Our Oregon Design Community

Wow Portland! What an amazing turn out for Picnic Classic: The 2017 IIDA Oregon Chapter Annual Celebration and Fundraiser! On behalf of the IIDA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors, we are so grateful for your generous support. Our sponsors and supporters make it possible for us to operate and provide members with all of the wonderful benefits associated with your Membership. At the Picnic Classic, with ticket purchases, sponsorship, and raffle ticket purchases we raised over $10,000 for our chapter! Special shout out to all of our 41 sponsors for the evening and to the amazing companies who donated raffle items. We could not have done it without you!

For those of you who missed Picnic Classic, my name is Emma Abramowitz and I am your new 2017-2018 IIDA Oregon Chapter President. July 13th marked my official IIDA Oregon Chapter Presidential inauguration and I am so excited to hit the ground running on our Chapter’s goals and initiatives for 2017-2018.  I am going to highlight a few of our current initiatives that I shared at the event in this blog post but following our Board retreat in August, we will inevitably have more and our Chapter will continue to evolve throughout the year.

Here’s a recap of the goals and initiatives shared:

  • One of our goals is to increase engagement with Professional Members, Senior Designers, and Principals of companies ranging from Architectural firms, Interior Design firms, and organizations in affiliated sectors like real estate and construction. In 2018, we are working to introduce an Annual Breakfast, to bring these targeted groups together. Our goal is to elevate the conversation around relevant topics within our industry and offer business leaders in Oregon another opportunity to collaborate and network.
  • Additionally, one of our focuses will be to reach a broader audience outside of Portland. Those of us in the metro area are fortunate to reap the benefits of our IIDA memberships. All we need to do is register and show up. However, it is more difficult for members who lie outside of our city center, which include universities outside of Portland. Out of our 276 members, 37% lie outside the city of Portland. One way we can start to connect with these individuals is to broadcast our Forums through a digital platform. We hope this approach will add value to our current members and hopefully help us gain more supporters along the way.
  • Every board year we try to line up our Forums topics well in advance. We offer 6 educational forums per year and always try to provide interesting content that is CEU accredited. So far we have the following Forum topics lined up: a talk on the history of iconic, classically designed furniture pieces, a lecture that gives an overview of materials transparency and how it relates to green building, and socially and environmentally responsible manufacturing and we will also have a special guest speaker from the University of Oregon who will give a lecture on the psychology of color in interior spaces with a European perspective. Stay tuned for more information on our website.

  • Our Student Affairs team is incredibly excited to announce that next April, the IIDA Western Region Student Design Charrette will be hosted here in Portland by our Chapter. The IIDA Western Region includes the Northern Pacific, Oregon, Northern California, Southern California, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Inner Mountain and Hawaii Chapters.  We anticipate seven IIDA chapters participating, with up to 35 students competing at the regional level.

It’s student programs like these that have inspired the IIDA International Board and Headquarters to create a new student focused position within the association. Primo Orpilla with Studio O + A has accepted the new role as the Global Chair of Student Experience. Starting now, the role will start to build on the success of existing programs and will open up new opportunities for students that include scholarships, travel, internships, and additional student programming offered by IIDA. We are excited to see how these new programming efforts affect student engagement within our local chapter and embolden young members to be the catalyst for change within our industry.  

  • To build on the importance of student engagement and honor young interior designers, the IIDA Oregon Chapter will be introducing a new award at the Design Excellence Awards this year; The Mohawk Group Emerging Professional Award, named after its generous sponsor, the Mohawk Group. Similar to the Legacy Award, IIDA members will have the opportunity to nominate a young designer or industry partner with 2-10 years of experience, to receive an award and gain recognition for their outstanding design work, community service, and dedication to their profession. Stay tuned for more information on how to nominate a candidate late this summer.

  • We must not forget IIDA is an International organization – we are lucky to have a tight knit design community here in Portland but remember there are members all over the world. To bring some of IIDA Headquarters back home, we have invited CEO of the International Interior Design Association, Cheryl Durst, to our Design Excellence Awards as moderator for the ceremony this October. In addition to her prestigious commentary she also brings a great sense of humor to the stage. We look forward to welcoming Cheryl to Portland and introducing her to the outstanding design work in our state.
  • Additionally, I’d like to recap our 2016-2017 Advocacy efforts with IDC-Oregon. Before the legislative session in 2017, the IIDA Oregon Chapter applied and received funds for a Lobbyist grant from IIDA HQ- which was $15,000 in funding and weekly support from the IIDA HQ Advocacy team for legislative pursuits this year.  Following that accomplishment, Past President Elsa Long and myself had the privilege of representing the IIDA Oregon Chapter during the first Bill hearing of HB-2153A during the legislative session in 2017. We read our letters in support of the Bill alongside our fellow IDC-Oregon representatives, in front of House representatives on the Ways and Means Committee. The Bill introduced the implementation of a voluntary registry for qualified, licensed, Interior Designers in the State of Oregon. Following the first hearing, it had strong support and was assigned to a work group that included members of IDC-Oregon and opponents of the bill. After 5 work group sessions, the Bill language was edited and then successfully moved out of the House Committee on Economic Development and Trade and moved to the House Joint Committee On Ways and Means. During this time, while waiting for a hearing, the Bill faced a hurdle, a high fiscal impact statement to implement the registry. IDC Oregon worked tirelessly to get the fiscal impact revised however, they were unable to succeed. With a high fiscal impact, IDC Oregon decided to continue moving forward despite this hurdle.

    At that point, with support from IIDA National, we were able to implement three letter writing campaigns, where supporters wrote letters to Oregon legislators in support of the Bill. IDC-Oregon was complimented on their grassroots efforts by both the opposition and several state representatives. However, with the budget crisis facing Oregon, the legislative session came to a halt at the end of June and more than 400+ bills were waiting for a bill hearing including HB 2153-A. Despite IDC Oregon’s grass roots efforts, our bill was not assigned for a hearing and on July 7 the legislative season ended. While it is disappointing news, IDC-Oregon made huge progress and has been encouraged by several representatives to come back in the 2018 legislative season.  IDC Oregon and the IIDA Oregon Chapter will work to continue efforts towards professional recognition so that interior designers in the state of Oregon who have the education, examination and experience can also be recognized as “design professionals” and do the work they are qualified to do.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my firm, Bora Architects for the tremendous amount of support the firm has afforded me so far in my new role with IIDA. In addition to Bora, many firms and companies commit time and resources to the Chapter by supporting Board members. Our 37 member board is comprised of a diverse group of individuals who come from different design backgrounds but who are rooted in their passion for community engagement and the power of design.

Board members, I look forward to collaborating with you this year and IIDA Oregon Chapter members, I am honored to serve as your 2017-2018 IIDA Oregon Chapter President. Now let’s get to work and remember, we are stronger and better as a community.

Emma Abramowitz, IIDA
IIDA Oregon Chapter President