Denver Design Week Spotlight:

Denver: On a Rocket Ship to Where

IIDA Presents: A Tale of Two Senses

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DDW session and to buy
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On Oct. 18, the second day of Denver Design Week, the International Interior Design Association is gathering a group of professionals from a variety of fields for a fascinating talk about the value of design amid Denver’s rapid growth. Karen Hailey, the recent past president of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the IIDA, who is coordinating the event, said: “Our IIDA chapter wanted to provide a panel discussion that catered to firm leaders in Denver, so we asked them, ‘What would you guys be most interested in attending?’” We spoke to her about her hopes for this very timely session.
Q: What is the story behind this session’s title: “A tale of two senses: Where design and financial sense meet”?

A: We were talking with some designers about the challenge we have in Denver of having twice the work needing to be delivered in half the time. We want to discuss that issue and figure out what the future is. Who are all the players who are trying to get all of the work done? Is design still being valued in our projects, or is it really being driven by budget constraints? Our moderator, Randy Thelen, vice president of Downtown Denver Partnership, is really great at laying out the landscape of where Denver stands and what its future is.

Session Moderator, Randy Thelen
Q: Who is going to be on the panel?

A: Our panel includes general contractors, developers, the principal of an architectural firm, and an interior design project manager. They all feel that the economy here is still very good and they can be moderately selective about the projects they take on to make sure they can be creative in their designs. Everyone feels passionately about their own perspective, and we wanted people who are actually working on and building the projects to offer their diverse views.

Q: What sorts of issues will be discussed?

A: How are commercial projects being chosen? What is most important to each person’s perspective? We expect the audience to include a lot of professionals interested in what is driving the future of Denver. Is it budgetary constraints, is it timeline constraints, or is there a focus on design and creating something new and unique, and capitalizing on Denver’s uniqueness because we are growing so rapidly? For example, we are not seeing the huge dip in multifamily housing work here that we thought we would see five years ago. There’s this question around the fact that there is talk of a recession coming, but people are still moving to Denver in droves. So what’s the future of the city? How are the people who are the actual boots on the ground designing it? And are they trying to recession-proof in any way? What resiliency factors are they considering? Do we, as architects and designers, feel a bit like we’re just pumping out work? Or are developers and clients really demanding high design and using that as a strategic tool? And how can we be more forward-thinking in terms of what projects we take on so if we have a slowdown, we are in a good position? We’re hoping, with a panel that represents various parts of the process, to have some “eyes open” moments.

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