Design Futures Council

Design Futures Council
Abbreviation DFC
Formation 1993
Type Think Tank
Purpose Exploring global trends, challenges, and opportunities to advance innovation and shape the future of the A/E/C industry
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Region served
Cofounder & Chairman
James P. Cramer
Jonas Salk
Affiliations Greenway Group, Greenway Communications

The Design Futures Council is an interdisciplinary network of design, product, and construction leaders exploring global trends, challenges, and opportunities to advance innovation and shape the future of the industry and environment. Members include architecture and design firms, building product manufacturers, service providers, and forward-thinking AEC firms of all sizes that take an active interest in their future.[1]


In 1993-94, at the Smithsonian Castle on the East Coast and at the Salk Institute on the West Coast, a network of regional and national design firms began sharing ideas, benchmarks, and proprietary financial analysis with each another. They brought successful practice strategies into dialogue with the world of client demands, budgets, innovation, technology, and communications. These architects, designers, and thought leaders were seeking to build better futures for their firms in their roles as partners, leaders, and futurists.

James P. Cramer, Hon. AIA, Hon. IIDA,[2][3][4] Chairman & CEO of Greenway Group, a Washington, D.C.-based management consulting firm, facilitated the sharing of ideas and experiences within this network. A newsletter with information about profitability, tax considerations, business measures, and capital expenditure decisions was circulated as a result.

In the beginning, the group had no name but talked about in industry circles, with references to “that design futures network.”

During this time, Greenway Consulting was working with other clients allied to the design professions who became enthusiastic about supporting the network. Those clients included Cecil Steward of the University of Nebraska, Doug Parker of Steelcase, Jonas Salk of the Salk Institute, Jerry Hobbs and Paul Curran of BPI/VNU Communications, and Arol Wolford of CMD. In addition, principal leaders from Gensler; Skidmore, Owings and Merrill; Hammel, Green and Abrahamson; Perkins and Will; CommArts; and two dozen other firms provided leadership vision and energy.

The network held meetings in La Jolla, Calif., Washington, D.C., and New York City, solidifying the concept of expanding the group and making the proprietary information available to a broader audience. Greenway Consulting proposed to BPI/VNU Communications that this information-sharing bulletin be published for a subscription fee and be named DesignIntelligence. The first issue was published on May 15, 1995.

Shortly thereafter, this leadership network officially became the Design Futures Council. They met in the offices of Greenway Consulting in Washington, D.C., and in meeting rooms at the Smithsonian Institution’s Castle. Invitations for programs and sharing of ideas came from the American Institute of Architects, the American Consulting Engineers Council, the Industrial Designers Society of America, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the World Future Society, the International Interior Design Association, the American Society of Interior Designers, the Design-Build Institute, the Design Management Institute, and many colleges and universities.

Notable Senior Fellows

Fellowship in the Design Futures Council is granted to outstanding individuals who have provided noteworthy leadership toward the advancement of design, design solutions, or the design professions. Senior fellows of the DFC are recognized for significant contributions toward the understanding of changing trends, new research, or applied knowledge leading to innovative design models that improve the built environment and the human condition.[5][6][7][8][9][10] They include:


External links

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