You have just been inducted as President of IIDA International. What are the primary agenda items and goals for your presidency?
I’m honored and thrilled to be IIDA International President for 2012-2013!
Along with the usual business of IIDA, our upcoming year is shaping up to be a busy one. First, we are focusing on growing our international membership through competitions. Second, we are initiating common baselines for worldwide education, experience and certification. My final goal, and also the one closest to my heart, is to refine our message about the value of interior design to our clients – be they residential, workplace, retail, healthcare, etc. There’s much to accomplish and so little time, so I’m feeling the pressure already!
You have a long history of service to IIDA. Why do you think it is important for designers to serve their industry in a volunteer capacity?
I’ve had the honor of serving IIDA since the early 1990s. I actually landed my first job through an IIDA Student Career Day and am still mentored by IIDA members even today. I have been committed to serving IIDA since day one.
The profession of interior design is a career choice. Individuals decide to become interior designers because they feel compelled to create spaces that make our societies better places – happier, healthier, more productive, and of course, well designed. By delivering our knowledge and skills, we each can have a positive impact on many people’s lives.
Volunteering for our industry is no different. Interior design has a bright future as long as we continue to invest in it. The role of an interior designer is significantly different today than it was 20-30 years ago. Today’s designers have a direct influence on how space is programmed, designed, delivered and how it affects the end user’s activities, behaviors, health and happiness. Through industry related volunteering we can influence the future education, experience and testing for the future of interior design. The investment of our time in our own industry will result in a stronger, more unified industry for future designers.
What do you think are the primary challenges facing the design profession today?
Redefining our Value
Our values as interior designers are challenged by others on a daily basis due to market limitations, role definitions and our own inability to articulate the value we deliver our clients. In the end, the values we deliver are the net gains seen as a result of a designer’s service. We have to move beyond the minimum requirements of health safety and welfare, and look toward the increased value we deliver our clients in terms of profit, effectiveness, productivity, healthiness and aesthetic value. As we are able to articulate, measure and specifically deliver on each of these, we will be able to redefine our value and compensation to our clients.
What Clients Want
At NeoCon this year, IIDA launched its first publication, What Clients Want. The book concept is simply a collection of essential conversations between designers and their clients about how 14 specific projects were conceived, how they have defined corporate culture, demonstrated value and shifted business models. Spanning the globe from Copenhagen to Las Vegas, and including tech icons who turned the word “friend” into a verb (friending) and the re-imagination of a 150 year-old French department store, the book presents and explores one of the most consistent conundrums of our industry’s existence; so often design is intended to solve one problem and results in addressing—or creating—other problems.
The book exists because IIDA supports the belief that design is what happens on the receiving end. As designers, we learn lessons each day that change our approach, and this book offers months’ worth of lessons, all in less than 100 pages. What Clients Want is not only about real and strategic initiatives, but also the unintentional, unplanned results—the serendipity that occurs between designers and a client. It’s not a how-to book, but a cerebral dive into the minds and concerns of men and women who are passionate about business and design, and believe they must integrate to be successful.
I’ve performed services for my clients in many countries during my 23 years. I must say, there are far too many variables in international project delivery that make a basic project seem like a huge undertaking. We must begin to simplify global project delivery and we can start by defining common international education and testing standards for interior designers, so that as designers perform across political and cultural boundaries, we are working in the same design language.
In the coming years IIDA will expand its international and domestic presence with the opening of new chapters in Dubai, Milan, St. Louis and Honolulu. One of the association’s goals has always been to cultivate and connect designers who have a broad range of innovative talents and leadership skills to form a global community where they can collaborate, educate and lead the designers of tomorrow—we believe that these new chapters are a big step towards that mission.
In addition to building new chapters, IIDA seeks to increase its international presence through competitions, such as the debut of the current Best Interiors of Latin America (BILA), the forthcoming Global Excellence Awards (GEA), and the subsequent Middle East Office & Hopitality Product Design Awards / The Office Exhibition Interior Design Competitions in Dubai.
I look forward to working with IIDA, NCIDQ, IDCEC, IDEC and our peer member associations to begin this discussion in the coming 12 months with the goal of common shared criteria in the next 2 years.
Other than your IIDA presidency, what professional accomplishment are you most proud of to date? Personal accomplishment?
I am most proud of my client relationship with Ernst & Young, which I have had for over 23 years. Ernst & Young was quite literally my first client on my first day in the profession. I am proud that I can still call them my client today.
Developing and maintaining healthy client relationships is at the core of my values as an interior designer. Besides delivering what the client wants, a healthy client relationship is built by 1) understanding your client’s point of view; 2) committing to your client as an individual; and 3) continuously creating value through design thinking. The client/designer relationship is a living entity. Since both grow together, neither can become complacent. Most important have been the personal friendships that have developed with my clients. They have each helped me to grow personally and professionally. I would not be where I am today without them.
What is the most inspiring space you have ever been in?
Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Field’s in London, England, formerly the home of the neo-classical architect Sir John Soane. He was the son of a bricklayer who rose to the top of his profession, becoming a professor of architecture at the Royal Academy, an official architect to the Office of Works and eventually receiving knighthood in 1831.
Sir John Soane used his house as a display for art works and architectural artifacts that he collected during his lifetime. Besides fulfilling some hoarding tendencies, the purpose of the exhibits were to help educate his students on the various architectural histories of the world without the need for travel.
However, the space is not for the claustrophobic, minimalist taste or faint of heart. The interiors are a perfect example of how someone can live and think big while still living in a small structure. Every inch is filled with artifacts; every ledge holds a piece of history; and almost every wall has multiple hinged wall sections to allow for manifold hanging surfaces. If I lived there, I’d go crazy but visiting is awe inspiring.
What is the one thing you cannot live without? Why?
Anything Apple. I’m addicted. Apple has figured out that human beings thrive on control and that’s just what any Apple device provides–a sense of control in a beautiful housing.
I can research, buy, rate, watch, listen and talk to anything or anyone at anytime. The more you use it, the more you feel in control and so you use it even more. It’s not a healthy addiction, but there are worse.I know I’m addicted when I’ve already owned 3 iPhones, 2 iPads, 2 iMacs, 2 AppleTVs and I do not need more. Yet, when I walk past an Apple store, I have the uncontrollable desire to step in and “look around” even though I know there aren’t any new products or accessories.