| Oct 20, 2011 |
Innovation, reinvention shape the future of design
Boh staff
By Staff

By Alexandra Rosario

Fall Market at the Decoration and Design Building was in full swing last week as designers, editors and bloggers came to hear panel discussions and preview the latest collections from many of the showrooms. Transcending Boundaries in Design was the theme during the two-day market and was expounded on during the keynote lectures, covering ideas like reinvention, innovation, social media and the Internet and how they are changing the landscape of the interior design industry.

A few of the keynote panelists, including Beth Brenner, Jonathan Adler, Windsor Smith, Christina Juarez, Peter Sallick, Shane Reilly, Tom Delavan, Michelle Adams, Suysel DePedro Cunningham and Pilar Guzman, discussed everything from innovative new platforms to digital interaction with others through Twitter to expansion of business.

Christina Juarez, Windsor Smith, Jonathan Adler, Beth Brenner, Peter Sallick with Ann Maine

One of the most innovative ideas talked about was the new website Dering Hall, recently launched by Sallick. An online market place for interior designers and architects, Dering Hall has revolutionized the way designers sell their creations and consumers view and buy products.

“This is a website where designers set up their own shop,” Sallick said. “There were two things that designers needed. The very first thing was exposure, so we created a marketing platform for them. We also created a revenue stream for them as well.”

In terms of exposure, Adams lauded sites like Editor at Large that help designers promote their work to editors. “These days, you can sign up for a service like Editor at Large, and get your projects out there for all of these editors to see, whereas before, you had to know an editor personally,” she said.

Adams spoke about her own innovative adventure, Lonny magazine, an online shelter publication of which she is the editor in chief. “We had zero money, but we had a passion,” she said. “We thought to ourselves, ‘how can we do this without spending any money?’ There are so many fabulous design blogs out there so we didn’t want to do that. So we decided to publish an online magazine, the first of its kind in the shelter category.” 

Adams also praised the innovation behind Kelly Wearstler’s new website that combines a blog and an e-commerce component. “I’m so astounded by Kelly Wearstler’s new site – the blog has so much of her voice in it and then while you’re reading you also notice all of her projects and products,” she said.

Adler, who owns multiple retail locations, has a thriving e-commerce site. “My e-commerce portion is larger than my flagship store on Madison Avenue,” he said.

Guzman, editor in chief of Martha Stewart Living, was amazed at what the Internet has done in general for the interior design industry. “What the Internet has done has made stories more personal,” she said. “More and more the demands of designers are to tell a story.”

“I feel like the Internet shortens the time between when someone sees something they like and getting something they want,” said Delavan.

Suysel DePedro Cunningham, Tom Delavan, Michelle Adams, Pilar Guzman and Shane Reilly

The advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter has not only opened new doors for designers but also creates a different sort of publicity to manage for PR firms, according to Juarez, who is the president of Christina Juarez and Company, a PR firm specializing in interior design. “I think the role of the designer has changed – there are many different ways to achieve their goals. I do publicity 101 for them first: get everything ready, putting press packages together. But it's a lot more than just publicity,” said Juarez. “Social media is HUGE now! I was resistant I have to admit but it’s not only helped my business but my client's businesses too! It's another way to make yourself a global brand. I think designers can learn from each other. You need to get out there and talk to one another, see what your peers are doing.”

Cunningham, co-founder of Tilton Fenwick, agrees. “We tweet almost every day, it’s a conversation to engage with our readers. And now, top editors can interact with new designers through things like Twitter and Facebook. If people are going to be talking about you on the Internet, you definitely want to be part of it. Bloggers can now come back and disseminate information that we all just used to file away.”

During the comments portion of the lectures, one audience member disagreed with technology and its benefit to interior design. “I feel like online social media is actually undermining our industry,” the guest said. “I think that something like 1stdibs is the lazy man’s approach to interior design. Now designers are not learning their craft. The thing to really look at here is how is this industry going to reward experience?”

Smith, Adler, and Sallick had answers to this question. “Well you might be right,” Adler said. “But I think the important thing to note is that that ship has sailed.”

“There’s a huge new world out there,” said Smith. “Times have changed and we have to figure out our place in it.”

“When I was reviewing data, we found that designers and architects are shopping a variety of sources; showrooms, online, vintage,” said Sallick. “I applaud the drive for that creativity and that drive to be successful.”

Photos by Jennan Al-Hamdouni

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