Trade Shows, Magazines & Blogs
I have admitted on this blog that I don’t often make as much time for reading trade magazines as I used to. It’s also way harder for designers in the Philadelphia region to make it out to trade shows like NeoCon or ICFF (although having NeoCon East in Philadelphia this year will make a difference). Both of these losses are to my detriment as a designer and I want to take a little time to explore why the new, as found at trade show, magazines, and blogs/Pinterest/Houzz is so important and why I am constantly struggling against my inertia to make time for these things.
It starts as a source for ideas and inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere but you need to sometimes seek it and embrace it. If you never going looking for ideas you’re not always lucky enough for them to find you. A few weeks ago my husband and I went on a date night in Middletown, DE. It poured buckets and while my husband pulled around the car I found this lovely arrangement under the stairs. While it’s not something I’ll need in my bag of tricks on just any job, I snapped the pic to keep it fresh because you never know. This kind of inspirational find is more my exception than the rule.
Trade shows, magazines and blogs – while condensed, occasionally overwhelming, and maybe missing your current needs – are great spaces for inspiration, especially since in those environments a designer’s mind is looking for ideas. When you are engaged in looking, more active connections are made. I always walk away from a trade show having found great ideas both future and current. While the cubical curtain I adore from NeoCon East last year still hasn’t panned out I feel like I’m just one project away from it being exactly what I need.
To keep our work updating and relevant. Furniture and design, just like fashion, is constantly changing. In the last 5 years I felt like the Mid-Century Modern driver has gone from a trickle to a full blown stream. You don’t know that unless you’re keeping tabs on what others are designing, building, producing and specifying. No trend works in every environment. But you’ll never know what a West Coast team is doing with other fit outs like yours if you’re not looking. It might be spot on.
To keep the designer from atrophy. We’ve all felt it. As the distance grows from that last healthcare project and the last time you worked the math to calculate rentable space, you feel less confident in that work. What is the code for plumbing fixtures in a business occupancy again? Maybe some things are so deeply rooted you’ll never forget (NFPA 701 !) but others fall away with disuse. While a trade show might not help you remember codes better, it will potentially jog the memory of other long-ago skills and keep you fresh on things that you don’t get to do everyday anymore. My first job out of school I did a bunch of libraries. I don’t do them anymore, but when I see Leland’s latest products it always makes me think of that work.