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Jan 04, 2022 By IIDA HQ
2021 Student Roundtable: Designing in Action
Intimate conversations with design leaders and activists speaking about their experience balancing design and their personal interests with a focus on humanity, confidence, passion, and the intangibles that make a designer who they are.
By IIDA HQ Jan 04, 2022
Published in

How can designers balance their passions for personal growth, professional progress, activism, as well as leave a lasting imprint on their community and the world?

In this two-part virtual student roundtable series brought to life by IIDA and OFS, some of the industry’s prominent professionals offer insight into their paths to success—personal histories, hard-earned lessons, and multidisciplinary influences that become catalysts to unleash their full potential and elevate the design industry at-large.

Episode 1


  • Tara Headley, IIDA
    Interior Designer, Hendrick
    Adjunct Professor, Savannah College of Art and Design
    President-Elect, IIDA Georgia Chapter
    Chair, IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees
  • Midori Shim, IIDA
    Interior Designer, M. C. Harry Associates
    President-Elect, IIDA Southern Florida Chapter

Focusing on humanity, confidence, passion, and the intangibles that make a designer who they are, the first part of this insightful conversation series serves as inspiration to the design world.

“It’s all about being yourself—this is the foundation of figuring out what’s important to you,” says Headley. "I am shaped by my journey and who I am as a person; that is a good starting point for discovering where your passions lie. I think it’s important to take a step back and really focus on where you're coming from and where you want to go.”

Midori stresses the value of empathy as a big component in design. “We, as interior designers, affect so many facets of life that we don’t even realize,” she says. “Volunteering and community outreach really changed my perspective on everything about what people can do and what people can be if they are given the right tools at the right time—especially when you are young and shaping who you are, who you’re trying to become.”

Episode 2


  • Ryan Ben
    Director of Association Experience, IIDA
  • Julie Sayers, IIDA
    Associate, encompas
    Lenexa City Council Member, Kansas City

The second part of the roundtable conversation series brings to the forefront the role of the designer as an advocate—as someone who impacts the community with intention, resilience and passion.

“Design is the practice of improving the human condition,” says Sayers. “That could be a very complicated multi-billion dollar project or it could be one chair that will help my back hurt less. And I think all of that work is equally as important to just improving people’s lives, improving society and making the world better through design.”

“It makes sense to have a designer at the table,” Sayers says, explaining that her various responsibilities among others include reviewing new construction projects and zoning ordinances. But most importantly? “Having a say in what gets built in my town or doesn’t get built in my town,” as she puts it. When it comes to balancing her professional aspirations with her passion for community engagement: “The two things are synonymous for me now—my career and my side hustle really impact and influence one another,” she says smiling.

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