Kicking off Interior Design‘s inaugural Best of Design 2020 festival—a two-week virtual extravaganza packed with design conversations, Hall of Fame film screenings, and the Best of Year awards—Editor in Chief Cindy Allen celebrated the spirit of the annual Hall of Fame gala by bringing together a group of design luminaries on screen. “This is the week of Hall of Fame, can we just pine a little bit together?” Allen said with a smile, reminiscing about the joys of in-person events. 

In response, the group of Hall of Fame members—Deborah Berke, founder of Deborah Berke Partners and dean of the Yale School of Architecture; Hagy Belzberg, founding partner of Belzberg Architects; Colin Burry, design director and principal at Gensler; Clodagh, founder of Clodagh Design; Debra Lehman Smith, founding partner at Lehman Smith McLeish; and Clive Wilkinson, president and design director of Clive Wilkinson Architects—echoed Allen’s sentiment, recounting memories of their own. “It was our yearly pilgrimage,” Belzberg said about the gala, which typically takes place in New York City. 

This year, however, Interior Design‘s virtual Hall of Fame programming, presented in partnership with Benjamin MooreMaterial BankMechotheMARTWilliams-Sonoma Inc.TuuciTURF, and Stone Source, will span a full week, rather than one day, followed by a week of Best of Year award presentations, making the events more accessible than ever.

Hall of Famers clockwise from top right—Colin Burry, Deborah Berke, Clive Wilkinson, Debra Lehman Smith, Clodagh, and Hagy Belzberg—joined Cindy Allen for a roundtable about the future of design, marking the start of Best of Design 2020. Allen’s red backdrop is courtesy of Turf, showcasing the brand’s Crown acoustic tile. 

And accessibility is paramount, designers agreed. “We keep pushing on, and it’s way harder for sure, but maybe it’s better in the end,” offered Lehman Smith, noting the rise of new opportunities. Wilkinson offered a similar take, touching on the power of perspective in a year unlike any other. “When something like this [COVID-19 pandemic] happens, you start to reevaluate your life and what you’re doing and how you’re interacting with society and how you’re relating to people,” he said, pointing out shifts taking place at every level, from talks with colleagues to clients. 

Throughout the 90-minute discussion, the group offered insights on topics ranging from the rise, and perhaps permanence, of outdoor dining in urban environments, to workplace flexibility and virtual design education, to the importance of designing to address social issues and the ongoing climate crisis. Ultimately, the group surmised that the future looks bright. “Things are really picking up,” said Burry, whose firm is currently hiring. “What’s so amazing about this [design] community is that we are optimists, so faced with a challenge we figure out a way through it and use our creativity to solve the world’s thorniest problems,” he added. To that, Allen nodded in total agreement. 

Following the Hall of Fame roundtable, the Interior Design Hall of Fame Film Festival opened with documentaries featuring Isay Weinfeld, Paola Navone, Patrick Jouin, and Bates Masi. For more Best of Design 2020 programming, take a look at the schedule here. 

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