Hello Colleagues, Friends, and Trendsetters,
I hope your year is off to a great start – can you believe it’s February already? Our team at ASID Headquarters has hit the ground running and delivered the highly anticipated ASID 2023 Trends Outlook report– and it does not disappoint! I’ve read through it twice now and keep going back to it because the data is so well-researched and on point. If you don’t have your copy yet, get it here!
I have so many takeaways from the report; too many to write here, but there were a few that rose to the top. One was seeing the dramatic increase in unhappiness. Our generation will forever be defined as pre-pandemic and post-pandemic. During this time, we all experienced some level of cognitive dissonance, as our physical spheres shrunk to the size of our homes and neighborhoods, while our digital spheres expanded rapidly and exponentially. It reminded me of getting motion sickness in a car – the brain cannot process the disconnect between sitting still while moving rapidly through space and time. While our lives move forward with new and changing rules, these feelings of disconnect can linger. Design can help.
Design is well-positioned to address this dissonance and impact peoples’ lives through functional, inclusive, and inspirational spaces. Empathy has always been a key tool for the designer. As I reflect on the Trends report, I find myself shifting from an inward/inpidual perspective to a more outward/community perspective. The two are not mutually exclusive – now, more than ever, we need this dual approach. A community demonstrates its values through the built environment. All too often, children in dilapidated school buildings and community members in struggling neighborhoods feel that no one cares about them. The words don’t need to be spoken for them to receive the message – it’s in the very walls crumbling around them and in the very air they breathe. Design is a mirror that reflects value back to the inpidual and the community. What are our communities saying to us through the built environment? If we don’t like the message, let’s change it. When we create physical spaces that work for everyone, we create mental and emotional space for joy, serenity, focus, innovation, dignity, and humanity. Our built environments should reflect the best of who we are. Design can help.
The Trends report shows that our lives revolve more around where we live than where we work, and the lines between the two are more blurred than ever. What an opportunity! I was encouraged to see the dramatic rise in multi-cultural and mixed neighborhoods and in the adaptive reuse of empty office buildings into housing. There is a lot of room in between to build community and reflect the values we want to see, from creating more inclusive environments and experiences, to physically improving the quality and function of a building, to creating spaces and experiences that are mentally and environmentally healthy and sustainable. As designers, our collective voice is strong as we promote a model of corporate success that goes beyond quantitative measures of profit to one that, according to the report, promotes engagement and wellbeing as “the new workplace imperative.” Design can help.
What a great time to be an ASID designer! We are uniquely positioned to learn from each other as we support designers, educators and industry partners from every sector, background and geographic region. ASID reflects the values we want to see in the world. As I tuned into the Trends webinar, I was so inspired by the panel’s discussion – the hope and enthusiasm for our future was palpable. Yes, we have some tough problems to solve, but solving problems is what we do best. Design can help. We can help.
Let’s get to work!
All my best,
Toni Gocke Wyre
FASID, WELL AP, LEED AP, Associate AIA
Chair, ASID Board of Directors
P.S. I know this letter is longer than usual, but there is just so much to talk about. And I’m from the South, y’all – technically we’re still on the front porch with this conversation. Let’s catch up at GATHER in LA!
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