Creating Big, Bold Designs Requires Action—And the Payoff Can Be Bigger Than You Think

04/01/2020 By Robert Nieminen

There’s something inherently risky about design. To envision a space that doesn’t yet exist or to breathe life into a client’s dream is an act of daring because the possibility of failure is always present.

As designers, it’s your job to push the envelope of possibility and light that spark of creativity. No one is paying you to play it safe (or not many, hopefully). And while I realize that all too often, you’ll sell a client on a concept that they initially love or on a bright, bold pattern, only to have them pull back later and pick the neutral palette or go a safer route overall, it doesn’t mean you should give up trying.

[Related: 20 Years, 20 Designers—Lebatex Milestone]

“I do think it is designers’ jobs to meet people where they are and then help them inch forward to something that maybe they wouldn’t have done otherwise, to give them that courage to take chances with their interior design space or their pattern selection or their furniture selection, because that’s what makes that ‘wow’ feeling. That’s what makes design special so that it’s not all kind of vanilla,” says designer Stacy Garcia, the subject of this month’s Profile.

Garcia knows a thing or two about taking risks. As you’ll discover by reading her story, she literally put her money where her mouth is by taking out a home equity loan to finance her textile design business, which has grown to two companies, multiple brands and dozens of licenses since she founded LebaTex in 1999. Garcia spent many years in the hospitality industry, which is no stranger to the big, bold and beautiful either—and as it should be.

[On Topic: Diamond Shine By Stacy Garcia]

But beyond some of the more audacious designs seen in hotels, the hospitality industry is seeking new and meaningful ways to attract and retain guests and distinguish themselves in a crowded market, as noted in this month’s IIDA column. For example, the recent opening of 21c Museum Hotels’ Chicago location highlights the growing popularity of the “hotel as art gallery” model by offering a contemporary art museum in combination with a boutique hotel. At a time when guests are expecting more from their accommodations, incorporating art is an effective way to elevate the hospitality experience, creating daring, integrated spaces—a number of which are highlighted in IIDA’s contribution.

[On Topic: Design Connections Benefit Families]

Daring design isn’t just reserved for the cultured or the elite—and in fact, it should extend to those in need as well. Author Robyn Whitwham, an architect based in Stantec’s Toronto office, makes a courageous confession in her Op-Ed piece by admitting that her original ideas about a woman’s path from victim to survivor in cases of domestic abuse “was all wrong,” she writes. “I thought that seeking emergency shelter meant looking for just that—an immediate, short-term, safe place to go that provides basic resources.” In hindsight, she realized how much physical space can affect human behavior—even a shelter—and that designers “need to be thinking about the potential impact the built environment can have on the well-being of survivors of abuse.”

This past February, attendees of our bi-annual Design Connections event had an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the surviving families of first responders in Savannah, GA, during our Night of Giving. Design Connections attendees were organized into groups and tasked with replicating a single painting using multiple panels, which required coordination and teamwork. The painted works of art were then auctioned off to support the local Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, a local nonprofit that provides financial assistance to the surviving spouses and children of local law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty while protecting their communities.

[Related: Jiun Ho Textile Collection]

Going big doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go out and change the world all at once. Most often, it’s the sum total of small steps of faith that add up to a big difference in the lives of the people we serve.

As Garcia observes: “The action is what moves everything. Whether that’s action to create a bold, new interior design, a bold, new fabric pattern or a bold, new career choice, it’s those bold moves that propel your life forward and can make waves and can change industries.”

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