Two weeks ago, the HD team along with nearly 200 attendees headed to Washington, DC for our annual HD NextGen Forum event. The day and half conference is meant to inspire and inform the next generation of hospitality design leaders. Along with various networking opportunities (including a great dinner at José Andrés’ Zaytinya restaurant), we honored and heard from our 2017 Wave of the Future honorees (those we deem young enough to be considered visionary, but tested enough to be considered accomplished); ideated a few trending topics in the design world (health and wellness, reinventing the communal lobby) over wine; and listened to a handful of of thoughtful speakers who shared their powerful messages of how sometime the simplest, albeit innovative ideas can have the biggest impact. Here are three inspiring takeaways from our next-level NextGen speakers:
The Impact of a Promise
With only $25 to open a bank account and his word to his family, Adam Braun created Pencils of Promise, a for-purpose organization that builds schools and provides education (and literally pencils) to impoverished children. It is also one of the first organizations to use and thrive through crowdfunding.
Motivational to say the least, Braun spoke on the importance of finding that place in your life where “profit meets purpose,” he says, which is where he believes success and a fulfilling life exists. “True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends,” he adds. He also emphasized the necessity to nurture and believe in an idea, noting that big dreams don’t start in large, extravagant forums, they typically start in a small room late at night. He encouraged the audience to envision what they want because, “You become your expectations.” With the success of Pencils of Promise, he has embarked on another venture, MissionU, a new concept in education intended to provide individuals with useful and viable skills in the workforce as an alternative to costly university degrees and ultimately, student debt.
Shared Vantage Points
Shared Studios is about a new wave of technology, art, and design, and the experiences it creates. The company is looking to start a revolution in the way we communicate with one another and form global communities by portals—structures of freestanding bidirectional video walls—that allow anyone to meet, speak, and even, gain a different perspective on life, from many miles away.
NextGen guests got a firsthand look at its capabilities and were offered a unique opportunity, when Michelle Moghtader, cofounder and director of global development, opened a portal to speak with five men in an Iraq refugee camp. The result was a touching exchange on everyday life, design, particularly what design aesthetic we would use to build hotels in Iraq, and music (one even freestyled about his hardships in the camp), a language that continually transcends borders and barriers.
From growing Styrofoam in a lab to growing plants in urban farming pods, Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE, a nonprofit architecture think-tank company, offered countless possibilities for building advancement in the future. He touched on balancing human life with mother nature through smart, sustainable city design and provided a vivid image of a living, breathing New York City covered in lush vegetation and electric-fueled transportation. Two of the company’s more unusual projects explored were the Mycelium Blocks—intelligent bricks created from fungi and recycled aluminum, as well as cricket farms, a new source of protein as a response to overpopulation.