Hunter Kaiser Will Disrupt Your NeoCon Experience

Whether it’s at a restaurant, retail store, or pop-up space, Hunter Kaiser, IIDA, designs unique and immersive experiences from start to finish. The founder of Chicago-based creative agency, hk+c, Hunter and his team are using the same approach to create the IIDA space at NeoCon 2017.

Interior design wasn’t the original plan for Hunter. He was on a path to medical school when he took an interior design course in college and found his calling. After working in various roles at both design firms and manufacturers, he started his own firm in 2011, which he relaunched in January as a holistic design agency focused on how every detail in a space affects a customer’s experience. According to Hunter, “Design has the power to make an impact on the human experience”—and that’s exactly what he and his team are planning to do for NeoCon attendees.

The IIDA space at NeoCon, aptly titled Design|Disrupt|Shape|Shift, will challenge designers to envision the future of the Interior Design industry, to push the boundaries of the practice, and to disrupt the status quo. We talked with Hunter about his inspiration, how he is using a high-touch strategy to grab the attention of passers-by during NeoCon, and the Association’s evolving thought leadership role.

NeoCon is packed with exhibitors and showrooms vying for attention. How will Design|Disrupt|Shape|Shift stand out?

We only have a few seconds to capture people’s attention with an installation like this one, so we set out to be a disruption, ask provocative questions, and thus engage the passerby. We asked ourselves, “How can we engage someone to be a part of this important discussion about the future of commercial interior design?” This space is about external awareness of IIDA and positioning ourselves as the authoritative voice in the industry.

The theme of the booth is Design|Disrupt|Shape|Shift and the intent is to ask designers to think about how they use design to shape the world. How will you accomplish that within the confines of a booth space?

We’re asking, “How do you design, disrupt, shape, and shift?” and we’re doing that in literally a black and white manner in order for the space to differentiate itself from the surrounding environment. As we look to the future of design, we’re moving forward. The IIDA space at NeoCon includes that movement. With a guiding line, we move people through the space, and pedestals with reflective tops will ask designers questions along the way. The pedestals allow people to reflect on themselves and their answers as they move on a path to the final engagement point where attendees will post their reactions to the experience.

What do you hope people will take away from the space?           

Our first priority is to make sure that people attending NeoCon and going through the Merchandise Mart know that IIDA is connected to the business of commercial interior design. The next takeaway is having people realize that IIDA is the authority in commercial interior design thought leadership—we’re asking provocative questions and making people think differently.


Experience Design|Disrupt|Shape|Shift at NeoCon, located across from Starbucks on the first floor of the Merchandise Mart.

Up Close with the Puget Sound Campus Center

IIDA Campus Center: Puget Sound

IIDA Chapter: IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter

Where: Greater Puget Sound Region, Washington

Number of Student Members: 126 

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each one is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. We want to highlight the diversity of IIDA Student Member experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here is what we learned after sitting down with the IIDA Puget Sound Campus Center.

IIDA HQ: Give us a snapshot of your Campus Center.

IIDA Puget Sound Campus Center: The Puget Sound Campus Center (PSCC) is unusual because it consists of students from multiple schools, including Bellevue College, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle Pacific University, The Art Institute of Seattle, and Sanford-Brown College. The PSCC Council, the Campus Center’s governing board, is made up of three professionals and 12 students. The professionals on the council are there to assist the students with planning the events. The rest of the council is comprised of students from all levels of study. The student president oversees the entire council, which is made up of chairs for events, membership, social media, and community outreach, plus a treasurer, secretary, and a liaison for each school. Each chair has a coordinator to help with the division of work. We choose student board members first by merit and then by seniority.

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IIDA HQ: What kind of events and activities do you host as a Campus Center?

PSCC: Our Campus Center has seven events throughout the year. The Portfolio Workshop is where students have their portfolios critiqued and Marked Up gives students the opportunity to have a single project critiqued by a panel of judges for a chance to win an academic award. Both of these events are hosted by the professionals on our council.

Students plan and host all other events from a built environment tour to professional/student mixers. Part of the requirement for being on the PSCC Council is that each student must help plan at least one event. This year, our programming includes a built environment tour of a trio of Tom Douglas Restaurants; speed mentoring; and our End of Year Party to celebrate the accomplishments of the group and announce the upcoming council. New this year is the Product Showcase, a small tradeshow, to introduce students to local representatives and educate them about different products and materials. We try to have a wide range of programming so students can see as many aspects of the profession as possible. We also have mentorship moments at each event to give students insight about certain aspects of the profession.

IIDA HQ: How do you collaborate with your local chapter?

PSCC: This year, our community outreach project is in collaboration with the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter Advocacy Committee. We work together to design and furnish a space for a deserving charity. Students are invited to volunteer or attend certain chapter events to help them engage with the local design community.

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

PSCC: We have monthly council meetings open to any student. This way our council can check in with each other on a regular basis, and interested students can come see what we’re all about. We also have liaisons for each school to engage with peers in classrooms and hand out materials. We have one person dedicated to social media to attract attention to our events.

IIDA HQ: What is the biggest benefit of having an active Campus Center?

