This year, our relationship to the built environment was redefined. Our homes have become temporary classrooms, offices, gyms, and restaurants, and we are now starting to imagine safe and comfortable ways to re-engage with public spaces. It is a time of much change and also an opportunity for innovation.
Caring for our space can take on many different meanings. In 2020 into 2021, it is important to make the environments we inhabit as personalized and comfortable as possible. When it comes to interiors, color is playing an ever more important role in setting the mood, creating a peaceful atmosphere and providing a sense of well-being. Behr Paint Company understands the needs of these new times and has thoughtfully curated new color lines to energize and inspire these environments.
Enter the BEHR® Color Trends 2021 Palette: a spectrum of 21 shades spanning from essential neutrals to lavish bolds, enabling both do-it-yourselfers and designers alike to create a much-needed sense of “Elevated Comfort.” Energizing, comforting, engaging and versatile, the Behr Color Trends 2021 Palette is organized into four color themes:
Mindful Escape – A quiet play of soft neutral tones like Almond Wisp PPU5-12, Smoky White BWC-13 and Canyon Dusk S210-4, influenced by clean modern lines, casual textiles and traditional Japanese design motifs.
Curated Clarity – Pastels are reinvented in subtle yellow, blue and green tones like Cellini Gold HDC-CL-18, Seaside Villa S190-1 and Dayflower MQ3-54, providing a calm and balanced backdrop for any type of space calling for a serene environment.
Optimistic Glam – Energize the interior of workplace or retail settings with an eclectic vibe borrowed from rich Mediterranean colors and retro 70s glam including Euphoric Magenta M110-7, Saffron Strands PPU6-02, Caribe PPU13-1 and Kalahari Sunset MQ1-25.
Dramatic Revival – A “new-stalgic” mix of vintage and modern elements make a bold statement in any commercial space by using deep, opulent colors like Royal Orchard PPU11-1, Broadway PPU18-20 and Nocturne Blue HDC-CL-28, along with lavish materials and shapes.
Each theme evokes positivity in a variety of design styles, and each color was chosen for how it complements other colors—you can mix and match colors from each of the themes to suit any design aesthetic. Whether it’s for returning students in a classroom, welcoming colleagues back into the office, inviting guests into an updated retail or hotel experience or offering residents a safe retreat in a multifamily community, these colors can help create environments that offer sophisticated design that reflects optimism and clarity.
The entire Behr Color Trends 2021 Palette is available exclusively at The Home Depot® stores nationwide. To learn more about the palette, visit behrpro.com/2021trends. For more project inspiration, follow #BEHRTrends2021 and #21DaysOfColor on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
The 2020 Community as Strategy event series, presented by KI and IIDA, continued virtually in “Chicago,” bringing together local designers and professionals to discuss the important roles that brand and culture play in the creation of meaningful corporate community.
What does community mean when being together physically is challenged, and what is the significance of brand and culture in the built environment if we’re not there? These were the questions posed by moderator Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, executive vice president and CEO of IIDA, during the most recent Community as Strategy virtual webinar. Durst spoke with four women working in design and strategy with their employees, customers, and clients on the continued importance of maintaining brand and ensuring that corporate communities remain strong and healthy enough to help and uplift others.
We often explore brand and culture in tandem when discussing the communities found within organizations and the external communities those organizations come into contact with. For Anne Gibson, principal at Gensler, “brand and culture are things that [designers] have been talking to their clients about for decades. They are how [organizations] differentiate themselves in the market but also in the physical space.”
Simply put, brand and culture are synonymous with mission and purpose. Corporate branding can shape and define a company’s overall culture, not only within workplace structures, but in its relationship to customers, consumers, and other external groups. So what will brand and culture mean to us in the upcoming months and years now that we are looking at community roles differently?
In this ongoing series, IIDA features women leading the design industry through change, innovation, and progress. Hear what they have to say on the importance of diversity in design, mentorship, inspiration, and the future of the profession. The significance of design in our often-challenging and rapidly changing world cannot be overstated; it endows us with much-needed clarity, beauty, accessibility, and problem-solving. The women who are making design happen, at all stages in their careers, are the leaders of a better tomorrow. IIDA (virtually) connected with women making strides in design to discuss the urgency of this current moment, what’s next for design, and how a diversity of design thought is more crucial than ever.
