Each day, millions of consumers and employees filter through countless retail stores, making design paramount to the shopping experience. But while interior design often takes center stage, the products that go into a retail space also play a key role in creating an experience that connects shoppers to the culture of a brand. With the rapid pace of change in the retail industry, how are product designers innovating to keep consumers coming back? Two past winners of the annual GlobalShop Product Design Competition shared their insights with IIDA.
Recognizing the Value of Product Design
It’s no secret that sales in traditional retail stores have been sluggish in recent years, and e-commerce growth is outpacing in-store growth by nearly five to one. But the new dynamic is creating opportunities for product designers.
“The visual impact and presentation of a space is an important part of what brings people into the store in the first place,” said David Naranjo, vice president of creative at Greneker, which was honored as the Best of Competition winner in the 2016 GlobalShop Product Design Competition for RUN Mannequins. “Brands now understand that they need to spend time, money, and talent on their retail locations.”
Ultimately, the bottom line for companies that invest in product design speaks volumes. “Smaller retailers have been hesitant to purchase mannequins due to the expense, but are now beginning to realize the importance of visual display,” Naranjo noted. “They see sales increase and can’t believe the difference remerchandising or redesigning can make.”
Playing a Role in Retail Theater
For retailers, one size does not fit all. Karen Andersen, marketing manager at Sedia Systems, maker of JumpSeat Collection, a fixed-seating solution for retailers as well as other industries, sees customization as the key. “Every store is looking for new and innovative solutions that grab people’s attention,” she said.
Naranjo agreed that retailers now understand that they need to make their spaces a destination. “People need to be wowed and have an experience that they can’t get elsewhere,” he explained. “Creating retail theater has become more important with the rise of online shopping.”
Naranjo knows that when a mannequin embodies a brand (think of a mannequin mid-stride or in the warrior one yoga pose at an athletic store) it creates a sense of excitement and realism.
Participating in the Design Process
The process of a store redesign has become more collaborative as retail companies realize that all aspects of a store—from branding to materials, technology to merchandising, and point of sale to furniture—must be integrated for a cohesive brand experience. “It’s about creating a harmonious environment,” Naranjo added. “We can help designers create the right opportunities for merchandising. Sharing our thoughts about what is needed, expressing that to them, and working together to figure it out is important.”
Having recently entered the retail market with the JumpSeat Collection, which was also recognized as a winner of the 2016 GlobalShop Product Design Competition, Andersen sees the design process as just that—a process. “We have to work together to create a customizable product,” she said. “We want the retail space that the designer has in their head to come to life, so we consult with them.”
Join IIDA at Globalshop 2017
This month, IIDA heads to GlobalShop 2017, the world’s largest annual show for retail design and shopper marketing. There, winners of the GlobalShop Product Design Competition, presented by IIDA in conjunction with Emerald Expositions, will be on display. IIDA will also host a panel of experts for the program “What Clients Want: Emerging Trends in Retail Design,” a thought-provoking discussion about the influence of retail design. The panel will highlight cutting-edge retail design case studies from the recently released “What Clients Want: Essential Conversations about Retail Design.” The latest volume in the renowned “What Clients Want” book series features 16 international retail design projects. For more information, visit iida.org.
This post was originally published in Interiors & Sources. Featured image: 2016 IIDA GlobalShop Product Design Competition category winner in flooring, Shaw Hospitality Group for their product, Noble Materials Custom.
Research shows that mentoring can help ensure the academic and professional success of students and protégés. Mentorship is especially crucial now as employers recognize the need to engage and retain millennials. Every year, IIDA pairs thousands of students and mentors for a day of job shadowing through the annual IIDA Student Mentoring Program. Networking opportunities and career insights are expected, but bridging the gap between generations has become an added and significant benefit of the program. After last year’s Student Mentoring Program, we caught up with three students to get their take on how the program impacted them and what lessons they’ll be taking as they embark on their professional design careers.
