By Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
I have to share something. Being creative usually isn't the challenge when it comes to designing interiors. It is staying inspired that is the challenge.
The profession of design isn’t always easy. To be organized, run a sound and profitable business, work with a variety of people, assemble unique solutions for client projects and ensuring the work will get done promptly requires a source of inspiration on a continuing basis. And then there is just getting around to see new products, learning about new technologies and understanding new ways to produce solutions are necessary in order to produce inspired spaces.
Thanks to a variety of trade events and conferences, there is little excuse for design professionals in search of inspiration.
• For those of us designers who create office and corporate interiors, The NeoCon trade show brings together 40,000 trade over three very hectic days and scatters them about in highly styled showrooms in the world’s largest building, the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.
This annual event showcases the finest in workplace environments. Big office furniture vendors such as Steelcase, Herman Miller and Haworth spend huge bucks to provide inspiration for interior designers. After all, one main objective of the design process to create an effective workspace is crafting solutions to raise the performance and productivity of employees. Locating and specifying just the right staff chair – when there can be 200 or 2000 of them – can have a direct and sometimes dramatic impact on a client’s bottom line.
Trends at last week’s NeoCon continued to highlight open collaborative workspaces over individual offices and cubicles, a direction that has continued for the last few years.
What did we see?
Colors were clear, bold and in-your-face. Styles were decidedly contemporary over the stuffy 18th Century styles typically seen in traditional law offices. And the talk among the members of the design community is that things are looking up. Not great yet... but certainly better than in the past few years. About time, eh?
• Another show of note is the International Contemporary Furniture Fair held at the Jacob Javitz in New York held each May. Being at this show – and of course in the heart of Manhattan – provides a wealth of inspiration. This event showcases the creativity of emerging vendors, small manufacturers and individual craftspeople. One of the benefits of this show is that it gives “little people” a chance to present their work to a large number of design professionals.
What did we see?
Products at this year’s event featured natural, organic and sustainable themes. Metal tables, unglazed ceramics, natural wood cabinets, hand made fabrics and woven floor coverings, each made from unbleached, raw and unrefined materials filled the nearly 250 booths.
This lounge chair was eye catching, a one of a kind piece by Marie Khouri. Made in maple with a clear stain, it was as comfortable as it was great looking.
• Upcoming is one of my favorite shows and one produced by Dwell Magazine. This conference and event, Dwell On Design, located at the LA Convention Center starting on June 20th is a premier event for contemporary interior design, furnishings and fixtures, architecture and landscape. This year, the show will feature both green “sustainable” concepts and “aging-in-place designs. Innovative products, educational workshops, home tours and design lectures will attract the attention of an estimated 50,000 design professionals, clients and consumers.
For a second year in a row, I am pleased to be a workshop presenter along with colleague and interior designer, Kerrie Kelly.
This Saturday, we will be speaking about the upcoming trend of designing homes that last a lifetime and how by making an interior free of architectural barriers, one can increase personal safety and security.
I’m excited to offer two case studies of client projects that blend both sustainable designs and “aging in place” solutions into one singular solution. And on Sunday afternoon, I will be volunteering for my professional society, ASID, and offer free design consultations. Stop by the ASID booth to sign up for a free one-on-one design consultation.
Dwell On Design continues to expand and this year is no exception with nearly 85,000 feet of design displays, modular homes, and innovative products. In my opinion, this three-day event will have endless inspiration for design professionals and consumers.
For more information on the show or to sign up for the lectures and tours, here is the link: www.DwellOnDesign.com
• So as you can see, there are plenty ways to become and stay inspired. There are no less than two dozen other venues and conferences… like the International Builder Show, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, the Hospitality Design Conference, the twice-a-year High Point Furniture Market, the American Crafts Council Show and the summer and winter markets at both the Dallas Market Center and the World Market Center in Las Vegas.
The quandary it seems for me is to select venues that will have the products, technologies and thinking in line with the projects one is working on at the time. It is a challenge to know what shows to register for since each are a major investment of travel, time and dollars.
Oh and one more thing… another challenge is just finding the time to be away from the office for several days at a time. Clients sometimes get pesky. And our subs do to
• But its what we must do to stay inspired.
• Its what we do for our clients.
• We inspire them with new ways to live.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Springs, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.