Leading a Difficult Conversation
THROUGHOUT TIME, THERE ARE MOMENTS when a person
or group is thrust into a difficult, and often uncomfortable, conversation. One of these conversations has been placed at the interior
design community’s doorstep and the industry has responded with
leadership and solutions. This summer, following a mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, The Washington Post
reported that there had been 127 mass shooting events in the
United States in the past 50 years (mass shooting defined as “in
which four or more people were killed by a lone shooter [or two
shooters]”). As painful as the conversation has been, designing for
an active shooter situation has become necessary.
During the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
Chapter Leadership Conference, there were multiple occasions
in which I opened my remarks by leading a moment of silence for
those who lost their lives due to a recent incident of gun violence.
I had the uneasy feeling of déjà vu each time I read an article about
the tragedy, tried to process it, then formulated words to help comfort the 300 attendees.
The ASID mantra is simple yet powerful: Design Impacts
Lives. With that at the forefront of our minds, practitioners and
manufacturers are designing ways to minimize the devastation of
a mass shooting.
Finding the balance between creating a safe and secure environment and not having occupants feel they are in a fortress can
be difficult. The pressure to build a non-restrictive environment
is amplified, considering that recent attacks occurred at locations
we consider safe havens—places where we learn, work, worship,
In the article “The Bulletproof Environment” (p. 32), ASID
ICON takes an in-depth look at how manufacturers are designing
office furniture that has the disguise of normal functionality and
intention but is “upholstered with fabric that can stop bullets.”
Providing employees with the comfort of a typical office with an
added level of protection can be invaluable.
The impact of design during disaster extends far beyond mass
shootings. In “Designing for Disaster” (p. 26), ASID ICON explores
the ways in which design is helping to mitigate the long-term
effects of natural catastrophes, as well as helping those affected to
recover more quickly. In “FORTIFIED Home™” (p. 44), we examine promising reinforcements that are making homes along the
Gulf Coast of the United States—those most at risk from the devastation of hurricanes—stronger and more resilient.
The need to build stronger and safer buildings and to fortify
the objects within these buildings is growing. Interior designers
are leading the way by designing spaces that make safety and well-being a priority.
Randy W. Fiser