A Weekend in Aspen: Contract’s Annual Design Forum

This past weekend, Contract magazine’s Design Forum was held at Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado, with the largest number of attendees and sponsors that we have ever had at this annual event. Invited guests included industry leaders, sponsors, and members of Contract’s expanded Editorial Advisory Board, with 23 new members from across the country who specialize in workplace, healthcare, hospitality, retail, and education interiors, as well as real estate.

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Attendees converse in the lobby of Hotel Jerome.

Hotel Jerome, which was built by a department store magnate in 1889, was recently restored and reimagined by Las Vegas–based interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan, founder of TAL Studio, with local firm Rowland+Broughton serving as architect of record. In attendance at Forum were Lenahan, a new member of Contract’s Editorial Advisory Board, and special guest Sarah Broughton, principal of Rowland+Broughton.


Aspen Art Museum.

Forum kicked off with a reception at the recently opened Aspen Art Museum, designed by Shigeru Ban, Contract’s 2001 Designer of the Year, with Colorado–based Cottle Carr Yaw Architects serving as Executive Architect. The mild weather allowed attendees to enjoy views from the roof terrace.


Aspen Art Museum roof terrace.


Contract Publisher John Rouse, Cheryl Durst, Contract Editor in Chief John Czarnecki, Annie Chu, and Joey Shimoda.

The keynote speaker for Forum was Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, an incubator for tech startups located in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Through the lens of his many years of experience in initiating more than a dozen high-tech companies, Tullman described the confluence of technology, culture, and innovation in design that is transforming our world today.


Keynote speaker Howard Tullman.

The next speaker, Max Chopovsky, founder of Chicago Creative Space, continued the theme of cultural and technological influence, and shared how his company creates videos of workspaces that capture companies’ culture. Comedic respite was provided by actress and comedian Maysoon Zayid, who has cerebral palsy. As she says on her website, “It’s okay to laugh at cerebral palsy. I’ve got 99 problems and palsy is just one. I’m Palestinian, I’m disabled, I’m female, and I live in New Jersey. People with disabilities are the largest minority in the world and we are the most under-represented in entertainment. If we had more positive images, it might foster less hate. If I can can, you can can.”


Comedian Maysoon Zayid.

The final speaker was Alan Ricks, co-founder of MASS Design Group, Contract’s 2012 Designer of the Year. His presentation highlighted the firm’s paradigm-changing work in healthcare and education design in Rwanda, Haiti, other countries, as well as here in the U.S. Having previously traveled many times to Liberia, where he and colleagues completed guidelines for the Liberian government for healthcare infrastructure, he described how Ebola exposes fragility in healthcare infrastructure and delivery systems.


Attendees strategize during a breakout session.


Pamela Light, Primo Orpilla, and Lois Goodell.


Christopher Stulpin and Michael Bonomo.


Contract Managing Editor Murrye Bernard, Sean Black, Irwin Miller, and Jon Strassner.


Dina Griffin, Cheryl Durst, and Contract Associate Editor Mallory Szczepanski.


Bill Bouchey.


Sangeetha Ramkumar.


Thanks to all who made Contract Design Forum 2014 a success!

The Contract Design Forum was made possible by sponsors BOLYU, Cumberland, Davis, HBF, Humanscale, Keilhauer, Mohawk Group, OFS Brands, Shaw Contract Group, Steelcase, Tandus Centiva, Tarkett, Teknion, Universal Fibers, and Wilsonart.

Special thanks to the talented Irwin Miller, who took all photos of the event included here as well as many more, which can be viewed in our online gallery.

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