Rebecca Dorris Steiger wears many hats. She’s a senior interior designer and associate at Gensler; and, earlier this year, she was appointed president of the IIDA NY Chapter. She traces her involvement in the IIDA to 2001, when she joined the San Francisco chapter. Subsequently, she served as Vice President of Membership and Vice President of Communications for the Northern California Chapter. Her work on the Board of Directors helped the chapter win IIDA Large Chapter of the Year in 2005. After her return to New York in 2006, she quickly got involved with the NY Chapter. We recently sprung our ever-popular FORM questionnaire on her, since she has a unique view of the design profession, both as a practioner and a leader, promoting the field and educating its members.
What direction do you see the interior design profession heading?
I feel like I am watching our profession struggle through a period of fast design, (like fast fashion) where we are asked to design, build, and furnish spaces quickly and cheaply. Some firms have been hugely successful at this and have figured out the formula to design bespoke spaces for their clients in incredibly short timelines. I believe that if we look to our local resources and manufacturers, we can infuse a level of authenticity into our projects, support local businesses, and improve quality and workmanship.
What buildings inspire you?
I was blown away by the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona—their sculptural quality is amazing. I can’t imagine how we would build those things today with the same attention to detail.
Where else do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by my children of course—that’s an easy answer. Seeing the world through their eyes has a way of reframing how I see my world. I am also inspired by craft – in the big sense of the word.
What are your three favorite objects?
My grandmother’s diamond pendant. My wedding ring. My Fjallraven Kanken backpack.
What do you collect (furniture, records, t-shirts, etc.)?
I collect stools and have a number of vintage Tam Tam stools, some Kartell stools, an Eames Walnut stool, and some Vitra stools. Once you have more than 3 of anything it becomes a collection. I also collect concrete cores from my projects.
Who are some of your favorite young designers?
I don’t really have any favorites… I think even the youngest designers out there can do great work if they are empowered to take risks while still having some level of mentorship.
If you could live anywhere, where it would it be (a location or specific structure)?
I lived in San Francisco for 9 years mid-career. I would love to go back there as I loved the city, the design community, and the entrepreneurial spirit.
A decade from now, what trends will be cringeworthy?
Slides, beanbags, and scooters. And Uggs, I hope.
What currents trends will stand the test of time?
Collaboration in the workplace and beyond. With technology being an integral part of our lives 24/7, it’s important for us to create some sort of balance by being able to work anywhere, any time, on our own terms.
Color—yes or no?
Yes, but with restraint.
What are you reading?
I have several half-read parenting books on my shelf.
What are you wearing?
Black top, skinny jeans, black boots.
What are you eating?
I’m eating salad. No—not really.
Do you listen to music while you’re working?
I do—I have been stuck on the Pixies – Eden Sessions 2014 on YouTube and Kid Cudi Radio on Pandora.
Are you a sketcher or a computer person?
I’m a computer person who really wants to be a sketcher.
Social media—yes or no?
Yes, definitely. Social media is a great way to reach out to our peers and share our knowledge about the profession. We have just put together a well-researched set of guidelines as a resource for what to post where on behalf of the IIDA NY Chapter. Personally, I have become that mom, posting photos of my kids. But they’re not rainbows and unicorns kind of photos—they’re photos of what life is really like with 2 young boys in NYC.