Category Archives: Designer Spotlight

5 Things You Need To Know

5 Things You Need To KnowYou Can’t Lose
By entering one or several projects into a design competition, there is no direction to go but up. Putting forth your work and having people see it, read it, and experience it can help you as a student and professional in several ways. As a student, you gain insight into how projects are judged and what is deemed great design, and as a professional you send your work to professionally successful and influential judges that critique it. You may even get to meet these judges and other professionals that attend the competition event to announce the winners (if the competition indeed decides to host the event); yet another conduit to showcase your work, and yourself.

5 Things You Need To KnowThey Make Your Work Better
Like a workshop or group review where peers, professors, and / or professionals listen to you describe and articulate your work and then provide you with constructive feedback, a competition provides a chance for you to showcase and obtain criticism and interpret your work’s worth. Knowing ahead of time that you are submitting to a competition also creates in you a sense of awareness that others – most notably, judges – are going to review your work. It makes you internally motivated to design a project that reflects your most advanced skills because you want it to impress and have people comment on it positively.

5 Things You Need To KnowThey Encourage Efficiency
Keeping yourself organized and managing your schedule are skills all designers benefit from, and if you schedule appropriate time to submit to competitions it helps you prioritize and work more efficiently. Design competitions have specific parameters and submission requirements you must tailor your submittal to, so making sure you know exactly what you need to submit as a competition deliverable(s) is important (especially when negotiating time between school and work responsibilities). Often, competitions ask for a combination of design renders and plans, as well as a succinct and clear written component describing your project.

5 Things You Need To KnowYou Become Involved
Design competitions do a great job of involving and engaging their participants. Whether it’s through e-mail, social media, or door drops, competition participants gain access to a design network where they can keep tabs on competition deadlines, see who is judging, find where and when the competition winners are announced, and of course (the fun stuff) what they receive for winning. In addition, competitions relay other entrants’ work, winning or otherwise (with approval), which gives participants a great idea of “what’s out there” and what you can expand upon in your own projects.

5 Things You Need To KnowYou Gain Affirmation, or Reaffirmation
Personally, I’ve entered several design competitions and lost all except one. The one I placed in gave me an affirming feeling that my design skills were, in a sense, acceptable – that the work I did was given a stamp of approval that said, “Yes, this is good design.” As creative people, we consistently put work “out there” that (hopefully) reflects our best design abilities and intentions, while acting as little parts of ourselves. When your design registers with a select panel of judges and you’re listed as a finalist, your career wayfinding becomes clear and the project you devoted so much personal time to is given its time in the sun. It’s an affirming, or reaffirming, feeling that your design inspired meaning in someone – a crucial effect our creations strive to engender.



IIDA would like to announce its inaugural “Clash of the Classics!” This tournament of personal taste pitches classically well-known and inventive chairs against each other with you, the voters, choosing which classic chair owns the throne.

Here’s how it works:

  • 16 chairs are arranged in a bracket with two chairs squaring off in each match-up (shown below)
  • Voting will take place on the IIDA DesignMatters blog with IIDA’s Facebook and blog followers choosing which chair they like more, and the chair with the most votes advances to the next round
  • The final match-up, slated for March 29th, will determine which chair owns the throne



Schedule of Rounds:

  • Round 1 = March 19 + 20
  • Round 2 = March 21 + 22
  • Round 3 = March 27 + 28
  • Championship = March 29

It’s IIDA’s twist on March Madness, and we can’t wait to get started. Stay tuned next week on Tuesday, March 19th when we kick off the First Round!

Please note: chairs do not reflect IIDA’s endorsement of any designer, company or manufacturer.

Q&A: 2011 IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition Winner, Katie Goodman

In honor of the 2012 IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition, we’ve caught up with a past winner of the competition!  In 2011, a team consisting of Katie Goodman, Liz Kahn, Jennifer Madden, and Sarah Martin, all from Drexel University won the competition for the Drexel Smarthouse.  We had a Q&A with one of the winners, Katie Goodman, and here’s what she told us about what she’s been up to since then!

Q: University Attended?

A: I graduated from DrexelUniversity in June [2012]

Q: Where do you currently work?

 A: At the moment I am looking for a job in retail design while doing some freelance work on the side.

Q: What year did you win the Student Sustainable Design Competition?

