At EAL, we are navigating our way through the Midwest this month, exploring the design scene in Chicago, Minneapolis and beyond. Who better to comment than Cheryl Durst, head of the Windy Cindy–based IIDA? Durst discusses the local aesthetic, her responsibilities at the designer organization, and what developments designers should look out for in the months to come.
Durst was hired as the senior director of education and professional development at IIDA in 1997, when the organization was two years old. She shares of her background: “One year later, I was promoted to executive vice president and chief executive officer. It was during those early years that I began rebuilding and redefining the organization as it was struggling structurally and financially. Over the last 20 years, we’ve made a commitment to facilitating a global interior design community, elevating the profession through advocacy and education and leading the way for our next generation of innovators.”
“As a result of these efforts,” Durst continues, “the organization has grown to more than 15,000 members across 58 countries.”
Given her experience immersed in the city’s design scape, Durst is well aware of the nuances of regional design. What’s indigenous to the area? “There are individual elements of design that come to life more vividly in specific regions,” she reflects. “The Chicago style is very authentic and strong; it’s simple without being simplistic. A palette that mixes industrial with natural colors characterizes the Windy City. Chicago has been called the ‘garden in a city,’ and the design reflects the pride residents take in our green spaces with colors derived from nature. The blues of Lake Michigan and the greens of our world-class parks can be found all around the city.”
As for the top design talents throughout the region, Durst says she and the IIDA are seeing “incredible work coming from Midwestern practitioners: not just in Chicago, but from Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis and other small cities. Our members in this region are doing exceptional and impeccable work that is being recognized across the globe.”
Currently, the IIDA is accepting entries for its annual Global Excellence Awards. Of the program, Durst shares, “It’s always exciting to see the work that our members produce; the award winners provide our industry with a benchmark of the cutting edge of commercial design across the globe.”
Durst’s focus for next year is on students and the student design community, via programs including a “mentoring month” and a career boot-camp initiative. In addition, she says, “As always, we’re continuing our efforts to reach beyond the profession to share the message that design truly is a force in our lives. Raising public awareness around the impact of design is a key focus for our organization.”