It’s a designer’s job to inspire, and, with the current economy, increasing influence of the tech-savvy Gen Y and myriad other factors, the way designers inspire is shifting. Collaboration is becoming a more critical part of the design landscape, and this is a key factor behind the creation of the Indiana Design Center.
The only establishment of its kind in Indiana and surrounding states, the Indiana Design Center (IDC) encourages collaborative interaction designed to appeal to the new Gen Y consumer. The 85,000 square-foot complex, a part of Carmel’s larger Arts & Design District, brings consumers and professionals together to form creative partnerships in one location, according to Sarah Reep, CKD, ASID, CMG, and long-time KBDN columnist, who was actively involved in the project.
“Armed with technology that offers immediate information, the next generation of consumers is more interactive than ever. Gen Y tends to desire urban flavor and downtown amenities in nearby suburbia. The IDC, located only 12 miles from downtown Indianapolis, offers a perfect fit for this generation,” Reep notes.
Reinventing Through Design
Fifteen years ago, Carmel was a fast-growing, family-friendly community of about 30,000 residents – less than half of last year’s population of almost 80,000. Local officials recognized that the city was on the verge of a population explosion and its downtown area was too small to handle the wave of new residents’ needs.
So the city reinvented the trendy area to create a unique park-like, multi-use arts district to attract those looking for a safe, engaging destination to relax and interact with the design and business communities.
“The Indiana Design Center offers residents of Central Indiana and visitors access to high-quality interior design resources in showroom settings within a single building,” said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. “It is exciting to have the Indiana Design Center in the heart of Carmel, which is quickly becoming one of the Midwest’s premier settings for the arts and design industry.”
Discover, Learn, Connect
Established on the theory of “Discover, Learn, Connect,” the IDC offers retailers, design professionals and consumers a plethora of product and showroom opportunities.
The first level of the two-story building features fine, traditional and contemporary residential and contract furnishings, fabrics, floor coverings, kitchen and bath products, lighting options, architectural products, wall coverings and related accessories. Currently J. Baker Interiors – a design firm and furniture and accessories retailer – Drapery Street, Ferguson and Holder Mattress Home Collection occupy showrooms on the first floor.
The IDC offers visitors and vendors a number of resources and programs, as well including:
- Portfolio Library (also available on the IDC website), which makes it easy for visitors to identify professional designers and review their work. The IDC helps match professional designers with new clients.
- The Design Resource Library, which encompasses 4,500 square feet and showcases a collection of design resources, such as product binders and reference materials, providing designers with a single location for research and specification. The library and building also include event space for educational workshops, networking and client prospecting events.
- Design Reading Room, which offers a collection of design periodicals from around the world, with more than 30 national and international design trade publications.
- Designer and Vendor Membership Programs, which allow these professional groups to connect through myriad business development, networking, educational and promotional opportunities. Design Professional Members enjoy access to all the benefits of the Indiana Design Center plus the use of a full-service, staffed resource library for research and specifications.
- Designer On Call Program, which is a complimentary service available to IDC guests that helps link a consumer planning a home project with a designer.
“We have a designer on staff on the morning shift and one on the afternoon shift,” says Andrea Kleymeyer, marketing director for the IDC. “Suppose somebody comes in and they have a kitchen remodel and they don’t know where to begin. That designer will provide a tour of the building, an overview and a free one-hour consultation. This also gives them access to the second floor showroom if they need something done. It’s a way to facilitate professional design projects for the consumer market and let consumers understand the advantages of working with professional designers.”
The IDC incorporates social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to expand awareness. The facility’s blog is updated twice a week, providing subscribers and visitors with the latest happenings. The IDC’s website has a robust calendar of events that includes educational workshops and continuing education classes designed specifically for the professional design community across the state of Indiana.
Looking to form association-related relationships and obtain additional buy-in from design, trade and business professionals, the IDC formed strong partnerships with six major trade associations, each of which serves on the IDC’s advisory board.
- American Institute of Architects
- American Society of Interior Designers
- Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis
- International Interior Design Association
- National Association of Remodeling Industry
- National Kitchen & Bath Association
“These associations help to make sure that our programming is going to work for their whole membership base,” says Kleymeyer. “In all, they represent 2,400 professional members.”
The IDC has also cultivated strong relationships with nearby universities. Indiana University, in Bloomington, IN, and Purdue University, in West Lafayette, IN, serve on the advisory board as well.
All of these partnerships are expected to play a key role in the IDC’s continued success.