Each year, the Design Leadership Network, a by-invitation association of outstanding interior designers, architects, landscape designers, construction managers, members of the media, and product company executives, holds the Design Leadership Summit, a conference that brings DLN members together for relationship building, learning, sharing ideas, and growing together as a community. This month, the Eighth Annual Summit was held in New York City, and five of us from Designers Collaborative–Laura Bohn, Barry Goralnick, Tim Button, Glenn Gissler, and new member Alison Spear–attended. (Glenn is an old hand, having attended previous summits in Charleston, New Orleans, Copenhagen, Berlin and, last year, Marrakech, which he blogged about here.)
The conference was co-hosted by DLN’s founder, Peter Sallik, Managing Partner of Design Investors, CEO of Waterworks, and co-founder and CEO of Dering Hall; Kate Kelly Smith, SVP Publishing Director of the Hearst Design Group; and John Edelman, President & CEO of Design Within Reach. “They did an amazing job to create a program of rich content, dynamic speakers, fantastic venues, and good food!” says Glenn Gissler.
The three-day event explored the most powerful forces shaping the design market and community today: technology, fashion, art and culture, media and marketing, and urban and hospitality development. Speakers included starchitect Norman Foster interviewed by architecture critic Paul Goldberger; Elle Decor editor-in-chief Michael Boodro; fashion designer Oscar de la Renta interviewed by interior designer Bunny Williams; real estate mogul Aby Rosen; Hearst Design Group editor-in-chief Newell Turner; and architect and designer David Rockwell interviewed by restaurateur Danny Meyer.
While our five attendees were dazzled and informed by the array of talent, expertise, and achievement involved, they were particularly impressed by Huffington Post founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington: “She was fabulous,” says Tim Button. “She spoke extensively on health and well being–in our industry stress and lack of sleep are constant worries! And she addressed multitasking, which she doesn’t believe in!” Laura Bohn adds: “It was interesting hearing a human dynamo like Arianna emphasizing the importance of getting adequate rest and taking time away from your cell phone.”
Arianna Huffington urged designers to take time to take care of themselves, unplug from technology, and create a safe, relaxing, well-designed haven.
They also raved about Andy Spade, the co-founder of the advertising, marketing, and brand strategy firm Partners & Spade: “Since I’m focusing on product as well as design projects, I found what he had to say very interesting,” says Barry Goralnick. “I liked hearing how he evolved the Kate Spade and Jack Spade fashion and lifestyle brands, creating good products backed up by smart positioning and a real relationship to the end users. When he explained the strategy, you thought, ‘Of course, what other way would one conceive of that?’”
Andy Spade Spade emphasized the importance of establishing the right partnerships and also knowing exactly what your brand stands for.