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Jan 03, 2023 By Vasia Rigou
Converge: Conversations on Sustainability
Exploring the future of sustainable innovation during a time of great change
By Vasia Rigou Jan 03, 2023
Published in Articles

The annual Interface + IIDA Converge Summit, which hosted its 4th annual edition in 2022, is known for its palpable energy as designers, students, and industry leaders come together to explore innovative sustainability and wellness solutions in design.

Some of the highlights include “Black, Brown, and Green,” a fireside chat on climate change, sustainability, and equity led by George Bandy Jr., Ind. IIDA, chief sustainability officer at Fiber Industries LLC, Chidimma Abuka, strategist and design manager at Gensler, in conversation with Ronnie Belizaire, FIIDA, vice president at JLL, Simplifying Sustainability through Design+Data with Paul Shahriari, founder and chief innovation officer at Ecomedes, and “Carbon 101,” a keynote by Jay Lanier of Interface, who introduced tools and resources participants can use to learn more and to act on the most urgent source of greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment industry: the carbon impact of building material.

But this year marks the start of a new, exciting chapter for a program—and we’re already underway! The 2023 summit is on tap to offer more opportunities for connection, collaboration, and community building: More young designers will be working closely with sustainability leaders as mentors to conceptualize, evaluate, and implement earth-saving design practices. More immersive sessions about climate change solutions, green economy opportunities and climate action will be held. As Interface and IIDA work together to solve climate change, the future of sustainability has never looked brighter.

Attendees of the 2022 Interface + IIDA Converge connect during a networking session. Photography by CatMax Photography, LLC
Chidimma Abuka in conversation with Ronnie Belizaire, FIIDA. Photography by CatMax Photography, LLC

In order to make it happen, Interface and IIDA are excited to announce the formation of the Converge Council—a convening of some of the brightest, most sustainably engaged and aware, emerging designers, who will collaboratively work to curate the 2023 programs, set the mission and long term goals for the council, and remain committed to better serve, connect and empower the design community. An integral part of the summit: IIDA Chapter Relations Manager Aleida Fuertes who will be helping IIDA emerging designers from across the country connect, build relationships and collaborate toward change.

“We want designers to walk away inspired, informed, hopeful, and energized,” says Anna Webb, vice president of marketing at Interface, about the much-anticipated annual event. “This is a positive movement and something you can join us on to be a changemaker.” Up for discussion: issues of design resilience, sustainability, wellness, climate change activism, leadership, community, and more.

Over the past summit’s two-and-a-half days, for instance, designers attended panel discussions, robust programming, and break-out sessions. They networked with industry leaders and like-minded peers, and they explored a wide range of topics: ways to advance sustainability through projects, material selection, and collaboration with local product manufacturers; the power of the design community to reduce carbon emissions and foster healthier communities; tools and resources to help designers understand and reduce the carbon impact of building materials; as well as the Metropolis Climate Tool Kit presented by Editor in Chief Avi Rajagopal—a resource available to designers as a framework for designing low-carbon spaces.

IIDA Board Members, Converge participants, and attendees discuss key sustainability issues. Photography by CatMax Photography, LLC
Introduction to weaving workshop lead by Fiber artist Katrina Stone from the South East Fiber Arts Alliance. Photography by CatMax Photography, LLC

What impact can designers and architects have on the climate conversation? How can a company lower its carbon footprint by reimagining their workplace design? How can design affect climate change, and ultimately change the world for the better? The Interface + IIDA Converge Summit has been asking the hard questions for years. But they don’t stop there: Instead a key goal is to put sustainability into practice throughout the process of design.

Building on the legacy of programs past, the upcoming Interface + IIDA Converge Summit is set to advance the global climate talks, mobilize action, and provide a significant opportunity to look at the impacts of climate change as well as innovation and solutions in design and beyond.

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