Katie Michael-Battaglia recently took the helm of IIDA NY as the chapter president. As she begins her new role, she plans to build on existing outreach programs to strengthen and inspire the design community. This strategy also means providing members with engaging events that support their professional practice and enrich their personal growth as well. We spoke with the new president about the design process and fostering new talent.
You are currently the design director at Nemo Tile, can you talk a little bit about your role at the company?
The simple answer is that if it has to do with design, I am part of it. Specifically, I am responsible for the design and displays in all the showrooms at NEMO and for communicating what these designs are to the staff. I am also part of a team that is responsible for deciding what product we want to bring into the NEMO line and developing new branded NEMO product.
How do you approach a new project?
I first look at the big picture and keep this in my mind as I dial it down to the design problem at hand. At NEMO, this is different than what I was doing as a commercial/workplace designer, but essentially it’s always about being true to the design story. I ask questions first before developing a solution.
One of your goals is to foster new talent, how do you aim to do so?
I know first-hand that the design industry is stretched very thin right now because projects have been moving increasingly fast and everyone is saying yes to everything. I want the design community to understand that IIDA NY’s forum events offer the opportunity to get out of the everyday bubble and be inspired by others both within and outside of our industry, ultimately providing a complete design refresh. We grow by learning and by being inspired to improve and achieve. We can get this from our design community.
Communication is an important part of the design process. What advice do you give up-and-coming designers to improve their presentation skills?
Learn or re-learn to sketch. Do it often and practice. This is a tool that has become underestimated or, dare I say, antiquated. However, if you can sketch a design idea or solution in the moment, you can save time as well as impress your clients with your artistic skill. Remember you are telling a story as well. This means including all the components of a good story; a beginning (design problem), middle (possibilities) and end (solution).
Why do you think the IIDA is an important tool for designers?
IIDA is our community. We are all a part of a design community and IIDA allows us to be in contact with others in our community. As with most professions, you are as good as the people you know, and being able to have that community to reach out to for advice, services, knowledge and for inspiration is invaluable. Being a part of IIDA has allowed me to step out of my bubble and see the many possibilities outside of it. This community provides a constant source of support and inspiration.
What do you see as the difference between IIDA NY and IIDA SF?
San Francisco is just as busy with events and members as the New York Chapter is. The culture there is shifting from when I was a part of that Chapter and it’s exciting to see.
If you were to create an all-star list of furniture manufacturers, who would be on it and why?
My all-stars are the ones who are reliable, that make it easy to get their products on a project and that have original and beautiful designs. My all-stars also keep pushing the boundaries on what we designers think we are looking for. If they can come up with product that we think we need on a project and we didn’t know about it before, that is definition of an all-star.