IIDA Notes: Collaborative Design

Sept. 1, 2007

By John Mack, FIIDA

Design is not an isolated act, but rather a collaboration between multiple A&D professionals that ultimately highlights the unique benefits of working with design professionals.

At no point in our society have designers wielded more influence than they do today. The press has touted that those who are able to synthesize the myriad of issues associated with our ever more complex world will rise to the top as leaders of the future. CEOs and business schools alike are urging their staff and students to think like designers, and top tier universities are committing to courses in design management and organizational behavior.  And one need look no further than the pages of Business Week and Fast Company, not to mention our own industry publications, for thought-provoking dialogue on the role of innovation in today's forward-thinking companies. We, as designers, have more partners in our work shaping environments than ever before.

Design is not an isolated act, but rather, as we all know, a collaboration. Our partners on the client side-interior designers, architects, engineers, lighting, landscape and industrial designers, behavioral scientists and cultural anthropologists-to name a few-are working together on the design side more than ever before. No one group has all the skills and training necessary to create completely effective and integrated environments and communities; we need to work together as a team. In IIDA's spring 2007 issue of Perspective, representatives from AIA and IIDA discussed the "Future of Collaboration" and our interdependency on one another for success. The more we collaborate, the more we can appreciate the value that each of us as professionals brings to the table; and, as such, realize the need to be recognized as licensed professionals in our respective fields.

Of all our duties and responsibilities as designers, there is none greater than our responsibility to society, and that charge requires openness to partnership and collaboration. There are many facets to being socially responsible, and the first that comes to mind is taking care of our environment. We must continue to create structures that lessen their impact on the earth and keep working toward the day when the "issue of sustainability" will cease to exist, as it will have become ingrained into how we think and act. To be successful in this goal, all partners in the design and construction process must work together. Even while we rely on others, it is the responsibility of each of us to become experts in sustainable design-continually educating ourselves so that we can better educate the public.

Collaboration also means being ethical in our business practices, and continuing to do the right thing for the right reasons with a mentality that's less "What's in it for me?" and more, "What's in it for all of us?" IIDA's Code of Ethics states, "In performing professional services, Professional and Associate Members shall at all times consider the health, safety, and welfare of the public." IIDA's Members lie at the crossroads of intelligent design and innovative business, and the Association is committed to providing resources and opportunities that articulate the profession's role in navigating the ever-changing landscape of business and design.

It is with this responsibility in mind that IIDA promotes best practices in green building; continuing education of new and emerging design trends and code implications; and ethical business practices for designers. Interior designers, clients and the global community benefit from conscientious business practices conducted with respect to all members of the team.

John Mack, FIIDA, AIA, is the 2007-2008 president of IIDA and senior partner and design director for HLW International in New York, NY. IIDA is headquartered in Ste. 1540 at The Merchandise Mart, Chicago, and can be reached at (888) 799-4432; www.iida.org; or [email protected].

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