For generations, study abroad has been an important component of architecture education, with students traveling to experience different surroundings and customs while gaining a greater appreciation for “place.” I recall being a student when Iowa State University formalized the first study abroad programs for interior design. Italy was mecca for us then, as we sought to learn about culture through travel experiences deeply rooted in the context of design. Now I watch as colleagues lead January trips to Mexico and semesters in China, where students add social connection to their list of skills and learn to collaborate with communities to design local projects that embrace native materials and construction practices.
With a global reach, design programs are expanding the knowledge and understanding of our students. And for those who do not have the resources to study abroad, technology makes the exchange of ideas more free flowing. For example, students in Rome can collaborate via Skype with students at Iowa State, learning from one another and from instructors who bring richer content into the classroom without stepping foot on campus.
Such experiences open up a world students wouldn’t otherwise know. My own travels opened my eyes to the beauty of Scandinavian design. Its simplicity and attention to detail have informed my design sense. From pleasing looks and clean lines, to affordability and durability, beauty and function abounds in Scandinavian furniture, lighting, accessories and even cars, embracing the idea that all people, rich or poor, deserve access to good design.
The United States also has attempted democratization of design. After World War II, similar ideals were expressed in the mid-century modern movement, with designers from George Nelson to Charles and Ray Eames collaborating with Herman Miller to create simple, practical and beautiful products for regular consumers. In recent times, stores such as Target have placed a focus on the affordability of designed objects through its Design for All campaign. And today, brands such as Apple and Virgin Airlines are drawing attention to the importance of design while focusing on the overall consumer experience of every last detail of their products and services. From aircraft interior design and lighting systems, to flight crew uniforms and airport lounge layouts, design awareness is changing consumer expectations regarding the products we buy, where we spend our time and the experiences we encounter.
In the same way the world is changing the way it looks at design, we must reconsider the way we look at the world. Part of the ASID strategic plan focuses on globalization and its implications for our profession. As I reflect on what that means for us as a Society, it comes down to one idea: stronger connnections.
- Stronger connections with our membership, in person and on the Web, will enable greater access to resources and relationships that foster excellence in everything we do for the industry.
- Stronger connections with other professions should reflect the interdisciplinary ways we do business. From architecture and industrial design to fashion and graphics, we can learn from one another through engagement and collaborate to bring about positive change.
- Stronger connections with the design world around the globe should mirror our members and their firms who already embody globalization. ASID already is a member of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) and represents the profession in global conversations about design.
I look forward to your input and energy as we work to create these connections. Together, we have the power to radically change the way design impacts the human experience.
FASID, CID, LEED Fellow
From the President’s Letter in the spring 2014 ASID ICON magazine.