All posts by Gemma Cooke

Gemma Cooke

About Gemma Cooke

Gemma was a member of the Rompa design team from 2011 to 2014.

A week at FlagHouse Canada

Toronto's CN Tower

Toronto’s CN Tower

In November of last year I spent a week at the FlagHouse office in Toronto, Canada working with their designer Tom Heber, and the rest of the team. Everybody made me very welcome and made my first experience of Canada a memorable one.

The time spent with Tom was valuable on many levels, not only to introduce him to his brand new software, but beyond this I made new friends and it has bought the working relationship of the two companies closer together.

During the week at work I did manage to fit in some sight seeing and experience some of what Toronto has to offer. I saw the city at dusk and night; I also experienced dinner at the top of the CN Tower in the revolving restaurant. Once I got over the initial slightly queasy feeling of motion sickness I sat back and enjoyed a lovely dinner and conversation while taking in the amazing views over the city and the lake.

Since leaving Canada I have maintained contact with Tom and we speak most days to discuss software and design projects. I have left not only having seen Canada but also shared professional experiences and made new friends.

I feel very privileged to have been able to travel with work and to have such a warm welcome from our parent company across the pond.

Tom’s Room

Designer Gemma Cooke and Mike Brooke reflect on what has become known simply as “Tom’s Room”.

Gemma Cooke

Gemma Cooke

“A recent project that became close to my heart was the design and installation of a sensory room and soft play area for a family in Southampton. The soft play and sensory space were created for Tom and his brother Ollie. The design was fully customised for Tom and the family’s needs, and included the construction of a large sensory cabin. I was fortunate enough to meet Tom’s parents and his occupational therapist during the design process, this was extremely beneficial and ensured the space was functional, effective and everything Tom needed.”

“The room has now been installed and we have received photos of the room in use. I recently had the oportunity to meet Tom and Ollie and see them enjoying their new room, it’s the best part of the job.”

Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

“Meeting Tom and his family had a profound and positive effect on me. Tom taught me something incredibly important. To see the person and not the disability. To work for a company where I have the resources and support to make such a positive impact on a family’s life keeps me driven and motivated.”

“Last week I had the privilege to return to Tom’s house and witness both Tom and his brother Ollie using the room. It’s a day that will live long in my memory. Especially the moment when Ollie said “I’m so glad you built this room, I love it so much. Thank you.”

Gemma Cooke Reflects on 2 Years in Design

Gemma Cooke

Gemma Cooke

August 2013 bought me to my two year anniversary as part of the Rompa team. I can honestly say it has been a rewarding, educational and valuable two years.

I was very fortunate to gain employment with Rompa straight after completing a degree in Interior Design. My third year graduation project was the design of a Respite Centre for those affected by autism, alongside a dissertation on ‘How Interior Design can aid and improve the lives of those with autism’. It was this project being shown at our graduation exhibition that lead to me having contact with Rompa and successfully getting a job as part of their design team. I learnt a lot during the research undertaken for my graduation project and have continued to build on that knowledge while at Rompa. I have always had a passion for the caring industry; the sensory sector is one I find fascinating and highly rewarding to be a part of. Through my role I get to practice my passion for design and also help a wide variety of users gain a space that can enhance their lives in such rewarding and valuable ways.

During my first few months at Rompa I spent the time adjusting to the way in which the design and installation process works, learning the history of the company, using new programs and getting to know the team I work with. In my two years at Rompa I have worked on many exciting projects in all sectors, including room design, exhibitions, specialist projects for charitable events and large projects abroad. I have attended sales advisor visits, undertaken site surveys and had a glimmer of the life of an installer.

In this year and last I have attended various exhibitions, including the Autism Show for which I designed the stands. Being able to meet our customers and interact with people face to face is not something I get to do very often as a designer but I find it very valuable and get a huge amount of satisfaction from. As a designer of such important spaces it is vital we are aware of the users needs, experiences and feedback… what better way to do this than speaking with people directly.

Gemma gets her hands dirty2013 also saw Rompa install their fantastic showroom here at our headquarters. I oversaw the project and ensured the installation process went smoothly. It was great to see the design work we had undertaken grow into a room in front of our eyes and I loved being part of it through the design, manufacture and installation stages. I got my hands dirty at each stage and found it very rewarding to be part of the build process including some late nights spent painting and cleaning to ensure we met our deadline.

After over a year of being the only female member of a male dominated team, 6 months ago I got some female support in the form of Helen our newest designer. The dynamics of our happy office have only been improved by her arrival, and she helps me keep the men in check.