It’s been almost a year since Hellman-Chang's Eric Chang accepted the role of president of the Decorative Furnishings Association (DFA), and his commitment to moving the industry forward has only strengthened. Weeks away from the organization’s annual meeting in New York, the man at the helm gives BOH a preview of this year’s major topics of discussion—including what he considers the industry’s strongest disruptor.
“If there was one word to describe my first year as DFA president, it would be energized,” says Chang. “Far too long, our members and interior designers have been having private conversations about how to best deal with the changing consumer demands and an altered business landscape spurred by technology—much of it with an undertone of helplessness and anxiety of the unknown. What we have kicked off since the E-Commerce Summit in May is we have finally given all of the leaders in our industry both a voice and a platform to come together and discuss resolution in a way that incorporates all their viewpoints and develops the way forward.”
Among the series of prompts guiding roundtable discussions among DFA members at the organization’s inaugural E-Commerce Summit in Los Angeles were inquiries regarding business challenges and concerns. Attendees’ responses, including intel from trade showrooms, manufacturers and interior design firms, will be revealed at the annual DFA Membership Meeting on November 13.
“The meeting next Tuesday hits on the hot topic issue of how to change our business practices to better engage an online-driven interior designer, a more informed and demanding consumer, and doing it in a way that allows us to control the message better, and utilize technology to adapt to the way information us now consumed and products and services are researched and purchased,” Chang tells BOH. “The interior design trade is not going away—it’s one of the last frontiers to be disrupted by online—and we need strong leadership to gather the viewpoints of all of our members and forge a way forward that hits across common denominators.”
To help turn ideas into actionable strategies, the association has a panel in place to share how brands can best pivot to adjust to evolving markets. It's a roadmap, Chang says, that will guide attendees on “how they can modify their business practices—be it branding, showroom experience, how to provide more information to designers online, better sales practices, stronger outreach, or how to shift an entire business culture.”
Melody Lee, former global brand director of Cadillac, will discuss how she helped rebrand the car manufacturer to return the legacy company back to its once category-leading status. She will be joined by John Bricker, creative director of San Francisco–based architecture firm Gensler, and Mike Goldman, founder of workplace engagement consultancy Performance Breakthrough, who will contribute implementation strategies.
“Change is never easy, and not all of the solutions will result in positive results for every facet of our industry—but the overall benefit will be a positive one for everybody in the long term,” says Chang. “The popular analogy that change in our industry is akin to turning an oil tanker—the collective voice of the DFA has become the captain and our platform the rudder that facilitates this movement.”
The DFA’s annual meeting will take place on November 13 in New York City. Registration is required.