Sitting Down with Jenny Russell
An Interview with Jenny Russell, head of Client Service and Design at Bloomingdales.
What is your role at Bloomingdales?
My role at Bloomingdales is head of customer service on the residential and small commercial side of the business. I oversee the coordination and flow of orders processed through the shade manufacturing and dispatch departments of Bloomingdales, to ensure that orders arrive on time and intact to their final destinations.
Having worked at Bloomingdales for 4 ½ years soon after Joel and Robyn bought the business and generally in the Wholesale/Interior Design & Decoration Industry since 1993 – I’ve gained a solid understanding of the processes that Bloomingdales needs, t to ensure our clients are serviced well and orders delivered in a timely and efficient manner.
I have also worked with my husband in a small business for 20 years. This has helped me understand the finer details of running a business - the good and challenging. I’ve learnt how the wheels turn together in supplier and customer relationships.
What does a typical day look like for you?
An average day consists of entering orders and replying to customer queries and quotes from around Australia. I also communicate with our extensive Interior Designer database to ensure they are kept informed as to all the beautiful Lighting and Occasional Furniture products that are available through Bloomingdales, and that their needs are met.
What excites you about Bloomingdales product range?
I would have to say anything Visual Comfort, it’s very hard to choose a favourite. I always look forward to the new pieces coming through – American lighting trends are so well suited to the Australian market. I was also very excited to hear that Bloomingdales will receive some pieces from Kate Spade New York arriving in April – I can’t wait to see them.
What do you see becoming more popular for lighting and occasional design over the next few years?
A further movement away from a throwaway mindset and the continued transition toward timelessness in design. In our industry I think there is growing appreciation for beautiful designs that last a lifetime.
Can you tell me what Design Innovation means to you?
I see innovation as classic designs evolving to become more relevant and improved for modern times.
Can you talk about designers that you think have most embodied innovation in design?
I think Kelly Wearstler’s style is amazing. Her pieces have a really unique attitude. While modern, they have a sense of longevity too. You don’t get that “been there, done that” vibe, which I find refreshing. She walks to the beat of her own drum, which is very cool. It’s always exciting unpacking a new Kelly Wearstler arrival in our warehouse – they are never stored long enough to collect any dust. They’re always snapped up very quickly. I had a client last week that said she had goosebumps at just hearing Kelly Wearstler’s name. Some of the reactions I’ve heard are quite funny!
It’s also hard to go past the elegance of AERIN pieces, particularly the Olsen’s in Alabaster & Crystal. They are beautiful pieces that will certainly stand the test of time. Stylish classics for a modern world.
For me the natural world is the ultimate Designer. There is so much colour, form, texture & detail inspiration everywhere we look – oceans & waterway, plants, flowers, rocks & stones, birds & animals (as long as no-one is harmed in the process) and when you zoom in very closely even snowflakes. A designer that can use these things as inspiration for beautiful man-made objects, I find very innovative.
What intrigues you about design?
While working with an English fabric house early on in my career, I found it fascinating that a particular design produced in the 1950s still sold every day of the week over 50 years later. We also had William Morris prints originally designed in the 1860’s that were still among the top selling designs. If all the design elements align and a piece really hits a sweet spot, a good design will always sell – often regardless of the price.
How would you characterize a well-designed product?
A well-designed product has the right mixture of a few elements – it has to be without a doubt aesthetically pleasing while still properly achieving its function. When the functional/structural elements become part of the decorative design, be it a switch or moving joint, that really makes the piece interesting. In the commercial world, it also has to be saleable and just what the market is looking for in regard to trend.
Which Bloomingdales products stand out to you?
The Solid Crystal (B145L) and Crystal with Shiny Nickel Table Lamps (B141L), Alabaster and Bronze Table Lamp (B212L), and the Brass Circle Table Lamp (B219L). Even a piece as simple as the Ivory Gourd Lamp (TH60L) is so adaptable between classic and modern interiors. All of these pieces just keep on giving from an interior design perspective.
In the hands of individual Interior designers they can be re-invented to flow seamlessly into a new scheme, while also being a great design feature in their own right. They are timeless classics. It’s also exciting watching or predicting new introductions to our range that become stalwarts of our range, like the Dark Bronze Copper Sculptural Table Lamp (B318L).
What do you enjoy most about working at Bloomingdales?
I really enjoy working with our shade making artistans. I have always found the creative talent and skills involved fascinating. My career started when I was 16 at a fabric converter supplying to the rag trade. It was before the digital age of printing. We had an in-house textile artist who used to paint all the colourways and screens by hand which were then sent to Japan and Asia to be screen printed onto fabrics for our local garment industry. It was all very impressive. When I walk through our shade workroom each day, I’m inspired by our team’s creative skills and patience as they produce beautiful shades. I love seeing creativity in motion.
It’s also fun when we have the opportunity to work with beautiful client specified fabrics– it creates a real buzz in the shade room some of the creations are really amazing.
What holds for the future?
A lot has been accomplished during my time at Bloomingdales through rejuvenating the brand. We have a great team and under Joel and Robyn’s lead, it’s certain to be an exciting and rewarding time ahead. I look forward to continuing to work amongst such a varying array of talent we have in our community and Australia.
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