How philanthropy by people and companies in the design community supports the causes we care about while also supporting the design community.
On my personal journey to joy, prosperity and wholeness, perhaps most impactful lesson I have learned is that giving from the heart really is the only path to true fulfillment for me, and I would argue for humanity in general. If you have ever volunteered your time or shared your resources with people in need, I don’t have to tell you; you know how good it feels to give back.
And yet it bears repeating, how good it feels to care for other people. And how much our community and our society needs philanthropy. We are a tribe. If it weren’t for the generosity of humans taking care of one another, we wouldn’t survive and thrive.
I am a member of many tribes in my life, humanity, family, communities, and more, and of course, the tribe of interior designers.
As such, I have had a number of opportunities in my career to donate my time and skills in service of good causes. For example, last month in Piedmont we enjoyed our annual Heart of the Home tour, which I have designed for in years past, benefiting the Children’s Support League.
In 2015-16, I engaged with a new opportunity to give back, volunteering to design and furnish a suite of guest rooms for a brand-new, 52,000 square-foot expansion of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.
Ronald McDonald Houses provide welcoming shelter for families who need to stay close to a hospital because their children are receiving treatment there for life-threatening illnesses. During a planned expansion of the Stanford location in 2015, I opted in, along with 47 other Bay Area designers, to contribute our talents and raise funds and materials donations in order to create beautiful, comfortable and comforting suites and common areas to accommodate 67 additional families.
Speaking of donated materials: enter Robert Allen Design.
We were contacted by Robert Allen, a purveyor of high quality fabrics and furniture, early on in the RMH design process. Terry McLaughlin, outside sales representative for the company, called us and set up a meeting. He came to our office with samples and we shared with him our design concept and our “why.”
As an interior designer, I am keenly aware that our environments have a significant impact on our hearts, our wellness and our spirits. My clients frequently tell me that when we have created the home that reflects who they are and that provides welcoming shelter for their tribe, they feel at ease, happy and comfortable with having others in their space.
I serve from my heart when I work with my clients. This is why I do what I do.
Robert Allen selected us, along with four other designers out of the 48 participating, to receive all of the fabrics we needed for our rooms, for free, as our exclusive sponsor. It was a very generous offer I couldn’t, and did not want to, refuse. We used these materials for draperies, bedding, pillows, shower curtains, creating colors and textures throughout the suite.
The company was wonderful to work with as a vendor-partner, and turned out to be wonderfully inspiring as well. What I learned through our collaboration is that they do not advertise in magazines; they do all of their marketing exclusively through philanthropy.
By sponsoring projects that benefit the wider community, like the Ronald McDonald House, and by donating fabrics to individual interior designers for decorator showcase showrooms, Robert Allen is supporting its tribes, both industry partners and the tribe of human beings, and as a consequence, getting attention for the quality of their materials and customer service, and the quality of their participation in the world.
As a result of our collaboration, Robert Allen invited us to speak on a panel on philanthropy at the Design Center during Winter Market. Our partnership also connected me to other high-end designers and vendors who hold similar values about giving back.
At our core, we as humans are all compassionate givers and the more we can tap into that joy of giving, the more we all benefit.
Photos by Eric Rorer
(A version of this article originally appeared in the Piedmont Post.)
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