Have You Been to Leaders Breakfast?

Raise your hand if you’ve been to an IIDA Leaders Breakfast. If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the eight cities that hosts the annual international series, your hand should be up. As one of the premiere events select IIDA chapters have the opportunity to host, Leaders Breakfast is the perfect way to cultivate connections and change your morning routine – leaving you feeling inspired! With the support of the event’s International Benefactors, Herman Miller and Interior Design Media, Leaders Breakfast is the place to be when you want to impress your clients or showcase your company to hundreds of industry associates. With record numbers of attendance at the first two breakfasts of 2015, the series is gaining the momentum it well deserves.

The IIDA Leaders Breakfast event series celebrates design’s importance in the global market place by honoring the people who are both the legacy and future of design. Each chosen host city organizes a breakfast that features a renowned keynote speaker to provoke and encourage new ideas, and recognize one city-selected honoree who has made significant contributions to the design industry. Honorees receive the coveted Leadership of Excellence Award and a special edition Charles and Ray Eames stool awarded by Herman Miller.

Image courtesy of Herman Miller

Image courtesy of Herman Miller

The sunrise networking gala begins around 7 a.m., when top-tier professionals from the largest companies in the industry start pouring through the doors. Designers, architects, directors, CEOs, industry members, media, sales reps, dealers, and students join forces, socializing and networking before the event. Soon enough, the coffee reception feels like a cocktail party filled with chatter, laughter, and camera flashes.

The Leaders Breakfast program begins by recognizing the honoree. The introduction and acceptance speeches are very moving; giving the audience an understanding of the path the honoree took to get here. The honoree for the 2015 Leaders Breakfast Atlanta, Stephen Swicegood, IIDA, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Principal and Managing Director, Gensler Atlanta, reflected on leadership and early conversations with Art Gensler himself. Swicegood urged the audience to “let go of who you think you need to be and be who you are.”

The program concludes with a thought-provoking, renowned keynote speaker to jumpstart your day with a dose of creative inspiration. Having had the opportunity to get to know the keynote speakers prior to the show, it is interesting to see their cool demeanor before they present as larger-than-life characters on stage. The 2015 Leaders Breakfast New York keynote, Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture & Design and Director of Research & Development at MoMA, was calm as anyone simply attending the breakfast. She leaned over and asked me if her hair looked okay prior to stepping on stage before 700+ attendees. Her presentation awed the audience by combining art with critical analysis. Antonelli’s speech referenced MIT Media Lab’s Neri Oxman and her silkworm project, which Oxman presented at the 2014 Chicago Leaders Breakfast. “Design is not only cute chairs and fast cars, but it is also origami, 3-D printing, and, as much as possible, design is critical,” said Antonelli.

During the Atlanta breakfast, I spoke with keynote David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas, who saw the breakfast as “the dichotomy of someone who spent their whole career in the industry paired with someone from the outside who is providing an outside voice,” and described the event as “not just a meal for your body, but a meal for your mind.” His speech inspired audiences to recognize how to get better ideas by growing their network and collaborating differently.

Not all Leaders Breakfast keynote speakers have messages of art or design, or even creativity.  The upcoming fall and winter keynotes will stretch from award-winning writer Cheryl Strayed, who will tell her powerful story of endurance, to Jonathan Perelman,  Vice President of Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, who will address how to create shareable, social content and offer insight into how to maximize the content’s impact.

Whether your pocket is full of business cards of new contacts or your head is full of new ideas and perspective, a morning at Leaders Breakfast will always leave you with something brilliant to take away.

Learn more about Leaders Breakfast and register to attend an event near you!

Advocacy Featured Image

Advocacy Spotlight: Rocky Mountain Chapter

Karen Hailey, IIDA, is the Vice President of Advocacy for the Rocky Mountain Chapter. She recently created an excellent presentation that covered the basics of interior design advocacy using Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software. We asked her a few questions about the presentation and advocating in a state without pending legislation.

What inspired you to create the presentation?
Explaining legislative issues can be tricky. We really needed a presentation that was stripped down and simplified in order to focus on a single message. The intent was to make the content clear and, most importantly, usable. In addition, we needed to present definitive and concise answers to some of the misconceptions and opposition that we face when advocating for interior design. None of the content is new or groundbreaking but is just gathered and presented in a fresh way.

Prezi isn’t the usual presentation format, but it makes for a more dynamic presentation. How did the chapter respond to a new presentation style?
One of the best features that Prezi has to offer is its ability to organize information graphically. The ability to make dynamic thought bubbles and visually describe the links between concepts really helps to explain a multifaceted topic. The audience seemed to respond really well to the presentation format. The less formal nature of it seemed to make it easier for people to open up and participate in discussion. I didn’t see anyone fall asleep, so I think that’s a good sign.

