This year’s Design Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. (DLSDC) highlighted the intersection between the rich historical fabric of our nation’s capitol and contemporary inspirations, uniting designers, architects and design partners like Fuigo in this important dialogue. We took the opportunity to sit down with some of our fellow attendees and asked these thought leaders about the importance of design communities, the future of design, and D.C.'s political and architectural significance.
How does The design community impact your work?
Shawn Henderson: A common theme that always comes out of these group settings is that you end up feeling so reassured that everyone else is going through the same thing; you’re not alone. That is very comforting and you end up getting support from people who have gone through similar things. It works out well.
Ankie Barnes: When it comes to community, I’ve realized the importance of choosing the right team members early and working together in order to achieve the highest possible success. The networking aspect of the Design Leadership Network (DLN) allows one to connect with the top professionals in architecture and interior design.
WHAT INTERESTING TECHNIQUE OR APproach will drive the larger creative conversation in 2019 and why?
Nina Campbell: Color. We saw two speakers here at DLSDC, Kit Kemper and the wonderful architect Victor Legorreta, showing that color is such a breath of fresh air. On one side we saw the very spare and on the other side the very ornate and elaborate. And I just think color, in whatever form appeals to you, is vital in order to live a happy life.
Analisse Taft: Millennials and technology. The pros and cons of each, both in terms of how technology is empowering and serving millenials and how interior designers can use technology to reach millenials. One of the things we should consider is training millennials to think back to the basics, back to handcrafting, and back to the experience.
What speaker most interested you at DLSDC?
Ankie Barnes: Thomas Pheasant, because he spoke freely about his creative process and how it occasionally surprised him after many years. That takes guts to share.
Frank Ponterio: Ankie Barnes, a long time dear friend. Being able to hear him speak so passionately about his hometown was wonderful. I also had the pleasure of a private tour of the British Ambassador’s residence with Ankie, his excitement over every detail both big and small is infectious. Just fantastic!
Analisse Taft: Zena Howard. First of all, I loved being at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and actually having not only an African American speak, but also a woman. I thought all of it was so relevant to today and, incorporating our community into it, was equally as relevant. Zena was so eloquent and obviously talented. I really loved learning how her team really got to the architecture of that building, because it’s so unbelievable. Even down to the details of the exterior front work, which they extracted from the exteriors of southern plantations, and the porch as a symbol of community. I really thought it was an incredible experience. I hope to see more women and African Americans in our community.
What architectural elements are most inspiring to you in DC?
Nina Campbell: We were lucky enough to go to the Capitol building and what I loved were the details. I took a wonderful photograph of the brass grill in the floor, it it was about two feet wide, it was just exquisite. I took a photograph outside of the lanterns just as you lead up the road which were rather Japanese in a way, it reminded of Japanism in the 19th, early 20th century. And then there were the Capitol posts, I think all of those details were very wonderful.
Frank Ponterio: I had studied the McMillan Plan while in school but hadn’t experienced it in person since I was here as a child. It’s an overwhelmingly impressive example of planning and forward thinking. The Mall is exceptional, then when you walk the city this great composition of scale starts to unfold. Small courtyards, great vistas, grand estates (like the British Ambassador's Home where we had dinner at the summit), all living together in total balance, it’s a great city!
Shawn Henderson: It’s been a long time since I’ve been to D.C. and every time I do come I am blown away by how clean and actually how very pretty it is. From an aesthetic point of view it seems like a well thought out, very polished, clean city. In addition to the beauty, there’s sense of intimacy here and I think a lot of that is attributed to the restrictions on the height of buildings and with how closely watched rules and regulations are. You know I can’t imagine it’s easy to do anything here from a construction point of view so, I think it’s handled well here.
How do you see the interplay between DC’s role in the public imagination and its home of classical and contemporary architecture?
Frank Ponterio: I think most people view D.C. as the government machine it is, especially now with how charged everyone is with their personal opinion. But I can tell you that most people out there forget just how exceptional the architecture is. It it truly a great architectural city, on par with any in the world. I was walking the perimeter of the Mall while on the phone with a client and we were talking about how it rivals the greatest cities in the anywhere... at times you feel like you could be in London, other times in Rome, Paris... while we’re the “new kids” in the global block we’ve certainly caught up... at least.
Analisse Taft: Oh my god, I mean if you look around at all of these buildings, they have extracted the architecture from the Roman Empire, from the Greeks with all of the Grecian pillars... Pretty much every era and every country has a place here in the architecture form. So I think what’s amazing is that pretty much everyone can come here and feel like they have a home because of the architecture.
Ankie Barnes: It’s both a private city for us residents and we create our own private realms within it, but it also dances very well on the stage of public and international opinion as well.