Growing, Celebrating and Inspiring

As IIDA prepares for its next transition, Peter Conant looks back at some of the things the organization has accomplished over the past year and what’s in store for the future.

05.01.2012 by Peter Conant

With my term as International Interior Design Association (IIDA) international board president coming to a close, I’ve looked back at this last year with pride. We’ve grown as an association, created new ways to honor members, and continued to be a solid resource for students and new professionals—and the future looks even brighter.

This month IIDA will be opening a new Middle East chapter in Dubai, further expanding our international outreach and extending our network to a broader base of interior designers. The opening of the chapter coincides with The Office Exhibition, which will feature the latest innovations and international trends from May 15-17 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The announcement came after Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA, CEO and executive vice president of IIDA visited Dubai earlier this year and gave a presentation titled “The Business of Interior Design—the Work, the People, the Process,” which focused on how global demographics and technology have drastically changed the fields of interior design and architecture over the last 10 years. We are excited to expand our community with the IIDA Dubai launch, and look forward to reaching new design professionals on an international level, while continuing to learn the value of design in different countries and cultures.

But it’s not just about creating a global community of designers—we want to inspire your individual creativity and spark an interest in new ways of thinking about design. IIDA strives to constantly inspire our members through venues such as our Leaders Breakfast series, which recruits speakers from across the country who can enlighten the audience with innovative, unique outlooks on the world of design work. One of our upcoming keynote speakers is Mick Ebeling, founder and executive producer of The Ebeling Group (TEG). Scheduled for May 31 in New York City, Ebeling will share some of his experiences with his international production company and creative think-tank, which represents some of the world’s leading design collectives.

IIDA seeks to be a continual resource for our members by providing valuable information that they can use in their day-to-day lives. This June, the association is debuting What Clients Want, the first in a series of limited-edition books that study clients’ perspectives on realizing anticipated and unanticipated benefits in a client/designer relationship, told through an engaging narrative and striking visuals.

We’re also working to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the interior design industry. We recently designed an infographic (viewable at to showcase statistics pertaining to the knowledge, value and community of IIDA and our members. We also share our research and information on emerging trends in our Knowledge Center online, and through a variety of white papers, the latest of which recaps our 15th annual Industry Roundtable, which included discussions on social media, technology’s effect on the processes, and the impact of new generations in the workplace. (You can also read about it in the IIDA column found in the April 2012 issue of Interiors & Sources.)

Perhaps most importantly, we here at IIDA want to honor and celebrate the achievements and hard work of our members. This year IIDA is honoring two individuals that have gone above and beyond with the Educator of the Year and Member of the Year awards. We launched the Education of the Year Award to recognize an exceptional full-time educator; the winner will receive a $10,000 cash award, sponsored by Milliken, and a complimentary 2012 IIDA membership. Our Member of the Year award will honor outstanding volunteer service to the association and the design community. Both winners will be announced at the IIDA Annual Meeting on June 10, 2012 in Chicago.

Our competitions, including the Global Excellence Awards and the Will Ching Design Competition, among others, are another way to promote our members, and provide them the opportunity to showcase their work and gain international exposure in the design field. We work to reward originality and excellence in interior design and architecture through our competitions.

In addition to honoring members, we have launched a new website to celebrate them. The site, We Are IIDA (, is a compilation of profiles where members can talk about their work experience, personal style and inspiration. It’s an online community that gives members a place to voice their passions and share their interests with fellow members—check it out and let us know what you think.

When it comes to students and emerging professionals, it’s extremely important to stay connected and build relationships with other designers, as that can open the door to new career opportunities in the future. IIDA wants to help students get that foot in the door. We had an overwhelming response at this year’s Student Mentoring Week, which provided students with the opportunity to meet and shadow industry professionals and learn the inner workings of the field; over 400 students were interested in the program, nearly doubling the amount of participants from last year (a number which we hope continues to grow).

IIDA’s goal is to celebrate its members and their accomplishments, provide them with opportunities to develop professionally, and help build and develop relationships with other professionals. The power of design can change lives and when the people behind that design come together, remarkable things can happen. We want to be the place where that power, inspiration and community are brought together to achieve something extraordinary.


IIDA President Peter Conant, IIDA, AIA, LEED AP is the founder of Conant Architects in New York. You can reach IIDA at (312) 467-1950 or at