London, United Kingdom
New York, New York
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi
Auckland, New Zealand
Woods Bagot Senior Interior Designer Laura Wall Snags the American Society of Interior Designers 2023 Ones to Watch Award. The honor is part of ASID’s effort to recognize and advance diversity in the interior design field.
Ones to Watch recipients span diverse identities, including women, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, LGBTQ, and persons with disability.
“We envision the future of design as a place where leaders represent diversity both in practice and in heritage. Members of our organization are bonded by a common love for design, and we believe our community is made better when we celebrate our differences,” says Khoi Vo, ASID’s chief executive officer.
The question behind this award is, how do you enact change in architecture?
For Laura Wall, Senior Interior Designer at Woods Bagot, the answer is leadership based on playfulness and creative collaboration. She emphasizes that the prerequisite to cultivating such an environment is the pursuit of safety and inclusion.
“One of my superpowers is inclusion: I look around and see who may feel marginalized, and I purposefully invite them in,” she says. “I want everyone to have a seat at my table. I want to build trust and security so that you can share your wildest ideas and make them real together.”
Inclusivity is a hot buzzword, but how do you create an inclusive space?
Woods Bagot has a clear principle that I wholeheartedly believe in, Laura notes, and that’s that none of us is smarter than all of us. So, in real time, leveling the playing field so that even your greenest designer feels welcomed means intentionally being considerate of different personalities and valuing their contributions.
“If we all felt safe enough to speak our dreams and truths, imagine the world we could build, the connections we could forge, the beauty we could craft,” she says. “If we all felt safe enough to live in the moment, marvel at the truly magnificent, and engage in fun. Imagine the world we could create.”
How can safety and inclusion lead to playfulness and resourceful collaboration?
“There’s no way to collaborate without including people,” Laura says, adding that “when we step outside the bounds of the practical and live in the realm of imagination, creativity, and enjoyment – that is to say within the world of play – is when we truly find fertile ground for innovation.”
Laura sustains that play happens when one can foster an environment of trust, respect, and safety.
“If you can’t let your guard down and come to the table with your wildest ideas, then you can’t ever create something entirely new,” she says. “It’s easier to start with your most bonkers ideas and work backward into something practical than vice versa.”
Laura offers that leaders who want to have fun and build connections that encourage playful design should prioritize relating to team members humanly.
“Get to know your team and relate to them on a human level,” she says. “Have one-on-ones and make time to find out more about them.”
“If I could have any impact on the design profession, I hope it is this: a better understanding of the power of living artfully, including others, and making room for play.”
Laura Wall is an award-winning senior interior designer with over nine years of experience in workplace interiors, design strategy, implementation, and delivery. She is a conceptual designer with a strong Bay Area presence and an extensive network. Laura boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of furniture and materials and a strong ethos of collaboration. She believes in the joy of design and its ability to permeate from the process to the physical environment. She’s an ardent member of the Peloton Fitness cult, a playfulness advocate, and the kind of person who crosses the street to pet a dog.
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