What impact has the CEU and your advocacy efforts had on the chapter and level of interest from members?
The CEU presentation sparked great discussion and helped to empower the participants to be advocates in their day-to-day lives. IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter’s advocacy efforts continue to evolve. This CEU was a kick off to a fresh and intentional approach to outreach for us. One of the main messages in the presentation is that making change for the profession is accomplished by grassroots advocating efforts. The more our coworkers, friends, families, and colleges understand the health, safety, and welfare impacts of interior design, the more they can spread this clear message to their networks. My goal for our chapter is to give the design community the right tools to do this.

How do you promote advocacy in your chapter when there isn’t an active interior design bill in your state?
In Colorado, we do not currently have an active bill. The purpose of creating the aforementioned presentation was to drum up advocacy efforts in this “off-season.” This can be the most important time to promote advocacy because you are building a network base of supporters in order to be prepared for new interior design legislation. This is also a time to take a step back and critically analyze past efforts.

During an inactive legislative year, it is important to stay present. Work with your coalition and lobbyists to get designers in front of legislators and start changing perceptions when the stakes are not so high. Most importantly, remind people to continually advocate for the future of the Interior Design profession.

What do you wish other people knew about interior design legislation?
It is a long process to turn a big ship. It takes a LOT of small conversations to change a big perception. These grassroots efforts require everyone’s participation. Our coalitions can’t reach all of the people that the individuals in the design community can. It is crucial to promote the profession through support of the coalitions and through individual advocacy efforts. It is often difficult to get coalition membership but it is a vital component in influencing legislative outcomes. The coalitions employ lobbyists and act as the legislative watchdogs for the profession; they need member support.

View the presentation!

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Advocacy Spotlight: Intermountain Chapter and IDEAL for Utah

Interior Design Education and Legislation for Utah (IDEAL for Utah), the Utah interior design coalition, introduced interior design legislation during the Utah State Legislature’s 2015 session. The Intermountain Chapter, IDEAL for Utah, and their lobbyist, Amy Coombs, have worked diligently and passionately to support the legislation, which was introduced in both the Utah House of Representatives and the Utah Senate. We reached out to Coombs and Melanie Bahl, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, President of IDEAL for Utah, and asked them a few questions about the process and all of their hard work.

What helped the coalition decide this year was the year to introduce legislation?
Once we were able to detail the strategy and received positive feedback from those we tested the proposal with, we felt an attempt was warranted. We were like “blind mice” not knowing what we needed to do until we found a knowledgeable lobbyist, who was familiar with the industry.

What has surprised you about the legislative process?
We have been most surprised at how quickly things change. [We learned that] the legislative process is challenging. We also realized how uncertain things are and how relationships are interconnected. We have also learned the importance to leverage relationships whether it’s a family friend, a client, [or] a constituent. It’s necessary to connect individuals to build solid relationships.

We are also surprised how much is decided upon prior to the committee meetings. You must feel confident going into a committee meeting that you have provided the legislators with enough information that they feel confident voting in favor.

We’ve learned that it’s never too early to plant seeds and build relationships. Where we were once terrified to talk with legislators, we found that they are just like us, passionate with their beliefs and want to make things better. Have confidence when you speak with them knowing that you are the expert and it is your responsibility to educate them. Don’t underestimate the power in numbers — numbers contacting the legislators, numbers sending letters, numbers attending committee meetings.

Lastly, we are surprised how you can do everything right and not get the outcome desired.

What do you wish other people knew about interior design legislation?
Great question! We wish that the public was more aware of the value that interior designers bring to projects in their communities. We wish legislators would not be so dismissive at first regarding the issue. We don’t know how many times we have said, “It is so much more than pillows and paint.” Most people do not know the kind of projects that interior designers work on, the amount of education that is often required, and the current barriers to practice.
Furthermore, we want interior designers to realize that they are being limited. We wish interior designers were aware of the limitations placed on their ability to practice independently to their full [ability].

How has the IIDA Intermountain Chapter supported the legislative efforts?
[The Intermountain Chapter] has been instrumental in our efforts. Specifically, [the chapter] has offered support via the many conference calls where we discuss what has happened in previous states, evaluating bill language, communications/ email campaigns, and especially in educational materials. A large factor in calculating success comes from the availability of accurate information and the accessibility of the advocacy team at IIDA is a tremendous benefit to coalitions.

Mentors from Chipman Design Architecture

Wrapping Up Student Mentoring Week 2015

The ability to create inspiring, functional spaces with respect to well-being, safety, building codes, and more is a skill set necessary for interior design students. Just as important is the ability to connect, communicate, and gain valuable experience with established professionals in the industry. As one of the most dynamic mentoring programs in the Interior Design industry, IIDA Student Mentoring Week provides students with the opportunity to make this connection.

