Joyce Bromberg Talks Disruption in the A&D Industry for Design Connections 2.0 Keynote

10/08/2019 By Robert Nieminen

Joyce Bromberg, keynote speaker Design Connections 2.0During the opening keynote presentation at Design Connections 2.0 at the Kimpton Rowan in Palm Springs, CA, Convene chief design officer Joyce Bromberg talked about a number of disruptions that have taken place throughout modern history, including the Industrial Revolution and the Information Age.

The workplace design pioneer, who spent part of her career at Steelcase, revealed the impact of technology has had on spatial design.

Rather than basing design decisions on numbers—how many people can fit into this conference room or workplace, for example—Bromberg noted that during the evolution of workplace design, people began asking the question, “What if we designed spaces not on numbers, but on what people were actually doing in them?”

Referring to activity-based planning, the office became more responsive to users’ needs and moved away from the cubicle farms of the past.

The Great Recession introduced another major disruptor to the workplace: uncertainty.

No longer able to predict the size of their organizations, Bromberg says this change led to the desire by companies for flexibility—shorter leases and the ability to expand and contract as needed, which led to the co-working trend that we see today.

Of course, change is constant, and Bromberg predicts that another major disruptive force is on the way.

“There will be another big inflection point when singularity happens. When [artificial intelligence] overtakes human intelligence, it will change everything,” she said.

Joyce Bromberg, keynote speaker at Design Connections 2.0.
(Photo: Joyce Bromberg, chief design officer for Convene, opens Design Connections 2.0 with her keynote address, Disruption in Architecture and Design. Credit: Robert Nieminen)

Designing for the Future

With that in mind, the question Bromberg posed to designers is, “How can we utilize foresight and think about what might be?”

Joyce Bromberg speaking to a packed room at Design Connections 2.0
(Photo: Joyce Bromberg speaking to a packed room at Design Connections 2.0)

She said we need to look at the leading edge of what’s happening in the world to see where it’s going, but also look to people right next to them to see how what other people do can affect the work that interior designers do.

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In practical terms, Bromberg offered the following strategies:

  • Use big data to inform design decisions
  • Look at what people actually do, not what you think they do—and invite end users to design with you
  • Take the unpredictability out of construction
  • Integrate space and technology, and create smart rooms that help people solve problems
  • Provide the ability for people to customize and personalize

Quoting from computer scientist Alan Kay, Bromberg suggested that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Focus on Users

It was Bromberg’s first time attending the Design Connections 2.0 event, put on by interiors+sources. Ahead of her keynote, she spoke with associate editor Adrian Thompson.

Joyce Bromberg's first time attending the Design Connections 2.0 event.
(Photo: Joyce Bromberg keynote speaker at Design Connections 2.0. Credit: Robert Nieminen)

“Meeting needs isn’t just about efficiencies and economies of scale,” she explained. “It’s also about meeting the needs and desires of your user.”

Joyce BrombergBy taking a historical and futuristic view of how innovative disruption has affected both architecture and design and what that has meant to those in the industry as both practitioners and users—particularly as it has affected the workplace—she hopes listeners got “a renewed sense of purpose and a feeling of relevancy about their roles as designers.”

If you missed the presentation or want to know more, you can read our profile interview with Bromberg, coming soon.

This article was first posted Oct. 4, 2019 and updated Oct. 8, 2019. Adrian Thompson also contributed to this article.

Read next: Technology Reshapes the Future, But Human Element Remains Front and Center

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