Why Should You Attend the IIDA Advocacy Symposium?

This post was contributed by Aileen Montelongo, IIDA, RID, NCIDQ, vice president of advocacy at the IIDA Southwest Chapter.

I practice in Arizona where there is currently no legislation for interior design. Even after my appointment as vice president of advocacy, I only had a very vague picture of what my responsibilities would be.

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Last year, Nicki Ahlshwede, IIDA Southwest’s director of advocacy, and I represented our chapter at the third annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Chicago. It was astounding to see advocates from all over the country gathered in one room sharing stories, triumphs, and strategies. It was inspiring to har from all the speakers – to hear a singular message from different points of view, for different applications, for different scenarios. It was encouraging to hear the successes – both monumental and small. However, as far as advocacy goes, I think all wins are of the same size.

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The best part of having attended the symposium was being exposed to the resources available and recognizing the many faces advocacy can take on. This particularly became valuable early this spring when a bill made its way to our Senate that would’ve negatively impacted our profession’s future in the state. With IIDA HQ’s help, the bill has been amended but most importantly, it has awakened the “sleeping” advocate in us – we now have a newly formed partnership with the local ASID chapters. With energized spirits, we are working hard together hand in hand to safeguard the profession of interior design in the state of Arizona.

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It was humbling and empowering to sit with seasoned advocates at last year’s symposium and marvel at the amount of work they’ve put in to get to where they are now. And then realizing the long road ahead of us in Arizona? Scary, but inspiring. I was reassured, though, knowing that these advocates were in our shoes not too long ago. With the same passion and commitment, we too, can get to where we want to go.


To learn about the IIDA Advocacy Symposium, visit iida.org.

Up Close with the IIDA Madison Area Technical College Campus Center

IIDA Campus Center: Madison Area Technical College

IIDA Chapter: Wisconsin Chapter

Where: Madison, Wisconsin

Number of Student Members: 36

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 Madison Area Technical College Campus Center.

Give us a snapshot of your IIDA Campus Center.

Madison College is a two-year program. Students graduate with an associate degree in applied arts in interior design. We have been associated with other professional organizations in the past, but this is our first year as an IIDA Campus Center and it has been a busy and successful one!

How does your campus center handle the transition when current leaders graduate?

We promote leadership opportunities in the spring semester by visiting classrooms and speaking with students to encourage them to be involved. Interested students apply for the positions and the advisor and current board members review the applications to place members into positions. The incoming board members help plan our end of the year celebratory banquet as a way to transition them into leadership in a fun way. We also start planning for the next school year during the summer months so we can hit the ground running in fall.

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What kind of events and activities do you host at your Campus Center?

Throughout the year we host numerous “Lunch and Learns” where we bring in interior design professionals who represent a broad spectrum of interior design career paths. We also hold site visits, which provide insightful learning moments. There are also events to advocate for positive interaction and camaraderie within the interior design program itself, including hosting homework nights, finals week treats, and other optional offsite social activities as well as a program-wide end of the year banquet.

What are your favorite or most successful events and activities that you host?

A highlight of our on-campus events this year was our CEU and fundraiser, “Leveraging the Power of Social Media,” that brought in over 75 interior design professionals and students to learn about social media best practices. At this highly successful event, we also held a raffle with items donated from local businesses, helping us raise money for our campus center. Our IIDA Wisconsin Chapter Madison City Center helped us increase our professional attendance through their website and e-news blasts.

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How do you collaborate with your local chapter?

We are very connected and collaborative with our local chapter. We’re fortunate to have one of our student leaders serving as the student representative to the IIDA Wisconsin professional chapter board of directors this year. Our advisor also keeps in close communication with the local vice president of student affairs about local and national IIDA opportunities for our members. The chapter is very supportive of our campus center, and we really appreciate their help!

How do you get people engaged with your Campus Center and local chapter?

We have gotten our students engaged by hosting and encouraging participation in a large array of events. Our kick off meeting in fall of 2017 had over 50 students in attendance to hear about the benefits of membership from both our student leaders and chapter professional leaders. We think starting each semester off with a fun and informative kick-off is a great way to get people engaged. In addition, we communicate with students through Blackboard posts, the Remind app, emails, video announcements, classroom announcements, and event flyers to keep them fully informed.

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How has being an active and engaged IIDA volunteer helped you as an emerging design professional?

As board members planning our campus center activities, we feel that this experience has given us real-world opportunities to put into practice many of the skills we have learned about in school. It has been great to gain more experience in areas such as budgeting, event planning, and working in teams. We also have honed our communication skills, speaking in front of groups at various events and developing written communications as well as marketing materials for our events. As individuals, our involvement in IIDA has helped us become more comfortable with networking with professionals and we have made great connections that we tap into for advice and support.

Why is it critical to participate in the design community through a membership organization like IIDA?

We know that lifelong learning and professional connections are incredibly important – our faculty members here have drilled that into us!  Like anything, you will get out of it what you put in and being an active participant in professional organizations opens many doors to those that get involved!


To learn more about IIDA Campus Centers, visit iida.org.

 

 

 

5 IIDA Student Members Share Their Memorable Moments from the IIDA Student Conference

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.

IIDA Northern California Chapter: Be A Better Advocate, Know Your State’s Laws

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).

The Facts

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.

Capital One 2017 Work Environment Survey

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 richard@richardnpollack.com.

IIDA Illinois Chapter: How Can Designers Make a Lasting Impression on Legislators?

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.