Mentoring Motivated Me to Build My Professional Network
Student: Krista Neerdaels, interior architecture student, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Mentor: Jamie Carley, Flad Architects, Madison, Wisconsin
There were three of us who attended the mentoring day together. [Our mentor Jamie] spent time showing us the types of projects she was working on, walked us through the programs they use, and gave us insight on what a typical day is like for her. We then went out for lunch, and afterwards she set up a few meetings with people who work in different departments at Flad. Later, we discussed specifics on how to move into the professional world—advice on resumes, interview etiquette, and portfolios.
An important aspect about Flad that I appreciated was that the designers, architects, and engineers all work in the same space, so all departments are involved when a project begins. I believe it is very important to have integration of design and architecture as soon as possible for the benefit of the final product. The mentorship experience also motivated me to continue building my professional network to gain even more confidence about my future. It was an inspiring day that encouraged me to find a company that is the perfect fit for me.
Mentoring Intensified My Passion for Design
Student: Heba Toulan Pennington, interior design student, Houston Community College
Mentor: Catrina Wyrick, Abel Design Group, Houston, Texas
I signed up for the [Student Mentoring Program] to gather a full understanding of how interior design/architecture functions on a daily basis. My mentor and I spent time discussing what a typical work day is. Then, we went to a construction site to see how the contractor works with the architect. My favorite part of the day was the session where we covered building codes in elevations and plans.
The program intensified my passion for design. I came away inspired and intrigued by the process of designing.
Mentoring Solidified My Career Path as a Designer
Student: Jonathan Butler-Knutson, interior design student, University of Minnesota
Mentor: Maren Idso, NELSON Upper Midwest, Minneapolis, Minnesota
My favorite part of the [Student Mentoring Program] was being able to see what it is like to visit a site and let the space help inform design solutions. After receiving a quick overview of her project work, Maren and I, along with her coworker Matt, walked to Gaviidae, a five-story geometric art deco style structure that is part of the Minneapolis downtown skyways system. Upon arrival, we noted that there was very little foot traffic on the first floor. The second floor, bustling with traffic, drew its occupants from the skyway system to the retail and restaurants that are present in the space. There was a complete lack of business presence on the third and fourth floor, and only about 25 percent occupancy on the fifth floor.
After recognizing some of the issues that had been amplifying the issue of low tenant occupancy, the three of us sat down and worked through a plan of a potential tenant space. The best part of the experience was how willing Maren was to let me assist her. After arriving back at the office, she let me sit down and rework the plan in Revit based on my suggestions.
My mentorship experience solidified my belief that design is the field for me and sparked excitement about the work I will get to do.
The 2017 IIDA Student Mentoring Program is currently underway. If you are a student participating in this year’s program, apply for the Wilsonart Essay Competition for a chance to $1,000 and a trip to Chicago during NeoCon 2017. Search #IIDAsmp on Facebook and Instagram to see the Student Mentoring Program in action.
Every year, IIDA pairs two students with an interior designer for a one-day crash course on a day in the life of a designer. Student Mentoring Week, one of IIDA’s most dynamic program offerings, is the catalyst for many IIDA student members who wish to begin a mentoring relationship with a professional interior designer. By the time this column is published, nearly 500 IIDA student members will have made meaningful connections with the best in the interior design industry. The goal is for the students and their mentors to continue buildings connections like these after the
day is over.
There is no doubt that a strong mentoring relationship can play a huge role in a student’s academic and professional success. Numerous studies support the positive effects of mentoring relationships. Many companies like Boeing and Deloitte implement professional mentoring programs to develop and retain younger employees. But if you think mentoring is simply weekly Starbucks dates with a senior-level professional or a quick way to score professional success—including a job—think again.
The reality is that mentoring relationships require a serious investment of time, patience, and effort for both the mentor and mentee. While a mentor’s role is to guide, a mentee’s role holds just as much weight, if not more. Ultimately, you—the mentee—have primary say in your mentoring relationship. You initiate the mentoring relationship, you are responsible for nurturing it, and you can end it. Here are some tips to help you in your quest to find a mentor and be the mentee that mentors want.
