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IIDA’s Favorite Design Moments of 2019

11/26/2019 By Irena Frumkin

2019 marked IIDA’s 25th anniversary, which meant there was a lot to celebrate. Aside from another successful year of programming, design leadership and community-building, we saw the inaugural launches of exciting new publications, scholarships and panel discussions. And we can’t wait to see what happens next.

Here are IIDA’s top five design moments of 2019 and five things our Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, is looking forward to in 2020.

IIDA’s top five design moments of 2019

1. IIDA at Neocon

IIDA’s NeoCon theme this year expanded on the idea of being “Powered by Design” through a series of programming and guerilla marketing moments at NeoCon 2019. Throughout TheMart this past June, IIDA-branded buttons and planters could be found for the taking, while the IIDA trolley shuttled participants to designated locations on the inaugural Inside Design tour series.


Photo: The IIDA-branded trolley takes participants on the IIDA and NeoCon Inside Design tours. Credit: Christopher Dilts

2. 25 Years of Being Powered by Design

To celebrate IIDA’s “silver” anniversary, the association established the Silver Founders Award, given to Interior Design’s Cindy Allen, Hon. IIDA, and the Silver Legacy Award bestowed on the late, great Florence Knoll at the IIDA Annual Meeting in June.

Our anniversary activities culminated at Silver, the IIDA black-tie event, which saw record attendance and celebrated the winners of the prestigious Will Ching and Interior Design competitions.


Image by Taylor Glascock

3. Investing in Diversity

This year, IIDA honored the winners of two inaugural diversity scholarships: the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship, established with an initial $50,000 donation from IA Interior Architects, and the John J. Nelson Sr. Scholarship, made possible through a personal donation by John Nelson Sr. of $50,000.

Scholarship recipients were recognized at the IIDA Annual Meeting in June.

[Related: IIDA’s Leadership Discusses the Importance of Diversity in the Design Industry]

4. Designers and Architects Talk

IIDA saw a surge in successful design talks and panels in 2019. In a first collaboration with AIA Chicago, IIDA hosted the sold-out “Designers and Architects Talk,” a series of three panel discussions at IIDA Headquarters that addressed commercial interior design and architecture. Panelists engaged in provocative discussions about projects, firm leadership and design strategy. The 2020 event series will begin in February.


Photo: (Front left to right) Jason Hall; Ami Kahalekulu; Deon Lucas, AIA, NOMA; Sarah Kuchar, IIDA; and Peter Exley, FAIA; at a 2019 Designers and Architects Talk event. Credit: Jordan Fuller

5. One-of-a-Kind Design Research

2019 was an important time for design research from IIDA. The first-ever IIDA Index launched in November 2018, with the second iteration in August. The first-of-its-kind research tool and accompanying member-only web interface measures the health and metrics of the interior design industry exclusively.

By collecting project data from firms varying in size across the U.S., the Index is critical in analyzing various business opportunities, such as participation in niche markets and recognizing underserved sectors. Firms interested in participating in the next issue of the Index can reach out to index@iida.org.

Cheryl’s Top 5 Thoughts for 2020


Here’s everything our CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, is looking for in the upcoming year of design:

1. More people of color and women in design leadership roles across the architecture and design industry.

2. Increased use and respect for materials once considered “humble” or “indigenous” like hemp, terracotta, jute or sisal.

3. A continued resurgence of biophilic principles and materials. What works best for nature works best for humans.

4. Increased emphasis on the built environment appealing to all sensory stimulation.

5. Continued respect for the connection between well-being and spaces that are comfortable, accessible and well-designed.

Read next: IIDA: Increasing and Challenging Diversity at University Level Needed