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Alumna's career goes green with sustainable furniture designs

October 28, 2013

Lusson, a Chippewa Falls native and 2009 graduate of UW-Stout in art, spends her days with the Excelsior, Minn., company designing office furniture that is easy on Mother Nature.

"At Baltix we are all about green, sustainable furniture ... and we have succeeded in making this new furniture line one of our greenest yet," Lusson said.

Materials include recycled milk jugs, recycled steel and all natural linoleum.

Kelly Lusson"In addition to sustainability, we wanted our new line of furniture to be something that not all commercial office furniture is — straightforward," Lusson said. "We saw how complicated and overwhelming the process of ordering commercial office furniture can be, and we made it our goal to simplify the process without compromising function."

UW-Stout alumni will get a chance to interact with Lusson and other Baltix employees during an event Thursday, Nov. 7, at the company headquarters, 440 2nd St., Excelsior, Minn. The free event, which features refreshments, appetizers and door prizes, begins with an open house at 5 p.m., followed by a presentation and unveiling of the new product line at 6:15 p.m. To register, go to the Alumni Association's website.

Lusson said the new line includes desks, tables, storage and accessories. "We feel that we have successfully created a furniture line that is modular enough to adapt and re-adapt to any space, is simple to order and assemble and is durable enough to last for many years," she added.

The hardest part of design these days, she said, is incorporating the need for power and data into desks. "I am confident that our final solution is as easy as possible, and I hope our customers really like it," Lusson added.

The art education she had at UW-Stout prepared her well for the demands of the workplace, Lusson said.

"Since we are a small company each of us has to wear a lot of different hats, and anything remotely related to design is my job," Lusson said. "No matter what concentration you choose, UW-Stout designers have to take a broad range of classes that spill over into other design fields, and that was really critical in preparing me for the different tasks I do here.

"While attending UW-Stout I heard several times that, compared to other design schools, UW-Stout's focus was on teaching us how to design for the 'real world,' " Lusson continued. "Although it's important to learn how to create a really pretty picture, I am grateful for all the hands-on manufacturing and woodworking classes I took. That knowledge has really helped me to communicate with our manufacturers, and they appreciate that I'm not only a 'design-y' art girl, but I know a little about their world too."

More information is available at the UW-Stout School of Art and Design.

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