residential esthetic so that the residents truly feel comfortable and at home.
Aside from the look and feel of the furniture, residences offer amazing services, such as; beauty salons, games rooms,
theatres, local transportation and other comforts. Even though this may not be entirely a new idea, the choice of furnishings
like lounge chair seating in theatres and gorgeous professional level pool tables in the games rooms are certainly an enviable luxury.

DP: And what do you attribute this to? Can you identify causes or reasons?

 BD:  There is always a lot of talk about the baby boomers, their position in society, and how their great numbers will affect
society in the coming decades. From the residences standpoint, they are gearing up. However, as the common retirement
age is moving later and later, and the health and level of activeness is improving as we all grow older, people are not as
willing to move into a stereotypical ‘old age’ home. The feeling of being old, incapable and a burden onto others is a
frightening thought for most seniors who are still very vibrant and busy in their regular lives. The idea of a home where you
retire to is much more appealing when it actually has the comforts of home.

DP: I also know that a great deal of your projects have been in the US.  Has there been any significant changes,
in terms of market or development – changes that are noticeably different to Canadian instances?

BD: In the US, the development of retirement homes is much more widespread geographically.
Here in Canada, the largest concentration of homes is in Ontario, by a very wide margin.

DP:  Do you see a predictable rise in activity and/or volume of business in this sector?

BD: It is difficult to say. I think that there is current growth over the past 5 years which will continue, and there
is also renovation growth of existing establishments. My feeling is that new builds will dwindle for a period as prime
locations get taken up and homes take time to ensure their vacancies decrease. In the area of renovation and upkeep,
this will be a growth area for more years as updates take place. Updates will also be a key factor for any home every
few years or more; wear and tear is inevitable and any home wishing to hold to their standards must update and
refresh every so often.

DP: If you had to address a class of interior design students, say at the mid-point of their education, is there any
advice you might give them in terms of their own career paths and opportunities in the retirement sector?

BD: From my standpoint, it would be important for them to understand the needs of retirement living such sizes
of furniture appropriate for seniors. We take for granted that we can get up out of bed and pull ourselves out of a
deep comfy sofa; this is not the same for all seniors. But you also have to find a balance between their physical
and emotional needs, which is where design comes in. Also keep in mind that a 60 or 65 year old today that may
be thinking of entering a home in the next 10 years will be the most technologically savvy senior in history.
They won’t necessarily be interested in sitting in front of a TV for half the day.
From a business standpoint, the designer is often a middleman. Dealing with your boss, dealing with the customer,
dealing with manufacturers or purchasing agents such as Dalfen Sales. It can be a balancing act, and probably won’t be
as cut and dry as what you learned in school. So this is another element that you have to learn, but you’ll only
experience it in real life when you get there.

DP: What is the most peculiar assignment you ever had to undertake in the execution of your work?

BD: The time we had to find a glass blower to copy dining room sconces  for one of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
It was a very unique and  challenging assignment. The glass blower had to be able to re-create the glass from years ago
– then we  also had to find a craftsman  to spin the required brass pieces so that they were an exact match to the
existing sconces.

DP: I remember the project – you handled it with your usual determinedness and  focus – and it turned out very successful.

You also attended the High Point Market over the years….were you at the market last week?

BD:  We did not attend High Point this year. We were there last year and expect to return next year.
Since we’re not a retailer with a sales floor that needs to be constantly updated with the latest style,
we don’t feel the need to attend every market. We have very close relationships with our vendors and understand
their product; as new collections come out, we get all the new literature so that we can work on it with our customers.
High Point is a huge show (in terms of size, scope and geography) and should definitely be attended by designers.
However, there are hundreds of brands in so many categories that you need to have some focus and understand
what you need, where to find it and how you can apply it to your design work.

DP: Now that Canadian currency is where it is, how has that impacted business for you?

BD: It has definitely benefited our customers the most. In many cases, we are now quoting in US funds for a variety of
customers simply because they love the feeling of all the money they’re saving on the exchange for their projects.
In general, our customers are seeing the savings from our products that come out off the US.

DP: I am led to understand that a great number of American companies who moved production to Asia have recently
‘returned’ and have moved manufacturing back to the US. Do you have any insights or comments on that?

