Designers Share Thoughts on the Future at ASID’s First-Ever Virtual Conference

This past September, ASID hosted its first-ever Virtual Conference. With this unconventional year in mind, ASID provided a unique, crowd-sourced keynote that mined the best names in design to discuss the future of “Design Impacts Lives.” The following quotes are just a handful of the many thoughtful insights from designers on what’s to come.

Kay Sargent, senior principal and director of WorkPlace, HOK:

“Design’s next challenge is facing us right now. The entire world is looking at us and asking us, what is the future of work? … We have the opportunity to panic and retreat, or to muster the courage to really understand that returning to the office is not what we should be doing … We need to be going forward into a new ecosystem of work. We need to have the courage to address the things that we weren’t truly addressing before … and we need to address the things that COVID has now presented us with, like heightened sensitivity to our surroundings. I believe this is a challenge that the design community is well prepared to face. Because we’ve been thinking about what the future is going to be all along.”

Benjamin Huntington, owner, Veritate Design, LLC:

“Design’s next challenge will be how to present to clients virtually without losing the inspiration that created the perfect design solution.”

Xingying Du, interior designer, Havenly:

“As a younger generation of interior designers, I believe design’s next challenge is how we integrate design with technology and innovation … Technologies, such as AR, VR, and data-driven design methods can make our design more efficient … Now we have more time and more tools to focus on and improve all aspects of design – for people, for environments, for culture and for society.”

Briana Guin, experiential designer, Conde Nast:

“Experience design is the natural next step in the role of interior design … The power of design is that it provides us with necessary tools and precedents to aid and expand in the immersion of experience design, leading to potentially untapped capabilities of how we improve the experience of design that all people take part in.”

Barbara Huelat, healing design strategist, Healing Design:

“Design has the power to keep people healthy. It’s more than making it functional and beautiful, design makes our environments human. Human-centered design builds on empathy, our understanding of how people think, feel and behave. The results are improved outcomes. [This] touches our biology, emotions and humanity. Design is powerful.”

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Elizabeth Von Lehe, design and brand strategy principal, HDR:

“Design has the power to impact the lives not only of people with means, but everyday people in everyday spaces, working on multiple spaces, beyond architecture, into interior design, graphic design, products, objects and materials that engage your senses and, in the end, make a space and the design more than the sum of its parts.”

Angelita Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor of Interior Design, Georgia Southern University:

“Design’s next impact will be on culture and creating empathy and unity in our societies.”

Eric M. Haydel, owner, Eric M. Haydel Design, Inc.:

“Now more than ever, it is important to see the power of design within our own lives … Design has given me confidence, has made me a better professional, but has also helped me to see the world with compassion and empathy … Design has the power to teach.”

Kendra Locklear Ordia, assistant professor of Interior Design, University of Nebraska:

“Design’s next challenge is not a new one. As we consider how design can serve a growing demographic and underserved communities, we need to look internally and ensure our profession is representative of the larger, diverse populations we serve.”

Santiago Rivera, associations and organizations leader, Gensler:

“Design’s next challenge is to create racial diversity in our industry. As well as to ensure that all voices are heard in the design process, resulting in truly inclusive and equitable spaces for all.”

Ken Wilson, design principal and co-global design director, Perkins and Will:

“Once the pandemic has passed, there are greater challenges that await our attention. Climate change is real and it is not going away. We must appreciate that every problem we have now, including social inequity, will be amplified by climate change. Design has a role to play and we must make it a priority, not just in the work that we do, but in the way that we live our lives.”

Katherine S. Setster, assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and Interior Design, Miami University:

“I think the real question is, what’s not next for design? … We have tremendous technical tools that empower us to find new ways to do what we do. But the thing we miss most is basic human interaction—a hug, touch, authentic interaction. This is where design has the most impact. Design brings context, and meaning, purpose and intention to our very human interactions.”

Sandra-Diaz Velasco, owner and principal, EOLO A&I Design, Inc.:

“Design’s next impact will be the innovation we creatives bring to every aspect of the design spectrum despite these challenging times … Because it is during these times in history that amazing creations will happen … Design impacts lives, it did it before, it does now, and it will always.”

Read Next: ASID Launches Virtual Internship for Student Members


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