ASID Chapter Leadership Conference Recap

written by Andy Lehman, Interior Designer

About four years ago, while I was an undergrad student at VCU, a few classmates and I attended a local event sponsored by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Virginia Chapter. I remember the nervous jitters many students feel when they’re thrown into a room full of industry professionals-sweaty palms, the awkward pauses, trying not to look like a student. Throughout the night, I gathered my courage and chatted with a handful of “real-life” designers. Something about this organization intrigued me and sparked my curiosity. Could this be a glimpse into my future-collaborating with other designers and discussing new trends and research? Fast-forward to today, I’m in the second half of my two-year term as Membership Director for the ASID Virginia Chapter. Over the last few years I’ve volunteered on a number of boards, worked many late nights illuminated only by the glow of a laptop screen, interacted with bright, young students across the state, and met some of the most incredible and influential people in my life.

Every year ASID National hosts the Chapter Leadership Conference (CLC), a pilgrimage of sorts, where all the chapter board members from across the nation come together to reflect on the previous year and learn about new ideas, directions, and goals moving forward. This year, CLC based its operation in the coastal city of Boston. Never visiting Boston before, I made time to explore the city with some fellow board members. Booming with rich history, a strong art scene, and an eclectic mix of historic and modern architecture, Boston immediately felt like a home away from home.

Over a span of three days, the conference set up different activities to help everyone cultivate new ideas for the forthcoming year, strategically partnering up different chapters of similar sizes to create some common language within the groups. On the first day of the conference, every leadership position broke off into separate groups to dive into more detailed and specific information relevant to each role. In the membership director seminar, we reviewed the breakdown of our national membership first by age groups–Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and the introduction of the Gen Z/gamers-and then by type-Student, Professional, Industry Partner, etc. Analyzing this data showed a vast difference between the wants and needs each group sought out of their membership. One of the most influential factors that differentiated the groups was technology. As technology moves forward, it causes a wider gap between generations. Once I settled down for the night I replayed the information I reviewed earlier in the day. The generation gap conflict is an issue we face on a daily basis. Many workplaces today struggle to provide a workspace suited for a large range of ages. More seasoned professionals generally prefer more private spaces while younger people enjoy open, collaborative areas conducive of multitasking. As designers, we must find innovative and functional ways to accommodate these different environmental conditions. As technology continues to change every 10 seconds, we need to create organic spaces that can adapt and respond to these technological advances in a fluid manner.

This year ASID celebrated its 40th anniversary with a huge gala at the end of the conference. Forty years of elevating the profession of interior design, uniting designers across the country, and educating the public on what interior design truly is. All of the original fellows of ASID were recognized that night for their hard work creating the organization. It was truly incredible to be a part of this celebration and to see where ASID started and where it currently stands. I felt honored sitting in a room with so many groundbreaking and courageous designers. ASID is the voice of our industry and has provided me with so many tools and experiences to grow as a designer, and I want to do my part to help strengthen the organization as it moves forward into the future.

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