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Banko Design Announces Furniture Line with Fairfield Chair

Banko Design for Fairfield will feature a collection of dining and bistro furniture for the Senior Living division.

Fairfield and Banko Design are excited to announce that they are  partnering on a brand new furniture collection with Melissa Banko, Founder & Principal of Banko Design, leading the design team. The collection will be centered around durability and cleanability with an emphasis on comfort and sophistication through a selection of curated dining and bistro pieces for Fairfield’s senior living division. 

The Georgia-based design firm is a full-service interior design and FF&E procurement firm for the senior living, multifamily, and boutique hospitality markets. Melissa Banko is eager to debut her first collection with Fairfield, which will include dining tables, dining chairs and stools, bistro tables, communal tables, banquettes, benches, credenzas, curio cabinets, and hardware.

The collection combines Banko Design’s elevated and timeless approach to design with Fairfield’s specialized craftsmanship and unparalleled understanding of the senior living community lifestyle. Melissa Banko is excited to bring her expertise in the senior living space to expand Fairfield’s product line.

“As a leader in the design industry, we have custom built our furniture for projects for many years because we could not readily find it in the market,” explains Banko. “Through this partnership, we hope to solve this problem for designers moving forward. This collection will embrace universal, ergonomic, and age-less design. We envision this line to be beautiful furniture for every vertical with a focus on the senior market.”

President and CEO of Fairfield, Dixon Mitchell, is confident in the collection’s evolution.

“Melissa’s knowledge and experience will be greatly appreciated as we expand the senior living division,” Mitchell explains. “With it being our 100th anniversary this year, we are striving to appeal to a wider audience with quality furniture at a great price-point.”

Banko Design for Fairfield will launch during Leading Age Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, Georgia | October, 24 – 28.  A soft launch will take place during EFA Expo and Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee | August, 28 – September, 1. Follow along as both companies will share behind-the-scenes looks on social media as the collection develops.

About Fairfield Chair

For nearly a century Fairfield Chair Company, which was established in 1921, has combined masterful craftsmanship with fashion-forward designs of fine furnishings for the home, office, and hospitality industries. A family of craftspeople, Fairfield cares about the community, the environment, and the customer, a philosophy that is the fabric of the business and is woven into all facets. Fairfield Chair distributes products to customers throughout the United States and internationally. Quality control throughout the process, masterful craftsmanship, and precise tailoring results in upholstered furnishings that set the bar for quality and excellence within the industry.

About Banko Design

Banko Design is a full-service boutique interior design and FF&E procurement firm that focuses on senior living, multi-family, and hospitality spaces. Founded by Melissa Banko in 2014, Banko Design quickly differentiated itself from other design firms by integrating and streamlining the entire design and procurement process. Banko Design’s 35-member team of talented designers, and purchasing agents currently work from studios in Marietta, GA, Minneapolis, MN and from satellite studios in Amelia Island FL, and Austin TX. 

Banko Design prides itself on collaborating with clients to bring their vision to life and create beautiful, functional spaces with strong character and individual narratives. Services include programming and budgeting, design development, construction documentation, construction administration, and final project installation.

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From Melissa’s Desk: What’s Up, 2021?

Hello, 2021. What’s up? It’s good to see you!

It’s safe to say that 2020 was quite a year, and you know what? We didn’t just survive, we THRIVED. We learned, we grew, and we rose to the challenge. We overcame so much to get here and we’re all smarter, wiser and ready to apply what we’ve learned in the past year. Now it’s time to use what we learned to focus on the future and realign our priorities.  

We’ve all heard the saying “time is money,” but it’s finally time to acknowledge that being overworked and exhausted shouldn’t be glorified or praised. In fact, it’s imperative that we prioritize and maintain work-life balance more than ever. We’ve seen professional and personal lives blending before our very eyes, and personally, I love it! It was no secret that we all had lives outside of work, but it’s been brought to light on camera and on calls with kids, dogs, partners and the mail carrier at the door. The backdrops are unfiltered and the yoga pants are on! It’s a refreshing reminder that we’re in business with real HUMANS. We’re all doing our best to run our companies and families and to push projects forward, all while building greater and more authentic business relationships.

The world has been forced to focus on our health and wellness like never before. There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to snap the world into “you better take care of yourself” mode! For years I’ve felt like my life was nonstop from the moment I woke up, but the pandemic has forced me to slow down and listen to my body. I’ve had to refocus on the essentials – eating well, exercising, and sleeping. (The sleeping I still struggle with!)

As everyone heads back to the office, I want to challenge companies to reconsider health benefits and ask ourselves if we’re providing the best we can to set our employees up for success. Consider wellness rewards, in-office health challenges, and encouraging employees to take the time to eat well, walk with a co-worker on their afternoon break, or exercise before or after work. In 2021, let’s take our health back!

As with many other industries, 2020 forced unforeseen changes on us in the design and architectural sector. Because of these changes, we learned more about our weaknesses and strengths as leaders and businesses, giving us clarity on our next steps. We saw resilient companies thrive, strong leadership became apparent, and solid partnerships endured. Now we know, without a doubt, who our ride or die partners are. While last year was difficult for many reasons, for Banko Design, this was a much-needed reset for our priorities, our verticals, and our industry.

In 2020, I learned the value of my opinion as a leader. I’m an individual first and foremost and I should never be silenced – and neither should you. All voices should be heard and respected, even if we don’t agree. Let’s hope that this is the year where we finally listen to each other and respect each other. Love thy neighbor. Period.  