A: December 2011

Q: What was your initial reaction when you won the Student Sustainable Design competition?

A:  Upon winning the SSDC I was absolutely shocked.  I wasn’t anticipating anything at all.

Q: What inspired you to enter the competition?

A: My teammates on the project discovered the competition and thought it would be great exposure for the project and the Drexel Smarthouse as a whole.  As a member of IIDA I thought it would be a wonderful idea and fun to try our luck with a project we spent so much time and passion for.

Q: What inspired you to pursue Interior Designer? 

A: I have always been passionate about architecture and design as a whole.  I have always found myself looking at space as a three dimensional puzzle and I was drawn to Interior Design through the combination of these passions.

Q: What have you been up to since winning the competition (work, school, etc.) and tell us about that experience?

A: Since winning in December I have received my masters in interior architecture + design.  Upon graduating I took a trip to Colombia to visit a friend with an architectural/engineering company.  While there I had an unforgettable experience and a chance to learn about design and architecture in South America.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to this year’s entrants, what would it be?

A: One piece of advice I would have is to think outside the box.  Through my experiences with Drexel Smarthouse we pushed ourselves to think further outside our comfort zone and it has definitely paid off.

A plan for the Drexel Smarthouse, winner of the 2011 Student Sustainable Design Competition.

To view more photos of their winning project, click here.

It’s not too late to enter the 2012 IIDA Student Sustainable Design Competition.  Submissions are being accepted until November 15!  Click here for your entry form!  And click here to see entries that have already been submitted.

Voting begins on the last day submissions are being accepted, November 15!

A “Shout Out” for Emerging Designers.

by Michelle Kraker

Sure, we’re in an era of layoffs and cut-throat competition for jobs. Recent grads are competing with those in the field with 10-15 years of experience under their belts. But companies can’t afford to lose the talent that the next generation has to offer.

Almost every other week, I get a group of students in our offices that are looking for advice, direction and tips on how to find a job in the current economy. Perhaps mostly, they might just be looking for hope. Hope that someone sees their talents and gives them an opportunity. Graduates are taking unpaid internships just to stay in the industry, working at restaurants just to make a buck, hoping their passion for design will sustain them long enough to hold out for their dream job. Many are starting to apply and accept jobs at companies where they will not utilize their Interior Design degrees at all, but they have no choice.  If they don’t broaden their horizons, they could be lost to the profession forever.

And of course, it makes sense that companies would focus more on their current employees as opposed to bringing on new talent. Existing employees have built up their repertoire with not only the company itself, but the industry as a whole. So how does a recent graduate compete with the already existing workforce?

The industry is changing, and we all must adapt. Students and companies alike. Students have to learn how to market themselves, how to get to know what companies are looking for, how to find the chance to convince them that they have whatever “it” is. Companies are re-evaluating their budgets, recognizing that this is might not be the year to have a company carnival. As our CEO and Executive Vice President Cheryl Durst pointed out, “most companies are investing in innovation, but a 23 year-old graduate might be more valuable in the long term, they appreciate the new world of design”. Not to mention that it can be good for company morale to have an eager young mind around the office.

Companies should also be nurturing their interns, helping them to get their foot in the door in as many ways as possible. This is the seasoned professionals’ chance to be a mentor to someone who will appreciate it for the rest of their career. After all, they are the next generation of design, and the few good ones will soon be colleagues.

Durst also points out that professionals should not shy away from the concept of “mentoring up” and letting these young people teach them a thing or two about new ways of doing things. Sure, they might be immersed in a visual, digital and social media world. But these students know more about how to connect with people than any other generation before them. They are connectors of ideas and traditions and people.

When the industry picks up and companies are hiring again, we need to keep these emerging designers at the forefront of our minds. Until then, help them out by offering to do mock interviews, or spend 30 minutes with them to paint them a clear picture of what your job looks like on a day to day basis. You’d be surprised at how much you yourself can learn from these young students. They are passionate, they are positively contributing to society, they have strong opinions on world issues and know more about how to build a better tomorrow than many twice their age. They want to get involved, they want to make a difference. They are paradigm shifters and unsullied thinkers. And they need the commitment from today’s professional community to help them reach their full potential.

Speaking of, let me take a moment here to give a special thank you to those of you who took the time to volunteer to be a Mentor in the 2011 Student Mentoring Week. Nearly 1,000 design students we’re paired with professional mentors, making it the most successful year yet!

