Interior Design: The Essential Profession

Friday, October 7, 2016
9am – 5pm

NYSID symposium

Fast-paced, interactive, and exciting: this one-day symposium will look at the work of interior designers today and in the future, making the case that interior design is inarguably essential to organizational and human health, wellness, and happiness.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the New York School of Interior Design

New York School of Interior Design
Arthur Satz Auditorium
170 East 70 Street, New York, NY 10021


9am // Welcome

Ellen Fisher, vice president for academic affairs and dean, New York School of Interior Design

9:15–10am // Keynote
Aaron Betsky: Why Insides Matter: Beyond Sensual, Sensitive, Sexy, and Safe

Although architecture is the first thing we notice about a building, the interiors are the spaces in which we actually live. In this thought-provoking talk, educator and curator Aaron Betsky, who was trained as an architect, will speak about why interiors matter, and how the relationship between interior and exterior is critical to the success of any design project.

10–11am // Living Better: Wellness By Design
Verena Haller, John Zeisel, Patrick Burke; moderated by Randy Fiser

Interior design can’t cure disease, but it can certainly reap considerable benefits in achieving good health, maintaining it, and minimizing the ill effects of injury. Randy Fiser, CEO of American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), will lead a discussion by three experts who know how it all comes together in spaces designed for travelers, the aged, and failing or wounded veterans.

11:00 – 11:15am // Break

11:15am – 12:15pm // Todd Heiser in Conversation with John Czarnecki

What do interior design and gamification have to do with the next-generation workplace? John Czarnecki and Contract Designer of the Year, Todd Heiser, principal at Gensler, talk about how new ways of working—and new workers—require environments that support interactivity and collaboration.

12:15 – 1:15pm // Networking Lunch

1:15–2:15pm // Afternoon Keynote
Dan Ariely: Design, Behavior, and the Bottom Line 

Obesity is a national scourge, affecting the cost of healthcare and even, learning – can the design of our homes and supermarkets contribute to a solution? What do we need to know about the way human behavior affects the national economy? Can interior designers can change it for the better --- or worse? Dan Ariely, a celebrated behavioral economist and author, will give us a glimpse into the impact of design on the national and international economies.

2:15 – 3:45pm // Hot Topics: 21st Century Issues, Places, and Passions

Rosalyn Cama, Susan Nagle, Edna Wells Handy, Jack Travis, Kate Wood, Scott Baytosh, Susan DiMotta, Andrew Dent, Darris James, moderated by Susan Szenasy

Specialists from design to politics talk about their passions in and outside of design, hitting “hot button” issues for interior designers today: biophilia, preservation and interiors, space-age materials, education, and culture and context. They’ll highlight new directions in hospitality, global design, healthcare, workplace strategy, learning environments, and designing for improved community/police relations.

3:45 – 4:45pm
Denise Guerin -- The Interior Designer of the Future: Well-Being and the Value of Interior Design

Evidence shows that interior designers change people’s lives by designing for their comfort, reduced stress, satisfaction, improved performance, and financial success, in other words, for well-being. Dr. Denise Guerin, PhD, FIDEC, FASID, F-IFI, IIDA, co-author of the seminal Interior Design Body of Knowledge studies, will summarize the day’s conversations, and show how clients and the public will look at the role and responsibilities of the interior designers of the future: to define and document how interior design changes lives, improves the human condition, and adds economic value to society.

4:45 – 5pm // Closing Remarks 


The symposium  is sponsored in part by:


Milliken Logo




Speakers - Select Bios

Aaron Betsky, dean, Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture
Aaron Betsky is an internationally-known educator, curator, critic and author about design and architecture. The former director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, he was also director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam and curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A graduate of Yale University, he has taught at the University of Cincinnati and written extensively about architecture and design, as well as on aesthetics and psychology.

Dan Ariely, PhD, professor of psychology and behavioral economics, Duke University and founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight and the co-founder of BEworks

Dan Ariely is a graduate of Tel Aviv University, and holds an MA and PhD in cognitive psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a doctorate in business administration from Duke University. His best-selling books include Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape our Decisions, and The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, and his TED talks have been watch by millions of viewers.

Susan S. Szenasy, publisher/editor in chief, Metropolis 

Susan S. Szenasy is Publisher and Editor in Chief of METROPOLIS, the award-winning New York City-based magazine of architecture and design at every scale. Since 1986 she has lead the publication and its other media platforms through decades of landmark design journalism, achieving domestic and international recognition. She is a pioneer in connecting environmental stewardship with design, and a tireless advocate for human centered design. A book of her writings and talks, Szenasy, Design Advocate, was published in 2015 by Metropolis Books/DAP.

