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IDC members discuss the future of design on the national stage

Tackling issues on the “State of the Industry” at 2019 BUILDEX Vancouver

This past February at BUILDEX Vancouver, prominent interior designers and industry leaders participated in a panel exploring the issues that will affect the future of interior design, from technology and Instagram influencers to current political issues and building code changes in Canada.

Sally Mills, president of IDC and principal of the firm Kasian, moderated the discussion, and was joined by panelists Megan Bennett, registered interior designer and president of the Interior Designers Institute of British Columbia, Julie Campbell, partner at SSDG Interiors and Ann Squires Ferguson, the CEO of Western Interior Design Group.

The State of the Industry panel highlighted three key issues currently impacting the landscape of interior design: the importance of maintaining a cross-cultural mindset, socio-economic conditions and safety and security measures within the built environment.

“We need to look at the present and look at things from a wider lens, what is going on around us in the world today and how does it affect our design,” said Mills during the panel.

The panelists discussed how their experiences travelling have affected their own design perspectives as well as the work with their clients.

Campbell, who has travelled throughout Europe, Asia and South America, recalled a project working with a retailer in Saudi Arabia to re-think their mobility stores. After Campbell and a colleague travelled to the cities Riyadh and Jeddah to tour the client’s current locations, they spent a couple years designing a new concept while collaborating with the client through a web-based platform. “It was essentially like meeting ‘face to face’ from the other side of the world,” said Campbell.

The panelists also explored the importance of designing for diversity, inclusivity and sustainability. As Mills explained, this means creating spaces that are accessible, allow for personal autonomy while also breaking down physical and mental barriers. In Canada, new building codes are helping enhance accessibility. For example, as Campbell pointed out, 50 percent of a building exterior access must be accessible and toilet rooms must be unisex so caregivers of the opposite sex can enter the room with the person they’re assisting.

Safety and security is another issue that will affect the future of interior design. The panelists discussed how security measures are being implemented into new projects, from building more private phone rooms in open-concept offices to incorporating soundproofing materials in meeting spaces. In the United States, it’s become common for office tower elevator entrances to be secured with turnstiles.

With all of these issues in mind, the panelists also explored the future of the industry and how to create spaces for the future generations.

“The next generation craves the latest in technology, embrace co-working spaces and want to work in untethered spaces where they have freedom to work in a variety of spaces when they choose,” says Campbell. “We will need to design spaces with clarity of purpose and use so it’s easy for Gen Z to navigate.”

IDC will return to Vancouver for the Design Symposium on Sept. 12 and 13.

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