Thursday, June 19, 2014

Designing the Idea Bus

Today marks the end of Idea week in Boston! For those of you that are unfamiliar with this event, it's a week dedicated to bringing together "the region's change-makers, creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and cultural enthusiasts in order to foster, collaborate and celebrate new ideas. It will serve as a platform to challenge the everyday normal by experimenting with new ways of activating, interacting, collaborating and marketing Boston."

As part of the week and in the spirit of "thinking outside the bus," Wayfair teamed up with Boston's MBTA to turn a regular city bus into a funky living room. So with about two week's notice, we were challenged with coming up with a design plan (for a fairly awkwardly shaped space), ordering products, and then outfitting the bus. This started with a trip to the MBTA's Everett office (aka the bus hospital) to see what we were working with and take some measurements. Here's what the bus looked like after they removed all of it's seats for us.
^ a couple of my colleagues with our amazing MBTA helpers. Probably not used to seeing women (in heels) in their garage! :)
Challenging, right? The space was a blank canvas, but had tons of tricky areas from a decorating perspective, such as the radiators, huge back wheel hubs, and various built-in bench seats. But we were up for the challenge, of course, and I got to work right away creating some Pinterest and mood boards.

Our first idea was to create a literal "Wayfair Beach Bus" with a blue and coral color palette, nautical accents, wicker furniture, and breezy outdoor curtains. You can see the picks we had in mind for that idea here. But when we presented it to the MBTA team, they thought it was a little too "safe" (which I actually kind of love that they said, given that they are transportation people), and it actually was pretty safe. They wanted to appeal to a younger crowd, and given that at work I am usually designing things and coming up with ideas for an older demographic, I was pretty excited about that. So we came up with this.
I call it: turquoise and orange with a Moroccan/bohemian flair. It's bright and fun but still comfy and on brand. Once they MBTA team gave us the OK (exact words were "now your talking!"), we got to work ordering items (while checking measurements to a tee) to be shipped to the Everett station. And things started to look fairly promising once we started loading everything in.
While a couple members of our team loaded everything onto the bus, my colleague Kelly and I headed to Home Depot to take care of our plant needs. Furniture and decor are great, but plants and flowers can really make a difference in transforming and filling out a space. Luckily, Home Depot's plant options did not disappoint and we were able to find lots of pretty things for our bus (and in our color palette)! We made a quick stop to my patio to re-pot our new beauties into some turquoise, gold and hot pink planters before meeting the bus at South Station, where it would remain open and parked for the weekend.
Ok so back to the bus! The unwrapping, velcroing, rewiring, steaming and decorating begins (can you sense the excitement/exhaustion in my voice yet?). The bus officially opened to the public at 5pm so we were scrambling...but it came together.
^Luckily the bus windows are huge so we were able to fit that couch in! 
 ^We spray painted those pots. Had to get a little DIY in there. :)

And that's the Idea Bus! Such a fun project. If you were at South Station this weekend you may have seen it parked right outside but if not, you can check out the #ideabus hashtag on Instagram to see some great photos of the bus in action (and people hanging out on it late night over the weekend). And if you love any of the items in the bus, you can find all of them (and more) here!


  1. So this is beautiful. But not practical for travel with all the decor. But well done none the less.

  2. So this is beautiful. But not practical for travel with all the decor. But well done none the less.