Ronnie Belizaire, IIDA, Corporate Real Estate Manager, Americas, Daimler
IIDA: Throughout your career in design, how have you been a mentor to others? Has that been rewarding?
Ronnie Belizaire: I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a mentor, both formally and informally, on various occasions, and the one thing that always reigns true for me is the overwhelming feeling of gratitude I have for being trusted and able to pour into another person’s professional growth and development.
IIDA: What do you see as the role of women in design—particularly in light of our current times?
RB: It is simply good business to ensure that women are celebrated and elevated into leadership roles within the design industry. I remember being in design school over 15 years ago and the only woman I studied as a design savant was Florence Knoll in my textbooks and course curriculum. While Florence was brilliant, I’m pretty certain she wasn’t the only woman who did design work worthy to be celebrated. Women bring a certain ability to translate the needs of all into their designs all while leading with empathy, and the design industry could benefit from that type of energy.
IIDA: What or who inspires you in your life and work?
RB: I am inspired by the lives of everyday people from all walks of life who make the world we live in more interesting and meaningful. Before COVID-19 began, I was an avid traveler both personally and professionally. I was adamant about visiting and seeing parts of the world that gave me a different perspective on what it means to live a life. While I enjoyed the finer things all these places had to offer, I was also intentional about always including stops where everyday people of a place live and work so I could truly have an immersive experience that I knew would leave a lasting imprint on me. My interactions with everyday people in any place I visit are usually some of my favorite moments of any trip. One of my personal mottos is “See the world, and bring it back home with you through the memories made.”
Rachel Rouse, IIDA, Principal, Director of Interiors, HOK
IIDA: Who has been an important mentor to you over the course of your career and how?
Rachel Rouse: I try to remember that everyone I meet knows something that I don’t and has something to teach me. As a result, I have had many mentors throughout my career who pushed me to grow in different ways. The one that really sticks with me is Kim Hogan, my predecessor at HOK. She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. She took the time to actively recruit me to come work for her and then she stretched my limits by providing me with opportunities to interview directly with clients and learn from my mistakes in real-time. She passed early this year, and I was never able to ask her why. In some ways, I think I continue to push myself for her.
IIDA: Have you mentored others? Has that been rewarding and how? RR: I love working with my team to help them grow. I encourage my team members to reach for the next step and am a particular advocate for licensure. The best part of my job is growing with people and seeing someone you’ve worked with succeeding in their career feels like success for me too.
IIDA: What do you see as the role of women in design? RR: We can be the change we wish to see in the world. I hope to see a more equitable society for my children. Our industry can be tough, particularly on parents and women of color. It’s the role of all women to lift each other up and do everything in our power to help each other grow and thrive.
IIDA: What or who inspires you? RR: I draw inspiration from film and theater performance. Something about a form of creativity that is so different from my day job is not only inspiring but often brings me joy and refreshes my mind.
Kia Weatherspoon, Principal and Interior Design Advocate, Determined by Design IIDA: Who has been an important mentor to you over the course of your career? Kia Weatherspoon: As a woman of color, I never saw designers who looked like me in leadership roles early on in my career. I had to learn to be my own hero. While the landscape lacked diversity, it did teach me that no one is going to advocate better for me than me. Once you can advocate for yourself, then you can advocate for others.
IIDA: Throughout your career in design, how have you been a mentor to others? Has that been rewarding? KW: Due to my early experiences in the industry, I decided to become the leader I wanted to see. I adamantly make myself available to support any emerging designer or student through the various stages of their careers. Currently, I am actively mentoring and sponsoring ten emerging designers. Whether working with individuals or speaking to audiences, I am committed to sharing all the “secrets” no one told or offered me.
When speaking at Virginia Commonwealth University in January 2020, a student of color said to me, “You are the first interior designer of color I’ve ever met. When I saw you and heard your story, I could see myself in you. I needed that because I was tired of being the only one!” This student was considering dropping out of the program. I believe my success, presence, and willingness to show up are how I mentor every day. It is because of stories like this that I have returned to teaching. It is a call to action. There is a need for more diverse design professionals in academia.
