In the midst of the 2019 edition of the most important event for design lovers on American soil, people are already looking to the future: a new format has been announced, for implementation in 2020, under the aegis of Sandow, a global leader in design media and innovation, selected by NYCEDU as the new operator. The objective: “our goal is nothing short of creating the most engaging, expansive, and inclusive design platform in the world,” says Adam Sandow. Here he reveals, together with Edward Hogikyan (Chief Marketing Officer of NYCEDC and Executive Director of NYCxDESIGN since July), other new developments and behind-the-scenes aspects of the initiative.
Mr. Edward Hogikyan
Chief Marketing Officer, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)
What are the reasons that led to the search for a new management?
In its first six years, NYCxDesign grew to over 400 events, attracting nearly 340,000 attendees, and generating over $100,000,000 in spending just by visitors. In order to manage and continue to grow the program, the City felt it really required a more dedicated, singular focus by the people operating it.
What does the transition from the public to the private sector mean for NYCxDESIGN?
Having New York City behind the creation of NYCxDesign provided the program with a certain neutrality that was important in securing the engagement of the city’s design community. Now that the program is firmly established, moving to the private sector will allow NYCxDesign to be more nimble and in some instances pursue opportunities that might be more challenging to go after in the public sector due to rules and regulations that govern how city entities can/must conduct business.
Why did you choose Sandow?
Perhaps most important was its vision for continuing to grow and diversify NYCxDesign. Sandow’s DNA is deeply rooted in design across its different companies, platforms, and initiatives including media (Interior Design, Luxe Interiors + Design, Galerie), and industry resources such as Material ConneXion and Material Bank. Also, Sandow has an extensive global design network together with significant experience in not just producing events, but producing very successful events. As you may know, one of their properties, Interior Design magazine, partners with ICFF to produce the annual NYCxDesign Awards. The experience, vision, relationships, and tremendous passion for design and NYCxDesign will no doubt yield tremendous returns. Sandow will be establishing an independent company within the organization for NYCxDesign, so for the first time in its history, those people working on it will be dedicated to NYCxDesign. We would also expect NYCxDesign to evolve into more of a brand as opposed to just an annual event.
You’ll be the link between past and future: what was your background in NYCxDesign and what will be your role at Sandow?
I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with NYCxDESIGN since it started seven years ago. Watching it grow to be one of the world’s leading design weeks in that time has been deeply satisfying. I applaud New York City for getting behind a program like this that provides tremendous support to a vital part of the city’s economy. Although I’m a marketer, I have always had a great interest in, and passion for, creativity. NYCxDESIGN has become my own passion project over the years. I am pleased to say that I will be joining Sandow in July where I will serve as the Executive Director of NYCxDESIGN. I am looking forward to working with the tremendous talent at Sandow to take NYCxDESIGN to the next level.
Mr. Adam Sandow
Chairman and CEO, Sandow
How does NYCxDesign fit into the company’s portfolio?
NYCxDESIGN, which will operate as its own separate business unit, is a natural fit within the SANDOW umbrella of brands. We put design at the heart of everything we do at SANDOW; operating this important design festival offers new opportunities for the creators and brands that the company has celebrated since its inception.
How will the program of the event change?
There are a number of goals we have to build onto the existing program, including extending the celebration of design in NYC beyond the 12-day festival period, expanding diversity initiatives to foster greater inclusivity, increasing design activations across all five boroughs, and building upon existing student programs. Overall, we want to create opportunities and experiences that allow all fans of design to be involved.
What aspects of the initiative (commercial and cultural) do you intend to emphasize?
While we fully support the larger tentpole events that take place during NYCxDesign, we are very passionate about showcasing emerging designers and brands. Additionally, the museums, institutions, and schools in New York City are creating amazing educational programs that we want to shine a bright light on. Through the launch of NYCxDesign Magazine, we will be able to highlight a number of design stories, events, and initiatives.
What are the medium-long term objectives?
Ultimately, our goal is for NYCxDesign to become the premiere festival for designers and enthusiasts globally. We will do this through strong promotional efforts, strategic global partnerships, and new initiatives that will activate the city beyond the festival itself. This will naturally take time, but we are invested in the process of making it happen.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for this new company?
NYCxDESIGN attracts hundreds of thousands of attendees to New York City and there are so many great programs and events to experience; however, they are mostly centered in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Driving traffic to the other boroughs will require us to develop engaging programming and improved wayfinding, so that attendees can experience as much of NYCxDESIGN as possible.