This month, The Mohawk Group, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and Interior Design magazine will launch a new project aimed at helping displaced designers and architects weather the economic storm and get back on their feet.
"Re:work" is a nationwide series of free, day-long seminars and workshops that provide professional training and valuable insight for out-of-work members of the design community. Attendees will have the opportunity to speak with financial advisers, career coaches, and architecture and design experts while receiving IIDA accreditation (0.4 CEU).
The program is the brainchild of The Mohawk Group, a commercial carpeting manufacturer that includes four brands: Bigelow, Durkan, Karastan, and Lees. According to Greg Wittlinger, senior vice president of marketing for The Mohawk Group, the idea evolved following conversations with co-workers, peers, and customers who were among those in the design industry affected by the hike in unemployment last year.
"After talking to people [who had been] laid off and seeing the look in their eyes, their despair, this hopeless kind of feeling, we went back and looked at the marketing dollars," Wittlinger says.
In January, he and a team of 11 others decided to reallocate their funds toward planning "Re:work," a cause he says is "far more worthwhile" than advertising and corporate events. The IIDA and Interior Design magazine embraced the idea, and the three combined resources to plan the multifaceted program.
During the 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. sessions, attendees will hear from career coaches, human resource professionals, and prominent architects and designers with unique insight on the industry, while also working with experts in financial planning, resumé-writing, and interview skills provided by ComPsych Corp., a provider of global employee assistance programs.
Following the presentations, speakers from the IIDA will discuss the obstacles facing the design industry, as well as possible solutions and opportunities. Advance registration is required for the events, starting in Atlanta on April 14 and followed by New York City on April 28, Los Angeles on May 12, Las Vegas on May 15, Dallas on May 27, and Chicago on June 25. Additional locations and dates may be announced, and the program will eventually be moved online in a webinar-style format.