For me, mentoring is not about reaping personal rewards, it is what I am supposed to do—a calling if you will. There is work to be done, so I will show up to be there for the industry. It is about empowering designers, and it is long overdue. If we can empower individual designers, we will elevate the profession as a whole.
IIDA: What do you see as the role of women in design—particularly in light of our current times?
KW: Women can better position themselves by acknowledging that our innate level of empathy and understanding make us an asset to a team and/or deal. We can position ourselves for greater success by using empathy as a value add. We put others first, which is a strength. This allows us to take into consideration the whole person or team experience as it relates to the end-user as well as for relationship and team building. I think we need to use our empathetic lens to create more intentional, inclusive design outcomes and teams.
IIDA: What or who inspires you?
KW: Dawn Myers, Founder of THE MOST! She’s not in the A&D space, but she is an entrepreneur disrupting and innovating technology in the beauty industry. I love a disrupter who will pull the curtain back so you can see where change needs to happen. She’s tackling venture capitalist spaces and their inequities head-on. Simultaneously, she is creating a technology infrastructure that doesn’t exist in the beauty market for women of color. Also, Damon Lawrence of Homage Hospitality Group. He’s building a Black-centric boutique hotel brand. It pays homage to all things Black and African culture in the hospitality space—down to the products in his hotels. Another disrupter and founder!
In the most recent Coffee with Cheryl, a webinar presented by KI and IIDA as part of the Community as Strategy program series, a panel of design professionals pondered community building in the time of COVID and what it means to meaningfully engage with community during times of societal unrest.
Last year’s Community as Strategyprogram series took IIDA and KI to six U.S. cities where designers and clients discussed the importance of supporting communities through design and described their unique respective community needs. This year’s series looks drastically different—through the use of virtual technology—but the primary thesis remains: maintaining community is vital, and in challenging times, how will design help?
This iteration of Coffee with Cheryl was moderated by IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, and Deborah Breuning, vice president of A+D marketing at KI, and brought together 16 design professionals to consider our most pressing questions for the future: In a work-from-home world, how can design help maintain community? What will be important designers to communicate within the built environment? How do we continue to engage in community given all we know about the world around us?
Panelists were invited to share their thoughts on ways design can support, reinforce, and engage community, even through times of adversity. This notion of community, given that we are living through the pandemics of both coronavirus and systemic racism, is more important than ever. According to Diana Farmer-Gonzales, IIDA, Assoc. AIA, managing director and principal of Gensler’s Miami office, “We have to be intentional with community and with how we build it.”
Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, executive vice president and CEO, IIDA
Deborah Breuning, vice president of A+D marketing, KI
Abby Scott, IIDA, senior interior designer and architectural studio leader, HDR
Alexandra Bonner, IIDA, project interior designer, FCArchitects
Events of the past centuries, the past decades, and most recently in past weeks and days have painfully and plainly illuminated the disparities in our culture and society. We are at a pivotal moment where we must face great societal challenges that will not be repaired without great collective effort. Confronting racism, injustice, and a need for equity is critical to moving forward, and current events expose how much work needs to be done for us all to really “be in this together.” We know that design is but one small part of that larger equation—so why not start with the change we can most immediately affect?
Design illuminates disparity and helps close the gaps—from healthcare and education to public space and urban planning. Design in all its manifestations is a force for change.
Recently at IIDA, we’ve considered, like so many of you, what “re-entry” and a return to life in a post-pandemic world might be. Certainly, not the same world we left behind four months ago. And definitely not a so-called “new normal.” Frankly, the old normal wasn’t exactly working that well for us. For the environment. For people of color. For the LGBTQIA community. For so many.
So what will we come back to?
Quite simply, the spaces that encompass where our lives happen—the places where we heal, where we work, where we learn, where we gather, museums, theatres, playgrounds, schools, sports facilities, stadiums, civic centers, libraries, concert halls, outdoor festivals—all the places that perhaps we took for granted before, are now places filled with nostalgia. As we re-enter these spaces, let us mandate that they be healthier and safer, but importantly also more inclusive, more equitable—DESIGN FOR HUMANITY.
