Posted on 9/14/2012 5:36 PM by AnnMarie

Birsel to present at Configura’s CET Designer User Conference in Las Vegas this October

by Molly Klimas for Configura

Famed product designer Ayse Birsel of Birsel+Seck, thinks people should stop leaving their lives to chance and start using design principles to Design the Life You Love.

Ayse Birsel

Birsel is the keynote speaker for the 5th annual CET Designer User Conference in Las Vegas from Oct. 24-25, put on by Configura, creators of design and specification software for the contract furniture and architectural and design industries.

Born in Turkey and now a New Yorker, she's perhaps best known for her work designing Herman Miller’s Resolve office system and Moroso’s M'Afrique collection. She and partner Bibi Seck own Birsel+Seck, a design and innovation studio that also works with such titans as Johnson & Johnson, Hasbro, Hewlett Packard, OfficeMax, Renault and Target.

Birsel’s keynote will be based on her popular workshop Design the Life You Love, which addresses the issues that many people face when juggling a career, family and other obligations. In November 2010, Birsel first presented the workshop at The School of Visual Arts sponsored by the Academi of Life, an educational organization devoted to exploring the art of living.

Here is a taste of Birsel’s recipe for Designing the Life You Love:


Your life

Your favorite sketchbook and pen or pencil

Your heroes and mentors to inspire you along

Some metaphors for life

Optimism and playfulness

A cup of coffee or tea

Some music, if desired

Ah, but what do you do with the ingredients?

“That’s where design comes in – applying design principles to bring clarity of purpose and organization to one’s life,” Birsel says.

Like a master chef, she guides participants through the same process that she follows when she is creating a new product design for a client.

She starts doodling simple line drawings on pieces of paper:

1. Deconstructing the complexity of the proposed product by first sketching the major components of the product.

2. Expanding on this process, with each subsequent drawing continually opening up the mind to new associations and emerging patterns.

3. Examining the point of view – what does the product look like “broken down” into components? What is our point of view here, and can we express this in a metaphor, to help simplify the complexity without losing the poetry?

4. Adding in inspiration – who or what might provide inspiration to improve this product?

5. Shifting the point of view – looking at the drawings and metaphors and inspiring people/places/things to help us see the same things in new ways from new perspectives – so we can imagine potentially new product options and solutions.

6. Using intuitive tools to shift one’s point of view – turning a negative into a positive; taking something learned in one area and applying it somewhere else; shifting hierarchies, priorities; visualizing various scenarios; putting oneself in someone else’s shoes; combining two ideas to form a new one.

7. Reconstructing the product as a hierarchy of choices so we can define the goals before we can define the means.

8. Choosing the product or the solution that rises to the top as the most elegant, the one you love the most!

So, swap out “product” and swap in “life” and you’ve got the essence of Birsel’s presentation. But to experience it in person, attend the CET Designer User Conference, especially if you’re a designer-dealer of Haworth, Steelcase, Teknion, Spacefile, KI, InscapeCarvajal Espacios or Aurora Storage Products.

“If we, as interior designers, can design anything and everything, why not design and simplify our lives?” Configura Support and Training Manager Tracy Lanning says.

For the latest on Birsel, check out her newly launched website about design as a process, DE:RE, at .

Other presentations at the 5th annual CET Designer User Conference, Oct. 24-25 at The Venetian/Palazzo in Las Vegas, include:

Using SketchUpÔ with Aidan Chopra

Aidan Chopra, the SketchUpÔ guru and author of Google SketchUpÔ for Dummies, was the keynote speaker at the 2011 CET Designer User Conference. As SketchUp’s designated world ambassador, he enjoys sharing his passion for software and design. He is enthusiastic about the collaboration that Configura has created with its SketchUpÔ Extension. Based in Colorado, Chopra presents globally on architecture and design.

CET Designer Top Ten List with Paul Riches

Paul Riches has been a CET Designer “Power Peer” user for more than five years. As a CET Designer beta tester, he’s provided innovative and invaluable feedback to the Configura team
to continually help the program improve and evolve. Riches works at Heritage office Furnishings in Vancouver, BC.

Using CET Designer as a Sales Tool with Tammy Christopherson

Tammy Christopherson is a designer at Canfield Business Interiors in South Dakota. She uses CET Designer daily in her work – it’s changed the way her company does business. Her presentation Using CET Designer as a Sales Tool shares some of the techniques that her dealership has incorporated to improve the sales process.

Other CET Designer User Conference instructors include Joe Danzer of ProjectMatrix and Configura representatives from the U.S. and Sweden.

If you would like more information on Configura, CET Designer and the user conference, please visit