Collaboration and Communication: Key Takeaways from the 2019 Industry Roundtable

The 2019 IIDA Industry Roundtable, held in January in Chicago, culminated in a lively, facilitated discussion with designers and industry representatives on the topic of communication best practices. Drawing on a few of the hot topics from the broader Industry Roundtable conversation, including learnability, flexibility, and artificial intelligence, the following are key takeaways and excerpts of the discussion.

Of-the-Moment Versus Enduring

With the transference of “fast fashion” consumer expectations into our own industry, clients are questioning why furniture needs to last 20 years. While designers work hard to educate clients about responsible product specification and the advantages of well-made, warrantied furniture designed specifically for the workplace, this wisdom can sometimes fall on deaf ears. Designers are navigating this challenge by specifying a balance of timeless and timely product in interiors—but often feel conflicted in so doing. Here are some key thoughts from designers on the topic:

“The ‘fast-fashion’ product model doesn’t stand up, but there is a market for it, unfortunately. It’s more of a startup mentality: How long is something going to last relative to things needing to change?”

“We are responsible for considering the embodied energy of the products we are huge consumers of. A very finite life span isn’t helping the world. Products that are flexible, reconfigurable, and that offer multiple solutions will become more important.”

“In Scandinavia, companies make furniture with parts that disconnect and can be sent back for reupholstery. In fact, the government mandates buying furniture that can be updated. Will our country one day move in that direction?”

“In the environments we are creating, we treat some furniture elements as more permanent and infrastructural, and specify others that can be changed out in response to needs or trends.”

The 2019 IIDA Industry Roundtable brought together a multi-disciplinary roster of designers, manufacturers, and marketing executives to look at the future of work through the lenses of people, place, and practice.

Teach, Don’t Preach

Look beyond box lunches, 15-minute cookie breaks, and PowerPoint presentations when creating CEUs and education materials targeted at younger designers. Or any-age designer, for that matter:

“Ditch the PowerPoint and create video stories that seduce and inspire emotions—stories that showcase the beauty, simplicity, and sustainability of your design in simple ways.”

“It’s a myth that millennials only want two- to three-minute sound bites. If the information is pertinent and I’m engaged, I can sit rapt for an hour.”

“Consider restructuring how you’re putting together and synthesizing information. Tech rewired out brains: Once I get a point, I don’t want to hear it for 10 more minutes; I got it!

“I read recently that brands are not telling their stories in a linear manner because of their customers’ experience on the internet. The example given outlined that people don’t just watch one video or read one blog post but jump to various channels when exploring a brand or product.”

Feel-good Furniture

As technology automates the design process and frees up time for more conceptual thinking, practitioners are recasting themselves as “creators of emotional experience.” Manufacturers can support this phenomenon by promoting their product’ experiential side:

“Our premise is about elevating the human experience; we lead with that in every presentation and external communication vehicle. A client talk starts with a discussion about the ability of space to elevate the human experience—and to do the opposite if it’s not carefully calibrated and catered to the intended end user. Space is not a resource or a consumable or an overhead expense; it’s a strategic tool that can influence how we feel.”

“The workplace has done a 180-degree turn, customized to the DNA of the company. It doesn’t matter what we as designers think; it’s about how we are crafting an experience for this client specifically. That’s a shift in our critical thinking.”

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Who will populate the world of work in 2030, and what will matter most? We tackled that and more at this year’s Roundtable.

Corporate Culture Trumps Cool Café

Millennials are more interested in a transparent, communicative, and egalitarian office culture than they are in gimmicky furniture or amenities:

“I don’t need beanbag chairs; I want to work at a place with a leadership team that is reflective of the industry and the broader populace.”

“At my firm, we don’t have amenity spaces—but we do have an open door policy. I’d rather have a good office environment and easy access to leadership than a fancy cafeteria.”

Emotions are the New Ergonomics

Yesterday, it was all about height-adjustability; today, designers and their clients want products that promote mindfulness and support emotional well-being. Furniture that’s responsive, context-aware, and environment-adaptive will play a starring role in the future:

“Could our furniture be collecting different kinds of data than just occupancy and movement? For instance, information about a user’s state of mind?”

“The psychology of space and neurological considerations will become more primary to how we design interiors. Systems will be able to ‘read’ who we are—and what our needs are—based on smarter architectural infrastructures.”

