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Industry leaders explore the role of 'collaboration' in design
Feb 7, 2011

Good brainstorming sessions tend to lead to more questions than answers, and the Collaborative Strategies session held last fall did just that. Hosted by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the brainstorming session focused on factors influencing the idea of "collaboration" in the design industry.
What coalesced was agreement that world conditions such as climate change, aging populations, technology, and social and environmental degradation need newly complex design solutions. They require a sophisticated understanding of the ways and means of collaboration of all those who shape the built environment. Everyone on a collaborating team must bring a deep knowledge of his or her own specialty, while understanding the need to strategically call in those who specialize in human behavior, the physical sciences, toxicology, building and materials performance, etc.
In tandem with the need for deep knowledge, the most valuable skills for successful collaboration were identified as communication, critical thinking, and problem solving – the triumvirate of design education.
The overwhelming sense was that as changes occur more rapidly, we are less able to forecast and prepare with precision. Thus, our ability to collaborate and adapt to unforeseen conditions is extremely important. Practice leaders believe this “truth” will not only guide how we design, but what we design. The vision for the future of the built environment across all sectors is fluid, adaptable space that supports a range of human activity from work to play to rest. As one leader put it, “technology needs to be un-tethered from the built environment” in order to allow for fluidity and new, unpredictable demands and advancements. A blurring of “where one works” is occurring as we become more accustomed to working from anywhere and everywhere. Interestingly, the trend toward undedicated space that supports group activities and “values community over self” will coexist with the desire for space that can be highly personalized.
All of these factors are leading to a sea change in how individuals and companies view and invest in property, from homes to hospitals to corporate headquarters to neighborhoods. The group noted that a boom market is likely to emerge for retrofitting existing space given massive cultural shifts in how we use and value real estate, particularly in relation to sustainable – including socially responsible – design. One leader recommended replacing the word “sustainable” with “restorative” to express the drive to restore the wellness of the earth and its inhabitants by changing the way we live.
A few practice leaders and the disciplines represented at the session included Nancy Clanton, Clanton and Associates, Boulder, CO (Lighting Design); Bob Fox, FOX Architects, Washington, DC (Architecture); Lewis Goetz, Group Goetz Architects, Washington, DC (Interior Design); Jan Johnson, Allsteel, New York, NY (Interior Design/ Environmental Psychology); Heidi Painchaud, B+H Architects, Toronto, ON (Interior Design); Vaughn Rinner, VHB, Virginia Beach, VA (Landscape Architecture); and Linda Sorrento, USGBC, Washington, DC (Interior Design).
CIDA’s next step is to examine Collaborative Strategies session results and determine implications for accreditation standards for professional-level interior design programs.

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