Interior Design Professionals’ NYC Fashion Week

In SD Blog|September 30, 2022|By Rachel

As one of the planet’s great incubators of fashion and style, design professionals descended on New York City in September for the long-awaited, in-person return of two notable interior design fall events—Business of Home’s Future of Home (FOH) and New York Design Center’s What’s New, What’s Next (WNWN). Both events were back in full force after two tentative years of the pandemic and are now a partnership creating September’s unofficial New York Design Week.

Studio Designer enjoyed three exciting days in the Big Apple learning from business leaders, designers, brands, innovators, authors, artists, and more about exciting things happening in the world of interior design. Business of Home set up two days of programming covering trade home furnishings, trends, psychology, how to handle the accelerating forces of technology, how to design for sustainability in the future, and more. Over at the New York Design Center—an incredible concentration of the finest home goods in the country—What’s New, What’s Next continued the mission of highlighting all the great things in store for the trade with a day packed with panels and discussions.

A Revelatory Two Days at Future of Home

The first day of FOH took place at the spacious Chelsea Industrial events venue, with a main stage area, and curated experiences were set up by brands all around the perimeter. The exuberant Dennis Scully—BOH’s publication’s official podcast host—was the perfect host for the lively and well-attended event who served a jolt of charisma in the morning and seemed to know everyone in the audience. One person he knows, Ann Feldstein, founder of Moxie Marketing & Communications, treasured the time she had at the two-day conference and shared, “It was refreshing to see the vibrancy of the design community back in NYC. FOH felt a bit like a homecoming—seeing old friends and colleagues while learning ways to slow down, prevent burnout, and a little more about the Metaverse.”

As “the definitive event for smart, curious design professionals,” the programming of FOH covered a comprehensive array of tracks. On the first day, there was plenty of relevant advice about business and psychology for designers. Alexa Von Tobel, the managing partner of Inspired Capital, led “The Entrepreneurial Mindset” where she detailed her own rise in business and tips on how to handle stress with her favorite acronym, LITP (Lean Into the Pain). She doesn’t hide from discomfort or the tough conversations to effect change. The “Emotional Fitness in Leadership” session led by Dr. Emily Anhalt, psychologist, and founder of Coa, encouraged therapy and suggested that everyone compile their own “self-esteem file” of compliments and return to this file to rejuvenate confidence.

Alexa Von Tobel, the managing partner of Inspired Capital interviewed by Dennis Scully

On the “Technology” track, design professionals took a crash course in learning about the metaverse and the state of online design services from David Truog, VP of Forrester Research. He took the time to educate the audience about the metaverse, how it is an extension and not replacement of the real world. At the “Design Services at Scale” panel, Havenly CEO Lee Mayer and Intro CEO Raad Mobrem spoke about how online interior design services are mainly geared to grow a new customer base rather than replace conventional design services. They consider themselves ambassadors to first-time interior design clients.

The “Beyond Design” track focused on helping designers manage anxiety and stress during such a peak time in the industry. Designer Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson, his partner DeAndre Vane, and Amanda Hilton of The Simply Well led the “Wellness for Designers” session. Caleb and DeAndre discussed why they founded the community Well-Designed because creativity suffers from stress and how their respective companies aim to provide meaningful well experiences for creative professionals as well as a design community centered around wellness. The Well-Designed curated experience area beyond the main stage featured such things as a sound bath, essential oils station, lounge areas, and a tea bar. On the same track was “Intro to Holistic Design” by Gala Magriñá who spoke about the “energy vibe” of holistic design that takes into the account the health and well-being of her clients. She is all about bringing nature in as most people spend 90% of their time indoors.

Designer Caleb Anderson of Drake/Anderson, his partner DeAndre Vane, and Amanda Hilton of The Simply Well

In the “Design Business” track, Aphrochic cofounders Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason led a “Redefining Design” panel and spoke about how their work defines the aesthetic of “Black culture and life” with their focus on décor that explores modern design, global culture, and the African diaspora using “cross-modal perception.” For the “Cultivating a Growth Mindset” discussion, designer and media personality Arianne Bellizaire spoke candidly about doing everything when she first started out. When she learned to delegate and trust her staff is when she began to grow and gain more success. We found Studio Designer client Tina Ramchandani participating in a panel about “Making Online Design Work for You” where designers shared stories of how online design kept their businesses running at the onset of the pandemic.

In the disruption track, Tom Goodwin is an author who specializes in futuristic thinking and spoke about the “3 Phases Around Technology” during his presentation “The Digital Transformation of Home”. He said it is a really amazing time to reimagine the world. On the sustainability track, the “Growing a Better Future” panel discussion included two creatives who literally grow the material for home products. Interior designer Danielle Trofe’s MushLume lampshades uses mushrooms to grow lampshades and Algiknit founder Tessa Callaghan works with scientists develop algae yarn.

