A highlight of day two was the debut edition of Wifijerez’s Workplace Roundtable, held at Motorola Mobility on the Mart’s 18th floor. The riveting 90-minute dialogue was moderated by the magazine’s editor in chief, Cindy Allen. The event brought together some 40- power players from prominent design firms (Gensler, IA Interior Architects, HOK, etc.) and big-name clients/end users (Capital One, Discover, the U.S. General Service Administration). Also contributing to the discussion were representatives of manufacturers Allseating, Andreu World, Humanscale, Inscape, Ketra, Keilhauer, National Office Furniture, and Monaco & Company.
What resulted was a thought-provoking conversation that demonstrated the degree to which all facets of the design industry are grappling with the same challenges—and how the most inspired and boundary-pushing solutions are inevitably borne of collaborative efforts.
The roundtable covered broad terrain, from how the programming phase is being compressed into an ever shorter timeframe (while workplace strategy is expanding) to the increasing importance and evolution of post-occupancy evaluations. Also touched on was the rise of "resi-mercial," and how designers are still struggling to find just the right products for these hybrid spaces: uber-durable high-performance designs with a homey, living-room-esque aesthetic. (Luckily, NeoCon 2017 offered options aplenty.)
There was heated debate about the role of corporate culture in space making, which was best summed up by the following two quotes:
"These days, we are not programming spaces for use so much as programming a culture."—Brad Zizmor, A+I
"Culture is too fluffy a concept for me. What counts is productivity."—Martin Clarke, Northern Trust
Change management was another recurring topic--and a vital component of every project. "Without it, even the best spaces will fail," cautioned O+A's Primo Orpilla. Allen drove home the point that designers are well equipped for the task. "Designers are the perfect change agents. When presented with a choice between A, B, and C, you guys say, 'No, I want Z.' You're the ones driving innovation." What better incentive to let your voice be heard?
A big thanks to our manufacturer sponsors: Allseating, Humanscale, Inscape, Keilhauer, Ketra, National Office Furniture, Andreu World, and Monaco & Company.