The power of our collective energy is more important than ever, and we should and will consider how we function as a global design community and how we hold strong to those foundational values. The spaces we envision and create, envelop and contain those values and this time requires a broadened vocabulary of collaboration. One where we are open to learning, expanding our societal and world views, and maintaining a through-line of equity and humanity in all the work we do.
Design and design strategies can develop the tools we need to create our safer spaces. As we head into the future and the inevitable aftermath of this global crisis, public and commercial interiors will be looked at through a new lens. Within interior design, there will be more of an emphasis on the way that people move within a space and how that enables them to interact.
Health, well-being, and wellness, must be at the forefront, and our interior spaces and the furniture, fabrics, and materials will be held to and regulated at much higher standards. It must be reinforced that no matter the neighborhood we live in, no matter where we exist socioeconomically, no matter our race, gender, or background, we all deserve to live with these fundamental design values and with DIGNITY.
Designers have always put humans first, and in a post pandemic world, humans and their safety and well-being are of paramount importance. And for now, for next, and for always, design will do what design does best, support and uplift humanity and culture. Design is indeed the business of life. Now more than ever, the world requires what design so abundantly endows—grace, civility, compassion, clarity, connection, common sense, empathy, well-being, comfort, healing, hope, and EQUITY.
We have to stand together as humans dedicated to the betterment of our society. Let us continue to be a force for good in this world and take responsibility individually and collectively for envisioning and enacting change, progress, and JUSTICE.
Design is forever an act of optimism, and we can little afford in our activism to not be optimistic about our collective future.
All my best wishes to you for peace, safety, good health, and well-being. Stay hopeful and stay strong.
2020-2021 International Board President Sascha Wagner discusses the roles of community and design in the process of evolving through crisis, and the need for adaptability in our environments.
Sascha Wagner, FIIDA, begins his term as the 2020-2021 IIDA International Board of Directors President during a time that is uniquely impacting our lives. As President and CEO of Huntsman Architectural Group, which has offices in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, Wagner oversees a firm with expertise in workplace, residential, and building repositioning design. Born and raised in Germany, Wagner holds degrees from the University of Toronto and Ringling College of Art and Design. He has previously served as IIDA Northern California chapter president, and more recently as vice president and president-elect on the IIDA International Board of Directors. While we are unable to gather in person to celebrate the beginning of his term and to listen to his inaugural remarks, Wagner shares his thoughts on the profession, design at this critical juncture, and on the next generation.
John Czarnecki: You begin your term as the 2020-2021 IIDA International Board President in an extremely challenging time. What are your thoughts and expectations for IIDA as a member organization?
Sascha Wagner: While acknowledging that this is a difficult time for the world at large and the design profession, this can also be a critical opportunity for commercial designers to help shape the future. IIDA has always been a great connector for our professional, student, and industry members, as well as design firms, product manufacturers, and our clients who benefit from good design. Strengthening these links is even more critical now, as we are all likely to work and collaborate from a distance for quite a while. People inherently have a need for belonging and a sense of place, and the role of IIDA as a member organization is more important than ever. I look forward to serving as IIDA International Board President in the coming year, as IIDA continues to provide relevant content and resources, connects members in meaningful interactions, and amplifies our members’ collective voice about the power of design to impact the human experience.
Going forward, human health in the built environment must be our priority. Our profession’s mandate to advocate and design for health, sustainability, equity, and social impact is only heightened. Spaces tell a story of values. Today’s acute focus on disease prevention adds a new dimension, and, as an industry, we are learning how built spaces can positively impact human wellbeing even more effectively. Looking further ahead, we can be hopeful that a post-pandemic future with an added emphasis on the importance of place will help to transcend the economic impact of 2020.
JC: So much is being written about what a return to the office will look like and the ways it may vary based on city and region. While the coming months will be challenging, and the impact may be lasting, what is your expectation for the future of the workplace a few years from now?
