Last night, a cohort of practitioners from residentially focused firms convened at New York’s Center for Architecture—the headquarters of AIANY—for the organization’s inaugural House Party! Co-hosted by Interior Design editor-in-chief Cindy Allen and BarlisWedlick Architectsfounder Dennis W. Wedlick, FAIA, the sold-out event provided a chance for attendees to mingle, network, and idea-share, as well as to learn more about the Custom Residential Architecture Network, a nationwide AIA Knowledge Community conceived to provide firms with professional development resources such as discussion forums, symposia, and conventions. Explained chapter president Hayes Slade, “This is a place where we come together to share best practices and build community.”
House Party! was also something of a coming-out for the initiative: Just an hour before the festivities started, AIANY voted to make CRAN an official committee. It’s great timing, given today’s booming residential sector, a genre that Interior Design Homes tirelessly covers. According to Interior Design’s 2017 Universe Study, this segment accounted for 64 percent of work by volume, with over 20,000 firms worldwide working in the space. Allen, hot on the heels of receiving the AIANY’s Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award, trumpeted the importance of the residential sphere: “You’re the impetus behind a lot of industry change, which we love.”
Wedlick, a tireless advocate of residential architecture, described the evening as a place where designers and manufacturers can come together to brainstorm, collaborate, and support each other. “This is always a working session,” he said. “Vendors are our partners, and they need to know what we need to do our best work. Getting together as colleagues makes us stronger.”
Missed the festivities? Fortunately, there will be a second House Party! in July for those unable to make it last night. CRAN is also hosting its national symposium in Arizona this fall.
Design Within Reach (DWR) has announced that its CEO, John Edelman, will be stepping down from his position, effective June 14. He will eventually transition to become the Chairman of the Board of DWR and Herman Miller Consumer. His longtime business partner of 27 years, John McPhee, will stay on as the company’s president.
Edelman’s design-centric career began in the 1990s, when he joined his brother Sam at his shoe company Sam & Libby. He eventually left to assist his design luminary parents, Teddy and Arthur Edelman, with their business. He became president of the brand in 2001 and eventually sold the iconic leather company to Knoll for $67 million in 2007. It was in 2010 that DWR serendipitously came calling.
In just four years, Edelman and McPhee brought the company back from death. “It was on the verge of bankruptcy when we took it on,” Edelman recalled. “By 2014, we doubled the size of the business and halved the number of stores down to 35. The company became incredibly profitable.”
The natural next step to assure DWR’s continued rousing success was to find a partner whose aesthetic would naturally complement DWR’s modernist approach and business acumen would propel the brand to new heights. And that partner was Herman Miller. “With this partnership, we assured the longevity of our brand and formed an indelible link with one of the most prestigious design companies in the world,” Edelman said.
With this powerhouse behind DWR, it could start on the work that it’s become famous for: partnering and promoting some of the most exciting brands in the industry. Even just a small, hand-picked selection of names are quite impressive: Hay, Moooi, J.L. Møllers, Brown Jordan, Luceplan, and Gloster. “I’m so proud of all the amazing designers and manufacturers we’ve worked with,” said Edelman. “DWR played such a large role in making modern design mainstream through the designers we chose to partner with and the more than 10 million catalogs we sent out that contain their stories. We helped break them out of the sheltered world of interior design and into the vast consumer market.”
When asked what’s changed the most in the past nine years, Edelman points to the rise of the Internet and E-commerce. The advent of Pinterest, Instagram, and easy access to designers through websites and email has made it easier for the consumer to become passionate and educated about design. The one thing that Edelman believes hasn’t changed? The enduring excellence of modernist aesthetics. “Modern isn’t a trend. It’s forever,” he noted.
As for his future, Edelman continued: “It’s been an incredible 20 years being a part of this industry, but I’ve been on a plane nearly every other week since 1988. I plan to take a little time off, but I’m not leaving forever. There’s still so much to see and do with design.”
“We truly cross the divide,” Calvin Tsao begins, meaning: “We’re equally comfortable with architecture and interior design.” So naturally Tsao & McKown wasamong the talented mix-masters that members of the Gant family wanted to meet when they were planning headquarters in Burlington, North Carolina, for their growing Sunbrella brand. The Gants had their eye on converting the early 20th–century former mill they owned across the street from a building Sunbrella shared with its parent company, Glen Raven. “We had the aha moment, literally, in looking at our birthplace,” Glen Raven chairman Allen Gant Jr. says. “So we weren’t looking for an architect who could design us the most beautiful building—we felt we already had that. But instead for someone who could understand the functionality of the business.”