PSCC: The biggest benefit of an active Campus Center is that it allows for students to create meaningful events, give back to the community, and network among peers and professionals. It helps students start their career with a support system in their designer toolbox.


Follow the IIDA Puget Sound Campus Center on Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about IIDA Campus Centers, visit iida.org

Up Close with Philadelphia University

IIDA Campus Center: Philadelphia University

IIDA Chapter: Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter

Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Board Members

Co-Presidents: Christine Migliore, Student IIDA, and Rachel Thode, Student IIDA

Secretary: Kaitlyn DeBeras, Student IIDA

Events Coordinators: Caitlin Bakofsky, Student IIDA, and Bridget Sax, Student IIDA

Treasurer: Julia Strange, Student IIDA

IIDA Liaison: Emily Nelson, Student IIDA

ASID Liaison: Chela Humber, Student IIDA

AIAS Liaison: Gabriela Morales, Student IIDA

Social Media Coordinator: Paige Hocker, Student IIDA

Number of Student Members: 93

IIDA Campus Centers are the first point of contact interior design students have to IIDA. Each one is unique in design, programming, and initiatives, which makes for a varied student experience across chapters. We want to highlight the diversity of IIDA Student Member experiences by introducing you to a handful of campus centers. From how they run their group to what activities garner the most student interest, here is what we learned after sitting down with the IIDA Campus Center at Philadelphia University.

IIDA HQ: Tell us about your campus center – What does your Board of Directors look like? How does your campus center operate?

IIDA Philadelphia University Campus Center: Our board consists of interior design students of all grades. We have a secretary, event coordinators, a treasurer, an IIDA liaison, AIAS liaison, ASID liaison, and a social media coordinator. We hold monthly board meetings, which allow us to come together and gather our ideas and plan events. These meetings are typically held a week before our monthly campus meeting where all ideas and events are then discussed with all of our campus center members. These meetings allow us to get any feedback from all of our members on any suggestions for events we hold, as well as answering any questions they may have.

Co-presidents and Board Members

Philadelphia University Campus Center Co-presidents and Board Members

IIDA HQ: What kind of events and activities do you host at your campus center?

PU: This past semester we held Milkshake Monday to help raise money for future IIDA events. This was open to all students and faculty on campus to gain awareness of IIDA.

Milkshake Monday

We also hold a mentor-mentee program within our campus in which we pair underclassman with upperclassman. This gives the underclassman an extra resource to go to for help regarding design and any other classes. We held a pizza social to introduce the mentees to their mentors. At the end of the semester we also held a potluck, which was open to all students in our interior design program – not just those who are IIDA members. This allowed everyone to come together and encouraged those who are not already members to join.

This upcoming semester we plan to hold firm and showroom visits as well as host our annual product showcase to help familiarize students with the industry.

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

PU: Our potluck was our most successful event that we have held so far. We had a significant turnout that included not only our students but faculty as well. This event allowed everyone to get involved since it was open to all of interior design. It was also a relaxing event to have before the end of the semester.

 

Activities

IIDA HQ: And because we have to ask: What is the biggest benefit of being an IIDA Member and having an active campus center?

PU: The biggest benefit is that we have a constant support system. This support system is created through our mentor-mentee program. Since we do hold events that are open to all of the interior design students on campus, another benefit of being an IIDA Student Member is becoming involved with the Philadelphia Chapter through networking events and competing in competitions. There is always an opportunity for networking and meeting so many new people! Being a member also allows students to participate in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program, which is beneficial in gaining further industry knowledge.


Follow the IIDA Philadelphia University Campus Center on Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about IIDA Campus Centers, visit iida.org

Past, Present, Future

Without neglecting history or disregarding the lessons learned along the way, design always looks forward. The International Interior Design Association (IIDA) embraces this ethos—gaining wisdom from our past as we charge toward the future of our industry and the association. As the interior design profession becomes more complex and multidisciplinary, it is our job to welcome change, adapt, and support our 15,000-plus IIDA members along the way.

In 2016, IIDA expanded its offerings to commercial interior designers, manufacturers, industry leaders, and students in an effort to fill a need for cutting-edge and worthwhile resources, programming, thought leadership, events, publications, and more. The association commissioned vital research about the industry, publishing the second installment in the acclaimed “Designed Leveraged” series, which makes the case for good workplace design with data and statistics, as well as the first-ever IIDA Compensation Survey and the Economic Impact of Interior Design report.

The findings of the IIDA Compensation Survey reveal current wages for interior designers who work for firms and manufacturers in the U.S., and will be available later this year. The Economic Impact of Interior Design report, previewed at the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium, tells a compelling story about the economic and fiscal impact of the industry at the state and national levels—and is a critical tool for advocates who are making the case for interior design licensing to legislators.

IIDA efforts in 2016 also included supporting tomorrow’s design leaders. We saw the growth of our student programming, which included a record number of participants—more than 1,000 students and design professionals—in our dynamic Student Mentoring program last March. A series of inaugural IIDA Student Roundtable discussions, hosted by OFS Brands and held in Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York, again brought together design students and practitioners to discuss the preparedness of emerging professionals to take on the ever-changing challenges of the design industry.  Continue reading

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.”

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.