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Interior Design Educator Amy Roehl on Project Connect DP&E

The Project Connect DP&E website,, houses short web-based videos of design professionals talking about what it is like to work in the field. The mission of Project Connect DP&E, “working to connect design practice with education,” is to connect design students to design practice through web-based video. We particularly aim to reach university-level Interior Design students as well as high school students and career changers considering Interior Design as a profession.

“In the most competitive job market to-date it is critical for students to be well informed about the industry they are entering into. With ever-increasing costs of higher education, today’s student wants to know how what they are learning in school relates to their future professional success. The time and information that professionals participating in this project have shared is invaluable and has made a significant impact on our next generation of designers.”  Read the full article on the IIDA Professional blog, DesignMatters, here.

Designer Spotlight: D.B. Kim

We are launching a new series on our I ♥ Interior Design Blog spotlighting a new designer each week and to kick things off we reached out to designer extraordinaire D.B. Kim!

D.B. Kim

Occupation: Interior Designer
Hometown: Busan, South Korea
Current City: New York City and Chicago

Who are some of your personal style icons?
Andree Putnam, Emile Jacque-Ruhlmann, and Rei Kawakubo

What were some of your first experiences with design that inspired you to go in into the profession?
While I was studying in Switzerland, a graduate program provided by SCI-Arc, I had an awakening moment during a studio project with a legendary Ticenese architect Luigi Snozzi.

Westin Pasadena Lobby








When and why did you become interested in interior design?
It was toward the end of my graduate study in architecture when I grew interests in human scale and human experiences in architectural spaces.

How did you land your current role?
I’ve learned a lot and experienced many situations in design, which comes with ones maturity. While I learn and practice my career, I’ve learned to gain support and credentials to lead and to share the design knowledge and opinions.

DB's Apartment

What do you love most about it? What is the most challenging aspect?
I most enjoy sharing my concept process with my team members and having opportunities to answer questions and raise questions. The most challenging part of my enjoyment is to receive design opportunities and remembering patience.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspirations from everywhere; however, art exhibits and design exhibits inspire me most.

While I’m sure it changes from project to project, how would you describe your own style?
I don’t think about my style or having a certain style; however, if I were to describe my preference, I’d describe my own style as simple but complex, efficient but comfortable, and calming but rejuvenating.

Westin Chicago Lobby








What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Eight years of my contributions at the Starwood hotels and resorts worldwide leading some of their key brands as a design leader.

How have your clients and their expectations changed since you first started?
Working in hospitality design sector, my clients would be the travelers, guests. Contemporary travelers’ expectations have surpassed anyone’s imagination. The expectations are not difficult, but a good pressure on us to become better in design and smarter in design process.

How do you establish a sense of place in your designs?
Designing and establishing a sense of place is not difficult to do while design concepts are inspired from culture and region. I love reminding the audience with familiar details and references.

DB Kim Art Exhibit

What do you use to convey your design to your clients?
Design presentations can be expressed in many mediums; however, the visual references and real samples of work or materials are most frequented sources to communicate with clients. In hospitality designs, at times we build actual rooms to convey ideas and concepts.

If there was one tip you could have really used early in your career, what would it be?
Be focused.

Advice for young designers?
Explore as much as one can.

Frank Gehry @ the Chicago Public Library?!

In case you missed it a recently, Frank Gehry spoke at the Chicago Public Library to a crowd of 500+ eager attendees.  We sent our new intern, Stephen Kolacki, to check it out and report back to us with some highlights that might be interesting for our members.  Here’s what he discovered:

  • Fresh out of high school Gehry was a truck driver who decided to take community college courses in ceramics.  It wasn’t until his first visit to a job site with his ceramics professor that he actually became fascinated with architecture.
  • Gehry believes careful selection of clients is very important.  Trust and open communication in those relationships is essential.
  • Public involvement in public buildings is required on multiple levels, not just an elected board of officials.  He strives for a through understanding the culture and community his is working in, in addition to the basics.
  • As his legacy, Gehry wants architects and designers to take more responsibility for the construction process, with less emphasis on the demands of the General Contractor.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let us know your thoughts on Gehry’s work, be it positive or negative.  Do you have a favorite Gehry building or object?