After serving the International Society of Furniture Designers (ISFD) for over 13 years, first as a Board Member, Vice President, President and finally as Executive Director, John Conrad is retiring of the association at the end of 2022. The ISFD Board of Directors has unanimously chosen David Blair as its new Executive Director.
“It has been an unforgettable honor and privilege to have been a member and to have served the ISFD as Executive Director for the past few years,” said Conrad. “I have truly enjoyed working with so many great people while watching ISFD grow and become more prominent in the furniture industry.” During his tenure at the helm of the organization, Conrad launched new programs for ISFD, including the INNOVATION + DESIGN contest and exhibit, as well as the People’s Choice Photography Contest in 2020.
In 2018, Conrad was instrumental in rebranding the American Society of Furniture Designers to the current International Society of Furniture Designers, meeting the growing need for an international organization dedicated to the advancement, improving and supporting the practice of furniture design in the global marketplace. He then established the International Society of Furniture Designers Foundation, establishing ISFD’s role in promoting design education. Conrad also digitized and donated ISFD’s irreplaceable physical archive to the Bienenstock Furniture Library.
At the recent Pinnacle Awards, the ISFD Board of Directors announced that it had renamed the Student Pinnacle Award, which Conrad introduced in 2014, to the John Conrad Student Pinnacle Award in recognition of the groundwork Conrad laid to help design students and product design professionals in the field of furniture. Conrad has also added the Green Leaf Award (2016), Maker/Designer Award (2018) and Home Textiles Print and Woven Awards (2021/2022) categories to encourage greater involvement and recognition in the prestigious Pinnacle Awards.
To further promote and recognize the work of professional product designers, Conrad launched the award-winning podcast Design Between the Lines (2016) talking to real game changers, industry innovators and lifelong industry legends furnishings. This is where the people who have shaped the furniture industry share their views and insights into the industry’s past and future.
Next Phase of ISFD Leadership
Blair, with over 30 years of marketing and advertising experience with furniture companies, furniture industry associations and designers, will take the helm as ISFD’s Executive Director, reporting of the Board of Directors and managing all functions and activities of the organization. His first task will be to oversee the next INNOVATION + DESIGN event which moves to spring 2023.
“I’m excited to continue to build on the strong foundation that John has put in place over the past decade,” Blair said. “Through my work, particularly with the High Point Market Authority, I have gained a deeper appreciation and respect for this industry and its positive impact on people’s lives. I particularly enjoy working with people who have dedicated their professional lives to making our homes more beautiful and better suited to our way of life.
To this, Conrad added, “David’s experience in marketing and advertising as well as his extensive knowledge of the furniture industry aligns with the Board’s objectives to raise awareness of ISFD at inside and outside our industry”. Blair said he looks forward to continuing to increase attendance at key ISFD events and plans to increase ISFD membership by educating more people about the organization and its valuable benefits.
“Over the past 48 years, this industry and the people who work in it have provided me with many unforgettable opportunities and I have been fortunate to have been able to help others with opportunities to build their careers along the way” , concluded Conrad. “In my retired life, I look forward to travelling, spending more time with my family, and continuing to spend time consulting, doing podcasts, and doing the voice-over and video production work that I do. appreciate it so much.”