San Fratello: I would like to see more people looking outside of design for
inspiration. I think sometimes there is a tendency to look at the designs of others
and to copy them or to work stylistically instead of looking for something new
and original. Look at art, nature, food. Look at neuroscience.
I also sometimes think that things are starting to look the same all around
the world—there is a homogeny in design. There is no reason why a hotel
room in Dubai should be the same as a hotel room in Chicago but because
of over air conditioning and industrialized materials, this is happening. These
two places have very different climates, access to different materials, and
different traditions. This doesn’t mean design should be traditional, but now
in the 21st century we have an opportunity to redefine the vernacular. It’s
up to us as designers to invent new vernaculars and to respond to them as
we reshape the interior.
IIDA: What does someone just starting out in design need to know?
1. It takes a lot of time to make things, to put things in the world that don’t
exist. Be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to the pursuit of good design.
2. Experiment, take risks, do tests, fail, use your hands, and work iteratively.
3. Exceed expectations. I do believe this is an industry where there is always
someone eager, talented, and willing to take your place. I love it when I
come to a desk critique and a student has done everything we discussed
in our last meeting—and more. I feel like that’s the moment when I learn
something from them and I know that student is going to succeed.
4. Master your tools; know them inside and out.
IIDA: Where do you think the future of design is headed?
San Fratello: That is a big and broad question and one that I think has many
answers, so I will focus on how this question relates to my own work. I’m
interested in new technologies and methods of manufacture that open up our
ability to design mass-customized interiors that respond to very specific places
and needs. 3-D printing is a very new global technology that has the ability to
use old, traditional, or local materials in new ways that allow us to address
contextual issues in design. I believe it will give us the ability to transcend
traditional interior design and practice and will allow users to create truly
unique, responsive, and meaningful environments.
The future of interior design for me is dichotomous—local and global, very
old and very new, humanist and technological. In the future of design, we will
more than ever deal with humanistic issues through technological tools.
To learn more about the IIDA Student of the Year Award, sponsored by OFS
Brands, and the IIDA Educator of the Year Award, sponsored by Milliken, visit
www.iida.org or contact Beatrice Brittan, IIDA student outreach coordinator, at
(312) 467-1950 or email@example.com. Genny Ramos is the communications strategist
at the International Interior Design Association. She can be reached at IIDA
headquarters at (312) 467-1950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.