“Several emerging technologies in the smart building arena—including smart materials, displays, and surfaces—have the potential to fundamentally alter our approach to the design of workspaces.”

Words to Live and Work By

In what was a very buzzword-heavy conversation, the following terms were mentioned repeatedly in reference to the design of furniture and product; take them to heart:

  • Acoustics
  • Adaptability
  • Choice
  • Comfort
  • Connectivity
  • Control
  • Convenience
  • Community
  • Cozy
  • Distraction
  • Flexibility
  • Focus
  • Head’s down
  • Mindfulness
  • Modularity
  • Privacy
  • Residential blur
  • Transparency
  • User-centrism
  • Variety
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Humans are hard-wired for social connection; community is as essential to our survival as food and shelter, and designers are ultimately “in the business of creating community.” -Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA, IIDA Executive Vice President/CEO

2019 IIDA Roundtable Participants included:

INDUSTRY EXPERTS AND SPONSORS

Jennifer Ruckel, 3Form

Mark Shannon, Ind. IIDA, Crossville Inc.

Julia Ryan, ESI

Michelle Boolton, Assoc. IIDA, Gunlocke

Anjell Karibian, Haworth

Alan Almasy, Ind. IIDA, Herman Miller

Meg Bruce Conway, Humanscale

John Newland, Ind. IIDA, ICF

Roby Isaac, Mannington Commercial

Jackie Dettmar, Ind. IIDA, Mohawk Group

John Stephens, Ind. IIDA, Shaw Contract

Catherine Minervini, Ind. IIDA, Sunbrella / Glen Raven

Jennifer Busch, Hon. IIDA, Teknion

Adrian Parra, Ind. IIDA, Vitra

Teresa Humphrey, Ind. IIDA, Wilsonart

FROM IIDA

Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA

John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA

DESIGN EXPERTS AND IIDA INTERNATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS

President

Gabrielle Bullock, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA Principal, Perkins+Will

President-Elect

Susana Covarrubias, IIDA, Gensler

Vice Presidents

Edwin Beltran, IIDA, NBBJ

Annie Chu, IIDA, FAIA, Chu + Gooding Architects

Jeff Fenwick, Ind. IIDA, Tarkett

James Kerrigan, IIDA, Jacobs

Angie Lee, IIDA, AIA, FXCollaborative

Marlene M. Liriano, FIIDA, IA Interior Architects

Jon Otis, IIDA, O|A Object Agency

Doug Shapiro, Ind. IIDA, OFS

Sascha Wagner, FIIDA, AIA, Huntsman Architectural Group

Members at Large

Christine Dumich, Gensler

Mike Johnson II, IIDA, AIA, Perkins+Will

Kelie Mayfield, IIDA, MaRS

Patricia Rotondo, IIDA, Antunovich Associates

Smita Sahoo, IIDA, bKL Architecture LLC

Neil Schneider, Assoc. IIDA, IA Interior Architects


Learn more about the IIDA Industry Roundtable, an invaluable “brain trust” session for manufacturers and a quality opportunity for designers to exchange dialogue on issues addressing the built environment.

IIDA Headquarters to Host Designers and Architects Talk

I am excited to welcome the design and architecture community of Chicago to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) headquarters this spring for a superb series of talks.

IIDA, together with AIA Chicago in a first-ever collaboration, will present a series of Wednesday evening talks called “Designers and Architects Talk: A Series About Design and its Impact on Client Success,” that will address commercial interior architecture and design. Both architects and commercial interior designers will learn from the provocative discussions about projects, firm leadership, and design strategy.

March 20 – McDonald’s Headquarters: Impact on a Company, a City, and a Neighborhood

Speakers are Tish Kruse, principal, IA Interior Architects; Primo Orpilla, FIIDA, principal, Studio O+A; Scott Phillips, director of workplace management, McDonald’s; Neil Schneider, Assoc. IIDA, principal IA Interior Architects; and Grant Uhlir, FAIA, co-regional managing principal, Gensler. I will be moderating.

April 17 – New, Bold, and Entrepreneurial: Design Firms Changing the Face of Chicago

Speakers are Jason Hall, principal, Charlie Greene Studio; Ami Kahalekulu, partner, Twofold Studio; Sarah Kuchar, IIDA, creative director, Sarah Kuchar Studio; and Deon Lucas, AIA, NOMA, director, Beehyyve, E.G. Woode. The moderator is Chicago-based architect and AIA national board member Peter Exley, FAIA.