BD: There are definitely a few that have come back to North America. But we have also noticed that most medium
quality manufacturers, and higher, have moved out of China specifically. Opting for locations like Indonesia and
Thailand where they can assure better quality production. It is still a tug of war on most customers who definitely show
a preference for North American made product, but like the offshore pricing.

DP: I also noticed, what may be a whole new trend in furniture retailing in the US….for the moment it has only
happened in Missouri – and that is that a large chain of furniture stores are now open only from Friday nights through
to Sunday nights? Do you think that business model might take hold and spread.

BD:  I can’t speak very much about retail since we have no connection to retail whatsoever.
My own personal thought is that  how can a store stay closed 4 days out of the week.
You still have all the overhead, so you may as well be trying to sell something. And with margins
being compressed all the time, you have to keep selling.

DP:  Burt – as always, it’s been a pleasure to spend some time with you.

I wish you all the best  – both you and Brian – as we move forward through these difficult economic times.
Thank you for your time and your thoughts.


: : DesignPlan : :  Places

And of course, you’re wondering where this might be….

Architects and architecture enthusiasts from all over the world travel to this small village in the small
Graubuenden valley. For an extraordinary architect has built a spa resort there, of pure stone, greenish
in color, weighing tons. And by the way, the Therme in Vals also happens to be a wellness temple…

Layered stone upon stone, and presented magnificently with light effects, it was built in harmony with the mountain
and the surrounding landscape: the green Therme Vals.The edifice is constructed of 60,000 quartz pieces from the
local mountains. Together they form a mystical, sensual and surprisingly light vessel for the thermal waters.
Pleasantly warm at 30-degree Celsius, the waters originate in the Valser Valley and are full of healing minerals.

Blossom bath, sound grotto, cold and fire bath, steam baths and drinking stones are to be found side by side in this
building of rock, the first edifice in Switzerland to be designated a protected monument shortly after it opened.

Its architect, Peter Zumthor, was awarded the world’s most prestigious prize for architecture for this masterpiece.

The Therme designed by Peter Zumthor is a masterpiece of aesthetics, glorious display of light and timeless elegance.
But the wind of change has engaged the whole hotel. The Red Restaurant, the Blue Lounge, the Temporaries in
the main building and the Stucco rooms in the Selva building bear the distinctive signature of Peter Zumthor.
Ingenious connections between the Old and the New bear witness to an unconventional fusion of existing
buildings and new, architectural design and creation.

Enjoying the view from the Blue Lounge over the valley, admiring mountain crests and contemplative barns while a
gentle melody reaches the ear: it’s the unmistakable feeling of the Hotel Therme Vals, where the archaic world of the
mountains and modern lifestyle melt into a singular experience of well-being.

How? Our associates are masters when it comes to subtly easing your way into the special Therme culture.
The exemplary know-how and the unceremonious friendliness of our team consistently receive the accolades on
behalf of our guests and provide for plentiful pampering and relaxation during your stay.

The voice of our guests

“Fantastic relaxation – timeless“, March 2010

“I really felt like a queen during all of my stay“, November 2009

“The view from the room is magic and the design is really great choosen”, February 2010

“A place touching all senses. The time stands still“, July 2010

Hotel Therme
CH-7132 Vals
Tel +41 (0)81 926 80 80
Fax +41 (0)81 926 80 00
e-mail: hotel@therme-vals.ch

: : DesignPlan Style : :

…. a house on the Côte d’Azur, France

: : DesignPlanResources : :

The Gingerbread Collection : :

The Gingerbread Collection by Paola Navone has large, thick wooden frame, designed to look beautiful in the tradition of Caribbean
architecture and the distinctive “gingerbread” structures with towers, parapets, cornices and a fairy tale. This solid oak chairs add
window rough cuts, unfinished to her “authentic” aesthetic. New for 2011 is green the color of your choice –
from pastels to acid green and everything in between – to bring a fresh look at the line and around your home.

Paola Navone is the exception on the Italian design scene. For the past thirty years she has been a welcome feature of the
otherwise male-dominated Italian design elite. In the 80s, Navone was active in the avant-garde design movements
Alchimia and Memphis. In 1988, she created the Mondo brand together with Giulio Cappellini.
After living for many years in Hong Kong, Navone now sees herself as an enlightened and enlightening ¡®ethnic nomad¡¯.

