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Design Trust develops conference by and for designers
Mar 30, 2016

Design Trust, an invitation-only organization that provides designers the opportunity to meet in “more intimate and focused situations than the usual trade conference or convention,” will host a conference from May 12 to 15 in Washington, D.C. Steve Nobel, executive director, shares insights into the Trust’s big new idea: a self-organized conference for designers.


Design Trust board; l. to r.: Sarah Eilers, Sharon McCormick, Susan Brunstrum, Skip Sroka, Nobel, and Scott Ageloff

How can designers get involved in the invitation-only Trust? “The original founders—about five people who are the existing Board of Directors—have, over the years, on their own or through me, gotten to know each other professionally, and to some extent personally,” Nobel says. “All owners and principals of their own firms have participated in various groups but did not find the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that they enjoy with Design Trust. They named the group ‘Trust,’ because it does represent an asset to be distributed carefully and strategically, as well as the trustworthy nature of the discussions. They all give as well as they get. Now that Design Trust is established, they will reach into their own networks of designers to nominate others to join.”

The upcoming conference (the full schedule for which has not yet been released) is being developed by the Trust designers, without outside organizers. The “high-level discussions” include panels that home in on topics of interest to designers: client relations, operations, financial productivity, and creativity, among others.

“As I say, it is ‘by and for designers,’” says Nobel. “That gives the content real depth and actual case examples of the ways in which principals of these firms apply sophisticated business principles and practices. In most of the other conferences, participants get a 45-minute monologue using a broad brush. As in the past, several of the participants in our conferences meet on their own schedules to dig even deeper into the details.”

The group’s first formal conference was held in New York last fall, in a three-day event focused on meetings and salons that included presenters from three family-owned home-furnishings sources (Cary Kravet, Chad Stark and Alex Shuford); Hearst Design Group publisher Kate Kelly Smith and House Beautiful editor in chief Sophie Donelson; designer/architect team David Scott and Blake Makoid; design historian Judith Gura; and Steven Sonet, an attorney who specializes in the interior design market.

Learn more about Design Trust.

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