Recap: Industry Professionals Explore How to Design with Wood



Sourcers, millworkers, and contractors discuss how designers can better integrate wood into projects

On Wednesday, September 21st, the Steelcase WorkLife Center at Columbus Circle was filled with designers intent on learning how to implement wood in their designs. Hosted by the International Interior Design Association’s (IIDA) New York Chapter, the Industry Member Event ‘Wood it Work?’ featured panelists with a wide range of backgrounds, from sourcers to millworkers to specialty applicators who explored wood types, trends, and sustainable practices.

The evening’s format was an intimate q&a session with the audience broken into smaller groups, which allowed them to engage with the sourcers and millworkers before culminating into a larger panel and mini-tradeshow. “The general harvest cycle for hardwoods is somewhere between 50 to 80 years and once you’ve hit that 80-year lifespan, the tree is actually going to die anyway, so let’s take advantage of some of those beautiful trees and incorporate them in our spaces,” said Richard Shelley of Fetzer Architectural Wood. “Also, let’s create the opportunity for new trees to grow in and absorb that carbon. Newer younger trees are actually absorbing more carbon than the older more stagnant trees.”

Miscommunication was another hot topic, with issues spanning designers using old samples for specing to frustration with contractor choices. The consensus between designers and panelists was that early communication and engagement in the process was critical for better design.

Sponsored by Steelcase, Lutron Electronics, Maars Living Walls, and Teknion, the event was moderated by Louis Ottrando of Structure Tone and included speakers from Designtex, William Somerville Inc., UHURU, TerraMai, Rulon, Fetzer Architectural Woodworking, and Corporate Woodworking. “We want the architects to see our vision through and by engaging us early we can give you the information to empower you to be proactive and not react to what already happened and it’s too late.”


The IIDA New York Chapter is a professional networking and educational association of more than 800 Members in ten specialty Forums. IIDA NY provides members with the resources to reach expertise, knowledge and contacts. Networking events allow professionals and industry members to connect on more personal terms that encourage trust, collaboration, and innovation.

For more information on IIDA NY, contact:
Alan Goodin
IIDA NY Executive Director
T: 212.297.2122