Due to her early experience, Paola Navone has a particular talent for rediscovering design from the past and bringing
it to life in new, contemporary forms. This process always relies heavily on traditional handicrafts and has proved very successful.
Nowadays, she works as an interior designer and consultant to furniture and material manufacturers, and always tries to
combine modern design with traditional handicraft. She strives to create hybrids of design and handicraft, placing greater
value on design that comes about ¡®by mistake¡¯ than that which is created for mass production.

This often results in only one example of her products being produced. But Paola Navone is not
just a fervent advocate of handicrafts, she also believes that you can learn a lot from industry and its technical processes.
She is interested in the unique, the unusual, that which is not banal, and she always endeavours to develop and process it in
her own personal way. She likes to work with colours and light that provide warmth and awaken memories of previous experiences.
Paola Navone does not want to define herself within a particular niche or style.

Instead she always tries to contribute to the development of design in her own way. Her intuition is widely known,
and she was one of the first to create large furniture for the lounge. She was also a pioneer of shabby-chic, and she was
well before her time when the Otto furniture series, her first series for Gervasoni, was introduced in 1997.
Although the Otto series did not sell at all well for the first six months, it now generates a third of the company¡¯s total turnover.

As a boundary-crossing designer, her portfolio includes a broad spectrum of products, from china, clothing and
beds to fabrics, lamps and jewellery, plus interior design work for showrooms and exhibitions. Her client list is full
of famous names: Armani, Knoll International, Natuzzi, Alessi, Driade, Abet Laminati and Molteni are but a few examples.
Two of her latest projects – a new collaborative project with Viva Ceramica entitled Drops (a series of bathroom products)
and the Gingerbread furniture series for Lando – were introduced this spring at the Milan Fair 2006.

: : DesignPlan : :  Follow-up

In our interview this week, a new paradigm in retailing possibilities was mentioned – a store that is only open
on the week-ends. It certainly, at first glance, seems odd. But, when one considers the amazing success of
Quebec’s home-grown Chez Cora – a chain of restaurants that is open for breakfast, only, perhaps it is a whole
new way to approach retailing. After all, a store owner saves great sums by not having to pay salaries for
the weekdays/weeknights – he could keep an operations manager on duty to coordinate deliveries – or merchandise
receiving…..time will tell if it’s a wacky idea, or, the next best idea….

From the April 4th edition of Furniture Weekly, comes the following excerpts:

MANCHESTER, MO : :    Week-ends Only Furniture Outlet’s newest and largest store here in this western suburb of St. Louis
is off to a brisk start since its February opening. The promotional to mid-priced store, which is open for business
Fridays through Sundays, is offering expanded category displays, more room settings and an especially strong home accents
business in the new location.

The retailer has recorded approximately 3500 customer group visits per week-end – accounting for a projected
$16 million – $18 million in sales for the first year!

Tom Pillips, CEO of the 5-store St. Louis area chain, figures that the store will do an average of $20 million a year
in sales. He accounts some of its success to the fact that his neighbour stores are Best Buy, Costco, Wal-Mart and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

The interior layouts and showroom design were completed by Design Forum, a specialist in the retail
furniture sector. The home accents area, called World Bazaar, has been a standout – featuring everything from gifts and pillows,
to lighting, wall art and accessories.

It will be interesting to watch this as a developing business model…..all aspiring entrepreneurs might want to study
this phenomon…..

: : DesignResources I I : :    From the High Point Market

As promised a few weeks ago, we will continue to showcase various manufacturers that were exhibitors at the High Point show.
This week, we are featuring two  : :

Lumisource : :

Sales (Retailers Only) For information on products.

Consumers see Retailers Page.
Phone: 847-699-8988
Fax: 847-699-8869

Email: salesinfo@lumisource.com

Download Order Form (PDF)


Arteriors : :

To me, lighting – especially table lamps – are the most vocal part of a successful visual conversation
in a well-designed room : : here are some of my favourites :

Customer Service – 1.877.488.8866

And now, this is a new faucet from K L U D I : :


: : DesignClass : :

For design students who are interested in summer internships : :

Job Details

Company: RUX Design
Location: US  – New York, New York
Job Level: Intern
Field: Industrial Design
Job Functions: 3D Modeling & CAD, Branding & Corporate Identity, Design, Model Making & Prototyping,
Packaging, Product Development, Project Management, Styling


RUX is an award-winning multidisciplinary design studio. We work on a broad range of projects from product design to architecture.

