Getting to Know Intereum: Ricki Arnold

When you talk to Ricki Arnold, it is easy to see that she is profoundly passionate about design, and it is the way that good design can impact a person, that sparks this flame.

Ricki has been in sales at Intereum for 29 years, but started her career by receiving an interior design degree with a minor in studio art from the University of Minnesota.  By way of working, she was introduced to this industry in 1968, the year Action Office was launched, and from this point on, she’d continue to witness the workplace transformation. Rather than let opportunities pass her by, Ricki was involved and played an active role in the changes we see today by working closely with Herman Miller in their pursuits. This change is one of the aspects of design that excites her so much; being able to look back and see where design has come from and being able to look forward to what the future will bring.  Her expertise on products and love for researching aspects of design, ranging from color to new trends, has resulted in an incredible accomplishment of receiving a national design award!

As much as design is a part of Ricki’s heart and soul, it would be impossible to think that she would reserve such a passion only for work.  Ricki brings the principles of design outside to her garden beds at home and this is where she really comes alive!  She has said that she can think of no better way to spend a day than getting her hands dirty in the earth and making her yard come to life with color, texture, and movement.

A story of a Native American woman who has been carved from a 142-year-old Oak tree in Ricki’s yard reflects what makes up the person who Ricki is.

Ricki called this old Oak tree her ‘dancing tree’ as its branches reached from her yard into her neighbors and swayed back and forth like a dancer’s arms, celebrating the beauty of nature.  Ricki had spent many occasions admiring this tree, leaning against it to enjoy the bright colors of summer’s sunsets, watching the autumn leaf colors change, and snowfall bury branches while looking out from the comforts of her sunroom.  After years of enjoying the “dancing tree”, Ricki had news that it needed to come down.  To preserve the soul of this tree, Ricki looked to having it carved by an expert craftsman.  After much research, she selected Kevin Showell, an artist who studied stone carving in Italy and wood carving in the Scandinavian countries.  Ricki shared with Kevin that she wanted the tree to be sculpted into a young Native American woman dancing alone in the woods, celebrating Mother Nature and the Chippewa (Ojibwa nation).  It was important to Ricki that the woman wore her everyday dress and that her hair was free and soaring in the breeze like an eagle.  Spoken eloquently, the artist said that the tree would let them know what she really was.

After sketching, modeling, and many months of labor, Wachipi, ‘Oak Woman Dancing,’ came to be.  Just as the artist had indicated, they found secrets that the tree held during this process.  It became clear that the tree had once been hit by lightning as a crack down the center was revealed. Also, an iron spike was found inside the tree, which can be seen today as a small indication of metal stain creases the sculpted hair.  Look a little closer and one will see a hallow opening in the back of the sculpture and it is here that you can peer in and see her soul. The artist incorporated, at the base of the sculpture, a place for Ricki to rest and they continue to enjoy the beautiful sunsets together.

In harmonious ways, design has impacted Ricki’s career and interests.

“My gardens are my sanity, my peace, and my joy, but most of all my way to join my soul with Mother Nature – Bless Her!” – Ricki Arnold

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