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Contract Magazine Design Forum 2015

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      Contract Magazine Design Forum 2015
      November 4-6, 2015 in Savannah, GA

      Each year Contract magazine invites the Editorial Advisory Board to the Design Forum, an event for “the most engaged experts in commercial architecture and interior design.” The attendees include principals, design directors, educators, real estate leaders and medical practitioners. Most of the attendees are members of the editorial advisory board and the remaining guests are industry sponsors and special guests. I am honored to be a member of the Contract magazine Editorial Advisory Board since 2012.

      This year the Design Forum theme was Health and Wellness, a popular topic these days in every design sector. The Design Forum kicked off with a reception at the SCAD Museum of Art. The museum is located in a building built in 1853 as a railway depot for the Central Georgia Railway. Christian Sottile from Sottile & Sottile as well as the dean of the SCAD School of Building Arts led the renovation design. The museum opened in 2011 and has received several awards. The most interesting aspect of this museum is that its purpose is not only to showcase an amazing art collection but also to be a teaching tool for the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) students, engaging them through interdisciplinary educational experiences.

      While at the museum I was fortunate to join a group of Design Forum interior designers and architects on a tour of their recent CIDA (Council for Interior Design Accreditation) exhibition. CIDA accredited programs must be reviewed every six years. This exhibition was outstanding – primarily because of the amazing faculty and the engaged and passionate students that excel in the multi-disciplinary and collaborative teaching environment. Much of their early courses require hand drawing as well as hand made 3D models prior to emphasis on the digital tools. I was also impressed with the inclusion of courses specifically focused on collaboration with any of the disciplines on campus (and there are a lot to choose from outside the traditional built environment disciplines). The campus is also unique in that it has about 70 buildings which are located throughout the historic district of Savannah – completely integrated into the framework of the city.

      The following day the Design Forum started with a provocative keynote address on BEAUTY by Stefan Sagmeister from Sagmeister & Walsh. I really enjoyed Stefan’s presentation because he was proving the point that beauty does matter and generally when beauty is considered in design there will be more happiness resulting in less crime, destruction, and unhappiness. For example, he talked about the HighLine project in NYC and noted that there has been ZERO serious crime since the HighLine opened. People respect the beauty of the park and therefore treat it with care and respect. This article from Wired magazine sums up his thoughts quite well.

      Stefan loves to make lists and he shared his 7 Fine Reasons Why Beauty Matters:

      1. Beauty is part of being human.
      2. The first beauty contest.
      3. Artificial beauty over artificial beauty – either or both?
      4. Beauty can change our mood.
      5. 10 most beautiful cities in the world – none of the US cities made the list. Those that did are unique in their characteristics of blending old and new: Barcelona, Kyoto, Prague, Rome were among others on the list.
      6. Beauty matters even when invisible. Beauty matters even when we lose our mind. Helmut Leder performed a research study involving the laughing muscle while working with Alzheimer patients. He found that if he showed the beautiful images they would smile. Two weeks later he showed them the same images that they have forgotten at this point and they smiled again.
      7. Beauty = Human.

      Stefan was provocative and inspiring. The last piece he shared with us was a new film called Now is Better.

      I believe that we need to talk about Beauty more often as it is critical for the happiness, health and well-being of everyone.

      Dana Pallai from Delos Living was the next speaker. Dana is the Director of the WELL Living Lab at Mayo in Rochester, MN. I am looking forward to coordinating a trip to Mayo to see the Lab in action. They have created a workplace and living environment that is loaded with sensors and environmental controls that can be modified as part of a research project to determine which elements in a space have more or less impact on health and well-being of the occupants. The lab will be used as a research tool to study the interactions of Building Science, Medical Research and Business Analysis for the next four years. The results will be focused on outcomes and the results will influence the new WELL Building Standards.

      The final speaker was Rosalyn Cama, Principal and Founder of CAMA, Inc. The presentation title was “Design Delivers Beauty.” She shared a quote from E.O. Wilson “Beauty is our word for perfection of those qualities of the environment that have contributed most to human survival.” Followed by this statement by Elaine Scarry that I felt was most compelling “the opposite of beauty is not ugliness, but injury.”

      Rosalyn shared her experience and expertise in integrating research into the healthcare projects she has designed and she shared her thoughts on the design interaction with the affordable care act. In 2010, chronic diseases accounted for 86% of healthcare costs and most of these diseases are preventable because 80% of the cause is from lifestyle and environment and only 20% is via genetics. Through design we can reduce the need of traditional healthcare by focusing on elements of design that improve human health and well-being.

      The last day of the Design Forum included a panel discussion regarding issues of the industry and a general discussion of how these issues could be represented via Contract magazine. The opportunity to share design thinking, inspiration and business issues is what makes the Design Forum such a valuable experience for all that attend. If you are not familiar with the magazine I encourage you to check it out and subscribe: www.contractdesign.com

    • About the Author

      Rachelle Schoessler Lynn

      • Interior Designer / Senior Associate
      • rachelle@msrdesign.com
      • 612 308 1623
      • View Bio