Published On:

Wednesday 24th June 2015


Institute news

BIID Asks "Who Do We Think We Are?" and Celebrates Most Successful Conference Yet

Last Thursday 18th June 2015, the British Institute of Interior Design hosted its biggest ever annual conference at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London. Marking the Institute’s landmark 50th anniversary, and themed around the question, ‘Who do we think we are?’, the 4th BIID conference was attended by a packed audience of more than 240 delegates drawn from across the design spectrum to enjoy a full programme of diverse, high quality and thought-provoking content.

A prestigious line-up of speakers responded to the key conference question through presentations, conversations and lively panel debates. The headline sessions included:

·         Anne Booth-Clibborn, the producer who launched BBC2’s Changing Rooms, Tom Dyckhoff, critic and presenter of TV’s The Great Interior Design Challenge, and Michelle Ogundehin, Editor of Elle Decoration, explored the impact of popular culture, and especially design-led TV shows, on the interior design profession over the years. In a passionate and lively Pop Culture Debate, the panellists drew on their own experiences to articulate engaging, contrasting and, sometimes, opposing views on the central question: Did Changing Rooms Change Our Profession?

·         An ‘in conversation’ session hosted by Conference Chair and design commentator, Aidan Walker, with iconic furniture designer, Zeev Aram OBE also proved extremely popular with the conference audience. As one of this year’s BIID Honorary Fellows, Zeev engaged and inspired the audience with his life story, encyclopaedic design knowledge and fascinating anecdotes from over 50 years in design, memorably recalling how he was “…walking on the same road as Terence Conran, but on different pavements".

·         In The Multi-Disciplinary Designer, international architect, interiors and furniture designer, Tomoko Azumi, owner of t.n.a Design Studio, highlighted the increasing demand on designers to embrace multiple business areas when applying their skills. Tomoko discussed the various routes open to designers and explained how she works across different disciplines to ensure continued relevance in an increasingly specialised, ‘vertical’ world.

In other talks, Professor Anne Massey of Middlesex University provided an historical context for the conference by tracing the rise of the interior designer from the post war era to the modern day.  Jenny Naylor, Marketing Director at Finchatton, looked at the luxury end of the UK property market and the growing role of the interior designer as a strategic business asset before a spirited Q&A session with the audience. Closing the conference, interior designer Anna Burles, Rose Etherington from online retail and blogging site, and Gemma Smith from internet design specialist, Houzz, explored how the explosion of the web over the last twenty years has caused a sea-change in interior design practice.

The BIID unveiled a special installation to celebrate the Institute’s 50th anniversary, charting the history of the profession and the body over this period. Sponsored by the Urban Electric Company, and curated by Theodora Pyrogianni, Lizzie Toole and Eva Woode, students from Kingston University’s MA Curating Contemporary Design course, the installation provided a unique insight for delegates into the history and impact of the BIID and its members over the last 50 years.

“An amazing day in front of our biggest ever conference audience,” concluded Daniel Hopwood, President of the BIID, “On behalf of the BIID, I would like to thank all our speakers who contributed to making this year’s conference such a huge success. Every session challenged preconceptions and informed our perspective on where interior design has come from, where it is now and how we must adapt and transform to ensure we continue to thrive in the future.”

The conference also featured the presentation of this year’s BIID Honorary Fellowships which saw Zeev Aram OBE, Christine Losecaat, Kevin McCloud, Martin Roth and the newly awarded OBE recipient, Dids Macdonald, recognised for their exceptional contributions to the design community in their professional careers. Zeev Aram OBE is a highly recognised and respected designer and the owner of London’s top design and furniture showroom for contemporary modern furniture design, ARAM STORE. Christine Losecaat is an internationally experience senior business strategy, marketing and communications specialist and an EMMY award winning producer. Christine most recently participated in the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015. Dids Macdonald OBE has over 25 years’ experience within the design industry and is the CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) that activates for respect of intellectual property and ethical standards in design. Kevin McCloud MBE is a British author, broadcaster and designer, best known for his work on the Channel 4 series Grand Designs which he has presented since 1999, and for his residential housing development company, HAB Housing. Finally, Martin Roth is the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum since 2011 and is a Trustee of the British Council and Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. 

Sponsors of this year’s BIID Conference included Heals, home of modern and contemporary designer furniture; Eporta, the online, wholesale, B2B e-commerce platform for buyers, interior designers and brands; Roca, the leading global bathroom brand; and FRONT London, the bespoke designer rug brand who also hosted the ‘60s inspired BIID Summer Party in the evening at their Mayfair showroom. The BIID would like to thank all sponsors for the part they played in making the conference such a success.

Twitter was abuzz with conference engagement throughout the day, with the hashtag #BIIDConference2015 trending on the social networking site. Please click here for a breakdown of Twitter’s ‘best bits’ from the day: 

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