May 22 – Women Leading Hospitality Design in Chicago

Karen Herold, principal, Studio K; Jackie Koo, AIA, IIDA, principal, KOO; Laurie Miller, AIA, principal, Anderson/Miller; Meg Prendergast, principal, Gettys Group; and Patricia Rotondo, Assoc. AIA, IIDA, senior principal, Antunovich Associates. IIDA EVP/CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, will be the moderator.

Ticket sales have begun for all sessions, and advance purchase is necessary to reserve a seat. Members of IIDA or AIA have a special ticket price of $10/session or $25 for a seat to all three sessions. The public is welcome at $20 per session. Student members of IIDA, AIAS, or AIA Chicago are free.

Sessions allow for 1 IDCEC-approved CEU for interior designers and 1 AIA-approved LU for architects.

Order your tickets now.

Thank you to Host Sponsor Corporate Concepts, Inc., and Champion Sponsors: Bernhardt Design, Mohawk Group, Mortarr, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, Steelcase, Tarkett, and Wilkhahn.

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.

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

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.”

2015 IIDA Advocacy Symposium

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.”

2015 IIDA Advocacy Symposium

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.

Turning a Conversation About Diversity Into a Movement

In January 2016, IIDA hosted its 19th annual Industry Roundtable. The two-day event held a mirror up to the design industry, showing us that while we are well-intentioned about increasing diversity – as a whole, across racial, gender, generational, etc., lines – in our workforce, we must be assertive about transforming our discussions about diversity into an action plan.

To that end, IIDA is excited and proud to share the executive report from that day. Tackling the topic of diversity and inclusion in the design industry, the report, “Diversity and Design: Why Gender, Equity, and Multidisciplinary Thinking are Essential to Business,” summarizes the lively and productive discussion of 30 design industry leaders from the Roundtable and provides a strategic roadmap for the newly formed IIDA Diversity Council, chaired by Stacy Walker, Ind. IIDA, Director of Customer Experience at Milliken.

“IIDA approached the subject of diversity in the design industry by taking stock of our Association. From chapter events to continuing education programs, to the headquarters of our partners in manufacturing to our own board of directors—diversity, or the lack thereof, was apparent,” said IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, LEED AP, who moderated the Roundtable. “This report and the formation of the IIDA Diversity Council are the first steps of many toward a more diverse industry—in race and gender, and thought and discipline.”

The Industry Roundtable report features research highlighting the myriad benefits of diversity in business, statistics illustrating the current state of diversity in the design industry, and personal accounts from industry leaders who shared their experiences as African-Americans creating opportunities for cultural awareness and inclusiveness both in their own firms and across the profession.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REPORT

By the numbers

69 percent of the 87,000 practitioners in the interior design industry are women. Yet, female design firm leadership is only 25 percent.

There are 347 total licensed women architects in the United States. Of this, 0.3 percent are African-American. (Correction: There are 347 total licensed African-American women architects in the United States, representing 0.3 percent of all registered architects.)

What’s one of the top five least diverse professions? Architecture.

By the stories

“Designers have a powerful impact on the environment, and I want more people who look like me to have a say in that. Growing up, I had seen what architecture does to our communities; they suck. I wanted to change how my people live.”

-Gabrielle Bullock, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C, Director of Global Diversity, Perkins+Will

“There was a group of us in D.C.; we used to see each other around and at meetings, and do the ‘black nod.’ One day we were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to meet up?’ So we created an informal group for black designers—interior designers, architects, and manufacturers. The size went from 20 to 35 to 75. Then brokers wanted to come, people from the periphery of the industry. Last time, we even had students. It was nice. You don’t realize the impact of just being there together.”

-Jeffrey Gay, Ind. IIDA, Architecture + Design Representative, Herman Miller

Looking forward

“There’s a misunderstanding that design is only accessible to a privileged few. Because of the lack of exposure at the early educational level, many minority groups do not choose design as a professional path.”

-Edwin Beltran, IIDA, Assoc. AIA, Principal/Designer, NBBJ

Targeting the talent pipeline – the next generation of interior design professionals – is key to an inclusive industry. It is our responsibility as professionals in the field to become more involved in schools in disadvantaged communities and introduce them to career options in design. Inspiring role models and mentors representative of minority groups also need to be more visible.

You can download and read the full report on the IIDA website.


How has your company addressed diversity in the workplace? Tell us and share your feedback about the report in the comments.