Hitting the Ground Running

This year's NeoCon show was the usual mix of craziness and excitement. New International President Jim Williamson discusses some of IIDA's most exciting advancements from the biggest week in the contract industry.

06.22.2012 by James Williamson, IIDA, LEED AP

I’ve literally just hit the ground running. Since being inducted as the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) international president a few weeks ago at the IIDA Annual Meeting during NeoCon, it’s been an intense, gratifying, optimistic whirlwind. And according to my predecessors, the next 11 ½ months will fly by, so I need to make every minute count.

I’m not alone in this feeling. Visiting with designers, editors, manufacturers and reps during NeoCon, it’s all about the swirl of the evolving economy, the nature of the business and the addition of transparent communication with social media. It’s exciting and engaging and oh, just a little more juggling than I’m used to.

I know part of the reason it feels like my feet aren’t always touching the ground in my new role is because IIDA has built some great momentum and is moving forward, fast. With 18 years under our belt, we’re focused on learning from the past while innovating for the future. During NeoCon, I got to meet with many IIDA members and even more non-members, and I certainly appreciate all the feedback. It’s all part of what we take and process and turn around into new initiatives to benefit the profession.

At NeoCon this year, IIDA launched its first publication, What Clients Want. A year in the making, this amazing little book could just as easily result in additional tomes called What Designers Want, What Association Members Want or What A&D Reps Want, and eventually, maybe we can bring these topics to reality in the series we will publish. But this insight-loaded book began as a single and seemingly simple question, intended to evolve into a lecture series that captured and showcased the dialogue between designers and their c-suite clients. That simple question, it turns out, was really quite elusive. What do clients want? And so the book concept was born.

Ultimately, the publication allows you to eavesdrop on the private conversations between designers and their clients about how 14 specific projects came to exist, and how they have literally defined corporate culture, demonstrated process and shifted business models. Spanning the globe from Copenhagen to Las Vegas, and including tech icons who turned the word “friend” into a verb (friending) and the re-imagination of a 150-year old French department store, the book presents and explores one of the most consistent conundrums of our industry’s existence; so often design is intended to solve one problem, and results in addressing—or creating—other problems.

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