We are looking for a talented designer for an internship starting mid-April and ending June 30th to work
on a series of new product designs. Within this period start and end dates are flexible as long as the intern
can commit to at least one month. The ideal candidate can:

1) thrive in a fast-paced creative environment

2) take ownership over high-level design challenges

3) have strong graphic representation skills

4) think conceptually as well as technically

5) keep an open mind

6) prove all the above through past experience

Apply Via Email


Submission Details

Please send CV and portfolio (no more than 2MB) along with a short paragraph describing your interest
in RUX to info@ruxdesign.net. Applications received before April 8th 2011 will be given first priority.

Job Details

Company: aruliden
Location: US  – New York, New York
Job Level: Intern
Field: Industrial Design
Job Functions: 3D Modeling & CAD, Design, Design Education, Illustration, User Experience


Aruliden is a rapidly growing product design and brand strategy firm. We use design to rethink brands and help
clients shape their business though our process of ‘producting’ – merging the disciplines of design and marketing
to create holistic product experiences. We work with a range of iconic clients and we need the best of the best to
join our team. We are looking for a highly skilled industrial designer who is just as passionate about creating
compelling product experiences and creative enough to wear many hats.

The ideal candidate will have a strong pulse on design trends and what’s happening in the marketplace today,
and is able to clearly communicate their design ideas. We are looking for an energetic and eager candidate to
support the general needs of the design team, while also providing additional support to all levels of strategists
and designers. Specific tasks will include project ideation, sketching, 3D design, and research.

Specific Skills

• Working knowledge of basic industrial design tools and process (Adobe Creative Suite and 3D applications)
• Excellent ideation and sketching skills
• Excellent organization, research and analytical skills
• Excellent communication skills
• Ability to multi-task in a fast paced environment
• Willingness to support all levels of design and strategy staff
• Great positive attitude and self-motivated

Apply Via Email


Submission Details

Please specify in the title of your email that you are applying for the ID INTERN POSITION.

Please no phone calls.

Candidates who are not US citizens or permanent residents need to have authorization to work in the US in order to apply.

: : DesignPlan Events : :

Neocon happens again, June 13 – 15 in Chicago…….
it has always been a great event, but almost more importantly, the seminars and guest speakers are worth
attending for….

Here’s a couple of interesting ones:


10:30 AM LEED certification is only the beginning. Hone your skills and become the LEED expert your clients need.
Find out how LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance recertification and Volume certification offer
an additional competitive edge. Go beyond product specification and basic sustainability ideals by getting ready-to-implement
initiatives for improved energy efficiency, water conservation, site management, and tenant and employee education.
Acquire the skills to measure baseline building performance and efficiently track, record, and document a vast amount
of data over the building lifespan. [Intermediate] [PD] Ralph DiNola, Associate AIA, LEED AP is principal of
Green Building Services in Portland, Oregon.


Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage when dealing with a Revit project. When you learn to communicate with the Revit “gurus”,
a lot of trouble is cleared up. Topics include Revit terminology and basic workflow. Compare the process and project
management of a traditional project to that of a Revit project so you can flow one into the other. Obtain the information
you need to make your next net Revit project easy, smooth, and successful. [Basic] [PD] Peg Hoefer is project manager
for HNTB Architecture in Los Angeles, California. • David Graue is senior project architect of HNTB Architecture in Los Angeles, California


LEED FOR INTERIOR DESIGNERS Monday, June 13 • 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Learn the meaning of LEED and review the
process of getting a project certified, including the role of the LEED project coordinator. Identify how these projects provide
opportunities for coordination with architects, engineers, and owners to bring value and increase the performance of a project.
Get the basics on the benefits of green building, and cover the specification requirements of a designer’s scope.
[Intermediate] [ENV] [HSW] Michelle Cottrell, LEED AP, is vice president of Green Education Services in New York, New York

: : DesignPlan : :



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