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Q&A with Casey Potash: President, IIDA Southwest

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 2.37.17 PMQ:  Are IIDA Southwest members seeing a trend in a certain type of commercial design?

A: Although this trend has been happening nationally for quite some time, environmentally friendly design is definitely becoming more prevalent in the Southwest. There are more readily available eco-friendly products and clients are starting to embrace the benefits of designing with the environment in mind. Another trend, due to the economic downturn we have experienced, is that designers are definitely getting more creative on a tight budget. Clients have not necessarily reduced their expectations, and they still want to have the same “wow” factor, but they want that with a more conservative budget.

Q: What challenge or challenges are IIDA Southwest members facing, and what challenges do you see them facing in the future?

A: The biggest challenge the local design community is currently facing is stress as a result of the economic downturn. There are many designers that are still in search of job opportunities, and those who fortunately have not lost their jobs are suffering through various other effects of downsizing and are typically experiencing larger workloads. There are definitely signs of improvement, and we are a very tight knit group within the Southwest Chapter. We try to help our members in any way we can with networking, continuing education, and professional development opportunities. We also continually advertise job postings, as we hear about them, in our email blasts. I think the biggest challenge our community will have in the future is the loss of talented and experienced designers who have either moved out of state where the economy has improved more quickly or have moved on to new ventures in their life.

Q: Describe IIDA Southwest activities and share who is involved?

A:  IIDA Southwest is run by a chapter board comprised of volunteers, and our events are coordinated and planned by another group of volunteers. We have won many international awards for the success of our chapter, and this would not be possible without countless hours of dedication from these volunteers and the generosity of our sponsors. Our chapter includes four City Centers:  Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque. We have major chapter events, including the PRIDE Awards (Professional Recognition of Interior Design Excellence) in the spring, a trade fair/networking event in the fall, as well as rotating winter events, which include Couture (a fashion show where the fashion is derived from commercial building products and materials) and Connect4 (a philanthropic event that happens simultaneously in all four City Centers).

Q: The future of a group such as IIDA relies on the education and training of young designers. How does the Southwest Chapter reach out to students?

A: The students are the future of our chapter and industry, and we place a great deal of attention that is specifically targeted to help develop them into the professionals we need to have emerging from our local colleges and universities. We have a VP of student affairs, a director of student affairs, and a committee within the chapter that reaches out to students on a regular basis for design critique sessions. They also plan exciting networking and educational activities tailored to the needs they have. We have special student pricing for all of our chapter and City Center events, so they have more opportunities to meet with design professionals outside of our student oriented events.

Q:  Why is it important for a designer to be a member of IIDA?

A:  I’ve found it to be vital to the success of my career to be a member of a professional organization that fosters networking, educational, and social activities within the community. For me personally, I joined because I wanted to be a part of an organization that not only facilitated growth in my own design career, but also enabled me to be able to give back to the community. I truly believe that “you get what you give” in life. What I have found to be one of the most beneficial parts of my role as the chapter president is that I now have connections around the world in the design industry. I have the resources to be able to easily learn what trends are happening in other parts of the country, and this is invaluable.

Casey Potash is president of the IIDA Southwest Chapter. Prior to moving to the Valley, she received her BS in Interior Design from Indiana University. She is NCIDQ Certified and is LEED APl. She is a sales specialist for KI & PallasTextiles.