Why I Loved the Design Leadership Summit 2013

I had the distinct honor and privilege of attending the 8th annual Design Leadership Summit in New York City, Nov. 5-7, presented by the Design Leadership Network. The DLN is an invited members-only group that gathers the top leaders in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and construction as well as members of the top shelter media publications.

2013 Design Leadership Summit Attendees, New York

2013 Design Leadership Summit Attendees, New York

 

We gathered in some of NYC’s most interesting venues, from the New York Public Library to the IAC building, to the Hearst Tower and finally Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The list of speakers and panels was impressive and provided for a wide range of imaginative, stimulating and provocative thought.

View of New York City from the Hearst Tower.

View of New York City from the Hearst Tower

 

Developing relationships within this community has been a delightfully gratifying experience; to commune with like minds and some of the most creative and accomplished people in design has been a real treat for me.

Mark Cravotta and Glenn Gissler with Oscar de la Renta in the background.

Mark Cravotta and designer Glenn Gissler with Oscar de la Renta in the background

 

Notable speakers and panelists included: Lord Norman Foster –architect, Arianna Huffington –Huffington Post, Richard Phillips –artist, Andy Spade –Partners & Spade, Jay Walker –TEDMed, Oscar de la Renta –fashion designer, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy –Founder Joyus, Tyler Florence –celebrity chef, Newell Turner –editorial director Hearst Design Group, Michael Boodro –Editor-in-Chief of Elle Décor, Paul Goldberger –Vanity Fair, Michelle Ogundehin –Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decoration, Sara Ruffin Costello –T Magazine, Clinton Smith –Editor-in-Chief of Veranda Magazine, Lucia van der Post –How To Spend It Magazine, Julie Carlson –Editor-in-Chief of Remodelista, Irene Edwards –Editor of Lonny Magazine.

Arianna Huffington.

Arianna Huffington

 

Irene Edwards - Executive Editor of Lonny, Janel Laban - Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy, and  Newell Turner - Editor-in-Chief of Hearst Design Group.

Irene Edwards – Executive Editor of Lonny, Janel Laban – Executive Editor of Apartment Therapy, and Newell Turner – Editor-in-Chief of Hearst Design Group

 

New York-based designer Jamie Drake.

New York-based designer Jamie Drake

Lord Norman Foster is the ultra-accomplished architect behind such projects as the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, the German Parliament building at the Reichstag in Berlin, The Great Court of the British Museum in London, the Supreme Court in Singapore, the Hearst Tower in NYC, airports in Hong Kong, Beijing and London, and countless others. It was a fascinating discussion including his firm’s ability to consistently attract young talent and keep fresh approaches to innovation woven into the fabric of the culture.

Lord Norman Foster and Paul Goldberger,  Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair.

Lord Norman Foster and Paul Goldberger, Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair

 

The Hearst Tower in New York, designed by Foster + Partners.

The Hearst Tower in New York, designed by Foster + Partners

 

Bunny Williams interviewed Oscar de la Renta and provided a window into his success. At age 81, de la Renta is as passionate about designing today as when he began over 60 years ago. When asked what he hopes the experience will be for a woman wearing his designs, he replied, “I want her to feel that I understand her and that I love her.” This simple statement rang true and reveals why he is a master at his craft.

Oscar de la Renta and Bunny Williams.

Oscar de la Renta and interior designer Bunny Williams

 

Possibly the most provocative speaker, Jay Walker, talked about the intersection of data and biology. He asserts that we are very near a pivotal time in history where as human beings we will be able to guide and direct our own evolution. He talked about the fact that at the smallest measurable levels, human beings are biologically made up of electrical signals and chemical reactions. Those electrical signals are data that we will soon be able to measure and control. With that, we will be able to affect the chemistry that defines our health, abilities, and a myriad of qualities that make up our experience of living. Why is this important for designers? Because when we are able to measure what’s really going on in our bodies and how we’re affected by our environments, it will then be possible to design specifically targeted solutions as unique as the individuals they’re designed for.

Andy Spade and Michael Boodro, Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decor.

Andy Spade, co-founder of Partners & Spade, and Michael Boodro, Editor-in-Chief of Elle Decor

 

A theme a little closer to home that was discussed by both Andy Spade and Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, was one that’s been on my mind for a while. And that is to think of all the ways we as design professionals can create experiences that surprise and delight. I love this simple concept that gives context and purpose to not so much what we do as designers, but how we do it and specifically how we connect with our clients. Say hello to the 2014 Cravotta Interiors mantra!

[You might also appreciate the Summit Highlights in this video from the Editor-at-Large]