SW: We are currently operating in triage mode, retrofitting existing workspaces and adjusting how we use them for the next year or more. How much of this initial response will influence long-term post-pandemic decisions on real estate footprints and workplace design remains a critical question. Designers and clients are being forced to rethink the very nature of interactions between people in the built environment. Making people feel safe as well as besafe will be the key. Organizations will likely become more resilient and agile, and think of their workforce more supportively, I hope. The purpose and function of the office will evolve, and designers will continue to work with our forward-thinking clients to design places for culture and connection.
JC: As President and CEO of Huntsman Architectural Group, overseeing a firm with multiple offices, are there lessons that you are taking from this experience in terms of firm leadership and management?
SW: Every design firm is faced with challenges today, including ours. A crisis only amplifies an organization’s DNA. Our management team has always sought to be as transparent as possible in decision making and in conveying our situation, priorities, and plans to the employee-owners. At a time in which everything is uncertain, sharing information candidly helps to provide needed clarity and trust. As leaders, it is also okay to admit when we do not have all the answers, provided that we listen to others. Maintaining a social fabric is also important: While working from home, we have been focusing on staying connected with all-staff meetings, studio calls, happy hours, and sharing recipes and even childhood photos. We are going through this together, and in some ways, teams across our offices feel closer than before.
“Design is by nature an optimistic endeavor.”
JC: Our design profession is being called upon now for expertise in all commercial interiors, including workplaces, healthcare settings, schools, hospitality, and retail. What is your hope for the design profession overall as our knowledge and skills are in demand in increasingly urgent ways?
SW: The initial response from our design profession, including firms 3D-printing PPE and IIDA members volunteering in their communities, has been incredible. Many designers have openly published ideas and planning strategies for adapting our public settings—offices, stores, restaurants, and schools—to keep people safe. While designers are not healthcare providers, we have a deep knowledge of human behavior in the built environment and we solve complex problems in a multi-disciplinary and iterative design process. Collectively, we will keep learning, sharing, and improving solutions. In the long term, I hope buildings and interior spaces will become more resilient and human health-centric, which is a positive development out of a tragic premise. Design is by nature an optimistic endeavor.
JC: Designers are also strategists and can be at the forefront of multi-disciplinary teams designing healthy interiors with wellness in mind. How do you foresee the role of “designer as strategist” evolving?
SW: I see an opportunity for design professionals to further develop expertise in organizational development, human behavior, and the psychology of design to add greater value when defining future strategies for wellness in the built environment. Design strategy addresses the questions of how people interact with the physical environment as well as why. Physical health, emotional wellbeing, and connection to culture and brand are all important aspects of this relationship between people and place. Organizations are now faced with re-mapping some of these connections. But we are not going to live in isolation forever. The personal experiences one has working in an office, shopping in a store, or eating in a restaurant are valuable beyond the convenience of online equivalents. How we return to more meaningful interactions is a complex challenge to undertake. Designers are well-positioned to help lead this effort, with the input of health experts and others.
JC: Savvy designers incorporate sustainable design practices regularly in their projects. How are issues of sustainable design amplified by this moment?
SW: The concept of a triple bottom line—ensuring human wellbeing, protecting the planet, and economic benefit—remains highly relevant. Ultimately, we cannot let our reaction to this pandemic come at the expense of the environment. As we are now evaluating building systems, products, finishes, behaviors, and even sanitizing protocols from an antiviral perspective, we also have to continue to mitigate any negative impacts on the planet. At a larger scale, looking at work scenarios that reduce commuting and travel—not just remote working from home, but perhaps regional hubs or hybrid solutions—can help to reduce our environmental footprint in a significant way and have a positive impact.
“Being involved in IIDA certainly helped me feel fully immersed and connected in the profession early on, and that continues today.”
JC: Do you have any advice for those graduating from design programs entering the profession today?
SW: Speaking with a group of graduating students recently, I was amazed at their positivity and resilience as they are finishing the school year from home. I would ask students to remember that their chosen profession is an important one because, as designers, they can make a unique contribution to our future world. Even with a potentially delayed start, now is the time for graduates to begin building a network with design professionals and peers in preparation for entering the workforce. IIDA is the perfect platform to connect students and emerging professionals. Being involved in IIDA certainly helped me feel fully immersed and connected in the profession early on, and that continues today. We need that sense of connection, especially during challenging times like these, and that is what IIDA provides.