The ninth-annual Design Leadership Summit (DLS) was a whirlwind of speeches, discussions, and demonstrations, one that engaged design professionals for three days and at four locations. Spanning topics from international design to the maker’s revolution happening in Brooklyn, the event offered designers plenty of food for thought.
“Our goal is to create content that feels timely and relevant to the issues and opportunities we are facing,” said Design Leadership Summit co-host Peter Sallick. “By focusing on two main themes, international development and the maker movement, we directly tapped into very different ideas than last year's focus on technology, media, and real estate development. Ultimately, the design market connects with so many areas that our sources of inspiration are quite broad.”
Editor at Large was at the event, covering each presentation individually, and at its conclusion, asked designers what they found most inspiring:
2014 DLN Summit attendees
“As first-year members and attendees, we were struck by the depth of content ranging from local to global and we were humbled by the caliber of our fellow attendees and speakers. It was a great opportunity for us to sit back and take in the wealth of information in one room—not only from the distinguished speakers but also from tablemates, break-out session group members and dinner companions.”—Tilton Fenwick, interior design firm, New York City
“My biggest takeaway from the Design Leadership Summit this year is that we are truly a design community, and we are stronger and better and can move forward in our individual businesses when we share information with each other. It’s really what the Design Leadership Network is all about, I value the relationships and the time I get to spend with those people. I adore getting the conversation started with old friends as well as new ones and hearing about all perspectives of the design world. I also appreciated the approach to design on an international scope as well as the very local insight.”—Libby Langdon, interior designer, New York City
“The one thing that I always take away from the DLN is a sense of connection to others in our design world. It creates a unique place to share what is happening. It is always a time to reflect on ones own vision and think about the future of design.”—Suzanne Kasler, interior designer, Atlanta
DLN members at the opening night discussion at Cedar Lake
“Being with peers, colleagues and friends, sharing like minded experiences and finding ways to enhance our businesses was my biggest takeaway.”—Ron Woodson, interior designer, Los Angeles
“I was so incredibly inspired by my peers! Mr. Landry had perhaps the highest impact on me. He is someone from a small town in Canada who did not speak English until he was 20 and he went on to become an architect with projects in 17 countries. That’s incredible to me! It was also great to visit and learn more about Brooklyn. Overall I thought Peter, Kate (Kelly Smith, co-host) and John (Edelman, co-host) did a phenomenal job.”—Allison Paladino, interior designer, Palm Beach, Florida
“The Design Leadership Summit organized an impressive agenda for its accomplished industry members. From education to inspiration, international to hyper-local, the emphasis overall was the transformative power of design around the world. Very simply, design changes lives and throughout the process we are responsible for respecting both human and environmental conditions. This was highlighted by presentations ranging from government officials to local artisans. The heads of the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, for example, discussed the merging of design and security issues and brought home the fact that our embassies and consulates are not just structures to safely house government staff overseas but communicate American culture and values on an ever-expanding global stage. Maya Lin, in presenting her monumental work and new non-profit initiative, focused on her use of earth and water in design and the necessity of dealing with our challenging environmental issues. And in Brooklyn, at the amazing Industry City complex, the return of the handmade, bespoke and American craftsmanship was illustrated and celebrated. It was evident in these two days that the world is getting both larger and smaller and that design will continue to play a crucial role in how the world interacts, survives and thrives going forward.”—Stacey Bewkes, design blogger, Connecticut
DLN members chatting during "break out sessions"
“The biggest takeaway for me was Maya Lin. She's a profound artist and has became a profound environmentalist. She inspired me to become more involved with her cause. I logged onto her site 'What is Missing' and have been following these simple guidelines. Her message is not self-righteous or preachy just straight forward and practical (like the artist herself).”—Jayne Michaels, interior designer, New York City
“The DLN Summit was an special opportunity to learn about what's going on now in the industry and where we are headed. I very much enjoyed Michael Philips talk on ‘A Window On the Future,’ his amazing creation of Industry City is really changing the landscape of Brooklyn. It is really exciting to see how that neighborhood is growing and embracing the design industry. Maya Lin's topographic landscape artwork was beyond impressive. Her commitment to give back with her project on mapping the memory, ‘What is Missing,’ was so powerful and inspiring. Finally, having the opportunity to visit the temple of mid-century modernism in New York at the United Nations was a chance to be immersed in design excellence at the highest level.”—Amy Lau, interior designer, New York City
DLN members mingling at an after hours event
“As always the best part of the Summit is seeing old friends and making new ones. The bonds we've formed over the years are strong and despite our busy schedules we will move mountains to be there. We spend endless hours calling, texting and emailing to get in the same hotel and planning the after the party ‘parties.’ We don't sleep for fear of missing something or someone. It's the shot in the arm we all need to get through the calendar year. Every year there is always one takeaway for me that stands out above all the others. The keynote speaker whose message resonated above all others was Maya Lin. She was brilliant and her quiet, thoughtful presentation was riveting. I've thought about it every day since—changing the world through thoughtful design.”—Beth Webb, interior designer, Atlanta
“The way Maya Lin fluently bridges so many media to convey different experiences of the same concept is breathtaking. Whether experienced in a manicured grass wave in a field or through piles of wood in a gallery, her architectural work defies the imagination.”—Marisa Marcantonio, design blogger, New York City
“I loved this year's global focus. Whether you're in the States, South America, India or Australia, the common goals of those in the profession remain the same: to provide beautiful solutions through innovative design.”—Clinton Smith, editor in chief of Veranda, New York City
DLN members at the closing party at Brooklyn Bowl
“The focus on design on an international scale allowed me to remove the borders I sometimes create in my mind when it comes to design. Not only did the range of speakers expose us to design projects all over the world, but they also focused on removing borders on size and scale (Maya Lin especially spoke on this) to truly create one-of-a-kind installations. I also loved our day in Brooklyn exploring the revitalization of Industry City where artisans from many different cultures work side-by-side creating an international offering in New York’s oldest borough. My favorite part of the Summit, however, was our breakout sessions, and one-on-one time discussing current challenges and opportunities in our fields of design and architecture. It is always refreshing to receive insight from others from all parts of the country. An international view often means removing borders; this conference spoke to that definition on many levels.”—Denise McGaha, interior designer, Dallas
Related Stories: Highlights from the Design Leadership Summit, Manhattan; Highlights from the Design Leadership Summit, Brooklyn
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