Contract - Editorial: Of Past, Present, and Future

design - essay



Editorial: Of Past, Present, and Future

30 January, 2010

-By Jennifer Thiele Busch



I'm sure none of us are sorry to see 2009 in the rear view mirror, and 2010 will bring great jubilation here at Contract as we celebrate our 50th year in publication! A significant anniversary is always a good time to reminisce about the past, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to look toward the future. And what better coincidence than celebrating our golden year during a time when we are all finding the need to reinvent ourselves and rethink how we do business.

March 2010 will be Contract's official 50th Anniversary Issue, but we are starting the festivities off early with an Interiors Awards celebration that acknowledges the evolution of our industry as measured by the career and accomplishments of one legendary man, honors the best of commercial interior design work being realized today, and anticipates the future with great optimism through the eyes of a passionate young design firm for which transcending geographic and disciplinary boundaries and acting on a belief in social consciousness are part of the everyday routine.

Last October, five highly regarded members of the A&D community gathered in Contract's New York offices to review entries submitted in 15 project categories in the annual Interiors Awards Competition. John Peterson, president and founder of Public Architecture in San Francisco and our 2009 Designer of the Year, was joined by Lois Goodell of CBT in Boston, Robin Guenther of Perkins+Will in New York, Lionel Ohayan of ICRAVE in New York, and Joey Shimoda of Shimoda Design Group in Los Angeles for the formidable task of reviewing more than 630 project portfolios representing the A&D community's best work in commercial interior design and architecture during the past two years. After a long, exhausting, but rewarding day of thoughtful consideration, their deliberations yielded an exceptional group of 15 winners, which are presented here in our annual Interiors Awards issue. As always, these winners, along with our 2010 Legend and Designers of the Year, will be honored at our gala Interiors Awards Breakfast in New York on January 29.

M. Arthur Gensler Jr., FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA, founder and chairman of Gensler in San Francisco, arguably could be the one individual, more than any other, whose career reflects the birth and growth of our entire industry. Art Gensler generally is credited with transforming the practice of commercial interior design into a bona fide profession that significantly stands apart from architecture for its emphasis on the human interaction with space. His intense focus on satisfying his clients' needs—rather than on feeding designers' egos—has helped build Gensler into the global design force it is today, with 34 offices worldwide. As such, this concept he established of interior designer-as-business consultant is one that has helped elevate the professional status of us all.

Nevertheless, there is no trace of the ego in Art Gensler that he could rightfully claim, given his many accomplishments, and he graciously credits his team of 2,100 (Gensler's current employees), as well as their predecessors, with his own and the firm's success. From the firm's humble beginnings in 1965, designing early projects like the GAP's second store, to its recent foray into super-tall architecture with the Shanghai Tower, Art Gensler has been the tireless, driving force behind it all. That is the stuff that Legend Awards are made of.

The incredibly forward-thinking design firm Graft is already making a worldwide name for itself in terms of both style and substance. Founding partners Lars Krückeberg, Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit, and Gregor Hoheisel, along with their newest partner Alejandra Lillo, practice an exuberant form of design where the boundaries between architecture, interior design, and graphic design—and sometimes walls, floors, and furnishings—are routinely blurred. The firm's projects exude a particular brand of escapism that suits its adventurous clients, while remaining firmly anchored in the context of place. And nowadays, place may be almost anywhere for Graft, as its offices in Los Angeles, Berlin, and Beijing engender a geographically disperse practice model that keeps all five partners traveling and collaborating across time zones and locations on a regular basis.

Despite Graft's often surreal take on space, there is nothing fantasy-like about the partners' work for Make It Right, the charitable foundation established by Brad Pitt to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The plight of property owners too financially ruined to rebuild has been a sheer, frightening reality, which Graft is now turning into hope—along with 13 other local, national, and international design firms—with their designs for sustainable, affordable housing for these residents. So following last year's induction of Public Architecture for its socially conscious design mission, the five partners of Graft will assume the title of 2010 Designers of the Year because their vision continue to explore the design stratosphere while their feet remain firmly planted on the ground.

It is an interesting time to be a designer, with so much to learn from the past and so much promise for a future of good and meaningful work.