“I joined IIDA when I heard about the mentoring program for students. The idea of being able to spend a whole day at a real firm and see professionals in their work environment was thrilling,” said Diana Dambaeva, Student IIDA. “I learned a lot about the value of networking and the various niches existing within the industry.”

Student Mentoring Week was established as a platform to provide meaningful networking experience for both mentors and students. This year saw over 800 mentors and students paired, with participation levels rivaling some of the highest in the history of the annual program. Current design professionals, manufacturer representatives, dealers, and anyone with a career in the Interior Design industry are encouraged to volunteer as a mentor. All active IIDA Student Members are encouraged to sign up for a day of job-shadowing experience. Participating firms have included Gensler, Perkins+Will, IA Interior Architects, among others. Companies including Herman Miller, Kimball Office, Steelcase, and AIS have also hosted students throughout the program’s long history.

Though the program revolves around one day of job-shadowing and networking, a number of relationships forged in this experience have resulted in internships and employment for many students—a fact not lost on potential participants.

While students benefit from the experience and advice as they navigate the waters of the professional world of Interior Design, mentors are also afforded the opportunity to inspire the next generation of designers by exposing students to techniques and technology not available in the classroom.

“Students at that age are eager to learn and experience,” said Patricia Rotondo, IIDA, Principal at Chipman Design Architecture. “We design branded environments using 3-D visualization and prototype design techniques in multiple markets that students couldn’t experience otherwise.”

Many students who have participated in the program in previous years have given back to the interior design community by volunteering as mentors in their later professional years. The cyclical nature of the event inspires today’s students to do the same. “It was a very precious moment for me as a student to meet mentors in the professional field,” said Aidan Han, Student IIDA. “That encourages me a lot to become a good mentor in the future.”

Want to be part of the Student Mentoring Program? Registration for next year begins in November for mentors and students! For more information about the Student Mentoring Program, visit the program page or contact Beatrice Brittan, Student Outreach Coordinator, at

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Legal Recognition of Interior Design Matters

For over 20 years IIDA has supported the legal recognition of interior designers who work in code-impacted environments. Our members protect the lives of millions at work, home, school, in healthcare facilities, hotels, and many other public spaces everyday. Commercial interior designers must be experts in building, fire and life safety, and ADA codes that affect the health and well-being of those who occupy interior commercial spaces everyday.

As one of the first states to regulate the practice of Interior Design, Florida’s current law continues to be upheld as one of the strongest interior design laws in the United States. Interior designers in Florida are required to register in the state in order to practice in commercial interior spaces because the practice of interior design does in fact affect the health and well-being of the public, which is why Florida has maintained that interior designers should be regulated.

Legal recognition of Interior Design may meet challenges from various opponents from across the country, but as the preeminent commercial interior design association, IIDA will continue to maintain that our members distinctly affect the health and well-being of the public and should be licensed to do work in the code-impacted environment.

Currently there are challenges to interior design regulation in many states, and IIDA offers its support to members and professional colleagues for regulation. For instance, we fully support the Illinois interior design bill currently in the legislative process and agree that those working in the code-impacted environment should have a combination of education, experience, and examination in order to practice.

For further information or questions on advocacy efforts led by IIDA, please contact the Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs Emily Kluczynski at

IIDA Advocacy Department: Interior Design vs Interior Decorating

POTM Featured Image

Nasiri Flat Weave Collections

Lemon Lime Mazandaran

Nasiri, known in the carpet industry for 20 years for producing fine handmade carpets, is proud to introduce the Flat Weave Collections. These unique flat weave carpets are crafted from hand-carded wool and dyes. All colors and sizes are fully customizable. The Flat Weave Collections include the Mazandaran, Herringbone, and Mid-Century Modern collections.

The Mazandaran Collection features expressive designs and colors evoking modernist painting, architecture, and music through an ancient technique. Each carpet has its own unique character. These carpets not only act as floor coverings, they are considered collectable art.

Featured in Dering Hall as “January’s most popular rugs and textiles,” the Herringbone Collection blends the ancient herringbone pattern with the bright colors of today. Representing strength and direction, the herringbone pattern was first seen in the ancient Roman Empire over 2,000 years ago. Nasiri always looks to the past while innovating for the future.

Mid-Century ModernMid-Century Modern
Nasiri’s latest flat weave collection is procured from the mid-century modern era. The Mid-Century Modern Collection blends cutting-edge design with the revered tradition of great craftsmanship. Fine art and quality craftsmanship are the two main components Nasiri considers while sourcing the collection of mid-century modern carpets. Nasiri has spent countless hours sorting through hundreds of rugs to bring back a select few that possess the quality and versatility that you can’t find in other rugs.

Visit the Nasiri blog to learn more about the Mazandaran and Mid-Century Modern collections. And be sure to check out the Flat Weaves Collections and others on the Nasiri site, or by stopping by booth 500 at the Architectural Digest Show March 19-22 in New York City.