Design Competitions Offer Opportunities for Recognition and Connection

Despite the current state of uncertainty in our world, firms and designers should still look to design competitions for creative and professional validation, portfolio building, and community engagement. 

While it may seem like an unusual time to be entering your latest design projects into competitions—with the ongoing global pandemic profoundly changing the ways we conduct business—design competitions can be especially valuable for both you and your firm. Thought moments of celebration are being hampered across the world, firms and designers can and should still look for ways to honor achievement and gain recognition for their accomplishments.

It’s important to promote your interior design innovations in sustainability, health and safety, and accessibility—and provide your design team with a sense of validation. Your newly realized or in-progress interior design projects will be setting the tone for what we continue to build and design in a post-pandemic world.

The process of applying to a competition can be a powerful team-builder.

No matter what kind of award or competition you are applying for, there is a great deal of work to be done by everyone on your team. From organizing project information to sourcing photos and renderings, a competition application is a commitment. If you look at applying as a team exercise with team-building as an additional goal it may inspire collaboration and creativity amongst designers. Like design itself, the application process can result in the sharing of perspectives, new takes on future projects, and defining your value as a firm.

2019 IIDA Best of Asia Pacific Awards Category Winner | Restaurants, Lounges & Bars | Yanlord Health Cafe by CL3 Architects Limited | Photo by: b+m Studio, courtesy of CL3

Awards and competitions may help you achieve a promotional goal, whether you win or not.

Whether your firm is looking to attract new talent, or your team wants to take on larger-scale projects with big-name clients, placing in competitions is a great and straightforward way to show ‘em what you’ve got. Having your project highlighted as a competition winner can be a window into your design process or a way to demonstrate your firm’s strengths to an international design audience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every competition will be what Bilboa was for Frank Gehry, but they can certainly help put you on the map in ways that internal promotion may not.

Competitions can be morale boosters and team motivators.

When you submit a design project to be considered for an award, it sends the message to your design team that their work is valued and deserves to be celebrated. At a time when workflow may be paused or future projects uncertain, the competition can reinstill excitement for the hard work and creativity within your firm. No matter what kind of work you do or what your professional end goals may be, receiving an award or accolade simply feels good and can provide a renewed sense of inspiration or affirmation.

2020 ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award Category Winner | Public Libraries – 30,000 sq. ft. and under | (Re)imagining The Community Library by RATIO w/ Nicole Snyder Interiors | Photo by: Gabe Border and Gibeon Photography

Winning or placing in a competition enhances your firm’s portfolio, which can potentially attract more clients.

Awards offer credibility that may be attractive to clients—especially clients who are new to the process of selecting a design firm. Placing in a competition communicates with current and future clients that your design team is organized, has excellent follow-through, communicates well, takes pride in their work, and understands their strengths. If a competition publishes winning projects in major design publications, such as when Will Ching Design Competition winner OpenUU was featured in Interior Design, this can also increase the traffic to your firm’s website and result in more interest.

Competitions connect you with the wider design community.

Many competitions and awards have both regional and international audiences and applicants, meaning that when you apply to a design competition, you become a part of a robust network of professionals and designers. Competitions allow you to indirectly become involved in associations, organizations, design publications, and other firms. At a time when social distancing is the norm, anything that meaningfully connects you with your external community is more valuable than ever.

Sign up for Designed for Excellence, the bi-weekly newsletter dedicated to IIDA competitions and awards updates, plus news on events, celebrations, and award-winning design projects. Email Clare Socker at csocker@iida.org to be added to the subscriber list.

Lead image: 47th Annual Interior Design Competition Winner | ICS kindergarten by Fun connection design | Photo by: Yue Wu, courtesy of Fun connection design

COLLECTIVE D(ESIGN): Hospitality Design Navigates Change

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the fifth webinar in the series today. 

Leaders in hospitality design whose clients include major global brands and renowned restaurateurs address challenges in overseeing a practice during this time. Join moderator John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA, and a panel of design experts based in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as they discuss the re-emergence of the hospitality industry, design for the human experience, and the future of interiors of hotels, restaurants, and places to gather.

The conversation, while focused on hospitality—the design of hotels, restaurants, and the hospitality industry overall—touched on topics of interest for the entire commercial interior design industry. The designers shared how their firms are supporting their employees, the status of their projects in the U.S. and globally, and how the business of their clients—hoteliers and restaurateurs—are impacted. They also shared expertise on how this moment will influence hospitality interior design in the immediate term and post-pandemic future, reflecting on how lessons from this moment could affect restaurants and hotel communal spaces.

As Czarnecki noted in the session’s opening remarks, “Even if you are not a designer in the hospitality sector, you enjoy going to restaurants, you travel, and you’re certainly interested in the future of the hospitality industry as an important sector of the economy. The designers in this session also offer lessons that can be applicable to the design of other projects as well.”

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn more about earning your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Panelists:

  • Adam Farmerie, Partner, AvroKO, New York
  • James Lee, Director of Design, Hospitality, LEO A DALY, Los Angeles
  • Margaret McMahon, Senior Vice President and Global Director, Wimberly Interiors, New York
  • Meg Prendergast, IIDA, Principal, The Gettys Group, Chicago

The next webinar in the series, Episode 6 | The Changing Landscape of Workplace Design will take place on April 30, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

COLLECTIVE D(ESIGN): Human Resources, Opportunity and the New Normal

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the fourth webinar in the series today. 

As roles within firms rapidly shift and employees transition to working from home for the foreseeable future, how are firms adjusting their policies to this challenging new normal? Join IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, and a panel of industry leaders for a discussion on the pandemic’s short and long-term effects on people and how they work, communicate, and collaborate within the design industry.

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn how to earn your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Panelists:

  • Meg Brown, Principal, Chief Talent Officer, Perkins and Will
  • Ronda Green, Director, Workplace Design and Furniture, Sr. Project Manager , Oracle
  • Amy Storek, Ind. IIDA, Chief Revenue Officer, Pivot Interiors
  • Betsy Vohs, Founder and CEO, Studio BV

The next webinar in the series, Hospitality Design Navigates Change will take place on April 23, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

Carolyn BaRoss: Healthcare Designers Facing the Challenge of Global Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the world around us, touching all of our lives and heightening awareness of the importance of healthcare and healthcare environments. In this interview, Carolyn BaRoss, IIDA, the New York-based firmwide healthcare interior design director at Perkins and Will, shares her thoughts on how the firm and her healthcare design practice has adjusted, and how they will move forward in a new normal. She offers lessons that can be applicable to all interior designers and architects, not just those focused on healthcare.


IIDA: How have your teams and colleagues adjusted to working remotely and continuing their projects?

Carolyn BaRoss: Within our firm, we have genuine concern for each other’s well-being and safety, and gratitude for the ability to continue to work and create together remotely through our firm’s robust technology infrastructure. Overcommunication and clarity of communication—that is, communicating clearly and often—is a highly effective rule of thumb, particularly when a project is just getting started. But once things get moving, compassion is key: we understand and accept the need for personal flexibility and shifting work schedules, because there are unique challenges for everyone. We know our people are doing their best.

IIDA: How has the firm implemented technology to both continue the work as well as to encourage communication and continued collaboration?

CB: We benefit from a suite of digital project and collaboration management tools that help keep everyone engaged and thriving with some semblance of normalcy. Here in New York, we continue to gather the entire studio for our Monday morning “all hands” meeting, where multiple studio leaders present updates, and we continue to hold project team meetings, just as we always have. More recently, our firm has introduced a series of cross-disciplinary meetings with diverse practice leaders from all over the world during which we share ideas and strategies for our “new normal”—today and in the future. And finally, formerly “analog” culture and community events that help us connect on a personal level have now gone digital, including virtual coffee breaks and tea time, shared movies, group yoga, and design dialogues.

IIDA: Is there an aspect of your firm’s workflow that has not drastically changed in this time?

CB: We’ve always done work in China by virtual collaboration between our Shanghai and New York teams, for example. One project in China, which had been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is now ramped back up as people return to the workplace there.


“One of the silver linings is that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed an intrinsic global community interconnectedness. Ultimately, helping and being part of the solution matters most—whether you’re a designer or not.”

– Carolyn BaRoss

IIDA: Your firm has strong research-based approaches and initiatives. How is that informing your approach to the work at this time?

The urgency for factual, evidence-based strategies has led to collaboration between our healthcare interiors team and our firm’s commercial interiors clients and colleagues. This convergence of practices has been positive for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a sharing of our healthcare research and technical knowledge, including designers, and that of clinically trained nursing leadership within our firm. Suddenly, healthcare interior design best practices are human health best practices, relevant for all building types, touching everything from space planning, materiality, and detailing to technology, engineering systems, and operations.

We see this both as an extraordinary opportunity and as a responsibility. We are sharing scientific research and knowledge, but our goal is to ensure that this research and knowledge are used appropriately and intelligently in support of “do-no-harm” protocols. We are somewhat concerned that the fear generated by COVID-19 and community spread will prompt emotional, partially-informed reactions that may actually cause more harm than good over time—for example, the inappropriate use of antibacterial and antimicrobial products.

