Dennis Sarlo Hosts RNDD Panel: Being a Design Risk Taker

Dering Hall Executive Editor, Dennis Sarlo, was in Chicago on Thursday to host a panel at the River North Design District in the Lightology Showroom. Panelists included creative design professionals: Michael Del Piero, Steve Kadlec, Melissa Benham and Bruce Fox (left to right). Due to inclement weather, Dennis’ flight was delayed, causing him to arrive a few minutes late. Dering Hall would like to thank Jill Maremont for stepping in as moderator during the beginning of the panel. The event, which was also broadcasted on Facebook Live (see above), was sold out well in advance and the showroom was packed to capacity.

The conversation began with a deep dive into why each panelist considers themself to be a “design risk taker.” While they had some reservations at first about this title designation, they ultimately realized that by going with their gut and making it about the clients, taking some risks were bound to happen. As Melissa recalls an experience with a past project, she states, “staying in the safe zone was not going to cut it.” Other topics included handling disagreements between clients who are couples, incorporating art into design, and design rules that are most likely to be broken.

There was also a fun segment of “love it or hate it” where panelists had to choose a side regarding certain design situations. These included everything from non-natural shades of animal prints and shag rugs to recliners and rocking chairs. While opinions varied across the board, one thing everyone could agree on was walls painted black are a go (although Bruce may only approve of this in the powder room).

Rounding out the panel was a Q&A session between the panelists and the audience. Questions revolved around advice for newer designers working with limited budgets, designing for small apartments, and designing for aging clients with comfort in mind.

Thank you to the wonderful panelists for their participation and to Lightology and the RNDD for having us. To view the full panel, please check out the video above. If you are interested in future Dering Hall events, please sign up for our newsletter here.

Erin Gilbert