• kjahn39

Design has a renewed sense of purpose

This spring I had the privilege of attending the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) / Wanted Design and NYC x Design festival in New York City, participating in Environmental Design Association’s (EDRA) Health in all Design conference in Greenville, South Carolina, and serving as a Best of Neocon judge for the Merchandise Mart and McMorrow Reports in Chicago.


The three conference and design shows represent all aspects of thought and action that shape the built environment and provided a much-needed chance to reconnect, recharge, and think about future of design. I found great inspiration from the speakers, products, places, ideas, and new friends I met along the way. I came away with the conviction that as we move through a period of transition and sensemaking, design has a renewed sense of purpose.


A few notes from my collective take-away on the future of design…

  • We have moved beyond the pandemic definition of health as an absence of disease to recognizing health as the sum of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. The future of architecture and design is rooted in research-based design solutions that positively impact health. Emerging and established fields of neuroaesthetics, biophilia, human-centric design, and cognitive architecture are gaining recognition and holding professionals accountable for the consequences of their design decisions. Know your impact and make better, more informed design decisions.

  • The future of design will continue to prioritize production technology, versatility, mobility, safety, and adaptability. Environmental design research needs to move faster. The expansion of partnerships between design professionals, academia, and private industry is needed to keep up with the rapidly changing social, economic, and cultural issues of our time.

  • To effect real change, we need to continue to break down barriers between professionals and people we serve. Immerse yourself in the community. Listen rather than sell. Make interactions transformational vs. transactional. Put community in the expert seat.

  • Storytelling has always been a part of architecture and design history but is finding a new purpose as a way to create a dynamic spatial experience at all scales - ecosystem, community, building, and materials. Using narrative in design, not in the way of themed entertainment but as a tool to build memory through sense, color, visual, and tactile experiences, provides the thread to craft a collection of experiences. Make every experience count.










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