The Passion of Design

Lewis Goetz

Communicating the value of design.


For most if not all designers, our passion for design is what motivates us and keeps us going. It permeates our lives. It's our passion, the love of what we do, and the desire to make this world a better place, one with order, comfort and beauty. For years I have advocated the value of design to my clients, my friends, my peers and even my children—pretty much to
anyone who would listen. The value of design is obvious to us as designers. Why else would we work so hard at it, surely not for the "big bucks?"

I wonder why it's so difficult, then, to convey this simple fact to others—that great design is beneficial. It is good for all of us—not something just reserved for the elite. It can help you be more productive, it can inspire you, it can keep you healthier, it can make you more spiritual, it can make you comfortable or even uncomfortable if that's its choice. In fact, interior design can have a great effect on you. In Tom Peter's latest book,
Re-imagine, he emphatically announces the importance of design in business. I know our clients want proof or facts that substantiate the obvious. As designers, we are educated about design and understand the effects that it has on the human spirit and the human being. Most individuals do not think about interior design as we do. They don't go around looking at floors, ceilings, lighting and materials the way designers do. In fact, most people are somewhat oblivious to their surroundings (although that is changing). Is it that they don't care, or is it that they just are not educated to know or care?
It must become something we as a society think about in the conscious versus the subconscious if we are to truly make a difference as designers.

Our lives are largely viewed in experiences we have had and many of those can be associated with places as well as people—places that have been designed and, for whatever reason, left a memorable impression. History has always focused on design as one of the most lasting records of our past, whether art, artifacts or architecture. Places are identified by design through buildings; Paris has the Eiffel Tower; London has Parliament, and Washington, DC has the White House.

If you think about how design affects you each day, it clearly informs the story of its value. I have talked to my children and many other audiences about the world around us and its design—all design—not just monumental design. There are so many items with a profound effect on how we perform in our daily lives. Whether it is a fork, a faucet or
a factory, a chair, a cabinet or a church's pew, the design will make each better or worse in how we live our lives.

Interior design works similarly. The workplace you work in each day can inspire you, it can help you be more productive, it can keep you safer and healthier, and it can give you comfort. The hospital you visit can do the same in addition to providing wellness. The theater you attend can lift your spirit, help you hear better and can make you more comfortable. The place you worship can be inspirational. The place you call home can make you feel good and make you more restful and so on and so forth. These are the places we hope are designed by trained interior designers who can contribute to the betterment of those spaces and make a positive difference in people's lives.

Design is our passion and we must continue to look for quality answers to the daily design challenges we face each day. We must continue to research the results of our work to collectively learn from those experiences, and we must educate our children and our consumers to understand the value of what we do, and the positive benefits it brings us.

At its core, IIDA—an association representing interior designers and the profession—advocates and promotes excellence in interior design. It is during this pre-NeoCon season that we have a chance to stop and spotlight the top projects and products of the past year. For more than 25 years we have celebrated the best of interior design with our IIDA Annual Design awards program. This year in celebration of our 10th anniversary, we are also collaborating to celebrate the best interior design of the last decade. We support the Best of NeoCon product competition and host the showroom and booth design competitions, giving manufacturers a chance to highlight the time and attention given to their show preparation. We also celebrate product design in our hospitality forum with our hospitality awards program and soon will introduce
other awards to celebrate and inform about quality interior design and its benefits. Join us as we advocate the need for more research and knowledge and provide a voice for our members' design passion

IIDA president Lewis J. Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA, is founding principal and CEO of Group Goetz Architects, Washington, DC. IIDA is headquartered in space 13-122 at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL, and can be reached at (888) 799-IIDA;