Perhaps it has something to do with the time of the year. As individuals, our psyches are preparing to end one season and move on to the next; as business people, our efforts are devoted to winding down the current year and planning for the new one. Whatever the reason, I can't help but think it is more than just a coincidence that all four of the association columns that appear in this issue revolve around two predominant questions: who are we and where are we going? These articles turn an introspective eye on the design profession in the hopes of better defining its mission and, in turn, its direction for the future.
For example, Harvey Rosenberg ponders the profession's identity crisis in this month's IDEC Report, asking how a profession that has such an impact on the built environment be so overlooked and disrespected. J. Derrell Parker also explores issues of public perception in the NCIDQ News column, tying the results of a recent Harris Poll on trust issues to the design field. IIDA president Lewis Goetz writes about the need for the profession to have a clear vision of a holistic entity. "Without a roadmap of what we want to be, as a profession we will never get there," he notes. And finally, Linda Elliott Smith, president of ASID, writes in that association's column about the role of interior designers in protecting the public welfare—a critical responsibility that will guide the profession in coming years.
Why so many similarities among these articles? Obviously the design profession is grappling with some serious issues relating to its identity, the value it provides to society and the strategic planning efforts it must undertake to ensure continued growth. Certainly these are all relevant issues that any field goes through as it matures—a process the design field has unquestionably experienced in the last few decades. And while these issues all have important consequences, what must be acknowledged—and lauded—is that the industry is obviously willing to tackle the tough subjects at hand. It is not settling for status quo or aimlessly riding the waves of change to see where they might lead. Instead the field is taking a firm grasp on the oars in an effort to point itself on the right course. Issues such as certification and legislation, unification, continuing education, research and evidence-based design will undoubtedly make the journey a little choppy at times, but never impossible to navigate.
The subject of charting a strategic plan for the future brings us to yet another of this issue's uncanny coincidences: our cover story on Peter Busby. Busby is a perfect example of a professional who, guided by his personal principles and beliefs, set his sight on a career goal and worked hard to achieve it. Initially a philosophy student, Busby's insights into how architecture could address some of the ethical issues raised by his studies prompted him to pursue the profession in which he is now making significant contributions—not only because of the buildings his firm designs, but the way in which it designs them. Busby + Associates is a four-time winner of Canada's top design award and a leading force in the country's formal adoption of the LEED™ Green Building Rating System.
" I felt that I could contribute through the bigger picture issues related to social responsibility and the differences between right and wrong," Busby says. "For me these differences are apparent—doing things from a hedonistic point of view versus doing something for the larger community. These questions are part of the history of philosophy and I certainly thought that, going forward, maybe some of the more ethical standards could be applied to life, quite actively, through architecture."
Our industry is full of creative individuals who routinely apply innovative thinking to the design of functional, pleasing and safe environments. Certainly by applying its own creative juices to the issues at hand, a bright, rewarding and prosperous future for the profession can be strategically implemented. Certainly the right questions are being asked. Let's work collectively to define the answers we all seek.