Reaching The Client

Sept. 6, 2006
By Pam Light, FIIDA
Strategies to help your clients realize the power of design.

It is exciting to take over the reigns at IIDA during such a dynamic time in the Association's history. Last year, membership increased by 20 percent (doubling the previous growth rate); the Knowledge Center continues to expand as a true research vehicle and professional development curriculum tool; IIDA's Perspective magazine received multiple awards (seven in total); and an active local programming schedule is truly servicing our industry—from student to expert—in new and innovative ways. The Association is strong and thriving.

And while our strategies will always start with the goal of providing the best service to our members—and through that, the industry as a whole—we cannot forget the client. If we are not communicating our value as interior designers to them, we are not supporting our members. One of IIDA's specific goals is to reach the clients; and we are doing that in three ways.

The first step is to give you the tools to tell your story. Perspective magazine's summer issue ("The Power of Design") is one place to start in providing a resource that can be shared with clients and potential clients alike. Perspective was recently awarded an Extra! Best of Competition award among all association publications, and the Power of Design issue is just one way the Association's publication provides the information, research and trends its members need to know about in order to stay ahead of the industry curve. Further, members looking for detailed research resources may find IIDA's Knowledge Center ( a useful tool to seek out specific articles to support their project work. This resource is continually expanding and will be moving out of beta version this year.

The second objective is to make sure IIDA's message is being delivered to the media—not just design and trade magazines, which are very important, but also in the trade magazines that our clients read. Because of this emphasis, IIDA announced a commitment to support future editorial research regarding the impact of design.

The third approach is to partner and communicate with other professions to ensure they are aware of the power of design. IIDA's Principal's Roundtables are talking to business schools at universities and asking that part of the class curriculum include the value of strategic design. IIDA's collaboration with the American Library Association on an awards program specific to the library community is another example. The Association forums will lead this charge, and I applaud the work of IIDA's advisors in forging connections with the leading tradeshows to provide quality education and networking opportunities within their market sectors.

As the world becomes even smaller, the international community of design has become that much more important. IIDA will continue to work to better serve our international members: from our long-standing Chapters in Mexico and Japan to our dual members in England and Canada, as well as our U.S.-based members currently working in satellite offices abroad. There is an opportunity for us to step up and be a unifying international force.

We know our profession is demanding more of us every year—tighter schedules, technological advances, a larger array of consultants to coordinate, 24-7 availability and stricter codes to enforce—all add to the workload. And with all of this, we challenge ourselves, not only to design a beautiful space, but to design a space that supports sustainable design for a healthy planet—a space that meets our clients' needs in efficiency and productivity, and a space that truly supports the people that will occupy it. We ask a lot of ourselves, but as professionals, we have a very powerful tool: it is called design.

  • Pam Light, FIIDA, LEED AP, is the 2006-2007 president of IIDA and a senior vice president with HOK in Culver City, CA. IIDA is headquartered in suite 13-500 at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL, and can be reached at (888) 799-IIDA;; or [email protected].

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