Monday, January 6, 2014


Photo courtesy of John Calabrese and DLN
DLN founder Peter Sallick, (the CEO of Waterworks and interiors website Dering Hall), along with co-hosts John Edelman, (President and CEO of modern furniture store Design Within Reach), and Kate Kelly Smith (SVP publishing director and chief revenue officer of Hearst Design Group) on the 2nd day of the Summit at Hearst Tower.

This past November, a large group of interior designers, architects and landscape designers descended upon New York City for three days of design lectures, filled with meaningful moments, great takeaways and endless inspiration at The Design Leadership Network Summit, now in its 8th year.  I had the great pleasure of attending the event, and to be part of the of-the-moment design dialog was nothing short of incredible. Having designers come from all over the globe to gather in New York City provided a valuable sense of community and closeness, not to mention the jaw-dropping New York institutions where the events were held.

This year, a wide variety of  areas from inspiration to technology, culture, media and beyond was discussed, under the theme of Knowledge and Inspiration. Containing hot topics relevant to the design world and business endeavors, the days were divided into the following areas of exploration-- Technology and Design, Fashion, Art and Culture, Marketing and Media, closing with Residential Meets Commercial. Each day was punctuated by a designer sharing a personal moment of inspiration in their career. Here are some of the highlights of the first day. 

Dinner underneath the New York Public Library's magnificent dome

The first evening, event hosts founder Peter Sallick, CEO of Waterworks and Dering Hall, Kate Kelly Smith, SVP publishing director and chief revenue officer of Hearst Design Group, and John Edelman, president and CEO of Design Within Reach started things off with the Keynote, Lord Norman Foster discussing Knowledge + Inspiration with architecture critic and writer Paul Goldberger over dinner in the depths of The New York Public Library.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy spoke on shippable video and user experience online

 The first day, held at the modern white Frank Gehry-desgned AIC building downtown,  started with a deep dive into the world of Technology + Design, beginning with my new tech idol, former CEO of Polyvore and founder of shippable video site Joyous, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy discussing boundary-pushing shoppable video and how big data allows us to be known holistically.

Next up was a look at how 3D printing is poised to change the rate at which products are produced and how they are experienced.

French wunderkind Jean-Francois Chianetta and MickaĆ«l Jordan showed us their augmented reality 3D app, Augment, where you upload 3D images and view them in a 3D space. Following the look at 3D, Finn  Mikko Martikainen of Sayduck showed us how their app placed scanned furniture into settings, in real time.  Showing how new furniture would look in a home setting, it's fair to say that this blew our minds. As much as I wanted to use this right away, I think it is going to be some time before it makes its way beyond big companies.

Then Ron Croen showed us Volio, his program that allows users to interact and converse with a video, where the person on the screen provides answers to a set of problem-solving questions. It was amazing, like Siri with a human face.

Closing out the morning was inventor and founder Jay Walker, the now Chairman of TedMed, the popular health and medicine talks.  He reminded us of the power of design for health and wellness, and that "data will control the biological world."

Photo courtesy of John Calabrese/DLN
Oscar de la Renta chats with Bunny Williams

The afternoon topic, Fashion Art and Culture, led by the warm and wise designer Bunny Williams chatting with longtime friend, Oscar de la Renta. They both advised to, "Train with the best in your field," and that curiosity is one the best assets you can have." 

Photo courtesy of John Calabrese/DLN
Andy Spade in conversation with Elle Decor's Michael Boodro

Then came one of my quirky favorites, Andy Spade of Partners and Spade. His ironic sense of humor and great storytelling had the room in stitches. From leaving the ad world to creating Jack Spade and helping brand companies like Warby Parker, he is in the business of "creating desire" with an emotional connection, especially nostalgia.  His latest product introduction is sleepwear company, Sleepy Jones that fuses insouciance with cool.

Photo courtesy of John Calabrese/DLN
Then the American artist Richard Philips revealed what is behind his large scale 70's-inspired celebrity culture- infused paintings and movie videos. He revealed his photographic process and showcased how he works to create his hyper-realistic images (mainly of women of Hollywood), which was fascinating.

Tyler Florence followed, discussing what it means to be a name brand. He advised to, "Keep your eyes peeled and pull inspiration from unusual places" and that to him, "Luck is opportunity meets preparation." Great advice for a room filled with inspiration seekers.

The evening session, held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall's Grand Promenade, featured an all-star art panel comprised of real estate and art collector Abe Rosen, designer and architect Bill Georgis, and inventive artist Tom Sacks, moderated by The New Museums's Lisa Philips. Talking The Importance of Art in Public Spaces, Rosen has helped better the art landscape in New York, with art on display outside his landmark building, Lever House.

The first day left me feeling so informed and inspired. Stay tuned for more on day 2, covering media, the New York real estate climate, architecture, and creative inspiration as well as designers reactions to the summit.

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