Change is, many times, a good thing. I’m thrilled to begin my work as Deputy Director and Senior Vice President of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). After 18 years in editorial positions in New York related to the architecture and design profession, I am a few weeks into the work at the IIDA headquarters in Chicago—getting to know the headquarters staff and getting up to speed on every aspect of IIDA’s programming, events, communication efforts, and advocacy initiatives. I am focusing my work on a few key areas prior to NeoCon, with a broadening scope to follow as the months proceed. Working closely with IIDA EVP/CEO Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA, the headquarters staff, and IIDA chapter leaders, my initial focus is on industry relations, membership communications, and expanded programming efforts for the organization. And I am ramping up my work just as we prepare for spring events and NeoCon!
Members should know: In the near term, besides the forthcoming announcements of award winners, you’re going to see a few exciting new things from IIDA in the coming weeks and months. Some are subtle, and some are more bold. How’s that for a tease? Saying nothing and yet leaving you curious for more: That’s where my years of editorial experience come in to play.
Deadlines to Keep in Mind
With the spring season here, here are a few things to keep in mind for your calendars: Chapters have until April 20 to enter the IIDA Chapter Awards at this link. The Chapter Awards have been fully redesigned, and now include two components: a chapter benchmarking assessment and the Best Thing Ever (BTE) Award. The deadline for the IIDA Campus Center Awards is also April 20, and all entry information is at this IIDA Campus Center Awards link.
For firms that have completed recent projects in Latin America or the Caribbean, know that the deadline for the IIDA Latin America Design Awards is April 20. The design projects must be located in Latin America or the Caribbean, but the design firm may be based anywhere, including the U.S.
IIDA During NeoCon Week
Are you already planning your time for NeoCon week in Chicago? Be sure to include the IIDA Annual Meeting, COOL Gala, and IIDA headquarters reception in your plans.
The IIDA Annual Meeting is at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 10, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Admission is free and open to all in the industry. But we will reach capacity, so get there early to get a seat to see honorees such as the Star Award and Titan Award winners, and Chapter of the Year and Member of the Year. Gabrielle Bullock, IIDA, FAIA, NOMA, Principal at Perkins+Will Los Angeles, will give her inaugural address as the 2018-2019 International President of IIDA.
Tickets are available for the IIDA COOL Gala to be held on the evening of Sunday, June 10, at The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, which was beautifully renovated this past year. Reserve your tickets at this link for COOL.
On the opening day of NeoCon, after you’ve had a full day within the friendly confines of theMART, join the IIDA team for a reception at our IIDA headquarters office. The reception is from 3 to 6 p.m. on Monday June 11, at 111 East Wacker Drive, Suite 222.
Reports with Insights from Practitioners and Students
At headquarters, we are busy putting the final touches on a few key resources. Later this month, we will be releasing both the IIDA Industry Roundtable Report and the IIDA Student Roundtable Report online. The IIDA Industry Roundtable Report will summarize high-level discussions held at the IIDA headquarters in January. And the IIDA Student Roundtable Report is a summary of four gatherings of students and professionals, sponsored by OFS, held in the past six months in various cities across the country. The findings in both reports will be enlightening as we have a meaningful, continued dialogue about the future of the design profession.
And in case you may have missed it: You will find the results of the IIDA Interior Design Compensation Report to be informative. Released just two months ago, the report is an analysis of salary and benefit information that enables design leaders to monitor the health of the industry. According to the report, design professionals’ salaries are on the rise: 69 percent of respondents report receiving a raise in 2017. And, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession will grow an additional five percent over the next decade. Learn more about the report—and the IIDA compensation calculator—at this link.
That’s all I have for now. Please visit me and the IIDA team in Chicago (in our fantastic office designed by Todd Heiser, IIDA, and his team at Gensler). And you’ll see me on the road, too, at HD Expo in Las Vegas in early May and at the AIA Conference on Architecture in late June in New York. Contact me at email@example.com, and I look forward to seeing you all soon!
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.
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).
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Earlier this year, IIDA recognized Melissa Destree, IIDA, AIA, principal architect, interior designer, Destree Architecture and Design, as the 2017 Advocate of the Year for her dedication and commitment to interior design advocacy. Melissa serves as vice president of advocacy of the IIDA Wisconsin Chapter. After filling a multiyear-long vacancy, Melissa began the process of restructuring and reforming the chapter’s advocacy committee. Here she talks about how the perception of interior design has changed, why advocacy continues to evolve, and the importance of working with lobbyists.
IIDA: Why is advocacy important to you personally?
Melissa: During the 2008 recession, I was dismayed that so many interior designers were let go and architects were going to just ‘do their job.’ As an architect and interior designer, I had a unique perspective and appreciation for both specialties. A few years later, I heard confessions from architects that interior design is complex, fast paced, and demands organizational skills. They had no idea. Having gone through that experience, many architects now appreciate what the commercial interior designer brings to the team. This is what inspired me to get more involved. We all have the power to make change and advocacy is the tool to make our profession stronger.
Why should chapters invest time and money into advocacy?
Advocacy is the conduit to affect change and reinforce legislation to support our profession. We need the enthusiasm of our fellow interior designers to push us forward. Unfortunately, we cannot expect to do this effectively on our own. We need funds to engage lobbyists to assist with advocacy. This past year, our Wisconsin lobbyists have opened so many doors and provided so many opportunities for interior designers in Wisconsin to tell our stories. They helped us quench a threat from the anti-licensure policy wonks and are helping us build momentum to pursue opportunities for the practice of interior design.
Why do you think it’s important to build relationships with your local and state government officials?
This year, at our Capitol Day event, when we met with legislators at the State Capitol, they were overwhelmingly pleased. We introduced ourselves, discussed recent projects, and reinforced that we have a voluntary registration in Wisconsin. We shared how our profession impacts the state economy. We were not there demanding something from our legislators. We were there to build relationships and educate. From that relationship building, we have democrat and republican supporters of the interior design profession. This momentum has encouraged us to propose revised legislation with a seal provision for commercial interior designers.
How do you think being an advocate has changed over the last five or ten years?
Ten years ago, our chapter did not have a VP of Advocacy. I was recruited after my chapter presidency to fill this position, develop an advocacy strategy, and work with our interior design collation in Wisconsin. But even five years ago, it was not on our chapter’s radar to hire a lobbyist. In 2015, IIDA and ASID members determined that the best advocacy approach for our state was to dissolve our coalition and partner together with the support of IIDA HQ and National ASID advocacy experts. Then in 2016, conservative and libertarian policy groups, with their anti-licensure stance, were spreading false information about the Interior Design profession throughout Wisconsin. We needed to get on the field and defend our profession. We hired a lobbyist in January 2017. We were prepared!
What have you learned as an advocate and VP of Advocacy that other advocates should know?
The toughest part of advocacy is to take the first step to get involved. Once you meet your first legislator or do your first volunteer activity, you you see the benefit to both yourself and the profession.
Get involved with interior design advocacy at advocacy.iida.org.