Last year, the Trustees of the IIDA Foundation added a new initiative to the Designing for the Future Campaign: A portion of the funds raised from the campaign sponsored five IIDA Student Members for an all-expenses paid trip to the 2018 IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter’s Student Conference. The annual Student Conference brings together an array of top students, educators, and design industry professionals for a multi-day professional enrichment experience that includes project and firm tours, mock interviews, and a variety of other networking opportunities. Here, these five students talk about what they took away from the experience, the value of portfolio reviews, and what getting outside of your comfort zone can do for yourself and your career.
Making Fast Friends
With my sponsorship from IIDA, I was able to attend the 18th annual IIDA Texas Oklahoma Chapter Student Conference, an opportunity I otherwise wouldn’t have financially been able to do. I was the only student from my school and from the state of Utah to attend the conference — I was pretty nervous. However, on the first day, I rode the bus from the hotel to the pep rally at the Haworth showroom. I randomly sat by another student who was also there by herself from Kansas. We realized that we were both recipients of the same sponsorship from IIDA. That evening we met another student from California who had been sponsored to attend the conference and we all quickly became friends.
I participated in the portfolio review and mock interviews. I was nervous but I was paired with incredible designers who were very genuine, talented, and eager to help me. They gave me great feedback and comments on my portfolio and how to interview with ease.
Allison Newell, Student IIDA, Utah State University, Inter Mountain Chapter
Realizing What You Want to Focus On
I’ve always been told that to be the best designer, you have to walk out on a limb, make that extra effort, and step out of your comfort zone. Well, in my two years of traveling from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Houston and Dallas, I can say that this conference has taught me some of the most valuable and interesting lessons about being the best designer I can be!
This year my experience was nothing short of amazing. Each year the Texas/Oklahoma Chapter make us Alabama students feel so welcome with their generosity and hospitality. Seriously, these volunteers who put together this conference give their hearts and souls to making this the most educational and rewarding experience for students. I have always known that I wanted to be a commercial designer, however, it was at last year’s student conference that I realized I wanted to focus on corporate and office design and create spaces that make work environments enjoyable.
Carmen Jenkins, Student IIDA, University of Alabama, Alabama Chapter
Surrounding Yourself with Passionate People
This was my first time ever attending the IIDA Student Conference. I’ll admit that I had no idea what to expect but the whole time being there was such a learning experience because I got to meet so many students that were just like me who knew what it was like to stay late in the studio to complete projects. It was so inspiring to see how passionate other people are about interior design, why they chose this career path, and what they are striving to be. There was so much to take in and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Nicolle Soriano, Student IIDA, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific Chapter
Learning How to Stand Up for Your Design
Any professional that I met, I made sure to grab their business cards. If they didn’t have one, I took a picture of their name tag. I now have a phone full of name tags and business cards. Each one of the professionals encouraged us to tap into their resources, ask them questions, email them about products, ideas, resumes, portfolios, etc. They wanted to help us succeed.
Our keynote speaker for the event, Primo Orpilla, co-founder of the firm Studio O+A, left all of us with some very wise words. He told us to find our voice, define our narrative, leverage space types to building flexibility, and to customize and curate success. We need to be in control of the design. Stand up for our design. We need to understand the things that make the space a memorable experience. Have empathy for the client and the space, not sympathy. He concluded his talk by reminding us that our design can change attitudes and how the users treat one another. Your designs have an impact!
Kellie DeVries, Student IIDA, Michigan State University, Michigan Chapter
The Power of a Portfolio Review
Our final day was loaded with panels and speakers, filling my head with very valuable information about stepping out into the world after school successfully. The best part of my day, however, was the portfolio review. After two conversations with a very kind Susan Bellson from JSI she pulled me over and set me up to do my review with Elizabeth Trupiano from Corgan and I got very lucky with that. Elizabeth asked great questions of me, listened intently and gave helpful critiques, and then sat and answered all of my questions until we ran out of time. I loved making friends and connections that I’m sure will last me years.
Chelsea Bainbridge, Student IIDA, Kansas State University, Mid America Chapter
To learn more about IIDA student membership, including professional development and leadership opportunities, visit iida.org.
This post was contributed by Bill Weeman, IIDA, CID, president of the Interior Design Coalition of California and former vice president of advocacy of the Northern California Chapter.
One of the first steps in being an educated advocate is knowing your state’s current law and how it works. It’s an important first step in understanding why commercial interior design advocacy matters.