Interior Design Hall of Fame members Tsao and his life partner Zack McKown were introduced to the Gants by two reliable sources. First wasour owneditor in chief Cindy Allen, who had recommended the firm. Then, around the same time, Sunbrella consultant Sherri Donghia also put their name forward—Tsao and McKown having designed furniture for her own family-run company in 2004.
“Sherri set us up on a blind date,” says Allen Gant III, whose great-grandfather founded Glen Raven, which invented panty hose in 1958 but is now known for its performance fabrics. “We’d interviewed a half dozen world-class architects,” Gant Jr. explains. “Then we met Calvin and Zack,” Gant III continues. “And Calvin said, I want to know how people feel when they get here. He’s so in touch with the human aspect of design that he felt like part of the family. He and Zack are infectious.”
And so a year-long courtship began. Tsao elucidates, “After we agreed on this ‘dating period,’ we began interviewing all the staff, creating questionnaires, and holding workshops—‘diagnostics’ we call it.” But both sides continued to keep their options open. “It gave the Gants the latitude to serial date—neither of us wanted to spend a year on this only to end up breaking up and never see each other again. But it was successful, so we got engaged,” Tsao adds with his trademark chuckle.
Tsao & McKown started by knocking down an unsightly 60-year-old addition to the 118-year-old mill, leaving its original 100,000 square feet over two levels and exposing an original brick facade that was in need of a little love. Luckily, the Gants had a friend with a 1905 mill built by the same brick mason that had recently been torn down, so the architects were able to seamlessly integrate the renovations amongst the original structural columns and ceiling beams. Installing a new glass curtain wall and windows and removing a floor slab resulted in adding copious natural light, most notably in the lobby, where massive stadium seating greets employees as does an adjacent café for their morning coffee fix. A requested auditorium was niftily inserted beneath the lobby seating, with corridors running past to an atrium at the core. There, a new stairway allows access to the employee lounge as well as various office areas and meeting rooms that run to the sunny perimeter. “There’s so much light coming in that you can actually grow plants,” McKown notes. “So we put in two internal gardens.”
The gardens are part of what Tsao refers to as unprogrammed social spaces, “for casual meetings,” he states. “Which is a really hard thing to understand for people trying to get the maximum out of real estate, but we explored that there needs to be a gamut of spaces for working. You’ve got your desk, your meeting rooms, places to hang out, and then there are what we call ‘accidental spaces’. The Gants had to have faith in us that these social spaces are actually effective.” And they did. “I truly believe you need to remove the shackles from people,” Gant Jr. says. “This building provides a place where our associates can innovate beyond our wildest dreams. We’re 138 years old and I expectfor us to be here for another 138.” The staff, many of them locals who have been with the company for decades, even generations, are equally enthusiastic. “I walk in each morning and take a deep breath in awe,” division controller Crystal Coleman says. “This space has relaxed my muscle tension,” assistant division controller Sandy Filarski adds.
“It’s a match made in heaven,” McKown concludes. “Rarely do we work with someone who doesn’t lord over us but instead sits beside us. The Gants respect people, which makes them an extraordinary client.” A client that has him and Tsao finishing up a contiguous ground-up visitor’s center and a footbridge that will connect the old and new buildings in what will be a three-building campus. The relationship also led to the Sunbrella Great Hall by Tsao & McKown, a magnificent swooping fabric installation at the River Pavilion in New York for Interior Design’s annual Hall of Fame gala. So do architect and client finally consider it a marriage? “Of course,” Tsao laughs, “we’re already in therapy.”
Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >
NeoCon 2019 is right around the corner. In just under two weeks, the annual trade show opens its doors for another three days of talks by inspiring keynote speakers, previews of the most innovative new products, and endless opportunities to network with colleagues and industry friends. The gargantuan event finds a welcome home in Chicago’s theMART (f.k.a. the Merchandise Mart), the world’s largest commercial building and design center.
This year, SANDOW, Interior Design’s parent company, will unveil an entirely new space for attendees to explore. Dubbed the SANDOW Innovation Lab, this almost 4,000-square-foot area sits on the sixth floor of theMART (Suite 624) and houses unique opportunities for several of the brands in the company’s portfolio to connect with the design community. The SANDOW Innovation Lab will open on June 10.
“This space is raw and colorful,” said Abby Leopold, the SANDOW Innovation Lab’s project manager and lead creator at Curate. “Bringing the Innovation Lab to life expertly married Curate’s mission and SANDOW’s vision.”