2021 will bring political changes that will have a direct impact on our business. No matter your political leanings, I hope that everyone realizes the importance of empowering and incentivizing small business owners and their clients to grow and thrive so they can, in turn, protect their employees as best they can despite the setbacks brought forth by the pandemic.

The last year has reminded me, humbly, that I am a citizen of God and to no man here on earth. My faith has never been stronger. I’m one of those people who is much more comfortable in the uncomfortable. When we’re comfortable, we’re not growing. I never want to stop rising, learning or improving myself, my company, or my family. I thank God for that reminder.

My contribution to 2021 will be to honor every day with gratitude. This is a very exciting time! All verticals in our industry have much to recover from but all have unbounded potential. I challenge my fellow designers and industry partners to put 2020 behind you, make time for your family and your health, and be bold in taking advantage of the new opportunities before you.

I, for one, cannot wait to crush 2021. Who’s with me?

Melissa Banko, Principal | Banko Design

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From Competitors to Co-Workers: Banko Goes Midwest

Ask any developer or operator who has partnered with our Marietta, Georgia team in the past six years and they’ll agree that Banko Design is no stranger to thinking outside of the box.

Our Interior Design and FF&E procurement firm quickly gained a reputation in the senior living and multifamily industries by designing timeless, functional and elevated communities that a person of ANY age and taste would love to call home. We took this same thoughtful approach when we strategically added boutique hospitality and vacation ownership markets to our portfolio.

It’s this culture of creative thinking and saying “hell yes!” to good ideas that pushed Banko Design to the next major chapter in our history – the successful expansion of our firm to a new city during the height of a global pandemic.

Last month, we announced that Banko Design would be expanding into the Midwest. We’ve added 10 amazing women to our roster who will run our satellite studio in Minneapolis, MN under the Banko Design name. These talented designers and procurement agents all hail from former Henrik & Co., the highly respected interior design and full-service FF&E procurement division of Minneapolis-based Henricksen Furniture, established in 1962.

But what’s the story behind how this expansion came to fruition? Surely this decision wasn’t made overnight? The story behind our growth is one of shared values, positivity, and the conviction that everyone in the design industry wins when we combine forces!

It all started when Amy Bursey, an industry veteran and General Manager of former Henrik & Co., cold emailed Melissa asking to compare notes. Not only was Amy also a leader of an elite design studio, she too is the proud mom of a son on the spectrum. Amy and Melissa were both building studios like they operate their family units – with great partners and nurturing members who work together to help the group grow with love and respect. The similarities between Amy and Melissa didn’t stop there.

Amy Bursey (left) and Melissa Banko (right).

During their first phone call, the two chatted about the day-to-day of keeping their studios running during the pandemic, their shared adamance about the importance of doing right by their team (which in turn keeps clients happy), and their commitment to challenging the status quo in both senior living and multifamily design.

Both groups treat every project “resimercially,” by considering the comfort and livability of a residential space for the end user while ensuring every specification meets rigorous commercial standards. All projects have their own unique narrative. Never once has either team just cranked out a generic design to satisfy a deadline.

Like Melissa, Amy’s core group of designers and staff has been with her for years, which is unique in an industry that typically sees a lot of turnover. We believe this loyalty is a testament to empowering your staff and ensuring they have all the resources they need to grow professionally.

“Our connection was instant,” said Melissa. “I didn’t think we could click so well – we were competitors after all. But in speaking with her, I saw in her the same drive and passion I feel about my team and my personal life.”

Amy added, “I got off the phone and thought, ‘Wow! That exchange went better than I could have even anticipated. This woman gets me. She understands the struggles I’m facing and what I’m trying to accomplish at our studio and at home.’”

The next steps were clear to Melissa as she wrapped up the first call. Boldly, she asked Amy’s thoughts about combining forces.

Many more late-night phone conversations later, the duo ironed out the details. The talk track was simple.

“This partnership is a win for the design industry,” stated Melissa. “You now have two well-known firms that were formerly competitors comparing best practices, streamlining processes, and ultimately taking interior design and procurement to the next level in an underserved industry. It’s such a great story – ‘from competitors to co-workers, leading the charge in reshaping the design industry.’”

She continued, “Bringing on the [former] Henrik & Co. team presented a strategic opportunity for Banko Design to expand our reach geographically. More importantly, we’re excited about the ability to play in markets we previously overlooked, most notably Skilled Nursing or “SNF,” in the senior living space. Henrik & Co. had some really great SNF work in their portfolio so now when we tell new clients that we provide great design at any budget, we can say that with absolute confidence.”

Amy added, “This partnership started as just a crazy hypothetical but the more we compared notes the more we realized this undertaking, though ambitious, made complete sense. I am ecstatic about the blending of our groups for a few reasons – our Minneapolis studio will be able to chase projects that we didn’t previously have capacity for and will have access to the premier design technology Banko Design utilizes on all projects.”

“We have thought through all the small details to ensure this transition is as seamless as possible for our team members and our clients,” Amy continued. “Our clients will benefit immensely from this move. We couldn’t be happier about the future of Banko Design and the opportunity this presents for the senior living industry especially.”

Minnesota is a renowned healthcare hub and our team is thrilled to be able to call it our second home. This origin story is just the beginning and we can’t wait to see how this entire chapter plays out.

Want to stay up to date on all things Banko Design and Banko Design Midwest? Follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram for a behind the scenes look inside our studios and a peek at our current projects.