Member | Voices

DFC members share thoughts, quotes, and questions, in shorter-than-essay-or-interview format -- to open the dialogue broadly. To launch this effort -- and capture what Senior Fellowship means to this year’s group of inductees -- we asked a few of them to share their thoughts on DFC Senior Fellowship. Here’s what they said:

What does it mean to me to be a Design Futures Council senior fellow? First of all, pride. It is an honor to be recognized by an organization so prestigious, so impactful. I'm in good company. Just look at the names of other senior fellows. They are some of the most important design thinkers in the world. I'm humbled on the one hand, and full of new energy to continue my work and contribute to a better tomorrow. It is also a responsibility. When you become a senior fellow, you renew your commitment to the profession, to the environment, to design. You commit never to give up, never stop working on what is best for our fellow humans, our students and future leaders, for our peers, and for the planet. For me, specifically as a new American, an immigrant, a Latino, a member of a group often underrepresented in the profession, a group often not included at the table, I feel responsible for keeping the door open, and encouraging others to participate and work towards the same goals. They should know if I can be a senior fellow, they can also. Another aspect of that responsibility is making sure as we think of a better tomorrow, we think about it for everybody. Everybody, regardless of their socioeconomic background, language, the God they pray to, or who they love. As a Design Futures Council senior fellow, I am responsible for reminding designers and leaders about social, environmental, and social justice as a critical agenda for future designers.
Luis Rico-Gutierrez, Dean, College of Design,
Iowa State University
When I was named senior fellow of the Design Futures Council, I was really surprised. It's a blind process so you don't know it's coming until it actually happens. Such an incredible group of people have become senior fellows of the Design Futures Council through the years that it really is a great honor to be considered. The camaraderie and lack of competition that exist within the Design Futures Council and the desire for everybody to help raise everyone else up -- and raise the profession as a result -- is one of the most positive things that exists within the group. There's tremendous value in having so many resources in one location that can bring a wide variety of different ideas together. It never gets old. I still really enjoy participating, and I've seen a lot of people come and go through the years. I'm probably not that far behind in terms of my own retirement -- but it's something I still find tremendous value in. I love contributing to it, and I get just as much out of it.
Lauren Della Bella, President, SHP

When one receives an honor or recognition of any kind, it is accepted with pride and gratitude. But when I was awarded senior fellowship by the Design Futures Council, I received it with not only pride, gratitude, and surprise, but with... All in humility. All because the Design Futures Council is comprised of the most respected design firms practicing today. And there's an invaluable connector between them. Sharing an invaluable source of knowledge about the future of the profession and the world in which we practice. Humility, because one cannot feel anything but humility when included among the list of senior fellows, true giants in the industry. Throughout the years of our involvement with Design Futures Council, my firm has greatly benefited from DFC's ability to look clearly and deeply into the future and bring that perspective to our firm, to help us transform our present. But it's not only about the immense knowledge and perspective that the DFC offers, but the incredible opportunities to be in the presence of like-minded leaders in the industry and forge friendships that run deeper and longer than any single event. I am deeply honored to be a senior fellow in the Design Futures Council.
Thom Penney, CEO Emeritus, LS3P

To be recognized as a senior fellow of the Design Futures Council is clearly an honor and a prestige. It creates a catalytic honor for me. It encourages me to do bigger, brighter, and bolder things professionally in this domain. When I step back and look at what my association with the DFC has been, what that association means, and what it has meant in terms of the culmination of being recognized as a fellow, clearly it's not an end point, it continues. It's four specific pathways or domains. The first is the recognition I spoke about. The second is the access to other top leaders globally. The third aspect is the support that comes from being part of the DFC network, the access to a variety of expected and unexpected sources of information, health assistance, opportunity, and just great ideas. And the fourth aspect is the encouragement to do more and to do better because we are motivated, and I'm motivated to do as well as I can by seeing others who are always on their A-plus game.
Vini Nathan, Dean and McWhorter Chair, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Auburn University
When I think about what it means to be a fellow of the Design Futures Council, it begins with the honor and the responsibility to uphold the remarkable legacy of the Design Futures Council, its values, principles, and mission. It's a collegial forum. A forum that in many ways is about fellowship. Fundamentally, it’s a forum that recognizes that our challenge to be relevant to the needs of society and the world exceeds any competitive positioning we might have as peers within the same profession. That if we get that relevance question right, there's tremendous opportunity for all of us. Being part of the Design Futures Council is to gain insight. As a fellow, there's an extra responsibility to engage, participate and be a role model. Together, as we derive insight, we can set strategy, clarify goals, and better map to the destinations we all aspire to. The Design Futures Council is principled and ethical. It's value centered. In that way, being a fellow of the Design Futures Council is to reflect those values. It's a legacy of both professional idealism and realism. It's a legacy of integrity, and being a fellow means being available to professional colleagues of all generations.
Steve McConnell, Managing Partner, NBBJ
I've been active in the Design Futures Council since 1994 and became a senior fellow in 1999. It was an unexpected honor. The DFC senior fellows are an amazing group of thinkers and doers who have had a lasting impact on the profession. As an added plus, they're all genuinely nice people, always accessible and willing to engage. It's a network I use often when I want to think about problems in a different way, discuss new ideas, or just catch up on what's going on in their world. As a result, many DFC senior fellows have become close friends. It's a wonderful resource to be able to call on my own personal think tank of really smart people.
Scott Simpson