The SANDOW Innovation Lab is primed to host several compelling programming events. The yearly Interior Design NeoCon roundtables, hosted by Editor in Chief Cindy Allen, will take place in the Lab’s Innovation room. This year’s roundtable topics will include conversations on current workplace and health and wellness sector trends.
There will also be three ThinkLab-hosted workshops that prepare designer and manufacturer attendees to face many of the dynamic changes happening in today’s contract sector. Over the course of three days, attendees will have an opportunity to learn how to improve the contract furniture buying process, recognize and respond to major sector trends, and how to improve the client experience.
Finally, Material ConneXion invites designers to learn more about the brave new world of emerging architectural materials with Dr. Andrew Dent, the company’s executive vice president of research. This lecture will take place on Monday, June 10 in Material ConneXion’s Lab space. Attendees are welcome to explore on-trend materials and colors using an X-Rite Virtual Light Booth machine.
“This is the first time SANDOW has had the opportunity to activate several of our brands in the same space during NeoCon,” said Kathryn Kerns, executive director of strategic initiatives at SANDOW. “From Material ConneXion’s first-ever pop-up library, to Interior Design’s notable roundtables and ThinkLab’s unique workshops, we’re excited to provide the programming SANDOW brands are known for to theMART’s highly engaged audience.”
To sign up for any of the ThinkLab Workshops or the Material ConneXion lecture, click here.
Thank you to the following sponsors for making the SANDOW Innovation Lab possible:
Industry-Leading Organizations Partner as ASID Creates $375,000 Grant Fund
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is excited to announce a donation of $375,000 to DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, creating the new Design Impacts Life Fund. The Fund will offer grants to nonprofits that provide services, education, and treatment to those affected by HIV/AIDS, with the potential to expand its reach to support others in need. This donation represents one of the largest single gifts ever to DIFFA.
The gift comes from the ASID Benevolent Fund, which was started in 1974 by ASID members to provide funds to those in need in the design community during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. ASID paused fundraising for the Benevolent Fund when DIFFA was launched as a larger design industry focused organization. This donation closes the chapter on the ASID Benevolent Fund and opens opportunity for DIFFA to increase its organizational impact and reach. The ASID Design Impacts Life Fund will be leveraged to create the greatest possible impact on those living with HIV/AIDS and the DIFFA organization. Thanks to the national reach of both ASID and DIFFA, potential grantees may apply from all over the country.
“ASID is passionate about positively impacting lives beyond the practice of design,” states Randy Fiser, Hon. FASID, ASID CEO. “This profession is made up of diverse individuals whose shared goal is to make the world better for its inhabitants. Our new Design Impacts Life Fund speaks to our mission: to touch lives thanks to the power of design. We’re thrilled to give back to such a worthy cause and can’t wait to see how together with DIFFA and the entire design community, we can make a difference in people’s lives.”
In addition to its grant support, the Design Impacts Life Fund will leverage the combined power of ASID and DIFFA to spur the industry to action. Through their various programs and partners, the two organizations will continue to broaden the scope of the fund to inspire support from the design world and maximize its effect on all communities in need.
“With the generous donation from ASID—a huge thanks!—and DIFFA’s strong network of design professionals behind it, the Design Impacts Life Fund has so much potential to help HIV/AIDS-affected communities,” says Cindy Allen, Interior Design magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and DIFFA’s Chair of the Board of Trustees. “DIFFA remains as committed as ever to helping those in need and galvanizing our community to push the boundaries of what is possible.”
Adds Dawn Roberson, DIFFA Executive Director, “We are thrilled to start the Design Impacts Life Fund with this most generous donation from ASID! These funds, combined with the continued generosity of the design community, will contribute significantly to DIFFA’s granting for years to come. We could not possibly be more grateful to partner with ASID in such a meaningful way.”
In the U.S., 80 percent of the interior design community is female, and Hispanic and Latin women are among the most affected by HIV/AIDS. The CDC estimates that roughly 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV – and nearly one in eight of those are not aware that they are infected. Increasing levels of intravenous drug use, linked to an epidemic of opioid misuse, are threatening the gains made on reducing HIV among people who use drugs. HIV-related stigma remains a huge barrier to preventing HIV and is linked to the low number of people who receive HIV testing, as well as poor adherence to treatment, particularly among young people.
Both ASID and DIFFA have a rich history of helping others. ASID provides monetary support through the ASID Foundation, which advances the profession and communicates the ability of interior design to enhance the human experience through research, scholarships, and education. In addition to its fundraising and volunteer events, DIFFA has granted more than $44 million to support nonprofit organizations across the country supporting HIV/AIDS.
