Of Contributions and CollaborationsI
n last month's cover story that explored Great Places to Work, we heard again and again from practitioners about how highly they rate the ability to balance work and personal life issues in their quest for career satisfaction.
This month, we learn first-hand from one of the industry's most well-respected authorities just how vital that balancing act truly is. Roz Cama, FASID, has enjoyed an illustrious career as a practitioner, consultant and as a past national president of the American Society of Interior Designers, the field's largest professional association, and as current chair of the board of directors for the Center for Health Design, a non-profit organization that promotes the relationship between quality healthcare and evidence-based design for the built environment. With such a gigantic reputation, one might think Cama necessarily works at a giant-size firm. Rather, she is content with the size (10 employees) and nature (creating nurturing environments) of the 20-year-old firm that she heads along with partner Ed Bottomley. Any larger, she says, and she might have to give up the work that she loves for a task that she doesn't.
"It's perfect for the kind of work that we do," she says. "It's big enough to get us into the types of projects we want to do, yet small enough for Ed and me to manage. It gives me the freedom to participate in ASID, the center and other activities that come up. If we were larger and had more partners, I probably would have to make difficult choices between the firm and my philanthropy."
It is, perhaps, her passion for her work and her immense satisfaction with her chosen career direction that makes Cama such a compelling inspiration to young designers—and young, soon-to-be-designers. Certainly it is one of the reasons she was invited to keynote the upcoming Collaboration by Design 2004 event, an international student symposium that will be held this October at Kendall College of Art and Design. Her talk, entitled "Future Planning for the Interior Design Professional," will draw heavily on what's she's learned from her participation with many forward-thinking clients and organizations as she explores the successful transition from design student to interior design professional. Cama is, in many ways, a compelling advertisement for the benefits of volunteering; a testimonial to the notion that "what you give, you get back multifold." And, she hopes that her future will hold more opportunities to do the same, to inspire, as she says, "the next best thing" from her employees, peers, students, young designers, hospital administrators, contractors—anyone who can contribute to improving the environments in which people live and heal.
Cama is also a leading proponent for the need for collaboration, a process that she believes leads to great design. "It isn't about any one of us, but it's about the collaboration between us. I give you a great idea and force you to think a little differently about what you're doing, then you'll spark it in someone and this great chain reaction for innovation is created."
In fact, the theme of collaboration—and the positive results that are achieved because of it—is one that resonates throughout our annual FIDER special section, also included in this issue of Interiors & Sources. In it, we have detailed three current projects FIDER is involved with, all of which have required either tremendous cooperation among the leading professional design organizations or high levels of consensus building among interested constituencies. The special section, titled "Responding to the Real World of Design," explores how the profession is working together to battle stereotypical images of interior designers and explore issues that impact the knowledge and skills that present and future practitioners must have.
"Energy focused in collaborative action and development is clearly productive," writes Beth Harmon-Vaughan, chair of the FIDER Board of Directors, referring to the successes to date of a Career Web Site project and another one working to establish a formal Body of Knowledge for the profession. "Establishing a planning horizon and working together as a community is the most effective way to see the fastest results." It is her hope that these projects will serve as a compelling impetus for further cooperation. "Together," she says, "we can build the profession."
And that, of course, is a sentiment worthy of future exploration. Let's all stay tuned.