10 Reasons to Put ASID's 'GATHER' in Your Sights for Next Year (in LA!)

To introduce myself:

I have been in ASID for over 30 years. At times I've been on the board, but mostly just a regular member. I love being a part of a Professional organization.

I love being professional and I didn't always know how to be that. When I first came, there were so many more experienced people who took me under their wing and championed me. That was such a gift!

My first significant recollection as an ASID designer was going to San Antonio, Texas for the national convention. I took the city tours because I love to travel, experience different environments, soak up visuals & meet like-minded people. We come from all walks of life and our outlooks are all unique, yet there is a fundamental acceptance and camaraderie underneath. Many of us are still connected today and they are still energetic supporters of mine.

At that convention, BJ Peterson was the National President and she spoke openly about her life. I loved her open honest communication. As a newbie sitting in the audience, knowing all my own flaws and not having much of a portfolio I was moved beyond measure how everyone was welcome at the table. I decided right then and there to put one foot in front of the next and learn all I could about being a great design professional. It was my avenue to learn so much more than just making pretty spaces!

Fast forward to 2022... 

The 10 Reasons I Enjoyed GATHER in Miami:

1 – Camaraderie Within the Industry.

Camaraderie is defined as “mutual trust and friendship among people who have something in common”. There was immediate acceptance and a basis for conversation from the opening night party when I spoke with designers of every age (20’s through 70’s), multicultural backgrounds (Ukraine - South Africa), and every level of being in business. Including startups, transitioning from another field—one woman I met had not even transitioned yet from a finance career, however she knew the value of mentorship—and many who were in the industry over 30 + years.

2 – CEU Education

WOW! I have enough CEU’s for a few years, but better than that I got to dive into new and deeper thoughts on many subjects.

To name a few:

*Trauma Informed Design

*Empathy in Design

*Design’s Role in Climate Change

*Clearing the Air

*Future Role of Design in Living and Working

There were 22 CEU’s offered, 25 Pop-ups and 6 workshops.

3 – Learn about Yourself

What’s next for you? Where do you want to focus and improve, and how can we as an industry and you as a practitioner give back? An example of designers giving back in a significant way is Pen and Napkin. A Non-Profit that furnishes and decorates homes for families and individuals transitioning out of homelessness.

“Pen + Napkin is one of the most unique charities out there helping great people transition back into a happy life who come out of extraordinary situations. I love the people involved, the mission, and how founder Catie Bouchard found a way to use her God-given gifts and talents to bless people in such a special way."

4 – Learning from Other Designers

Besides all the structured educational sessions, you can learn things that make you money, enliven your life, or just make you laugh. For example, a bonus for me was meeting a wonderful designer from Ohio who had an amazing resource for SEO at a reasonable price. Quite valuable for me because they are familiar with and proven in our industry. For running a small business, this is an easy win for me.

5 – Exploring a New City

Or in my case, explore a city I already love, but had not experienced from this view. Taking the tours given by ASID. Like Artechouse, which is an original production, Renewal 2121 utilizes the power of creative technology to transport us into an imagined future 100 years from now where nature’s resilience takes center stage amongst an overdeveloped metropolis, empowering visitors to interact to help the blooms of future continue to renew. Then traverse through a cyberpunk cityscape, an interactive market, bustling alleyways, busy datacenter and a daiko drum experience to find nature blooming in the most unexpected places amidst this industrial future.


Speaking to other designers about what they love in Miami, and crowd sourcing the best of the city cannot be beat. I learned we were walking distance to Zaha Hadid’s building, so we added that to the itinerary.

One Thousand Museum is a high-rise residential condominium in Miami, Florida, United States. The building, which is located at 1000 Biscayne Boulevard, across from Museum Park, was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid.

6 – Meet Industry Members

We had a “Showroom Crawl” –

Holly Hunt: Even though I frequent the Holly Hunt in NYC, the Miami showroom was completely different and spectacular! Original art for sale along with a plethora of pieces that were designed to create the Miami feel. Worth every minute!

The Shade Store: I was not going to go in because I buy a lot directly, however I was delighted I did. Not only was the food worth the trip, but the sales professional I spoke with happens to be the one who takes care of the Caribbean and the Islands. I learned they have an installer / measurer on the islands so we (our clients) don't have to go to the expense of sending our local installers. I have worked in Aruba and it was quite an ordeal to make the window treatments happen there. They will handle the entire procurement and installation for you and they regularly go there, so if one little thing is not right or missing they will be able to handle it easily.

This contact will benefit me exponentially!

Natuzzi: Perhaps my favorite experience because I met PJ Natuzzi, the son of the founder, without having to go to Salone de Mobile, Milan. It was inspiring to discuss design and the future with the next generation. I knew his father from many, many years ago as he sold sofas, one at a time, to my family's small scale furniture stores…how far the brand has come. Nice going down memory lane and into the future!!

7 – New Friends and Influencers

Where would I have met a commercial designer living and working in North Carolina from the Ukraine? Natalie Khmara and I did the Showroom Crawl together! We laughed and learned. I had a nice afternoon drink with Dominique Silva, the Trane Rep, who they flew in from Brussels. She was knowledgeable and excited about her part in creating healthy and efficient spaces. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn from the inside. Because of this connection, I was able to connect Trane and an all-electric condo complex near me so they can combine efforts to help the community and the world be one step closer to net zero GHG emissions. There were many others along the way, including our CT board who are warm and welcoming!

8 – Sharing the Cutting-Edge News & Innovations in the Industry with You

So you can share them and create the trends for yourself, your clients & your audience at large. The information learned at professional conferences is obtained before it goes on other platforms. It makes you the leader and a unique content creator.

9 – Experiencing an ASID farewell party

Party on Miami Beach at Nikki Beach Club! It was complete with watching the sunset with bare feet in the sand, fire dancers, capoeira fighters (a Brazilian martial art form), while continuing to meet influencers and other designers that had info I needed.

10 – Being a Part of a Profession That Feeds Your Soul & Others’ Souls!

In a world where so many think they can click their heels together three times and become a designer, a professional organization helps you remember who we are and what we bring to the table!

I encourage you to go or at least attend online.

With love and light…happy designing!

Joanne Riley, ASID