IIDA: At this moment, many of your healthcare clients in the U.S. are overwhelmed with work that is focused on the immediate crisis. How do you continue the communication process to move design projects forward with them?

CB: We have altered the format and abbreviated communications into smaller pieces so that clinical leadership can review and respond during breaks, while handling the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of stopping project work, we have heard that breaking up their days this way has given them a moment to think optimistically about building a positive future, and it’s been a welcome respite from the present crisis. We already had established a good rapport with the client team, so virtual and truncated communications remain effective for this period.

One change we are seeing on the clients’ side is the way they’re delivering care to their patients. For non-COVID-19 care teams like elective/specialty care services, there’s a slowdown in patient flow. Non-emergency ambulatory clinics are closed, and their caregivers are available via telemedicine portals. Some have furloughed health system employees and or reduced salaries. I have also heard of physicians experiencing a significant reduction in hours.

IIDA: How is Perkins and Will engaged in strategic-response design through the adaptation of existing healthcare facilities or repurposing for surge capacity? 

The firm has several initiatives, each of them driven by how the virus has impacted a given studio’s location, and many of them are really tapping into the creative power of design thinking.

  • Our Seattle studio has been working with Swedish Medical Center to create a digital dashboard that aggregates critical data in real-time from their regional hospital network. The data includes hospital space usage, bed availability, health statistics from national databases, availability of medical gases, and the sanitization of space and equipment. It is necessary for making smart, split-second decisions. Rather than waiting for drawings to be printed up and presented, a real-time digital dashboard presents the data in a cohesive, visually compelling, easy-to-interpret way. This groundbreaking work is currently being beta-tested with the client, and our firm’s IT team is heavily involved. Our Seattle team has also been working with Swedish on quick-response and temporary efforts to accommodate an influx of patients including building out temporary new spaces to accommodate additional beds.
  • In New York, we have been working with the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) Surge Capacity Task Force. In March, New York State called for the creation of nearly 140,000 additional acute care and intensive care unit beds within 14 to 21 days. We’ve been helping to rapidly assess unused hospital-owned spaces, long-term care facilities, and alternative care sites, like hotels and commercial real estate, to increase hospital bed capacity by between 50 and 100 percent. We are also involved in a similar task force in New England.
  • In the Chicago area, our COVID-19 work includes converting existing buildings into alternative care facilities. One project will reactivate a former acute-care hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, and another will transform a former medical office building into a dedicated COVID-19 care facility.
  • In San Francisco, we assessed the viability of converting a hotel into a COVID-19 care facility.
  • Our Copenhagen, Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Dallas studios—among others—are designing and creating no-cost personal protective equipment (PPE) for our healthcare clients.

“Suddenly, healthcare interior design best practices are human health best practices, relevant for all building types, touching everything from space planning, materiality, and detailing to technology, engineering systems, and operations.”

– Carolyn BaRoss

IIDA: How has your firm’s best practices positioned your healthcare team for the important design work that they do, now and post-COVID-19?

We think holistically about resilience in our health facilities and design proactively for health and well-being while avoiding damage to the environment, public health and health policy, and the health of our communities. We aim to design effectively for circumstances like pandemics involving all kinds of illnesses, severe weather events, and acts of violence. As part of this, considerations for healthcare interiors include the following, some of which are already best practice:

  • Surge capacity flexibility and adaptability of current and new healthcare and non-healthcare facilities that are proximate to hospitals where staffing and logistical support can be made available.
  • Cleanability and ability to disinfect, including the use of UV lighting, easily-wipeable surfaces, and materials and detailing made to withstand rigorous cleaning protocols like vaporization.
  • Hands-free, touchless technologies and design solutions.
  • Understanding the causes of, and means of transmission of different illnesses, and the need to respond appropriately.
  • Balancing the natural environment within our built environment, and enabling our microbiome to help combat germs without inadvertently creating or worsening a problem.
  • Designing and allowing for caregiver respite and well-being: the stressors currently placed on our caregivers, and the dangers they face, urgently require intervention.
  • Configuration and airflow of arrival spaces in healthcare for prevention, screening, and triage in order to isolate and prevent germ transmission into other areas.
  • Storage capacity and emergency storage in preparation for disruptions in the supply chain.

IIDA: Taking this moment of crisis into consideration, what does the future for healthcare design hold once we are able to return to a feeling of normalcy?

CB: We have to strongly consider what this new, post-pandemic world will look like; how the economic fallout will impact the future of healthcare facilities; what the medical side effects for survivors will be; and what the future holds for affordable and accessible patient care.

