April 6, 2020

DesignTV by SANDOW Week in Review

Last week saw the launch of DesignTV by SANDOW, an innovative platform for designers to connect with and energize SANDOW’s editors and audience across platforms. Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen lends her charisma and expertise by hosting segments such as State of the Industry and 1on1, where she interviews various creatives who have made a big impact on the world of design. Before getting into this week’s programming, which goes live Monday through Thursday at 1pm ET on Interior Design‘s Facebook page and homepage, catch up on the first week’s episodes: 

Monday, 3/30

Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen hosted the inaugural 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 working together—shared useful insights and advice.  

Cohen and Hoskins let viewers in on what some of their clients are requesting in terms of future projects or alterations to current ones, with a big focus on the health and wellness of the end user. 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 enclosed spaces. “Radical changes are going to occur through design” Hoskins said, “health and safety are frankly one and the same.”

For Creative Voices, Cindy traveled to Rick Joy‘s Tucson studio to chat with him about his inspiration and design processes. “You say what you want to do and you design to it, the form comes later and supports it,” Joy shared about how his architectural passion sparks a project. The program included the documentary about the architect, which was originally produced for his induction into Interior Design’s Hall of Fame last year. The film highlighted a range of his previous projects, including his Desert Nomad House. “It’s one house, but you are required to walk on the ground to the different rooms, so you have to re-orient yourself with nature between them,” he mentions to Cindy as they walk through the desert terrain the structures are built to respect, not disrupt. Like all of his other projects, location and atmosphere are the two most important aspects. 

A signature of Joy’s designs are buildings that look a little inconspicuous from the outside yet surprise from within, inciting the exciting feeling of a discovery. Citing his days as a drummer, which recurs throughout the episode, he said “it’s like the intro before the melody starts” when referring to the building anticipation of entering into a space he built. 

Following the clip of Cindy in Tucson, she interviewed Joy from her home in New York to talk about how the recent pandemic has effected him and his studio. Everyone is social distancing, of course, which has led to the longest amount of time Joy’s been home without traveling in 15 years. Joy was candid about the difficulties this isolation presents, but his office–being a series of buildings–has been “perfect.” 

Wednesday, 4/1

Virtual background enthusiast Yves Behar of fuseproject joined Cindy for a 1on1 interview to discuss work in the time of COVID-19 and beloved projects of his. Behar spoke about one of his products that is very apropos of the moment for parents, the Snoo. It is a crib that helps babies sleep by combining gentle rocking with soothing white noise while they are swaddled safely –”it really brings together technology and a human need,” Behar said about one of his favorite projects.

Other featured projects from the conversation include Forme, the subscription-based in-home workout tool that is convenient and designed with a certain chicness; Accessory Dwelling Units (or, ADUs) for houses, modular roofing and wall designs that can shift position based on what the client wants; and the August Smart Lock which allows for mobile home security. All of these projects required partnerships and collaborations across different brands so working remotely and communicating across borders is nothing new for Behar, and certainly something others can have success with. 

Up next was Design Town Hall, which featured Todd DeGarmo of Studios Architecture, Lionel Ohayon from ICRAVE, Lauren Rottet of Rottet Studios, and ZGF Architects‘s James Woolum. The designers and Cindy came together to share their experiences of leading their design firms during this unsettling time. Each designer shared a newly completed project that highlighted the sectors their firms focus on from hospitality, health & wellness, and workplace. Beyond this moment, these designers are passionate about delivering the best in safety and comfort to people beyond their clients. 

The transition to working from home has gone well for the studios as many of them work across both domestic and international offices. However, managing expectations, especially for parents, is a new challenge everyone is rising to. From meditation groups to company-wide town halls, communication remains key.  Looking ahead, some predicted that work/life balance might be reconfigured now that everyone sees each other in a more personal way, as Zoom video calls have given people a bird’s eye view into their colleagues’ and clients’ homes. Now, large video conferences have allowed for junior members on a design team to experience what happens in a client meeting and provides them with the opportunity to share ideas, which may not have happened previously. This inclusion is important, especially as clients begin to make adjustments to their projects given their new understanding of health, wellness, and overall safety. As Lauren Rottet said towards the end of the conversation: “Go forward, go faster, redesign the lot next door.” 

Thursday, 4/2

Lee Mindel, described by Cindy as “one of the top interpreters of classic modernism” was the final 1on1 interview of the week. SheltonMindel™ is faring well during the Coronavirus quarantine as international business had required them to work remotely with clients before. Not only that, but they had a “dress rehearsal” as systems were previously set in place when one team member moved out of New York, where their office is based. Mindel spoke about how his team has been using the momentum on projects they started before the pandemic to propel them to finishing them, especially when clients have been patient and wonderful to work with. “It’s nice to be close at a distance,” Mindel said.

Mindel gave a brief history lesson on how previous global health issues inspired iconic architects—Otto Wagner, Josef Hoffman, Alvar Aalto, and Louis Kahn—to design for the patient’s physical and emotional well-being. Otto Wagner designed his modernist architecture with the feelings of those who would be within the buildings. For example, during the birth of modern psychoanalysis in Vienna, Mindel explained how Wagner designed the dome of the Church of St. Leopold to look like the sky and be open, rather than have the psychiatric patients housed there feel as though the ceiling was coming down on them. 

Mindel incorporates the people-focus ethos of design into his own work, evident not only by the many consultations he has before he starts a project, but with his own team. By believing in beauty and problem solving—plus a love of show tunes—Mindel carries on.

The week was capped off by Creative Voices with India Mahdavi, which included a brief introduction by Cindy followed by the documentary produced in conjunction with Mahdavi’s induction into Interior Design’s Hall of Fame last year. The film shows Mahdavi in Paris where she spoke about how gorging on films and their images influenced her throughout her career. Wanting to “see like a camera,” aesthetics and what is or isn’t photogenic is central to her work. Having multiple references, Mahdavi cannot be categorized as just one type of designer. The film included past collaborator Ralph Pucci speaking about Mahdavi’s color genius, which she later explains to Cindy as intrinsic to feeling happy and happiness with her designs. The pair strolled through Paris and looked through Mahdavi’s office at her favorite materials, including velvet, and the tour continued into the studio. Collaboration and teamwork was on full display, not just her iconic pieces. 

DesignTV by SANDOW goes live every Monday through Thursday starting at 1pm ET. If you missed last week’s videos, you can watch them here.

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