An Interview with MillerKnoll Furniture Expert Kelly Brucher
Get to know MillerKnoll's Southern California Client Development Executive, Kelly Brucher. We sat down for an interview with Kelly to discuss all things workplace strategy, design, and what keeps her addicted to furniture!
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I went to school for Interior Design at the University of Kansas (Go Rock Chalk!). Right out of high school, I got a job with an architectural firm and did a lot of work with hospitality, where I mainly worked on movie theaters. Then, I made my way to Vail, Colorado, and eventually found my way to San Diego. My dad actually introduced me to the world of furniture, I didn't know about it. I just kind of fell into it and it ended up being a perfect fit because I didn't want to be behind a computer, I wanted to be out and about, learning and interacting with people. I worked at G|M for 8 years and then made the transition to MillerKnoll (formerly Herman Miller), and I have now been with them for 2 years.
2. That is awesome! What is your role at MillerKnoll?
I am a Client Relationship Executive. My role primarily consists of developing large project opportunities and bringing them to G|M. I focus on the life sciences, pharmaceutical, and biotech realms. I also act as a liaison with our A+D community. I built some great relationships with them while at G|M and they are such valuable partners.
3. What makes you so passionate about the furniture industry?
I love to be a part of the evolution of an organization. When they start with 25 people and watching them grow into something big, and grow and change along the way. It is amazing to be a part of their growth on the workplace side, ensuring that their space continues to evolve with them and support them. I think that is really what keeps me addicted. Furniture helps with workplace culture, branding, and so much more.
4. So much has changed in the past couple of years. What do you think is the most important aspect of workplace planning in today's offices?
The most important aspect is for leaders of organizations to understand that people want choice and autonomy and trust in their day-to-day workplace experience. The war on talent is brutal right now and more and more data shows that most people want flexibility in when and where they work. If leaders aren't willing to embrace this new hybrid model, it is just going to continue this "great resignation" that we have all been experiencing.
5. Are there any products that have you super excited right now?
OE1 is the hottest new line that everyone is talking about right now because it supports agility in the workplace, and supports users and their desire for modularity. I am also very excited about our new partnership with Knoll, Muuto, and the rest of the family. There are a lot of new products that open a door for solutions that we previously didn't have access to.
6. Any sneak peeks on new products that you can share?
We have a fun, new flip-nest chair that will be coming out later this year. It helps to fill a void on the education side, we are all very excited about that at the moment.
7. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy leading the workplace strategy conversation with clients and educating them on our living office strategy in terms of deciphering different modes of work, what they utilize, and what settings will properly support them. It is fun to help shift the mindset from traditional, very prescriptive solutions to more modern and innovative solutions. I enjoy bringing their visions to life through furniture, schematics, thought-starters, and design ideas. This usually triggers an "ah-ha" moment that affects attraction, culture and real estate efficiency. Furniture is more than just a commodity purchase.
8. Do you have any favorite projects that you have been a part of?
Two that stand out to me are Illumina and Receptos. Illumina's new i3 campus was my biggest accomplishment. The client fully adopted the workplace strategy and it was just a massive and successful project. Receptos was really cool and fun - very whimsical and inspired. DGA was the A+D firm, and the design was centered around the idea of a treehouse. Very cool!
9. Has anyone made a memorable impact or influence on your career journey?
There are two people who come to mind immediately - personally, my dad, and professionally, Jason Stierl. My dad has always been involved with architecture and design and worked for a firm called Populus. Growing up, he worked on a lot of sports stadiums and after they were built, he would give us kids a tour. I just always thought it was so cool! After college, I got an internship with HOK and I just remember thinking their finish library was the coolest...it felt like home. It felt like my calling, what I was supposed to be doing, very natural. I think that is where I got my attention to detail and my eye for design, function, and space. As I have evolved in my career, Jason Stierl at G|M Business Interiors became a big influence. He pushed me into sales and taught me how to be successful. I consider myself to be a designer at heart and I wasn't very interested in sales, but he coached me and I am grateful for his leadership.
10. Do you have a favorite industry event?
I love NAIOPalooza! It's a team-oriented competition and it is just so much fun!
11. What is the most recent new furniture addition to your home?
I just purchased an Eames Compact Sofa and it is delightful. It's in our kitchen and I paired it with some Eames Molded Chairs and an Eames Table.
12. Do you have a favorite travel destination?
Ohhh there is a close tie between Italy and Hawaii, but I have to say Italy! In 2019, I did a tour when Marvel was 7 months old. We went for two weeks and my favorite place was Siena. It's a quaint little town just outside of Florence. The cobblestone streets were very otherworldly and the margarita pizza will never be forgotten.
13. What are some of your favorite pastimes?
I love hanging out with my husband, Stephen, and my two kiddos, Marvel and Dash. Marvel is 3 and Dash is 5 months. They are a ton of fun and keep me very busy. We frequent places with good food and drinks, that also allow children (laughing). Lately, we are big San Diego Loyal fans and the games are a ton of fun.
14. Those are some cool and unique kid names! How did you pick them?
My husband is a huge Marvel guy! He loves Marvel, so I thought of the name and he liked it. After naming Marvel, we knew we wanted our son to stay in the superhero realm, but picking his name out was a lot harder! Once I thought of it, we loved the name!
15. Drink of choice?
Coffee in the morning, red wine in the evening.
16. Do you have a favorite coffee shop?
We love Moniker General at Liberty Station!
17. How do you like your coffee?
I switch between black pour-overs and vanilla lattes.
18. Favorite genre of music?
Country! Miranda Lambert is my girl.
19. Do you have any side hobbies?
I love gardening, mostly landscaping my yard. It is so peaceful! I love watering, mowing and pulling weeds. I also planted some roses recently!
20. Is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
I am a painter. Or at least I used to be before I had kids. I gift most of my paintings, but I do have one of a bottle of Tabasco in my house that I gifted my husband, so I get to enjoy it too.