In California, interior design advocates in the state should know that California law provides for the certification of interior designers per the Business and Professions Code section 5800, et seq.(BPC 5800). This code section reserves the title of “Certified Interior Designer” (CID) and delegates the evaluation of interior designers and the ability to award the title to a nonprofit “interior design organization.” No specific organization is designated by law to administer this title – unless you’re the California Council for Interior Design Certification (CCIDC).
CCIDC may provide the stamp to an individual who provides “evidence of passage of an interior design examination approved by that interior design organization” along with a combination of education and diversified interior design experience. California is the only certification administered by an independent, private organization; it’s also the only state with its own exam.
The Interior Design Exam (IDEX), created by CCIDC, is the only permissible qualifying examination for CIDs in California, but it’s not recognized by any other state or by the federal government. Since California uses its own exam for certification, there is no reciprocity with other states, which makes it more difficult for California interior designers to expand their portfolios outside of California.
Additionally, the acceptance of plans with a CID stamp for review by local building departments is inconsistent across the state. Existing law provides local building departments discretion to accept or reject plans by a CID. Subsequently, in many jurisdictions across the state, CIDs cannot independently obtain the necessary permits on their own work – work that is squarely within their scope of practice and qualifications.
So what does this have to do with why we advocate?
We advocate to raise the bar, to ensure that qualified interior designers can practice to their fullest capabilities by providing them with the tools needed to succeed in California both independently and as part of a corporate partnership. Strengthening the profession benefits California consumers by increasing competition and ensuring access for interior designers to work independently, as they are qualified to do, in non-structural, non-seismic code-based built environments.
We advocate for using a combination of education, experience, and passage of the nationally recognized NCIDQ exam as the qualification requirements. We advocate to be recognized as “registered design professionals” as defined in the International Building Code, which will enable Registered Interior Designers equal access to the permitting process across the state.
We advocate to eliminate the misunderstanding and misinformation of our profession, and to promote smart policies that move us forward together.
When we, as interior designers, know how state laws impact us, we can be a more educated, stronger advocacy base to make real change for the interior design profession.
For more information on the laws in your state, visit advocacy.iida.org.
This post was contributed by Richard N. Pollack, FIIDA, FAIA, past president of the IIDA International Board.
A very interesting thing happened recently. Capital One decided to spend some serious time, attention, and dollars to develop a workplace initiative focused on office professionals’ “preferences and priorities when it comes to their workplace design, environment, and benefits.” The 2017 Work Environment survey, initiated by Capital One’s Workplace Solutions Group, approached 2,500 subjects—not Capital One employees—with the goal of learning how to provide the best work environment so that their associates can thrive.
Designers and architects have been looking for the holy grail of workplace design for as long as I’ve been in the profession, and it’s refreshing to see a corporate client pick up the charge based on their own agenda. Capital One surveyed 500 office workers in Chicago, Dallas, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., and the results are not surprising and rather encouraging:
Office Design Inspires Innovation
Throughout the survey, a significant majority of professionals reported that more design-forward workplaces help them be more creative and innovative.
Employees Want Flexibility & Collaboration
Professionals, and especially Millennials, crave flexible workspaces that enable social interactions and accommodate all kinds of work styles.
Heightened Interest in Benefits & Environmentally Friendly Initiatives
Professionals have clear preferences on what they want, need, and expect from their employers when it comes to workplace design and on-site benefits.
More granularity shows that 82 percent of respondents believe that companies cannot encourage innovation unless their workplace design and environment is innovative, and 60 percent noted that their current environment does not encourage innovation and a majority find their workplace uninspiring.
The design elements that workers want to see in their workplace are ranked as follows:
62% Natural light
44% Artwork and creative imagery
43% Easily reconfigurable furniture and spaces
37% Collaborative spaces
26% Bold colors
25% Spaces for rest and relaxation
One missing element that has traditionally been a critical component is acoustics.
When considering a new job, two-thirds felt that workplace design is equally or more important than office location with 71 percent of Millennials more likely to believe this compared to 56 percent of Boomers. Eighty-five percent of respondents felt that they have their best ideas when they are able to use flexible workspace options, i.e., an environment that has options for employees to choose how and where they work. I found it surprising, but good, that 62 percent have options outside of a standard desk set-up where they can work throughout the office.
It is truly inspiring for a large corporation such as Capital One to exhibit this “leaning forward” approach – kudos!
Richard N. Pollack, FIIDA, FAIA, is the past president of the IIDA International Board and founder of Pollack Consulting. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Sitting down with a legislator to talk interior design for 10 minutes can be effective, but showing them firsthand what we do often leaves a lasting impression. Site visits—such as bringing a state representative to a design firm, to tour a recent interiors project, or as a guest at an industry event—allow designers to demonstrate the impact of their work in real-life situations. That’s exactly what the IIDA Illinois Chapter did when members engaged a lobbyist to bring state representatives to both NeoCon, the largest commercial interiors show in North America, and the Red Awards, the Illinois Chapter’s annual event recognizing outstanding local design projects. Here, Tom Spanier, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, talks about the value of site visits, how the Illinois Chapter planned these opportunities, and what was learned from the experience.
What was the goal of bringing legislators to NeoCon and the Red Awards?
We wanted to show the legislators that there is more to the interior design field than what is portrayed on television. Interior designers play a crucial role in designing commercial spaces and high profile public spaces. A project relies on team leaders to coordinate the entire design team, including architects, engineers, furniture dealers, and other consultants to successfully complete any given project.
Can you give us a rundown of what you did at the Red Awards and NeoCon to engage with the legislators?
At the Red Awards, the legislators sat in the front row of the auditorium and were acknowledged individually. They like being recognized, so we capitalized on that. Our lobbyist and advocacy committee attended and made sure the legislators were engaged and introduced to various people within the design community. We found the attendees would approach the legislators and have candid conversations about our industry. By the end of the event, there was a line of people looking for a chance to chat with them.
At NeoCon, our lobbyist managed the legislators and ensured they stayed engaged. For this event, it was very busy, so the spectacle and organized chaos kept the legislators interested and intrigued. We set up two tours with furniture showrooms prior to the event. The tour guides for each showroom were high-level executives who offered insights on the Interior Design industry and explained how interior designers work with manufacturers on a daily basis.
What do you think had the biggest impact on the government officials that you brought to NeoCon?
NeoCon is the premiere interior design showcase in the country; it was important to show the legislators the enormity of interior design from a global perspective as well as the economic impact it has on Chicago and the state of Illinois. The Merchandise Mart is also an impressive venue—people from all over the world participate in the show.
What did you learn from these two events?
Legislators truly had fun attending these events! They got a better sense of what we do as a profession and the types of projects we work on. We found it was much easier to talk to the legislators during the events versus going into their offices. We also learned that the legislators may have a limited amount of time to dedicate to any given event, so we needed to be as thoughtful and impactful as possible with what we presented to them. At Neocon, two hours was the maximum amount of time they committed to us as they had other engagements.
Learn how to be an advocate at advocacy.iida.org.
Earlier this year, IIDA recognized Melissa Destree, IIDA, AIA, principal architect, interior designer, Destree Architecture and Design, as the 2017 Advocate of the Year for her dedication and commitment to interior design advocacy. Melissa serves as vice president of advocacy of the IIDA Wisconsin Chapter. After filling a multiyear-long vacancy, Melissa began the process of restructuring and reforming the chapter’s advocacy committee. Here she talks about how the perception of interior design has changed, why advocacy continues to evolve, and the importance of working with lobbyists.
IIDA: Why is advocacy important to you personally?
Melissa: During the 2008 recession, I was dismayed that so many interior designers were let go and architects were going to just ‘do their job.’ As an architect and interior designer, I had a unique perspective and appreciation for both specialties. A few years later, I heard confessions from architects that interior design is complex, fast paced, and demands organizational skills. They had no idea. Having gone through that experience, many architects now appreciate what the commercial interior designer brings to the team. This is what inspired me to get more involved. We all have the power to make change and advocacy is the tool to make our profession stronger.
Why should chapters invest time and money into advocacy?
Advocacy is the conduit to affect change and reinforce legislation to support our profession. We need the enthusiasm of our fellow interior designers to push us forward. Unfortunately, we cannot expect to do this effectively on our own. We need funds to engage lobbyists to assist with advocacy. This past year, our Wisconsin lobbyists have opened so many doors and provided so many opportunities for interior designers in Wisconsin to tell our stories. They helped us quench a threat from the anti-licensure policy wonks and are helping us build momentum to pursue opportunities for the practice of interior design.
Why do you think it’s important to build relationships with your local and state government officials?
This year, at our Capitol Day event, when we met with legislators at the State Capitol, they were overwhelmingly pleased. We introduced ourselves, discussed recent projects, and reinforced that we have a voluntary registration in Wisconsin. We shared how our profession impacts the state economy. We were not there demanding something from our legislators. We were there to build relationships and educate. From that relationship building, we have democrat and republican supporters of the interior design profession. This momentum has encouraged us to propose revised legislation with a seal provision for commercial interior designers.
How do you think being an advocate has changed over the last five or ten years?
