December 2017 Chair's Message

We’re Never Too Old (or Young) to be Inspired

Soon we welcome in another year. A year with hopes and dreams in a world that continues to inspire us. As designers we aim to create uplifting environments which impact our world and the people in the spaces we design. Of course, inspiration is unique to each of us and as such, it pushes us beyond the confines of our own minds into new dimensions of thinking. For me, I have four influential people who have inspired me at different stages in my life – each in their own distinct way.

In a new take on my Chair’s Message, I am going to speak directly to each of these people who continue to inspire my life. While they might not be aware of how they have inspired me, they remain influencers of my life and career. Hopefully my stories can help you find your own sources of encouragement.

Here’s to a great New Year and the inspirations in your life!

Roger Thomas, Design Extraordinaire

You have designed spaces of incredible creativity. Hotels, resorts, casinos, restaurants, spas, pools, guest suites, and many more places that lift and elevate the human spirit. As a frequent guest at The Wynn and Encore Hotels in Las Vegas, two of your most iconic projects, I feel they were designed solely for me. As I walk through your designs, I feel an explosion of color, form, texture, lighting, and exquisite design. How could one person imagine and create all this? How could this come to be? Of course, I have to believe I am not alone in this assessment. I can imagine everyone who explores these highly imaginative spaces must feel a psychological and spiritual connection to them. While we’ve only met a few times, I feel your work has touched my soul and has inspired me to strive for heightened design excellence in my work. Your artistic mastery and craftsmanship continue to inspire me and will for years to come.

Mr. Fotos, School of Hard Knocks

Never take a class with Mr. Fotos, he is the hardest teacher you will ever have.”

This is the fear that permeated the halls of my high school as a freshmen registering for my next year. Thankfully, I did not listen. I remember timidly walking into your Mechanical Drafting class at the start of my sophomore year at DeMatha Catholic High School (home of the stags), wondering what I’d gotten myself into. Little did I know this was a beginning that would change my life. Yes, you were hard, but you were fair and you were also the best. You demanded excellence and through your teaching, built a following of dedicated students. You taught me how to communicate complex designs through drawings and detailed information. I lived through two more years of your guidance, which undoubtedly set me on the course to my future. You demanded excellence and I willingly delivered.

B.J. Miller, Influential Colleague

“Design Impacts Lives.”

How could you not be impressed with a colleague who has chosen to dedicate her life to improving the lives of the aging? Your work has defined “Thriving in Place.” Your career has focused on ushering design innovations to ease the aging process within the built environment. In addition, you pay it forward daily by demonstrating the power of design through teaching the impact of the built environment on health and wellness at the University of Tennessee. Each and every day, your work becomes more and more important as we face the largest retiring population in the history of our country. Health, wellness, and well-being, what could be more important for the future of us all? I am honored to call you a friend and colleague, and to serve on the ASID National Board of Directors with you.

Primo Schelfe, My Father, My Hero!

Without you there is no way I would be who I am today. I could never fully describe the impact you have had on my life. You introduced me to building things, working things, and making things happen. I remember the countless nights spent by your side watching you work, holding your tools, and learning how you did what you did. Our basement workshop was the playground where we worked together and where I was introduced to the built world. Yes, you envisioned me as an engineer but when I found my calling as an interior designer you supported me wholly. Through your love of family, love of country, and your professionalism, you inspired an incredible future for me. I couldn’t be prouder to have been your son and though you have been gone many years, your life continues to be the cornerstone that guides me daily to be who I am.

I am sure many of us have similar stories. Inspiration is all around us and at times we are fortunate to have people in our lives who can influence and inspire us in ways unimagined.

So I ask again, what inspires you?

Looking forward to a great 2018!