Sunday, April 22, 2012

Design Leadership Summit, Marrakech 2012

I tend to shy away from large groups, trade parties and large social events, but ever since reading about the Design Leadership Summit in Ronda Carman's blog: All The Best in 2010, I have been intrigued by the quality of this Summit. 

I applied for membership this fall, was accepted and off to Marrakech (a city I have a great love affair with). At first, I was incredibly shy as I am more of  a "behind the scenes" type of person and putting myself out there is a strange and constant battle for me. This being the 7th summit, groups were already formed, people greeting each other, so glad to meet again. I had no idea of what to expect nor how to navigate a large crowd. Needless to say, I was rather nervous.

It did not take long for me to see known faces, old industry friends whom I had lost contact with and meet new fascinating people. Over cocktails, dinners, tours, I talked with such interesting and talented members of our industry. I met fellow wanderlust travelers and trekkers, talked about gardens, cities, arts, loved seeing Marrakech through Mitch Owen's eyes who has lived there for a few years. I was thrilled to meet fellow blogger Maryam Montague whose blog My Marrakech I have been following for a couple of years. I made new friendships, kind of instant connection type of friendship, met Architects and Landscape designers who actually are my neighbors and was enthralled by the talks and lectures of amazing leaders in their industry.

I left Marrakech on an incredible high, filled with promises to push myself more outside of my comfort zone, to reflect on the experiences and analyses of others and implement changes in the way I think, by pushing forward. Most of all, I felt empowered to drive my business in the direction that will suit best my clients, my lifestyle, my associates, to give clarity and value to my INTERIEURS brand and communicate with the tools of the new media.

In a nut shell, these are some of the key elements that I took in:

Communicate the value of your design or product: your value is your pride and soul which need to be communicated through your story,your talent,  your designs, your products and services Spend money, time and energy into communicating your value rather than cost cutting, which will results in deteriorating your perceived value and your brand

Technology: The age of brick and Mortar is becoming obsolete. Adapting to the new media is a must.

Websites are critical and must be clearly reflect the brand, with easy navigation, professional photography, clear interesting layout.

Twitter: is a powerful broadcasting tool as well as the extension to your brand, your personality and in 140 words is a gateway to your website or your blog.

Visual sites: Pinterest and Flipboard have opened the doors to a worldwide presence for your designs or products.

Megatrend: Mobile applications. Apple projects sales of 600 millions ipads in the relatively near future. Shoppers want instant gratification and are shopping from their mobile devices.

Philosophy: Be very clear about what you are communicating, how you package the information, and how you deliver it.

The bad news is the U.S. real estate market: Be ready, the worst is yet to come with 1/3 of real estate sales being distressed sales, a 34% decline in housing sales and lowest recorded mobility in US history. Twenty-five percent of home owners in the US are under water on their mortgages! The 2nd home market is faring the worst. The bright light in this mess: The home improvement market is the largest sector for growth.

Editor at large was at the conference and I suggest you check out their post here.

Alas, I did not have any free time to absorb the scents, colors and beauty of Marrakech. At a glance, I noticed how the city has evolved, it exploded outside of its fortification and golf courses  are appearing where once the desert a midst of a terrible drought.

Here is an older post I had written on venturing into the Moroccan Sahara.

A bientot,


  1. Francine, what you have written is so very insightful and thought provoking. I completely agree with everything. If we do not embrace the "new" world we will be left behind in the old one.
    Home improvement. How interesting. I'm going over to read your friend's post too. Can't wait to see how you put some of this good info into practice in your beautiful store. Sending love....

  2. I loved reading about your trip through the Moroccan Sahara a few years back - what a fantastic adventure, a dream for me!
    Your conference/summit sounds inspiring - I hope it leads you to new creative ventures.

  3. francine,

    really good tips.
    and for me i guess it's good news that
    'brick and mortar' are becoming less important.
    {said with forced laughter}

    thank you for your kind words....xx and a big hug

  4. So far, I have it all but Flipboard. I haven't heard of it, but will check into it.
    So happy that you had a nice trip, Francine.
    Happy Sunday.

  5. Francine,
    Thanks so much for including us in on your summit summary. It comes at a very timely moment in my career, especially regarding a new project. I shall continue down the road...

  6. As you know Francine, I am not in the business but still wanted to say "Hooray!!" for pushing yourself to be brave. Such big groups petrify me! How fantastic that you had such a positive experience while pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone.

    As for the golf courses...I shudder to think whose water is being denied for other folks folly...

  7. Thank you for the summary of information. I would like to attend this one year.

  8. Hi Francine
    It sounds like a very inspiring conference. I feel sorry after reading your blog post that I couldn't make it this year. I would have loved to meet Maryam! Thanks for sharing all your 'key elements'. Hope to reconnect with you in New York soon!

  9. Francine,

    Parlez-vous français? Si non, je vous parlerai en anglais....

    I am reading your wise words here and I am feeling a real sense of confirmation for the next chapter in my life. I just got off the phone with a dear friend and mentor of mine who is helping guide me toward a career in the arts and selling. Websites are a must. Once I am done with school I am going to venture out and build a website and I particularly like what you have to say about DOING IT RIGHT by spending the money to show the value of your product. I thank you for your visit that directed me here today to show me what I need to do in the very near future. Mille mercis!!! Anita

  10. Great post with great insight as to how technology is changing the world we live and work in. I have to say that Pinterest is a great tool for marketing. I'm still trying to learn all the ways to utilize it myself, but it is like an addiction for my girlfriend and many others.

  11. Francine I can only imagine what an incredible this must have been for all involved. I will look forward to hearing more of your thoughts!

    ....I wanted you to know...I am featuring Anita Rivera, our Friend, Designer and Paper Artist with Castles Crowns & Cottages, & her Giveaway on my site!

    Art by Karena

  12. Wow, what an incredible opportunity! Marrakech is a dream vacay and what better way to see the city than with design afficionados who are just as involved with the industry as you are...awesome way to connect globally...PLUS you get to write everything off come tax season...superb!

    I’m hosting 5 days of GIVEAWAYS with 5 chances to WIN in honor of my blog’s 2year anniversary! Would love for you to stop by and check it out!

    Peace. Love. LOL!


  13. Francine, I am never bored at your blog. I live vicariously through your adventures. This looks like a very interesting trip and people.
    Be safe. Thanks for sharing .

  14. Wow! Francine, I'm so glad you shared your trip and tips with us. I've been catching up from market. Call me!

  15. Francine, loved meeting you! Maybe we can connect in NY next week?

  16. Hey,
    very nice blog!I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular.See u.

  17. Hey,
    I just hopped over to your site via Stumbleupon. Not somthing I would normally read, but I liked your thoughts none the less. Thanks for making something worth reading.


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