One of the starkest lessons and opportunities that COVID-19 brings to light is that public health crises can systematically disadvantage essential workers, first responders, those with pre-existing conditions, and the economically disadvantaged in crowded living situations. The question is, how will we apply that lesson to enable adequate and equitable community prevention, testing, telemedicine, and care in the future? We’re all in this together, and we need to address it together.

IIDA: Do you foresee lessons from healthcare interiors impacting the design of other project types, such as workplace?

CB: Absolutely. One of the most compelling ways our practice has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is the extent of which non-healthcare (namely: corporate interiors) clients are clamoring for healthcare-specific infection control strategies to ameliorate spaces ensuring building occupant safety. We are also applying healthcare infection control best-practices in other built environments. This is a very good thing, if the design solutions are effective, researched, and supported by scientific data.

IIDA: Reflecting on this moment in time and your experience in recent weeks, what is your big-picture perspective on how we can move forward, together?

CB: One of the silver linings is that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed an intrinsic global community interconnectedness. Ultimately, helping and being part of the solution matters most—whether you’re a designer or not—from making masks to staying home, or caring for others. Truth is essential. For those of us who happen to specialize in designing interior healthcare environments, we know how valuable our technical knowledge and research is to people and markets outside our own, and we recognize how urgent unity is. Right now, competitors are working together rather than in opposition, researchers are investigating how we can do better as a global society,  And civic-mindedness has taken center stage above all else. Does this represent a turning point, a permanent shift toward collaboratively protecting our environment and public health? I hope so. It takes something like this to snap us out of our complacency and to remind us that the problem isn’t abstract anymore, or just a future model that may or may not happen. By working together, we can accomplish so much more.

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Join us for this important community discussion. Collective D(esign) Episode Five | Hospitality Design in a New Normal takes place on April 24, learn more about the series here.

Women Lead Design: Gina Berndt, Tara Headley, Nila Leiserowitz

In this ongoing series, IIDA features women leading the design industry in a time of unprecedented change. Hear what they have to say on the importance of diversity in design, mentorship, inspiration, and the future of the profession. 

In case you are still monitoring the passage of time, March was Women’s History Month. Though many celebrations, big and small, were overshadowed by the turmoil of a global pandemic, we are reminded that even in the most uncertain times, creating space to honor and celebrate others remains just as important. The significance of design during this unprecedented moment cannot be overstated; it endows us with much-needed clarity, beauty, accessibility, and problem-solving that are necessary for a rapidly changing world. The women who are making design happen at at varying stages in their careers, are leaders of a better tomorrow, and so we extend this focus beyond March. 

IIDA (virtually) connected with Gina Berndt, FIIDA, ASID, principal and managing director at Perkins and Will; Tara Headley, Assoc. IIDA, intermediate designer at Hendrick; and Nila Leiserowitz, FIIDA, FASID, business consultant and former regional managing principal at Gensler, 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.

Gina Berndt, FIIDA, ASID, Principal and Managing Director, Perkins and Will, Chicago

IIDA: Who has been an important mentor to you over the course of your career and how/why?

Gina Berndt: I’ve had many mentors in my career, but if I had to name one it would be my father. Though he died when I was just 24, I learned a great deal from observing him in his work and life. He was generous and related well to humanity in the broadest sense. I am very grateful for his influence on me.

IIDA: Have you had the opportunity to mentor others? Has that been rewarding and how?

GB: I hope I have been a mentor to others. It is most rewarding to see individuals blossom in their careers as leaders, whether at Perkins and Will or at other firms. I am proud of their inherent talent, but also their compassion, business acumen, engagement in the community, and success. I dream of having a lovely dinner with all of them to express my gratitude one day.

IIDA: What do you see as the role of women in design in light of our current crisis?

GB: Women often lead with honesty, patience, empathy, and compassion. These are always valuable attributes, but this crisis demands that we all lead with these gifts.  

IIDA: What or who inspires you?

GB: Many things, but at my core, my family. I am inspired to be a role model for my daughter, nieces and nephews, a good life partner to my husband, and a trusted friend to my sisters. I am also inspired by beauty overall which is why I have always been drawn to design.

Tara Headley, Assoc. IIDA, Intermediate Designer, Hendrick, Atlanta

IIDA: Have you mentored others? Has that been rewarding and how?

Tara Headley: I have always viewed mentorship as a vital part of our industry. I believe there is true value in helping the next generation of designers overcome challenges by offering insight from the perspective of someone who has faced similar situations. I have been able to be a mentor through my position on the IIDA Georgia Chapter Board as a campus center leader, and I am hoping to step into the Vice President of Student Affairs role in the near future.

