Spring fever was in full force for designers and industry partners attending the ASID Distinguished Speaker event held on Thursday, April 26 at the Hewing Hotel. Only 12 days earlier, the Twin Cities had a record snowfall of 13 inches, with the evidence still lingering in the faded holiday treetop planters on the stunning contemporary rooftop patio overlooking the city of Minneapolis.

There were two speakers featured for this event. The first presenter was Peg Kennedy. “Women & Power: Queen Bees, Wanna Bees, and Afraid to Bees.”  She delivered a compelling presentation about the “Queen Bee Syndrome” and the evolution of women in the workplace. Her background includes 30 years of experience in Organizational Development, Supervision and Coaching, Personal Power and Woman’s Leadership Development.

She discussed the differences between the roles of the three types of Bees and how all women can identify with each category at some point in their lives. The Queen Bee, who developed because of the need to compete with men in the workplace, is controlling and powerful, but also can be intimidating and arrogant. They are notorious for holding down other women to maintain their power position. The second type is the Wanna Bees, who act as a “go between from Queens and their victims to avoid being a victim themselves. They use gossip and rumors as ammunition against other women.” [1]   The third type is the Afraid-to-Bees, who are the victims and are typically targeted by the Queen Bees and Wanna-Bees. She talked about how, in spite of the efforts of the Women’s Movement, women still are willing to compete with other women, not be supportive, and undermine their success.  She emphasized that, due to the differences between male power (autocratic, competitive, strategic) and female power (democratic, empowering, mentoring), women have yet to gain true equality in promotions, top management positions and income.

Her presentation included information on the history of the women’s movement. Since it began at the turn of the 20th century, there have been four waves beginning with the Suffrage movement and gaining the right to vote. It transformed during the 1950s and 60s with the feminist movement lead by Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem and Virginia Wolf. This included platforms for equal pay, reproductive rights and Title IX. She said that the 4th wave, in which we are transferring out of, created “the subtle message that women’s rights are won so relax.” [2] It is a fact that women still earn less than men in 2018 and are not equally represented in upper management positions.

What does the 5th wave look like? The Baby Boomers were pioneers of the women’s movement and it is up to them to keep the momentum going. She suggested that every Baby Boomer woman needs to reach out to a millennial and mentor them. They can be role models in teaching women how to negotiate salaries, communicate effectively and become successful business leaders.

To quote Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, “Leadership is note bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.” [3]

She suggested the following books on leadership:

  • Real Power, Stages of Personal Power in Organizations, by Janet O. Hagberg
  • Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
  • The Confidence Code, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

The second presentation, which included a CEU, was delivered by Lisa Cini, an award winning designer and expert on the design of senior living environments. She wrote the book The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined and recently released a second book titled Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living, which is based on her experience with living in a multi-generation household.

With the skyrocketing cost of senior care living, it has never been more important to incorporate functional and aesthetically pleasing design in our homes. Monthly costs can run anywhere from $3500 to $12,000 and up to 90 percent of seniors would prefer to age in their own home. A recent survey of baby boomers cited that their greatest fear is not being able to take care of themselves over actually dying. With fear becomes disengagement which in turn leads to depression, social anxiety and isolation. This is a great challenge for designers and there are many tools available to help solve this dilemma.

Technological advances in lighting, ergonomics and way finding, which use to only be available in commercial design, are making it possible to for people to live longer, happier and more productive lives in the comfort of their own home.

One of the many things that happen as we age is change in our perception and perspective. When seniors are experiencing unfamiliar spaces, there is more of a chance of feeling disoriented and out of control. She talked about the LOVE method (Light, Optimize, Visual Cues and Ease) being an effective tool when designing for seniors, especially loved ones who are experiencing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The idea is through simple design solutions, such as providing adequate lighting, way finding and visual cues, they are able to navigate their spaces with ease.

Here are her top eight technology trends:

  1. Induction Looping — The latest in advanced hearing aid technology, including magnetic devices designed to reduce background noise and other distortions that reduce sound quality.
  2. Induction Cooking — Safer because there is no use of flame. Also provides more efficient cooking and a healthier alternative to traditional cooking methods.
  3. Crowdsourcing — Using virtual teamwork and support through our cellphones, such as Uber/Lyft, Task Rabbit and wearable technology, such as Fitbits, Garmins and other personal health devices.
  4. Smart Lighting — Remote devices that open doors and turns lights on and off. Dimmers and LED bulbs which is more cost effective and provides more ambient lighting.
  5. 3-D printing – The ability to show conceptual design and modeling in the medical field and beyond. For example, Invisalign for orthodontic work.
  6. Robots — Smart cars, robo vacuums/lawn mowers, companion pets and Alexa are some the latest trends in this fast moving technology
  7. Gamifications — The use of video games and principles to improve performance
  8. Sensors and Smart Homes — Central alarm systems, security lighting and cameras that are monitored from cell phones. Drone technology.

The tools available for aging in place design have improved exponentially over the last twenty years. The future is here and technology is moving at an increasing rate of speed, so it is important for designers to stay informed so we are able to help our clients to the best of our ability.

[1] Women & Power: Queen Bees, Wanna Bees and Afraid to Bees power point presentation 4/25/2018

[2] Women & Power: Queen Bees, Wanna Bees and Afraid to Bees power point presentation 4/25/2018

[3] Women & Power: Queen Bees, Wanna Bees and Afraid to Bees power point presentation 4/25/2018