Hall of Fame

Interior Design Hall of Famers Unite for a Celebratory Roundtable Discussion

Capping off week one of Interior Design’s virtual Best of Design festival, 11 Hall of Fame members joined editor in chief Cindy Allen for a roundtable discussion—and celebratory toast. “This is an insider chat that everyone is invited to,” Allen said, kicking off the December 3 conversation, which offered a refreshing, and optimistic, outlook on the future of design.

The event, in partnership with Benjamin Moore, Williams-Sonoma, and Crossville, with lighting by Lutron Electronics, featured design luminaries including: Steven Harris (2008 inductee), Robin Klehr Avia (2017 inductee), Rick Joy (2019 inductee), George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg (2002 inductees), Paula Wallace (2019 Leadership Award winner), Todd DeGarmo (2007 inductee), Alexandra Champalimaud (2009 inductee), Rand Elliott (2006 inductee), and Verda Alexander and Primo Orpilla, Studio O+A cofounders (2015 inductees). Throughout the 90-minute chat, each Hall of Famer talked with Allen one-on-one (or at times, two-on-one), offering updates on their work and reflections on the last few years.

Hall of Fame
Interior Design’s Hall of Fame gala in 2019.

And positivity reigned supreme. The group agreed that projects underway now are proving to be more innovative and mindful than ever before. “The difficulty we had faced ended up being extraordinarily positive… creativity is just abounding,” shared Champalimaud, noting her team’s new ways of working together, growing sense of individuality, and emphasis on cultural awareness. And that rings true throughout the A&D community where unique perspectives abound. As a professor at the Yale School of Architecture, Harris remarked that he constantly learns from his students and their diverse perspectives. This year, his class even includes an Alaskan salmon fisher. “They come from different places and look at things so differently… it allows me to expand,” he said. The designers also noted an array of projects in the pipeline that champion accessibility and inclusivity, such as a renowned school for the deaf and a haven for transgender youth, which showcase the power of innovative design.      

And if anyone knows a thing or two about innovation, it’s Art Gensler. As Klehr Avia joined Allen, the two reminisced about the magnitude of his work and the firm’s contributions to the industry at large. Recalling a letter Art Gensler wrote his team shortly before passing, Klehr Avia said he emphasized the lasting impact of “transformative design and innovative practices”—both of which are on full display in Interior Design’s December issue, which pays tribute to his legacy. As for the future, “we’re being pushed to innovate because we have to,” Klehr Avia remarked, touching on the need to address climate change and improve equity in design. “We’re doing some of the best work that we’ve ever done,” she added.

As the conversation closed, Allen congratulated Alexander and Opilla on the 30th anniversary of Studio O+A before raising her glass for a toast. “It is such an honor to serve all of you, to be part of your lives in some way, and to show you off and share you with the world,” she said, offering a thank you to all. “Let’s toast to you and toast to design because design will definitely move us forward.”