Define the Relationship
Mentorship is a word that conjures many notions and expectations.
Some students come into a mentoring relationship expecting their mentor to offer them a job or provide them lifelong coaching without first determining if the partnership is a good one. Have a strong definition of what mentorship means to you and use that when seeking teachers, designers, peers, and work colleagues you admire and pursue. If you’re having trouble identifying what you want from your relationship, ask yourself:
- Do I want to emulate my mentor’s career or am I looking for someone who will act like a trusted friend?
- Do I want someone who will help me search for educational and life opportunities in addition to career opportunities?
- How long do I want my mentor in my life? Do I want someone who knows me enough to write a sufficient letter of reference or do I want someone who will be a guiding figure throughout my entire career?
Be proactive in your search for a mentor, considering goals for the relationship and how long it will last. Understand why you need mentorship and how it can help you succeed professionally.
Once you have your mentorship goals in mind, communicate them clearly to your potential mentor and ask what expectations the mentor has. Discuss and decide upon the relationship you want to build together in advance. The most successful mentoring relationships are those founded on clear goals and ground rules. Be upfront—your mentor will thank you.
Seek Multiple Mentors
Traditionally, mentoring relationships are characterized by a two-person model with a senior person discussing a student’s goals, needs, weaknesses, and accomplishments. In a perfect world, one person is enough to help you tackle all your concerns. But can you really have just one mentor? You will most likely need multiple mentors of various ages, skills, and traits to guide you with each of your needs.
Research on mentoring relationships and programs shows that mentoring is most effective when the mentee has a diverse constellation of mentors, from a traditional primary mentor to peer and short-term ones as well. Do you aspire to be an interior designer with your own firm? Consider reaching out to both an interior designer and a business owner. Each person brings different perspectives and wisdom. Take your search further—explore outside your boundaries and tap into the networks of your friends and colleagues.
Do Your Homework and Invest
Prepare for each meeting with your mentor as if it’s a task for your job. Dress professionally. Show up on time with a notebook and pen, ready to listen and take notes. Research your mentor’s interests, ask questions, and talk about the why behind the answers. Share your portfolio.
Mentoring is a two-way street. Go beyond “checking in” and give your mentor opportunities to offer insight and advice. As you get to know your mentor, think of ways you can add value to the relationship. Bring up a recent news story or study that you think would be of interest or provide your mentor a new networking connection.
Your mentor will challenge you. Giving you honest feedback is his or her job. Come into the relationship appreciating that there is a chance you will reexamine your goals and consider new ideas. While setting clear goals and objectives at the beginning of the relationship is crucial, also realize that these goals and objectives may change as the relationship progresses.
Do you get along with your mentor? If the fit doesn’t feel right, bow out. Mentoring should be established as no-fault relationship where either you or your mentor can end it for good reason at any time without risk of harm to your respective careers.
When done right, mentoring is a powerful tool that can change careers and lives. So be fearless in what you want and humble when someone agrees to be your mentor. You’ll be surprised by how much people want to help you if you just ask for it.
This post was originally published in Interiors & Sources.
Airport design is reaching new heights. With hundreds of millions of travelers passing through these spaces every year, designers are tasked with delivering a seamless and comfortable experience to regular business commuters and first-time fliers alike. So what makes a great traveler experience? Aviation designers Wilson Rayfield, AIA, LEED AP, executive vice president at Gresham, Smith and Partners, Richmond, Virginia, USA, and Derrick Choi, AIA, LEED AP, principal and senior architect at Populous, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, check in to chat on this topic.
Perspective: What elements do the most to improve traveler experience?
