Publisher's letter: The importance of design innovation

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With this issue, we also are pleased to present photos of winning entries to our Professional Builder Design Awards. I encourage you to dig deep into this issue and see the great work submitted by your peers. At PB, design ideas are in our DNA.

December 31, 2011

Some of you undoubtedly are reading this in Orlando while attending the International Builders’ Show and visiting the latest incarnation of Professional Builder’s Show Village — a collection of three demonstration homes built on site. For the past 12 years, we’ve been designing and building these homes, for several reasons. First, it gives IBS attendees the opportunity to see the latest building products within the context of new homes. You can walk the show floor and see a lot of products, but the experience is certainly heightened when you see them in context with other building products. A second goal of Show Village has been to demonstrate new design ideas for the way Americans live now.

This year, we present a new take on two traditional forms: the Cape Cod and the Cottage. We also revisit the duplex, a form that reflects the new reality of today’s home building market. And there is good news for those unable to be in Orlando and visit Show Village: we have an interactive website, www.HousingZone.com/ShowVillage. We also provide an overview in the pages of this magazine, starting on page 59.

With this issue, we also are pleased to present photos of winning entries to our Professional Builder Design Awards. I encourage you to dig deep into this issue and see the great work submitted by your peers. At PB, design ideas are in our DNA. We’ve covered it for generations. That is because we recognize the power of design to lead and, yes, move markets. The history of home building is, in many ways, best told from the perspective of design innovations that encouraged people to move out of older homes and into new ones better suited to their living needs.

Six months ago at PCBC, I had the privilege of conversing with two notable design impresarios and a longtime industry consultant. It was a chance meeting of Aram Bassenian, of Bassenian Lagoni Architects; Art Danielian, of Danielian Associates; and John Martin, of Martin Associates. The topic of conversation was exactly the point I am making now. I am not going to say these guys are old, but I will say that they were able to trace first hand how each housing recovery, going back to the early 1970s, took hold with bold new design ideas. Martin suggested that a certain style of kitchen with a slider that opens onto a patio — ubiquitous today — was revolutionary when it first appeared and was responsible for pushing many otherwise-satisfied homeowners back into the market to buy something new. The allure of great rooms, with kitchens and living areas joined to let in light and create more family space, certainly has spurred many buyers into model homes and to the closing table over the years.

The examples of design leading to new business were numerous. Good design in electronics takes a boxy MP3 player and turns it into the iPod and a new way of buying music. Good design in home building can do the same thing. The housing market is improving, and my suggestion for those of you walking IBS and Show Village is to take notes and let the creative juices flow. The time is right for innovative new designs.

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