Expanding My Horizons at the HD Expo
Rashana Zaklit in Hospitality, Los Angeles, Retail

Image © Gensler

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending HD Expo, one of the premier events in the hospitality design industry. Every year, interior designers like me return from this event and get asked, “What did you see? What did you do? Was it more exciting than last year? What’s the most innovative product you saw? Isn’t innovative our favorite word of the year?” We get it.

Here’s the real story behind why designers, operators, and clients attend this show: Interior design, and more specifically hospitality, is a people sport. The HD show is a time for people to connect and reconnect. It’s a time to learn from other’s experiences. Yes it’s also about great products and beautiful design—that's a given—but the best part of this show is that it allows attendees to really feel like a part of the industry. This year's HD Expo provided me with extraordinary inspiration and connected me with companies, clients, and firms I was too busy to really look at before.

I have spent almost every day of the last nine years hunkered down at my desk—hustling, working with clients, assembling design presentations, trying to meet my weekly deadlines—but externally, beside a few annual events, I’ve kept to myself. I was not alone. In this industry we all have competitive deadlines, and we tend to keep ourselves very busy for the majority of the year. This show (like many others) is an opportunity to get out of that space and really connect. The HD Expo is also an opportunity to learn about the common issues designers and manufacturers deal with on a day-to-day basis. You are able to have honest discussions with vendors and address important issues such as “greenwashing,” ensuring project quality, and what unique products are available for particular project applications. The event also allows designers to research unique applications and to understand new and emerging technologies in product design. The show functions as an extended resource that helps you to work and design to your potential.

The HD Expo features hundreds of manufacturers that designers are quite familiar with, but also introduces new companies that are taking new items to the market. In addition to viewing the latest and greatest in outdoor furniture, textiles, tile, modular art, carpet, porcelain tile, plumbing, lighting, etc., the show provides several seminars and even parties aimed at forging intra-industry connections. The seminars fit your business interests and needs. Being able to listen to other experts and gain insight on how they do business and address unique design challenges is usually the most beneficial part of the event.

Image © Gensler

This year I walked away from the expo feeling a renewed sense of inspiration. For example, seeing new, incredible textile patterning and coloration by one of my favorite companies, Elitis, inspired me to make my current designs more edgy. During the past few years, several companies opted out of attending due to an unstable economy and internal budget issues. But operators, designers, and vendors were very optimistic about business this year.

Being able to connect to and get inspired by the latest design trends and innovations keeps me in the know. Not only can I design better with a superior sense of the latest and greatest information, I can also get involved in collaboration with companies I admire.

No matter what industry you are in, it is important to remember that it is not enough to just know the facts; it’s also about being a voice in your industry and knowing the importance of the up and coming players.

In the end, new inspirations, professional connections, and increasing your awareness of what’s available are critical to success. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when doing so can be so much fun!

Rashana Zaklit is a designer in Gensler's Los Angeles office. Contact her at rashana_Zaklit@gensler.com.
Article originally appeared on architecture and design (http://www.gensleron.com/).
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