In addition, this academic year I have the privilege of being the alumni mentor for the SCAD Atlanta interior design department. Visting the campus, sitting in on classes, giving feedback on presentations and theses, and now shifting to virtual lectures—those interactions with students have been extremely rewarding. Several students have since reached out for one on one career advice and I’m humbled to be seen as a valued mentor. Knowing that the path I’ve taken inspires others is motivation for me to continue giving back.

IIDA: What or who inspires you?

TH: I am inspired by women of color in leadership positions. They are the ones that have blazed a trail to success and set the example for design professionals like myself to follow. Knowing the obstacles they have had to overcome to make it to a position of power inspires me to fight to achieve that as well. Seeing them makes me believe in myself even more.

Nila Leiserowitz, FIIDA, FASID, Business Consultant and Former Regional Managing Principal, Gensler, North Central

IIDA: Who have you considered to be your mentor and how have they influenced you?

Nila Leiserowitz: I am a strong believer that mentorship is vital to a career in design. A mentor can remain the same throughout your career or you may have different mentors at different points in your life. If I had to identify an important mentor throughout my career, it would be women leaders at all levels—my peers, bright emerging women, and women in other industries that are risk-takers. Right now, my most important mentors are women from the International Women’s Forum.

IIDA: What do you think is the role of women in today’s crisis?

NL: Women have an innate quality to see minutia and at the same time understand big strategies or moves that need to be made. We know how to pull the problem apart and look at all the components of the problem in order to have a thoughtful approach to moving forward. Looking at all the parts, we can celebrate the good within the problem, which is very important right now. We then also have a clearer picture of the core issues that need to be solved. We can then define a strategy and team to accomplish the right results. I am always so amazed by how women think. We are blessed!

IIDA: Who or what inspires your practice?

NL: his is not a simple question to answer. I do try to live in the moment as much as I can, so inspiration shows up in my life in unexpected ways at different times. Sometimes, small and simple things inspire me; other times, inspiration can be as big as being on top of a mountain and seeing the world like so few people see it. If I had to narrow down to two overarching inspirations, it would be people and nature. In the best situation for me, it is when nature and people collide. That is an amazing thing.

Collective D(esign): Design Online; The Education Community Responds to Change

In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the third webinar in the series today. 

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA, and Ryan Ben, IIDA’s student engagement and advancement manager hosted a panel of educators and students for this important community discussion focused on design education and career planning during a time of transition. The conversation focused on how have personal priorities shifted, how are educators and professionals identifying the best ways to support students and soon-to-be graduates, and how are students adjusting to the drastically changing educational and employment landscape.

Hear panelists discuss ways to continue personal and professional development as we shelter in place; what internships will look like; how to maintain community; and how to ask for help or offer it.

This webinar is registered for 1 IDCEC HSW CEU. To learn how to earn your CEU credit, visit IIDA.org for more information.

Key takeaways include:

  • Taking care of your mental, emotional, and physical health can be your top priority—you’ll be better prepared to care for others and design.
  • Lean into community. Show up to virtual events, programs, webinars, and virtual socializing and continue to develop and maintain meaningful relationships.
  • Leverage virtual tools and programs in the classroom so they can be used at any time. You may have to re-think your curriculum as an educator, and use a variety of apps to communicate and share new ideas in an inclusive way.
  • Meet students where they are at to connect them with the information that they need. Firms and professionals should continue to work with students and educators, offering opportunities for enrichment and mentoring.
  • Professionals and students alike can continue to learn and develop their careers by studying for the NCIDQ and WELL exams.
  • Now is the time for service—think beyond design, connect the dots to the current need, and explore ways you can best contribute.

Watch all the webinars in the series here.

Moderators:

Cheryl S. Durst, Hon FIIDA
IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO
IIDA

Ryan Ben
Student Engagement and Advancement Manager
IIDA

Panelists:

Tyler Hatton, Student IIDA
The Ohio State University
Campus Center Co-Leader
Ohio/Kentucky Chapter

Rebekah Matheny, IIDA
Assistant Professor of Interior Design, Department of Design
The Ohio State University

Jon Otis, IIDA
Founder and Principal, Object Agency (OlA)
Professor, Pratt Institute

Meghan Webster, AIA
Principal and Global Education Practice Area Leader
Gensler

The next webinar in the series, Human Resources: The New Normal and Opportunity will take place on April 16, 2020, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Central. Register today.

Join IIDA for a discussion on the pandemic’s short and long-term effects on talent and the impact on human resources within the design industry.