By: Jen Levisen, Communications Director, Mortarr

When two industry powerhouses (yep, we’re talking about you IIDA and AIA Chicago) join forces, in a first-ever collaboration, to address the impact commercial interior architecture and design has on the built environment — you know Mortarr is going to have a front row seat.


"Designers and Architects Talk: A Series About Design and its Impact on Client Success," presented by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) headquarters and American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chicago chapter, is a three-session panel discussion series covering projects, firm leadership, and design strategy. IIDA hosts the series, which began March 17, in the Idea Studio in its Gensler-designed Chicago headquarters.


“Our two industries collaborate often on job sites and in the design studio,” says Zurich Esposito, Hon. AIA, Executive Vice President of AIA Chicago. “This partnership allows our members the opportunity to exchange ideas and share expertise — and express our shared commitment to great design.”

Attended by more than 100 people, March’s panel featured Studio O+A’s Primo Orpilla; IA Interior Architect's Tish Kruse and Neil Schneider; Gensler’s Grant Uhlir; and McDonald’s Scott Phillips, who discussed their work on the new McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop, and how moving to the city has driven the company’s culture forward.


“When planning the series, we considered topics that would be relevant, timely and attractive to both designers and architects,” says John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA, Deputy Director and Senior Vice President of IIDA. “And the three talks intentionally have a range, including one about a major project — McDonald’s new HQ — one on new practices, and one on women leading hospitality design.”

The April 17 event, “New, Bold and Entrepreneurial: Design Firm’s Changing the Face of Chicago,” will feature Jason Hall, principal at Charlie Green Studio; Ami Kahalekulu, partner at Twofold Studio; Sarah Kuchar, IIDA, Creative director at Sarah Kuchar Studio; and Deon Lucas, AIA, NOMA, director at Beehyyve, E.G. Wood. It will be moderated by Peter Exley, FAIA.


The May 22, moderated by Cheryl Durst, Hon. FIIDA, will be focused on women leading hospitality design in Chicago. The panel will feature Karen Herold, principal at Studio K; Jackie Koo, AIA, IIDA, principal at KOO; Laurie Miller, AIA, principal at Anderson/Miller; Meg Prendergast, principal at The Gettys Group; and Patricia Rotondo, Assoc. AIA, IIDA, senior principal at Antunovich Associates.


“Architects and designers increasingly collaborate in innovative ways, and this series will highlight Chicago’s design leaders across generations,” says Czarnecki. “The perceived barriers between interior design and architecture practice have been lessened in recent years as a new generation of practitioners lead the design professions.”

Mortarr is proud to join Corporate Concepts, Mohawk Group, Patcraft, Shaw Contract, Steelcase, Tarkett, and Wilkhahn as a sponsor of the series.


“IIDA and AIA Chicago saw a need to continuing breaking down the barriers between architecture and design. That’s what Mortarr is all about.” says Abby Murray, Mortarr’s Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer. “These conversations are shaping a more collaborative and more inspiring future and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Event photos courtesy IIDA.

Click here to register for the April 17 and May 22 Designers and Architects Talk events to be held at IIDA headquarters, 111 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago.

  • Mortarr - Black Circle
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle