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The Future of Tile and Ceramics: A Review of Cersaie

As a designer, finding inspiration everywhere is crucial to staying relevant, educated, and curious. Sometimes that inspiration is right outside your front door and sometimes it takes you to regions of the world you’ve never experienced. Today’s post is written by Richard N. Pollack, FIIDA, FAIA, 1999 – 2000 IIDA International President, who had the opportunity to travel to Bologna, Italy, for Cersaie, an international ceramic tile and bathroom exhibition. Read what he learned, including the technological advances being made in the Italian ceramics industry and the big tile trends to expect in the coming year.

In September, I had the privilege of being a delegate to Cersaie (pronounced: tcher say e), the annual ceramics fair in Bologna, Italy. Although many of the exhibitors were Italian, the fair is an international showcase of ceramics. My hosts were the Italian Trade Commission and Confindustria Ceramica – the Italian Association of Ceramics.

Confindustria Ceramica represents over 260 ceramic tile, sanitary ware, tableware, and refractory materials manufacturing companies, with Cersaie focused on the first two manufacturing segments. U.S. and Canadian architects and interior designers might think that ceramic tile usually refers to bathroom and kitchen tiles and mosaics, but it encompasses many types of wall and floor covering tile and panel.

Some significant statistics about the industry provided by Confindustria Ceramica:

  • Overall recycling in Confindustria Ceramica factories is 99.5 percent with 100 percent of the water used in production recycled.
  • Italian ceramics industry is adopting LEED 4 at the end of October 2016.
  • Ceramics factories recycle material from other industry sectors, effectively making their recycling efforts more than 100 percent.

The products I viewed were porcelain and ceramic, with this year’s technological advance being large format panels – some 1×3 meters and thinner panels – down to 3 millimeters for wall application. Although the original source material for manufacturing the tile was the red clay that came from around the city of Sassuolo, not far from Bologna,, now the raw materials such as feldspar, quartz, and others are sourced from other countries. Fabrication begins with constructing the panels, which may also have intrinsic coloring and textures added during manufacture, and are then printed with surface patterns. The printed surfaces are relatively thin, but the strength of the underlying panel and extremely hard glazes applied over the printing makes the products strong and long-wearing. Confindustria Ceramica noted that their members’ tile has the best longevity of all flooring materials including carpet, wood, and marble. Panels can be used for floor, wall, indoor, outdoor, and special applications – often using the same tiles.

A unique new product is a ceramic porcelain roof tile with integrated solar panels. The solar panels are the same shape and size as adjacent roof tiles, and are installed using a plug-in grid system that then connects to the building’s electrical system. Very cool!

As a delegate, I toured a factory near Sassuolo to see first-hand how the panels are manufactured. The factory building was very large to accommodate the long production lines but with relatively few people required. I saw the process from start to finish, with the panels formed, textured, printed, baked in kilns, quality checked and packed for shipment – quite impressive.

During my three days in Bologna, I learned what trends to watch for (Warning: “This is not your grandmother’s tile,” said a member of Confindustria Ceramic):

  • Lighter colors with a softer feel and a predominance of blue as an accent color in tiles
  • Large format concrete patterned panels from all manufacturers
  • Almost invisible grout lines, highly rectified tiles
  • Increased use of patterns, both subtle and strong, including strong dimensional surfacing
  • More precious patterns, including geometric shapes such as hexagons and rhomboids
  • 3-D textures from lightly textured through highly visible shadowing
  • Small to large graphics, and all the stops in between
  • Fabric textures on tiles, with tartans, plaid, herringbone, and madras – finished smooth or with varying dimension and texture
  • Panels exhibiting more movement, with warps and wefts in the patterning to convey energy
  • Many wood effects ranging from somewhat accurate wood representation to artistic images implying wood
  • Greater focus on representing natural stone more effectively, including large-scale, book-matched marble, slate, travertine, granite, etc.

The show and its exhibits were quite striking, providing an excellent overview of Italian ceramic tile product and approach. The Italian ceramics industry produces high-quality products with a strong focus on design – and I should know – owing to all the Italian ceramic tile in my home.


Richard N. Pollack, FIIDA, FAIA, is Managing Principal of Pollack Consulting, which he created after founding and leading award-winning Pollack Architecture for 28 years. Pollack Consulting assists firms’ growth and success through improved business development, winning presentation techniques, business coaching, recruiting top talent, and ownership transition implementation. You can reach him at Richard@RichardNPollack.com or 415.508.6008.  

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Campus Center Highlight: Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University

IIDA Campus Center: Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University (KCAD)

IIDA Chapter: Michigan Chapter

Where: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Board Members: Kelsey Ballast, Student IIDA, Campus Center President

Alanna Sanchez, Student IIDA,  Campus Center President-Elect

Ashley Newton, Student IIDA, Senior Class Representative

Number of Student Members: 34

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each campus center is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. Starting today, we want to highlight the diversity of IIDA student 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 from IIDA Student Members Kelsey Ballast, IIDA Campus Center President, and Ashley Newton, Senior Class Representative.

A Winning Organizational Structure 

The KCAD Campus Center Board of Directors consists of five students with representatives from each school class (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior). Each representative has individual responsibilities and everyone is voted in by their cohort. Board members meet monthly with a faculty advisor and schedule separate meetings on top of campus center meetings. What gives KCAD’s Campus Center structure extra support is the role not just of a campus center president but a president-elect. The president-elect, a junior, shadows the president, a senior, for the year with the intent of being well-familiarized with what exactly the president role entails. Says Kelsey, the president-elect position is “locked into being the president the next year, especially being a club at our university. There are more strings attached.” 

Events That Engage

Two of KCAD’s most popular events encourage students and design professionals to network. “Students always want to take advantage of those opportunities and those are the things that get a high turnout and a lot of interest from our student members,” said Ashley.

At monthly update meetings, working professionals from a firm or manufacturer, with a focus on Kendall alumni, are invited to speak to students. Lunch and Learns are a more formalized affair with lunch provided (“Always a popular thing to be at,” said Kelsey) and professionals from the field bring samples of their work and explaining what they do to students. Representatives from Steelcase and Haworth are just some of the big names that have presented – an advantage of living in a historic furniture manufacturing center.

But the students at KCAD are also very proactive about making sure these programs and resources are available. They work with their faculty advisors that have connections with larger industries and maintain lines of communication with the larger Michigan Chapter. The reciprocal relationship is a defining characteristic between the IIDA Campus Center at KCAD and the Michigan Chapter. “This becomes a big family that you can leverage later on. You get to know most people through your time here that you never know when they’re going to be able to help you out or give you input, advice, or experience with anything,” says Ashley.

We’re a Big Family

The IIDA Campus Center at KCAD has specific campus center board members that act as additional liaisons with Michigan Chapter leaders. This has been instrumental in forming close relationships that feel like family. “Being a freshman coming into design school, I was a little worried of not feeling that community and feeling very competitive all the time. IIDA has definitely softened that and has created a community here at our school and then a community of designers broader in our region,” said Kelsey. 

Ashley echoes the sentiment: “Kendall is a commuter campus and so having that opportunity to be in a group with our students that is outside of schoolwork and extends to more professional events, or gives you a glimpse into what you do outside of school and beyond school, has been fantastic for both social and professional reasons. The opportunities of networking with and meeting people — it becomes a lot more fun to go out and have those conversations when we’re either interviewing for jobs, even just talking to other professionals in general.”

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The Student Perspective: Orgatec 2016

Today’s post is written by Kelsey Ballast, Student IIDA, winner of the inaugural IIDA Booth Design Competition at Orgatec. The competition provided students the opportunity to design a trade show booth at this year’s Orgatec Trade Fair in Cologne, Germany, on Oct. 25-29. Kelsey received an all-expense-paid trip to Orgatec to see her design concept realized, courtesy of Vitra, as well as a tour of the Vitra campus.

The amount of incredible design that I have been immersed in over the last couple of weeks has been completely overwhelming in the best way possible. I was fortunate to have been selected as the winner of the IIDA Booth Design Competition at Orgatec, where I was flown to Cologne, Germany to attend Orgatec, an event billed as “the leading international trade fair for the modern working world.”  

As I wandered through the chaos that was the day before Orgatec’s opening, hoping to find the IIDA booth, I was overwhelmed and in awe. The mess of boxes and people running around setting up complicated and massive showrooms made me feel a bit anxious to see my design. I was hoping that it all came together and would be able to fit in among these other impressive spaces.

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Kelsey inside the booth she designed with IIDA International Board Members (from left) Scott Hierlinger, IIDA, LEED AP, Marlene Liriano, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C, and Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, and James Kerrigan, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C. All the furniture in the booth is by Vitra.