Wilson Rayfield: We’re looking at things that improve the passenger experience in terms of efficiency, wayfinding, and access. Often, it’s that intuitive wayfinding—trying to create as few decision points as possible and provide visual cues to your destination. For example, in the international terminal in Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the ticket counters, the floor pattern, the ceiling pattern, and the lighting are angled and lead visually toward your direction of travel. All the lines lead your eye toward the direction that you need to be moving in.
Derrick Choi: I’m a big advocate of a passenger-centric design approach based on three basic principles: convenience, control, and connectivity. Passengers, no matter how seasoned they are, just need to be in control of where they are. They’ve got to be connected physically, mentally, and, these days, technologically. Once all these elements are achieved, a passenger can actually begin to engage and experience the terminal facilities and start to make decisions as to what they like and what they don’t like.
Perspective: Elaborate features — such as the world’s largest indoor waterfall at Singapore’s Changi Airport — have become a mainstay of modern airport design. Are today’s airports too focused on flash?
Rayfield: I think that has a lot to do with the context and with the community. What’s appropriate in Changi, Singapore is probably not appropriate in Nashville, Tennessee, [USA]. It’s a matter of finding things that make the airport represent the region it serves. We did a modernization project in Norfolk, Virginia, [USA] recently. With the design of the terrazzo flooring, integrating some of the nautical elements there, we refer back to the history of the region without being overwhelming. It’s part of the fabric of the design and the finishes, so it’s something that is recognizable if you find it. But it doesn’t stand out and scream at you.
Passengers, no matter how seasoned they are, just need to be in control of where they are.
Choi: I think every community has a unique story that they’d like to tell, like the Victorian-era train stations in Europe. But ultimately, financial viability is key for these public gateways. This emphasis on revenue — and the reality that passenger travel patterns have dramatically shifted in the past 15 years — has really put the emphasis on customer convenience, amenities, and concessions. Because of that, there’s a bit of a misperception that it’s all about these elaborate elements, particularly in the global context. These airports are pulling out all the stops — not only to make their operations highly affordable and attractive to airlines, but to attract passengers from all over the world.
Perspective: What future trends will shape airports?
Rayfield: I think security is going to drive airport design more than anything. Instead of having a secure side and a non-secure side with a single security checkpoint in the center, the entire airport environment will be a secure environment where they’re identifying passengers through facial recognition and other technologies. Security is going to become ubiquitous throughout the entire facility, and I think it’s going to start to become more invisible. After security, another driver is the movement toward a greater reliance on self-service passenger processing for check-in, bag check, and similar tasks, which gives passengers more control over their travel experiences and has significant repercussions for terminal design.
Choi: I think technology will continue to be a huge driver of change in several aspects. It’ll radically transform the way we think about the building. Many traditional passenger processes and physical touchpoints are being transformed, repurposed, and even blurred — creating what will hopefully be a more frictionless user environment. For example, in many airports, they’re ripping out your traditional hold room seating and creating more user-friendly spaces that are served by iPads and food service vendors that let you tap and order. Being able to have that technology will change the way you use a facility and spend money.
IIDA Campus Center: Philadelphia University
IIDA Chapter: Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Co-Presidents: Christine Migliore, Student IIDA, and Rachel Thode, Student IIDA
Secretary: Kaitlyn DeBeras, Student IIDA
Events Coordinators: Caitlin Bakofsky, Student IIDA, and Bridget Sax, Student IIDA
Treasurer: Julia Strange, Student IIDA
IIDA Liaison: Emily Nelson, Student IIDA
ASID Liaison: Chela Humber, Student IIDA
AIAS Liaison: Gabriela Morales, Student IIDA
Social Media Coordinator: Paige Hocker, Student IIDA
Number of Student Members: 93
IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each one is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. We want to highlight the diversity of IIDA Student Member experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here is what we learned after sitting down with the IIDA Campus Center at Philadelphia University.
IIDA HQ: Tell us about your campus center – What does your Board of Directors look like? How does your campus center operate?
