Sustainability and the Next Generation of Designers

Sustainability and the Next Generation of Designers

by Adriana Morton

Chicago, June 12, 2023 –Earlier this year at NeoCon 2023, OFS hosted a lively roundtable discussion focused on sustainability, moderated by sustainability leader George Bandy Jr. The panel featured Stacey Crumbaker, an architect and designer based in Seattle, and Paul Shahriari, founder of green building data platform EcoMede. Their conversation offered wisdom and advice for the next generation of interior designers and architects aiming to make sustainability a priority in their work.

Do you want to make a living or do you want to create a legacy? That's a question you have to ask yourself because creating a legacy requires you to dive into things that are a little less rewarding, spending extra time. teaching extra classes, doing extra research.
- George Bandy

Key insights from the roundtable:

A few key insights stood out that are relevant for both established and emerging professionals in the A&D space:

1. Sustainability requires asking "why" - Stacey Crumbaker emphasized the importance of continually questioning design choices through the lens of sustainability e.g. why specify this material or finish? Building knowledge to make conscious, ethical decisions is crucial.

2. Storytelling and persuasion matter - Stacey also highlighted that designers must convince stakeholders why sustainability matters, using data and storytelling to drive change. Paul Shahriari added that sustainability data is useless unless communicators make meaning and impact clear.  

3. Reframe "no" as "not yet" - Both panelists pushed back against viewing unsuccessful sustainability pitches as failures, instead seeing them as indications that the story and evidence provided wasn't strong enough, yet. Reframe and try again.

4. Build an ethical brand and legacy - George Bandy challenged the audience to focus not just on making a living, but leaving a sustainability legacy. He and Paul emphasized leading by example and choosing who to work for carefully.

5. Material choices matter - All three panelists touched on the exponential impact designers have over long careers in shifting markets towards ethical manufacturers and circular material flows through their specifications.

This discussion offered insight and inspiration to help young design professionals build purpose-driven careers where sustainability is integral, not an afterthought. 

Listen to the full conversation here:

Check out the full length roundtable available now on the Image a Place podcast!


About OFS:
OFS is a family-owned contract furniture manufacturer dedicated to crafting experiences and products that contribute to places where people want to be. Founded in 1937, OFS provides furniture and logistics solutions for office, healthcare, education, lifestyle, government, and home office markets worldwide, offering seating products, tables, casegoods, and open-plan products. OFS is based in Huntingburg, Indiana.

About Carolina:
For over 75 years, Carolina has designed and manufactured quality furniture for customers around the globe. Founded in 1947, Carolina has constantly evolved their products and expanded their knowledge to meet the needs of tomorrow’s challenges, as well as today’s. Carolina is based in High Point, NC and was acquired by OFS Brands in 2007. Due to the unique connection to OFS, Carolina can also draw from their full offering of products designed for administrative working spaces.

About Imagine a Place Productions
Imagine a Place Productions gathers industry-leading voices that can inspire the design community through storytelling and broaden our creative horizons. The goal of Imagine a Place Productions is to further elevate the belief that the places we make and the ways we design them matter in our lives.

OFS Press Contact: Adriana Morton -