VOICES with Purpose

Jan. 1, 2005
EDITORIALVOICES with PurposeAs I sit down to pen my first editorial, the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday has just passed and I'm reminded of the words he once spoke that resonate so clearly with me today: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."I am honored to take the helm as editor of Interiors & Sources this year, and to have such an integral part of a magazine that has been vocal about issues that matter to the profession of interior design. For nearly 15 years, I&S has been dedicated to the practitioners who are making a difference in the A&D community, and we have sung the praises of sustainable design solo long before the chorus joined in. To be sure, exactly a decade ago in the January/February 1995 issue's editorial, we predicted that the design profession was at a significant threshold and that it was time to make "dramatic strides in the general public's recognition of the value design professionals offer in the creation of healthy, functional, productive, cost-efficient and aesthetically-pleasing interior environments." As a result, we set an editorial agenda that year to focus on healthy, responsible and environmentally friendly interiors. The significance of that decision cannot be understated, as we have witnessed and applauded the tremendous strides made in sustainable design over the years. The journey hasn't been an easy one—and it is far from over—but each step has been worthwhile.Along the way, we've encountered scores of practitioners who are making a difference in the built environment, one project at a time. This month, our cover story intersects with such a designer—JJ Falk. As managing principal of JJ Falk Design LLC in New York, Falk takes a meaningful approach to every project she undertakes. "We must have a purpose for our clients," she asserts. "As designers we must respect their needs and reflect those in our work. Successful projects are designed well and serve the client." Beyond the work she performs at her firm, Falk is leading a facility forum as part of the IIDA-New York chapter's education efforts regarding the LEED certification process. She views her willingness to participate in such efforts as part of her responsibility as a design professional.Indeed, the responsibility designers have to their clients and to the public, and, more importantly, their dedication to working on projects that have an impact on people's lives is underscored by the ASID-Minnesota Chapter's 2004 community service project, a redevelopment of the St. Barnabas hospital building in downtown Minneapolis, featured in this month's Happenings column. The Central Community Housing Trust enlisted the help of LuAnne Silvia, ASID, to convert the space into a 53-unit efficiency-apartment facility for homeless and at-risk youth and low-income working adults. CCHT senior project manager Gina Ciganik affirms that ASID's involvement in the St. Barnabas design will give the residents a sense of comfort. "The donation of time, energy and creative vision by the ASID designers will make St. Barnabas Apartments a special place," Ciganik says.In step with the mission we laid out 10 years ago, you may notice a theme while reading this month's issue. Spaces that promote comfort, health and well-being emerge throughout—from the design of the Tower Hematology Oncology Medical Group at Cedars Sinai Medical Towers in Beverly Hills, our featured project, to the greening of Duke Chiropractic's new Manhattan offices in our Design Flash column; from our product focus on healthcare interiors, to the preview of EnvironDesign9, our annual conference dedicated to sustainable design and business practices, held this year at the Mariott Marquis in New York City. Combined, these projects, products and events—and the people who planned and created them—serve as examples of the profound impact good design can have on the world around us.Where the industry will be 10 years from now remains to be seen. In the meantime, I'll take comfort in MLK's words, knowing that my voice is now among the chorus of people who will not be silent about things that matter—and I feel very much alive.Robert Nieminen

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