Editorial: Of Past, Present, and Future

30 January, 2010


I'm sure none of us are sorry to see 2009 in the rear view mirror, and 2010 will bring great jubilation here at Contract as we celebrate our 50th year in publication! A significant anniversary is always a good time to reminisce about the past, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to look toward the future. And what better coincidence than celebrating our golden year during a time when we are all finding the need to reinvent ourselves and rethink how we do business.

March 2010 will be Contract's official 50th Anniversary Issue, but we are starting the festivities off early with an Interiors Awards celebration that acknowledges the evolution of our industry as measured by the career and accomplishments of one legendary man, honors the best of commercial interior design work being realized today, and anticipates the future with great optimism through the eyes of a passionate young design firm for which transcending geographic and disciplinary boundaries and acting on a belief in social consciousness are part of the everyday routine.

Last October, five highly regarded members of the A&D community gathered in Contract's New York offices to review entries submitted in 15 project categories in the annual Interiors Awards Competition. John Peterson, president and founder of Public Architecture in San Francisco and our 2009 Designer of the Year, was joined by Lois Goodell of CBT in Boston, Robin Guenther of Perkins+Will in New York, Lionel Ohayan of ICRAVE in New York, and Joey Shimoda of Shimoda Design Group in Los Angeles for the formidable task of reviewing more than 630 project portfolios representing the A&D community's best work in commercial interior design and architecture during the past two years. After a long, exhausting, but rewarding day of thoughtful consideration, their deliberations yielded an exceptional group of 15 winners, which are presented here in our annual Interiors Awards issue. As always, these winners, along with our 2010 Legend and Designers of the Year, will be honored at our gala Interiors Awards Breakfast in New York on January 29.

M. Arthur Gensler Jr., FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA, founder and chairman of Gensler in San Francisco, arguably could be the one individual, more than any other, whose career reflects the birth and growth of our entire industry. Art Gensler generally is credited with transforming the practice of commercial interior design into a bona fide profession that significantly stands apart from architecture for its emphasis on the human interaction with space. His intense focus on satisfying his clients' needs—rather than on feeding designers' egos—has helped build Gensler into the global design force it is today, with 34 offices worldwide. As such, this concept he established of interior designer-as-business consultant is one that has helped elevate the professional status of us all.

Nevertheless, there is no trace of the ego in Art Gensler that he could rightfully claim, given his many accomplishments, and he graciously credits his team of 2,100 (Gensler's current employees), as well as their predecessors, with his own and the firm's success. From the firm's humble beginnings in 1965, designing early projects like the GAP's second store, to its recent foray into super-tall architecture with the Shanghai Tower, Art Gensler has been the tireless, driving force behind it all. That is the stuff that Legend Awards are made of.

The incredibly forward-thinking design firm Graft is already making a worldwide name for itself in terms of both style and substance. Founding partners Lars Krückeberg, Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit, and Gregor Hoheisel, along with their newest partner Alejandra Lillo, practice an exuberant form of design where the boundaries between architecture, interior design, and graphic design—and sometimes walls, floors, and furnishings—are routinely blurred. The firm's projects exude a particular brand of escapism that suits its adventurous clients, while remaining firmly anchored in the context of place. And nowadays, place may be almost anywhere for Graft, as its offices in Los Angeles, Berlin, and Beijing engender a geographically disperse practice model that keeps all five partners traveling and collaborating across time zones and locations on a regular basis.

Despite Graft's often surreal take on space, there is nothing fantasy-like about the partners' work for Make It Right, the charitable foundation established by Brad Pitt to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The plight of property owners too financially ruined to rebuild has been a sheer, frightening reality, which Graft is now turning into hope—along with 13 other local, national, and international design firms—with their designs for sustainable, affordable housing for these residents. So following last year's induction of Public Architecture for its socially conscious design mission, the five partners of Graft will assume the title of 2010 Designers of the Year because their vision continue to explore the design stratosphere while their feet remain firmly planted on the ground.

It is an interesting time to be a designer, with so much to learn from the past and so much promise for a future of good and meaningful work.
 


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