June 14, 2017

Top Designers Discuss State of Industry at Interior Design’s Workplace Roundtable

The roundtable of industry leaders hosted by Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen. Photography by Daniel Kelleghan.

A highlight of day two was the debut edition of Interior Design’s Workplace Roundtable, held at Motorola Mobility on the Mart’s 18th floor. The riveting 90-minute dialogue was moderated by the magazine’s editor in chief, Cindy Allen. The event brought together some 40-plus power players from prominent design firms (Gensler, IA Interior Architects, HOK, etc.) and big-name clients/end users (Capital One, Discover, the U.S. General Service Administration). Also contributing to the discussion were representatives of manufacturers Allseating, Andreu World, Humanscale, Inscape, Ketra, Keilhauer, National Office Furniture, and Monaco & Company. 

Cindy Allen, editor in chief of Interior Design, with Jen Renzi of Interior Design and Bill Bouchey of HOK. Photography by Daniel Kelleghan.

Dag Folger and Brad Zizmor of A+I. Photography by Daniel Kelleghan.

What resulted was a thought-provoking conversation that demonstrated the degree to which all facets of the design industry are grappling with the same challenges—and how the most inspired and boundary-pushing solutions are inevitably borne of collaborative efforts.

The roundtable covered broad terrain, from how the programming phase is being compressed into an ever shorter timeframe (while workplace strategy is expanding) to the increasing importance and evolution of post-occupancy evaluations. Also touched on was the rise of “resi-mercial,” and how designers are still struggling to find just the right products for these hybrid spaces: uber-durable high-performance designs with a homey, living-room-esque aesthetic. (Luckily, NeoCon 2017 offered options aplenty.)

Mavis Wiggins of TPG Architecture. Photography by Daniel Kelleghan.

There was heated debate about the role of corporate culture in space making, which was best summed up by the following two quotes:

“These days, we are not programming spaces for use so much as programming a culture.”—Brad Zizmor, A+I

“Culture is too fluffy a concept for me. What counts is productivity.”—Martin Clarke, Northern Trust 

Melissa Hanley of Design Blitz. Photography by Daniel Kelleghan.

Change management was another recurring topic–and a vital component of every project. “Without it, even the best spaces will fail,” cautioned O+A’s Primo Orpilla. Allen drove home the point that designers are well equipped for the task. “Designers are the perfect change agents. When presented with a choice between A, B, and C, you guys say, ‘No, I want Z.’ You’re the ones driving innovation.” What better incentive to let your voice be heard?

A big thanks to our manufacturer sponsors: Allseating, Humanscale, Inscape, Keilhauer, Ketra, National Office Furniture, Andreu World, and Monaco & Company.

The Gensler-designed Motorola Mobility officePhotography by Eric Laignel.

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