Ten years ago, our chapter did not have a VP of Advocacy. I was recruited after my chapter presidency to fill this position, develop an advocacy strategy, and work with our interior design collation in Wisconsin. But even five years ago, it was not on our chapter’s radar to hire a lobbyist. In 2015, IIDA and ASID members determined that the best advocacy approach for our state was to dissolve our coalition and partner together with the support of IIDA HQ and National ASID advocacy experts. Then in 2016, conservative and libertarian policy groups, with their anti-licensure stance, were spreading false information about the Interior Design profession throughout Wisconsin. We needed to get on the field and defend our profession. We hired a lobbyist in January 2017. We were prepared!
What have you learned as an advocate and VP of Advocacy that other advocates should know?
The toughest part of advocacy is to take the first step to get involved. Once you meet your first legislator or do your first volunteer activity, you you see the benefit to both yourself and the profession.
Get involved with interior design advocacy at advocacy.iida.org.
IIDA Campus Center: Texas Tech University
IIDA Chapter: Texas/Oklahoma Chapter
Where: Lubbock, Texas
Number of Student Members: 81
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’s what we learned from the IIDA Texas Tech University Campus Center.
Give us a snapshot of your IIDA Campus Center.
The IIDA Texas Tech Campus Center (IIDA TTU) consists of 50-60 graduate and undergraduate student members. Currently, there are nine elected officer positions: student president, president-elect, treasurer, treasurer-elect, public relations chair, special events chair, special events chair-elect, student mentor and secretary, and student mentor. At the end of each year, officers assess the ever-changing campus center needs and add or remove officer positions. IIDA TTU officers and student members also collaborate heavily with Michelle Pearson, Ph.D., faculty advisor, and IIDA West Texas (IIDA WTX) City Center council members for guidance and support.
Do you work with other organizations or design clubs?
We place a strong emphasis on collaboration with other organizations. We extend invitations to and collaborate with organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Knights of Architecture, and the Student American Society of Landscape Architecture.
On the annual Arbor Day event, IIDA, ASID, and AIA volunteer together and plant flowers throughout the Texas Tech Campus. Each fall semester, ASID hosts the West Texas Design Expo, and IIDA plays a large role in ensuring this event runs smoothly. In exchange for a free table at the Design Expo, IIDA helps ASID set up and tear down the expo.
What kind of events and activities do you host at your Campus Center?
We host a variety of activities that are both educational and social in nature. Each event gives members the opportunity to network with IIDA professionals and other local design professionals. We offer events that are multifaceted and engaging such as the IIDA TTU Breakfast Roundtable and an NCIDQ Q&A session with a cupcake bar.
This year, IIDA events include: the IIDA versus ASID Olympics, the IIDA Annual Corn Maize social with interior design professionals, IIDA Student Conference, and a digital media workshop to teach members Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. This year, we’re excited to announce that we will be hosting our first IIDA TTU Annual Career Fair! This is an exciting opportunity for students to get advice on their resumes, portfolios, and potentially schedule interviews.
What are your favorite or most successful events and activities that you host?
The IIDA TTU Breakfast Roundtable is one of our most successful events. We invite professionals from all over Texas to come have breakfast with the members and a guided discussion about a specific topic. This year’s topic was “Unfiltered Advice for the Soon-to-be-Professional.” This first-hand experience and advice is invaluable. We now know there are a wide variety of career opportunities available within the interior design industry than previously thought!
How do you collaborate with your local chapter?
IIDA TTU collaborates with the local city center by staying in close contact with the campus liaison and other council members. IIDA TTU officers are invited to the IIDA WTX council meetings each month and encouraged to ask for advice, share updates and event ideas, and discuss budgets.
The local city center also does a phenomenal job at making sure student members know they are not excluded from professional events—we are all IIDA members and are welcome to attend any IIDA event.
How do you get people engaged with your Campus Center and local chapter?
Social media plays a huge role. Each event is advertised through social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). We hang flyers throughout campus and in the Texas Tech Department of Design, and officers make announcements in our classes about upcoming events. We even make special trips to freshman-level classes to ensure they know they are welcome at all events! Occasionally, we have challenges or donated prizes which adds to the fun. We strive to make all events social and educational in nature. It is important that IIDA events are fun and engaging; however, it is also important members gain something that will help them in their professional lives.
What is the biggest benefit of being an IIDA Member and having an active campus center?
Being an IIDA Member opens a channel between students of different ages, creating a dialogue and camaraderie that would not otherwise exist. Students can mentor younger students and encourage them. The relationships fostered within the IIDA TTU Campus Center are relationships that will be further built upon as students move into the professional world. The opportunity to interact with peers in a professional-oriented and social atmosphere is invaluable.