March 30, 2020

DesignTV by SANDOW Kicks Off with State of the Industry Chat, Featuring Gensler CEOs

For the inaugural episode of DesignTV by SANDOW, Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen hosted a State of the Industry segment joined by Andy Cohen and Diane Hoskins, co-CEOs of Gensler. Managing a team of 6,500 people in 50 different offices around the globe, with 1.2 billion square feet of design work to boot, the pair—who spent the last 30 years in a business partnership—shared useful insights and advice with the design world and all those watching on Facebook Live. 

“We are one community and going to move through this and be great on the other end but we have to do this together” Hoskins began. “We can all benefit from sharing knowledge” she said, noting that Gensler’s experience with its offices in China and the Asia Pacific region better prepared her and Cohen to move their many employees into remote working situations. With interior designers, architects, graphic designers, and tech designers playing for the same team in offices world-wide, Gensler’s staff already was adept at virtual collaboration. 

Although digital conferences are the norm for Gensler, “It is not business as usual” Hoskins cautioned. Gensler shared photos with Cindy of team members working and “meeting” over Go-To Meeting, Zoom, and Microsoft Team. “Technology enables creativity in a lot of ways” Cohen explained, being able to design real-time albeit remotely has allowed their team to continue working. “There was no dress rehearsal for this” Hoskins said, adding that effective and consistent communication across all areas of the business has been key to “looking out for their people.” Given the use of many virtual collaboration tools in the present moment, Gensler remains as engaged as ever with clients. 

Looking ahead, Allen asked the pair what the after-effects of this historical moment will be reified in the design field. In response, Cohen and Hoskins let viewers in on what some of their clients are requesting in terms of future projects or alterations to current ones. Hotels and retail spaces, for instance, are thinking about non-touch surfaces; airports are looking for ways to test and screen for an infection or fever; and the pendulum for offices seems to be swinging back to a layout with more enclosure space. “Radical changes are going to occur through design” Hoskins said, “health and safety are frankly one and the same.”

“Agile” and “nimble” are the two words Cohen used to describe how he, Hoskins, and their colleagues are working during this period. Teams and roles have shifted, which they have had to do before, but now across the globe, rather than in one office. As long as everyone can “work seamlessly on a common platform,” as Cohen put it, the work will get done. “This is the perfect time to confront problems,” Cindy said, “but confront them together.”

Read next: Introducing DesignTV by SANDOW

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