ISFD Announces New Executive Director as Longtime Leader, John Conrad, Retires
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David Blair (left) and John Conrad (right).
Having served the International Society of Furniture Designers (ISFD) for more than 13 years, first as a board member, vice president, president and finally as its executive director, John Conrad is retiring from the non-profit at the end of 2022. The ISFD board of directors unanimously chose David Blair to serve as the new executive director.
“It has been an unforgettable honor and privilege to have been a member of and served ISFD as their Executive Director these past years,” stated Conrad. “I have really enjoyed working with so many wonderful people while watching ISFD grow and become more prominent in the home furnishings industry.” During his tenure leading the organization, Conrad initiated new programs for ISFD including the INNOVATION+ DESIGN juried competition and exhibition along with the People’s Choice Photography Competition in 2020.
In 2018 Conrad was instrumental in re-branding the American Society of Furniture Designers to the current International Society of Furniture Designers answering the growing need for an international organization devoted to advancing, improving, and supporting the practice of furniture design in the worldwide marketplace. He then established the International Society of Furniture Designers Foundation establishing ISFD’s role in building design education outreach. Conrad also digitized and donated the irreplaceable physical ISFD archives to the Bienenstock Furniture Library.
At the recent Pinnacle Awards, the ISFD board of directors announced they renamed the Student Pinnacle Award, which Conrad introduced in 2014, to the John Conrad Student Pinnacle Award as an acknowledgment for the groundwork Conrad laid helping design students and product design professionals in the furniture field. Conrad also added the Green Leaf Award (2016), Maker/Designer Award (2018), and the Home Textiles Print and Woven Awards (2021/2022) categories to encourage more involvement and recognition in the prestigious Pinnacle Awards.
To further promote and recognize the work of professional product designers, Conrad launched the award-winning Design Between the Lines podcast (2016) talking with real game-changers, industry innovators, and the lifetime legends of the home furnishings Industry. It is here that the people who crafted the furniture industry share their views and insight about the industry past and future.
ISFD Next Leadership Phase
Blair, with more than 30 years of marketing and advertising experience working with furniture companies, furniture industry associations, and designers, will take the helm as executive director of ISFD reporting to the board of directors and managing all functions and activities of the organization. His first order of business will be to oversee the next INNOVATION + DESIGN event that is moving to spring 2023.
“I am excited to continue building on the strong foundation that John has put in place over the past decade,” Blair stated. “Through my work, particularly with the High Point Market Authority, I gained a deeper appreciation and respect for this industry and its positive impact on people’s lives. I especially enjoy working with people who have devoted their professional lives to making our homes more beautiful and better suited to the way we live.”
To that Conrad added, “David’s experience in the marketing and advertising fields along with his in-depth knowledge of the furniture industry fits with the board’s goals to bring greater awareness to ISFD both in and outside of our industry.” Blair said that he is looking forward to continuing to grow the participation in the key ISFD events and plans to increase the ISFD membership by making more people aware of the organization and its valuable benefits.
“Over the past 48 years this industry and the people in it have provided me with many unforgettable opportunities and I have been blessed to have been able to help others with opportunities to build their careers along the way,” Conrad concluded. “In my retirement life I look forward to traveling, spending more time with my family and continuing to spend time consulting, podcasting, and doing the voice over and video production work that I so enjoy.”
The International Society of Furniture Designers (ISFD) is an association advocating for outstanding design and the furniture designers whose creativity drives the industry’s engine. They seek to elevate the role of design and designer through the organization’s podcast Design Between the Lines, networking, mentorship, and professional development opportunities, and continuously promote, advance, and support the profession of furniture design and its positive impact.
With professional and student members around the world and across the country, their diverse professional membership specializes in residential and contract furnishings and accessories. More information about ISFD and their awards programs, please visit their website, ISFD.org.