IIDA Philadelphia University Campus Center: Our board consists of interior design students of all grades. We have a secretary, event coordinators, a treasurer, an IIDA liaison, AIAS liaison, ASID liaison, and a social media coordinator. We hold monthly board meetings, which allow us to come together and gather our ideas and plan events. These meetings are typically held a week before our monthly campus meeting where all ideas and events are then discussed with all of our campus center members. These meetings allow us to get any feedback from all of our members on any suggestions for events we hold, as well as answering any questions they may have.
IIDA HQ: What kind of events and activities do you host at your campus center?
PU: This past semester we held Milkshake Monday to help raise money for future IIDA events. This was open to all students and faculty on campus to gain awareness of IIDA.
We also hold a mentor-mentee program within our campus in which we pair underclassman with upperclassman. This gives the underclassman an extra resource to go to for help regarding design and any other classes. We held a pizza social to introduce the mentees to their mentors. At the end of the semester we also held a potluck, which was open to all students in our interior design program – not just those who are IIDA members. This allowed everyone to come together and encouraged those who are not already members to join.
This upcoming semester we plan to hold firm and showroom visits as well as host our annual product showcase to help familiarize students with the industry.
IIDA HQ: What are your favorite or most successful events and activities that you host?
PU: Our potluck was our most successful event that we have held so far. We had a significant turnout that included not only our students but faculty as well. This event allowed everyone to get involved since it was open to all of interior design. It was also a relaxing event to have before the end of the semester.
IIDA HQ: And because we have to ask: What is the biggest benefit of being an IIDA Member and having an active campus center?
PU: The biggest benefit is that we have a constant support system. This support system is created through our mentor-mentee program. Since we do hold events that are open to all of the interior design students on campus, another benefit of being an IIDA Student Member is becoming involved with the Philadelphia Chapter through networking events and competing in competitions. There is always an opportunity for networking and meeting so many new people! Being a member also allows students to participate in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program, which is beneficial in gaining further industry knowledge.
Over the last 18 months, the IIDA New England Chapter – with help from IIDA HQ – has hired a lobbying firm, actively engaged with ASID legislative leaders, reached out to the Massachusetts design community, met with lawmakers and officials, and introduced an interior design registration bill into the Massachusetts State Legislature. Undertaking an initiative of this size and scope is no small task and requires a team effort as well as strong leadership. Aimee M. Schefano, Vice President of Advocacy for the New England Chapter, has led the charge, working diligently to convey the importance of this initiative both to the Chapter board and local design leaders.
The lesson learned by IIDA New England? IIDA Chapters have power when it comes to advocacy. Board members are leaders in the design community, and as such, have an amplified voice. When those voices are conveying the same message, real change can happen. If an issue is important to the profession, it is too important to sit on the sidelines.
In addition to the amplified voice of board members, IIDA Chapters can reallocate funding to support advocacy initiatives. While there are many priorities in a Chapter’s budget— from professional development initiatives to events—boards can help rearrange how funding is used, create new revenue streams, or prioritize advocacy and legislation above other initiatives. IIDA New England demonstrated this by using their chapter funds to engage with one of the preeminent lobbying firms in New England.
It has also proven important for the Chapter to work together with other associations in order to build a strong network of professionals working to advance a common goal. Schefano and Past-President Corinne Barthelemy have worked with ASID New England to create the Massachusetts Advocacy Council of ASID and IIDA, operating under the two chapters and facilitating the shared mission to advance the profession of interior design.
“Educating our profession is crucial to progress. Part of that education requires IIDA members to work collaboratively with other industry leaders. We are never stronger than when we all stand together against adversity,” said Schefano. “In Massachusetts, the design community is represented by a multitude of associations. What has helped us evolve our advocacy strategy is acknowledging that ultimately we are all interior designers, and that is what is most important. “
Through unified voices, effective funding, and organizational collaborations, IIDA New England has set a foundation that will surely lead to advocacy successes in Massachusetts.
For more on interior design advocacy, visit advocacy.iida.org.