The Design Impacts Life Fund was officially announced at the annual NYCxDesign Awards on Monday, May 20, 2019 at New York’s Pier 17. Both the Society and DIFFA will continue promotion of the fund through their various annual programs.
The American Society of Interior Designers believes that design transforms lives. ASID serves the full range of the interior design profession and practice through the Society’s programs, networks, and advocacy. We thrive on the strength of cross-functional and interdisciplinary relationships among designers of all specialties, including workplace, healthcare, retail and hospitality, education, institutional, and residential. We lead interior designers in shared conversations around topics that matter: from evidence-based and human-centric design to social responsibility, well-being, and sustainability. We showcase the impact of design on the human experience and the value interior designers provide.
ASID was founded over 40 years ago when two organizations became one, but its legacy dates back to the early 1930s. As we celebrate nearly 85 years of industry leadership, we are leading the future of interior design, continuing to integrate the advantages of local connections with national reach, of small firms with big, and of the places we live with the places we work, play, and heal. Learn more at asid.org.
DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS raises awareness and grants funds to organizations that fight HIV/AIDS by providing treatment and direct care services for people living with or impacted by the disease, offering preventative education programs targeted to populations at risk of infection, or supporting public policy initiatives. DIFFA is one of the largest funders of HIV/AIDS service and education programs in the United States, mobilizing the immense resources and creativity of the design community. Since its founding in 1984, DIFFA has emerged from a grassroots organization into a national foundation based in New York City with chapters and community partners across the country that, working together, have provided more than $43 million to hundreds of HIV/AIDS organizations nationwide. www.diffa.org.
The future is bright for The Alpha Workshops following last night’s Alpha Awards benefit, hosted by the nonprofit at West Edge NYC. The event raised an estimated $250,000 in sponsorships for the organization, which provides industry training to HIV-positive individuals in the decorative arts. One of the night’s honorees wasAdam Sandow, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Sandow.
“I am deeply humbled to receive this award from such an incredible organization and for all of the support the of the industry,” Sandow said. “Design is such an important part of my business and has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid. It is an amazing industry to be in and I am truly honored.”
Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen took to the stage to speak on Sandow’s behalf. “We went from corporate to ‘anything but’ at Sandow,” she said. “With Adam the responsibility and the commitment is completely different. He’s a protagonist, not an absentee landlord. Someone who has real skin in the game, and that proved the perfect solution to what’s happening in media today. So while others are closing shop or losing their way, cheapening their quality, unable to manage the times, Adam is doing what he does best—innovating, buying, investing, and creating new opportunities.”
Also honored was designer, decorator, and author Alexa Hampton, the owner and president of Mark Hampton. Along with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the event included silent and live auctions featuring artwork and design products by students of The Alpha Workshops.
On the eve of NYCxDesign, brands offered designers a look at their latest offerings at Interior Design‘s Market Live event on May 9. A curated selection of companies presented their textiles, lighting, furniture, and more to more than 100 designer guests at the magazine’s New York City headquarters. The evening offered an opportunity for specifiers to learn about new manufacturers in the marketplace while mingling with fellow industry professionals over drinks and bites. It also was a chance to tour Sandow’s new Manhattan office, which Interior Design moved into late last year. The gathering was an intimate and inspiring way to get in the spirit of design before a stimulating few weeks of products and parties.
Eight hundred guests gathered at Pier 17 on Monday night to celebrate the winners of the third NYCxDESIGN Awards, presented by Interior Design and ICFF. NYCxDESIGN, an annual celebration of product and project design homegrown in New York City and its boroughs, has been going strong for five years and the awards ceremony only continues to grow with the city-sponsored design event.
Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen hosted the event, which received product and project entries from over 24 different countries and all five boroughs.
“We launched the NYCxDESIGN Awards to celebrate our beloved city and showcase New York City’s best and brightest that are literally bursting from every borough,” proclaimed Cindy. “Giving these awards is the biggest joy in my life, but having to select just one winner out of all these excellent submissions is my nightmare.”
The evening started with product winners, which included design objects from Luceplan, Baxter, and Sony Electronics. Project winners included Gensler, Parts & Labor, and Rockwell Group. For the second year, the student product design category received over 100 submissions, all generously underwritten by NYCxDESIGN. Winners received the now iconic Llardró Guest figurine.
The jovial vibe of the night was best summarized by ICFF director Kevin O’Keefe. “The first year we did this, we filled the MoMA. The second year we did it, we had a waitlist,” said O’Keefe. “These awards have taken on a life of their own, and they highlight one simple truth: New York City is the design capital of the world.”