The Confluence of Workplace and Hospitality Design: an IIDA Panel Discussion at Room & Board

As we near the end of the decade, we look back and understand that the confluence of hospitality and workplace has been the most significant movement in commercial interior design—a decade defined by the breakdown of barriers of design typologies in commercial interiors. And this convergence will likely continue and become more pronounced in the coming years. That was the premise to begin a November panel discussion that I moderated, hosted by Room & Board at its New York showroom.

More than 125 design professionals attended the lively event, with panelists Tim Duffy, Ind. IIDA, national key accounts manager for Room & Board; Annie Lee, IIDA, principal at ENV, and current IIDA New York Chapter president; Krista Ninivaggi, IIDA, founder of K+Co; and Barry Richards, IIDA, principal at Rockwell Group.

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From left to right: Panelists Tim Duffy, Krista Ninivaggi, Annie Lee, John Czarnecki, and Barry Richards. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography

The panelists explored the influence of hospitality design in creating welcoming workplace interiors, whether for established clients or co-working spaces—a work setting that, in many ways, supplies an “amenity base” for employees. With a client’s brand expressed in the interior, workplaces are designed for community and face-to-face interactions as well as productivity and employee wellness. This evolution has changed how designers specify contract furniture, with ancillary furnishings now representing the majority of furniture for a workplace interior.

“In the past, workstations and office desks were considered the main portion of the furniture order defining the overall office mood and character,” Lee said. “More and more, specialized social hubs for eating, meeting, and brainstorming have become the cultural focus, similar to what is found in hotels and restaurants. What was once called ancillary spaces are just as important, if not the main feature.”

“This influence of hospitality is infiltrating the workplace and challenging the notion of how we work,” Ninivaggi says. “Can we improve our relationship with ‘work’ by orchestrating the day-to-day through the built environment?”

More than 125 design professionals filled the Room & Board New York showroom for the event. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography

With a labor market that is still highly competitive, the design of the workplace matters to attract and retain employees—just one important element for building employee loyalty. And somewhat similarly, in hospitality design, a savvy interior that responds to today’s needs helps to build guest loyalty. As technology and travel enable work to be anywhere at any time, the panelists discussed how the design of hospitality interiors is allowing for collaboration and casual productivity within hotels.

“With the help of improved mobility in technology, the workplace can be anywhere,” Ninivaggi said. “Now, the lobbies of hip hotels shift the paradigm from ‘out-of-office social places,’ to the new yet familiar feel of informal ‘collab rooms.’ The business hotel as we knew it is gone, and it has been replaced by the warmly entertaining hotel.”

How is this change influencing furniture specifications for hotels? “Tables are the new sofas. We cannot put enough tables in our projects across the board,” Ninivaggi said. “People tote their technology everywhere and can easily be immersed in their occupations so long as they find a well-placed seat and table to perch.”

Featured image: Speakers listen as Annie Lee, IIDA, describes the influence of hospitality on her workplace projects. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography 

2019 Advocacy Symposium Inspires Collaboration in Public Interest

The 5th annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium, held this past September in Boston, was a resounding success thanks to a bevy of informative speakers, engaged attendees, and meaningful advocacy conversations. We cannot say thank you enough to our sponsors IdeaPaint who hosted the opening reception, and Allsteel who hosted Saturday’s event.

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IIDA member attendees tour the Massachusetts State House. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham

On Friday, attendees were welcomed to the Massachusetts State House, one of the premier examples of Federal architecture on the East Coast. Docents gave a guided tour of the historic building before attendees settled in for a keynote presentation from Arline Isaacson, president of Isaacson Consulting. Ms. Isaacson was a lead advocate in the fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts and integral in the passage of the first same-sex marriage law in the United States. Her inspirational story included practical advice on having more than just a good idea, but how to do the work to back it up. Next up, our lobbyists from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Utah had an enlightening panel conversation about the work that goes into passing a piece of interior design legislation in today’s political climate.

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2019 Advocate of the Year Chealyn Jackson, IIDA. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham

The day ended with an awards ceremony, naming Chealyn Jackson, IIDA, VP of advocacy for the Ohio-Kentucky Chapter, the 2019 IIDA Advocate of the Year. Three Legislator of the Year awards were presented by IIDA New England to their bill sponsors, Senator (MA) Joan Lovely, Representative (MA) Elizabeth Poirier, and Representative (MA) Patricia A. Haddad.

On Saturday, we focused on the successes and challenges of advocacy at the chapter and the state levels. Members from Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and South Florida shared techniques for successful advocacy, discussed challenges they have overcome, and identified opportunities for the future of interior design advocacy. Next up, Tracey Thomas, director of strategic sales at IIDA, gave an energetic presentation on the power of persuasion that provided attendees with communication strategies tailored for advocacy efforts.

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Attendees of the Symposium. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham

The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) provided an update, which was followed by a panel discussion covering the changing and unchanging landscape of interior design legislation that featured John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA, deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA; Megan Blacklidge, IIDA, Mid-America Chapter member; Matthew Whitehead, vice president of the Governmental Policy Group, Inc; and Amy Coombs, founder and executive director of Prestige Government Relations.

This was followed by two panel discussions to close out the weekend; the first focusing on effective communication strategies for chapter leaders to engage their chapters in advocacy efforts, and the second focusing on discussing advocacy at multidisciplinary firms.

We can’t wait to see you all next year at the 6th annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium!

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Featured image by: Caitlin Cunningham