Philip Raub of Model No. and Whitney Frances Falk of ZZ Driggs spoke about their respective companies during the “Sustainable Supply Chains” panel. They both declared that localized manufacturing is coming back in a big way because of the supply chain’s ongoing issues. They also said that tech can serve an amazing purpose to ensure sustainability in their furniture products.

The “Commerce” track closed out FOH with highlights including digital strategy consultant Clark Boyd’s ” The Future of Product Discovery” presentation where he cautioned the audience that visual search is the future and that quality will improve soon like a “magic trick hiding in plain sight.” The final panel, “NFTs and the Future of Interior Design” led by Minted founder Mariam Naficy and architect and designer India Mahdavi covered how NFTs offer new compensation models for artists and how there is now coded art that is now a blue chip market for art similar to conventional artwork.

Heightened Enthusiasm at What’s New, What’s Next

Elle Décor Editor in Chief Asad Syrkett, designer Laura Hodges, and Studio Designer client Heide Hendricks

A day after Future of Home, design professionals brought their enthusiasm for new ideas to the 14th annual What’s New, What’s Next at the New York Design Center. From morning until the early evening, design professionals had the chance to discover ideas, design, art, materials, and products with an abundance of sessions and panels throughout the day.

WNWN returned to the event’s original in-person format while keeping expanded programming and innovative ideas. All while navigating the challenges of the building’s vintage elevators, Studio Designer had a chance to attend a selected sessions throughout the day that included a fair number of design professionals who use our integrated project management and accounting system to run their design firms.

A new Studio Designer client, Heide Hendricks of Hendricks Churchill participated in the “The Future in Sustainable Design” at the David Sutherland showroom hosted by Elle Décor Editor in Chief Asad Syrkett to discuss sustainable design trends with fellow designer Laura Hodges and Sutherland Creative Director Eugeni Quitllet. The group candidly discussed what they do in their daily work life to reduce negative impact in the environment, including eco-friendly designs. Plus, they all agreed it is important to set standards as design leaders to plan and work towards a future as clean as it is stylish.

At What's New, What's Next, prominent art consultants convened for an “Artful Inspiration” panel discussion at the Apropos showroom

At the Apropos showroom, prominent art consultants convened for an “Artful Inspiration” panel discussion to offer their opinions on the future of buying and living with art. The panelists included designers Katie Leede and Juliette Eberle, contemporary artist Bradley Theodore, and Chelsea Neman Nassib, founder of Tappan Collective. They shared some of-the-moment artists they admire and detailed the creative process for designing around great art.

Another Studio Designer client Drew McGukin was featured in a panel at The Bright Group showroom called “Luxury – Made to Order” moderated by Interiors publisher Patrick O’Bryan, and included designers Rhonda Scharf and Marc Spector of Spectorgroup; plus product designer Ted Bradley. They discussed how the best part of custom work is that clients are happier with a sense of ownership and being part of a story. In promoting custom work Drew remarked, “We’re not limited to what we’ve already done.” The panelists collectively recommended, “Have faith! Be fearless about trying something new.”

The Bright Group showroom hosted the “Luxury – Made to Order”panel

One of the final events of WNWN was “How Sense of Place Influences Design” at the Circa Lighting showroom aglow with hundreds of beautiful light fixtures. Moderated by designer and Veranda Editor Joy Moyler, the panel included two notable Studio Designer clients— Paloma Contreras and Michael Del Piero—plus designer Elizabeth Graziolo of Yellow House Architects. They all discussed the emotional connections that result from exploring through design the dialogue between a home and its surroundings to achieve a satisfying design “properly rooted in a place and time.”

Studio Designer’s experience at interior design’s unofficial New York Design Week was profound, insightful, and most importantly optimistic about the state of the trade in the future. Ann, who attended both events, remarked, “While the panelists of FOH educated us on many different topics, I felt the discussion of potential burnout was especially important. Creativity isn’t a spout that can be turned on and off, we must create the space for it. We all have elements of creativity in our work, sometimes that is building a beautiful space, and other times it’s problem-solving. Most importantly, cultivating space for yourself leads to a better quality of life for everyone. The same can be said for the conversations around sustainability at both FOH and WNWN. We only have one planet Earth; we must prioritize its safety and well-being for generations to come.”

Studio Designer clients Paloma Contreras, Veranda Editor Joy Moyler, Studio Designer client Michael Del Piero, and designer Elizabeth Graziolo of Yellow House Architects

The Future of Home conference is relatively new but already established as an important and must-attend event for design professionals. Plus, the venerable traditions of What’s New, What’s Next remain compelling and influential and the New York Design Center’s signature event. September’s unofficial New York Design Week is back and just getting started in shaping the vision and forward momentum of the trade.

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Studio Designer is the leading digital platform for Interior Designers managing and growing their design businesses. Featuring fully integrated project management, time billing, product sourcing, and accounting solutions for the interior design industry.

FEATURED IMAGE: What’s New, What’s Next’s “How Sense of Place Influences Design” at the Circa Lighting showroom | All photos by Lauren Espineli