Randy Fiser, chief executive officer, ASID
Randy W. Fiser leads the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) as chief executive officer, overseeing the strategic planning, financial management, and national operations for the Society’s more than 25,000 members who work across all sectors of residential and commercial interior design. He leads the network of 47 ASID chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada to advance the profession and communicate the impact of interior design on human experience and transforming lives. Dedicated to advancing community and economic development, Fiser brings a unique point of view about the capacity of design to make a positive impact on health, well-being, and productivity.

Verena Haller, senior vice president of design, Related/Equinox Hotels

Verena Haller was previously SVP for Morgans Hotel Group. An interior designer who has specialized in hospitality environments, she is overseeing the design of the new Equinox Hotel, which will be the first of its kind, focused on fitness and well-being, and including a 60,000-square-foot gym. It will open next year at New York’s Hudson Yards.

John Zeisel, PhD, president and co-founder, Heathstone Alzheimer Care, Ltd

John Zeisel is a specialist in the design of environments for the aging and mentally challenged. His training in sociology and architecture includes a PhD from Columbia University and a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He has written several books about housing for the elderly, and a guide on retirement housing for AARP. His book, Inquiry by Design is a classic text on sociological, psychological and anthropological methods for studying environmental behavior as a guide to increasing design creativity.

Patrick Burke, principal, Michael Graves Architecture & Design

Patrick Burke has been with Michael Graves Architecture & Design since 1982, and has been lead designer on major projects focused on reflecting the culture and identity of the local environment. These have included design and for the firm including institutional, civic and corporate buildings. A graduate of the University of Illinois, with a MArch from Princeton University, he has most recently led the design teams on the Wounded Warrior home and on Madonna Rehabilitation hospital.

Kate Wood, president, Landmark West!

A leader in the movement to protect the architectural heritage of Manhattan's Upper West Side, home to over 3,500 designated landmarks, Kate Wood has mounted advocacy campaigns on key issues including the New-York Historical Society's redevelopment plans, the Central Park West skyline, and the New York City Landmarks Law. She holds a joint Master's degree in Historic Preservation and Urban Planning from Columbia University, where she has taught courses  ranging from Preservation Studio to Preservation Planning. She also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Historic Districts Council and Landmarks50. She is co-author of Interior Landmarks:Treasures of New York (Monacelli Press, 2015).

Jack Travis, FAIA

Jack Travis received a BArch from Arizona State University and an March from the University of Illinois. Since establishing his practice in 1985, he has designed residential interiors for notable clients including Spike Lee and Wesley Snipes and commercial spaces for Georgio Armani and Sbarro. His interest in Black history, and his extensive travels, have led him to include elements reflecting this heritage in his work. His focus has been on enriching the existing American design vocabulary with broader cultural content. He has also worked to ensure the entry of more students of color into the profession. A Fellow of AIA, he is Council Member and Council Representative of NOMA (the National Organization of Minority Architects.) 

Susan DiMotta, principal, Perkins Eastman

With more than 35 years of experience in senior living settings of all kinds, Susan Di Motta directs the senior living design group at Perkins Eastman. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of design and documentation including space allocation programs, schematic plans, details, finish schedules, specifications, and the selection of interior finishes, furnishings, and equipment on projects ranging from new construction to renovation to healthcare, commercial and residential projects.  She is certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), is a professional member of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and a founding member of the American Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AAHID).

Darris James, global professional development manager, Gensler D.C.

A certified interior designer with a Bachelor’s of Architecture from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Darris has over 17 years of experience in the design industry. As Gensler's Professional Development Manager, Darris oversees initiatives to broaden and deepen skills, knowledge, and leadership for the firm’s 5,000 employees worldwide. He has worked with clients in ten countries on four continents to produce leading strategies that solve complex problems related to the physical environment and organizational needs of corporate, retail, education and aviation industries.. Certified in Leadership and Organizational Development, Darris leverages qualitative and quantitative analysis to create design interventions and strategies that maximize organizational performance.

Susan B. Nagle, Allied Member ASID
Susan B. Nagle received her undergraduate degree in Interior Design at the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), from which she graduated with High Distinction. During her undergraduate studies, she was chosen by the Victorian Society in America for a traveling fellowship to study architecture in England. She currently serves on the NYSID Board of Trustees, where she was a member of the faculty for seven years. She is a partner in the studio of Bentel & Bentel, Architects/Planners AIA, and has been inducted in the Hospitality Design Hall of Fame - Platinum Circle. The work of Bentel & Bentel is frequently published in professional journals including Metropolis, Contract Magazine, Interior Design, and Hospitality Design. Their projects have garnered numerous international, national and regional awards for design excellence from the American Society of Interior Designers, International Interior Design Association, the American Institute of Architects, the James Beard Foundation and Hospitality Design.