Contract - June 2012 - (Page 66)
Christopher Blackadder is head of interiors at Woods Bagot in New York.
Mary Burke is principal of the eponymous firm Burke Design & Architecture in New York, and an adjunct associate professor at Pratt Institute.
Elizabeth Peterson is senior vice president at VOA Associates in Washington, D.C.
Best of NeoCon® jurors: What they look for
We asked three designers who are all veteran jurors of Contract magazine’s Best of NeoCon® program for personal insight on what they look for in new product launches. Christopher Blackadder, Mary Burke, and Elizabeth Peterson are three of the more than 40 jurors of this year’s Best of NeoCon® competition. What are the qualities, in general, you personally are looking for in new products introduced at NeoCon®? Blackadder: I look for innovation: How new products are evolving with new ways of working and changing technologies. Burke: I’m always looking for products and enhancements that make something I like or rely on even better. And every once in a while, I see something that gets it really right: well designed, well balanced, intuitive—that’s an “ah-ha” moment that makes the e ort worthwhile. Peterson: I seek out items that will withstand the test of time since more companies are keeping products longer. Manufacturers need to provide the end user with options to change as the workforce changes with younger generations. What are the trends you personally are looking for in new products? Blackadder: I look for companies that tie global trends into the workplace with furniture solutions; it shows an understanding of how global design impacts organizations. Burke: Something I haven’t seen before, and that I may not even realize I had a need for; I want something that surprises me. Peterson: I look for product integration with technology; bad wire management is one of my pet peeves. If you are looking at new floor coverings (carpet, resilient, etc.), what qualities do you personally look for? Blackadder: Resilience in carpet and flooring is now critical with more mobility in the workplace. Also, comfort underfoot is key. Burke: Either something very neutral that acts as background, or something signature that signals a design “event,” which can be used separately or together. But the integrity of the design of each piece alone should not be compromised by being together. Peterson: As someone who designs many spaces for a single client
over many lease renewals and relocations—and the facilities managers know me and will call me if there is a problem with a product—I think flooring should be able to be maintained using standard methods. If you have to instruct cleaning people of care methods more more than once, then the flooring will probably not be maintained properly. Overall, I like products that have recycled content and/or otherwise will not harm the environment, since flooring is a large component on any project. If you are looking at seating, which qualities are you personally looking for? Blackadder: Seating now needs to be flexible with simple adjustment for multiple users. Peterson: Simple, ergonomic, and not too many manual adjustments. No one ever really knows how to adjust their chair properly so it may be a waste of money to have all the bells and whistles. Also, as a tall person, I love lumbar support! Is there a recent trend that you want to see end? Blackadder: Sometimes, manufacturers launch benching products solely for revenue. Instead, they should make products suitable to their existing ones, supporting their brand and ethos. Benching is a minimal part of environments and shouldn’t be considered a standalone product. Burke: The idea that a “kit of parts” will solve all. The Garanimals approach isn’t always applicable or appealing. We are still designers, after all, and inclined to mess with things. Peterson: I hate seeing a company promote a product that is so expensive that the average end user would never be able to a ord it. If a product claims it is “sustainable” in some way, then what expectations do you have for that product? Blackadder: That it lasts a long time. Burke: That we don't discover that there is a secondary production story that negates the green credentials. Peterson: When we ask for backup to assist in the documentation, they should produce the facts. Sometimes products are not as green as the salespeople claim they are. “Greenwashing” is not going away!
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - June 2012
Contract - June 2012
Exhibition: HD Expo
Product Focus: Bright Lights, Big City
Best of NeoCon® Jurors: What They Look For
Cranbrook Art Museum
Enzo Ferrari Museum
Tampa Covenant Church
Vancouver Community Library
Julia Ideson Library
Competition: Library Interior Design
Book Review: Rethinking Design and Interiors; The Designer’s Guide to Doing Research
Designers Select: Hospitality Products
Exhibition: Herman Miller Pops Up in SoHo
Contract - June 2012