As the booth came into view, relief overcame me when I saw that it had actually come together. The team wandered through the booth, but I found myself observing. Seeing the team interact with the space – knowing the thought and intention behind it all – I was overjoyed. 

On the first day of the show, we arrived early to get all of the IIDA brochures and accessories in place. At 9 a.m., the PA system echoed through the halls, signaling the show was now open. Not 30 seconds later, crowds of people were streaming past our booth. Visitors stopped in and took photos of different areas and elements in the booth. I did not expect this at all! As the day went on, the atmosphere around the booth was very positive. The space was used exactly as I had hoped – as a place of respite and relaxation for visitors to sit and have a conversation with one another or just kick their feet up for a minute.  

I was also able to spend time exploring the hundreds of showrooms spanning almost 1,400,000 square feet. The part that amazed me the most was that all of these showrooms were constructed solely for the show. They were all within large halls, so each vendor constructed their own architecture to define the space.

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Shots from Orgatec. Inside the Cascando booth.

It was such an eye opening and inspiring experience to explore the madness that is Orgatec. The amount of innovation, new companies, and variety widened my perspective of the industry and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of a career in interior design.

The next part of my trip was a tour of the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany, which is near the border of Switzerland. The hillside surrounding the campus was covered in the warm golden tones of the changing fall leaves and harvested fields. The juxtaposition of nature’s perfection with the clean lines of the many buildings at the Vitra Campus was something from a dream. I witnessed the brilliance of multiple architects’ and designers’ work, including Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Zaha Hadid, just to name a few. 

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Exterior of the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid Architects.

These buildings were like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before. Every element was intentional and thoroughly designed in the purest way. But don’t take my word for it: Check out vitra.com for a virtual tour of the campus. 

I am so thankful to IIDA and Vitra for providing me with this opportunity. Everything I was able to do and see has altered my view of design for the better and enhanced the way I see and will execute my designs going forward. My time in Germany has taught me that design should reflect authenticity, purity, and the value of experience, and that’s a lesson I won’t soon forget. 


See Orgatec from Kelsey’s point of view by visiting the IIDA HQ Instagram feed and searching #iidatakeover.

 

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IIDA Design Watch: What Will the Workplace Become?

Work as we know it has shifted. With evolving demographics, immersive technology, globalization, and the blur between our personal and professional lives, what endures and what doesn’t? IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, shares her insights on the top topics in workplace design today, the challenges designers face with an ever-changing workforce, and the workplace as the next level of education.

Mobility and Privacy Are King

What does it mean when we give employees choice in the workplace? Does it mean giving them height adjustable desks and control of their lighting? Yes, and then some. Workplace mobility – the notion of having multiple spaces to do work – is increasingly in demand and employers are taking notice by asking themselves how can they reinforce the idea that you can do your work anywhere in the workplace. The answer: “It’s your seat plus,” says Cheryl. “Your seat is your home base – that’s where you keep your stuff, that’s where you can have your own library – but work can happen literally anywhere in that zone that we call the workplace.”

And then there’s privacy, which is less about the open office versus closed office debate and more about acknowledging all the different ways we work in the course of a day. The number one complaint in the workplace right now is interruptions. What do we need to equip people with so that they’re able to get their work done with little to no interruption? Privacy in the workplace acknowledges that employees want – and sometimes require – a specific type of space to do their work. It doesn’t necessarily mean that every single area needs a private office, says Cheryl, but it recognizes functions such as HR, finance, and accounting – departments that handle sensitive material.

Designers as Managers of Change, Examples of Context

Every time a client relocates offices, designers are faced with the challenge of fitting more people into a shrinking space in the best way possible. “Design is the result of a real estate event,” says Cheryl, and having tough conversations with clients who too often get caught up in the now and not in the future, while painful, are crucial. With an office relocation, not only are designers designing for what the space will look like now and in the next three to five years, they are designing for what the business might look like.

Another challenge designers face is how to stay competitive in the field. For Cheryl, being “visually cognizant, culturally cognizant, [and] globally cognizant” is key to staying relevant. This means everything from reading the latest literature, learning about organizational behavior and cultural anthropology, and being aware of the shifts and changes in other industries and vertical markets such as retail, healthcare, residential, and hospitality. “People live and breathe in context.”

The Future of the Workplace

At the rate the workplace is going, its design will not speak solely on functionality and brand, but also credibility. The workplace of the future will become a place of education and professional development. Think: apprenticeship. For example, companies known for excellent customer service will attract people who seek to expand their skills in that area. “You are going to be choosing your workplace based on what you want to learn from them,” says Cheryl. “We’ll be attracted to places not only by the work that we’ll do but by the expertise we’ll acquire while there.”


IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, and members of the IIDA International Board of Directors will be in Orgatec for a discussion on the nature of work. “People. Place. Performance. Defining Global Workplace Culture” will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Learn more about the panel.

Featured image: the Newell Rubbermaid Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, also the Best of Competition Winner of the 43rd annual IIDA Interior Design Competition.

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Passion and Practice in Action at the 2016 Advocacy Symposium

Today’s post is written by Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA, Assoc AIA, who attended the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Denver on Sept. 23 – 25, 2016. 

The second annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium flew by – a whirlwind of thoughtful, impassioned conversations dedicated to advancing interior design recognition across the country. Hosted in Denver by IIDA and the Rocky Mountain Chapter, the Symposium was an opportunity for interior design advocates to connect, share best practices, and reinvigorate our collective passion for the profession.

Practicing at the intersection of architecture and interior design, I’ve been supporting interior design recognition since moving to Seattle in 2011 and serving as the Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Northern Pacific Chapter. Coping with a recent defeat at the capitol, the Chapter had taken a step back to reframe our approach to the legislative process. Our focus shifted to a broader definition of advocacy, which included engaging our city communities and developing a shared vision among our industry professionals. In parallel, the IIDA International Board of Directors prioritized advocacy and launched a series of initiatives to support change, such as the Advocacy Symposium and Advisory Council.  Continue reading

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5 Reasons to Get Motivated About Interior Design Advocacy

Today’s post is guest written by IIDA Professional Member Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP.

Attending the IIDA Advocacy Symposium is a ditch-your-spouse-on-your-wedding-anniversary kind of opportunity. At least, it was for me in 2015.  #sorrynotsorry #advocacyinaction. So what did I learn last year that trumped celebrating my marriage? Here are my top five highlights:

“Never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, painted a picture of advocates as optimists living in the present. They have a healthy respect for the past but don’t dwell on it, and they understand that the future can happen in a nanosecond. Advocates do not let others define who they are in a political context. They know the value of “yes” and when to say “no,” and they know that sometimes “no” is the beginning of the negotiation. Lastly, Cheryl challenged us to “never accept a ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have the power to say ‘yes.’”

All Wins Matter

Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager, told us to hone our message: “Find the heart, find the brain, and lose the fat.” The way to motivate others is through positivity – all wins matter. But arguably the best advice Ryan gave actually comes from the incomparable Parks and Recreation character, Ron Swanson: “Never half ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”

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Ryan Ben, Student Engagement and Advancement Manager at IIDA, presenting at last year’s Advocacy Symposium.

 

Be an Out-Hustler

Texas Representative Celia Israel taught us that a lawmaker is only as strong as stakeholder interest and, when you pursue legislation, all the work happens long before the first day of session. She recommended the best way to handle opposition stakeholders is to out-hustle them.

The Power of Networking – and Rising Above

Melanie Bahl, IIDA, President of I.D.E.A.L. for Utah, and lobbyist Amy Coombs told us about the power of asking for recommendations and name dropping shared connections to get your foot in the door. The most resonating piece of advice: the value of being united in purpose, message, and action. “To rise above the din and be heard, voices must be linked in something approaching unison.”

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IIDA Members at the 2015 Advocacy Symposium welcome reception.

 

It’s Not Just About You, It’s About Them

Other lobbyists cautioned us against asking for something the first time you meet a legislator. Go in when you don’t need something. Better yet, go when they need you.

The 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium will be educational, inspirational, and even therapeutic. Together, we will celebrate our interior design wins – big and small – from across the nation. The agenda has been carefully crafted with presenters who will arm you with political, grassroots, managerial, and strategic know-how. You will expand your resources, have epiphanies about what you could be doing in your state, and leave refreshed and refueled with new ideas and tactics that will guide you in your advocacy efforts. Fortunately for me, this year’s Symposium doesn’t conflict with my anniversary because I sure would hate to leave my husband a second year in a row. See you in Denver!


 Holly Baird, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP, is the Director of the Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. She is a member of the IIDA Advocacy Advisory Council and, in May of this year, was appointed to the Livable Nashville Committee started by Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry.

 The 2016 Advocacy Symposium will take place in Denver from Sept. 23-25. IIDA Members receive a special discounted rate to the event. Learn more about the Symposium and register by Sept. 16, 2016.