Congratulations to the Alaska Design Forum on their 20th Anniversary! We chatted with Klaus Mayer, trustee of the Forum and member of the AAO Board of Directors, about the Forum's past, present, and future.
AAO: How did the Forum start?
Klaus Mayer (KM): Peter Lipson, a recent graduate of SCI-Arc, started the Forum based on the L.A. Forum model. Many of our first guest came through this link.
AAO: What has kept it going? Tell us the secrets of your success!
KM: The Alaska Design Forum is the only kind of architecture and design program in the state. With our broad understanding of design, we are inclusive of many design disciplines and have a very diverse audience.
What's been your biggest challenge?
KM: I would say it is to convey the benefits of great design to the audience, which includes many professionals.
How is the Forum different now than it was when it started?
KM: Over the years we have expanded our lecture series from originally only Anchorage (population 280k) to include Fairbanks (100k) and Juneau (32k). We have special projects that take us into rural areas as well.
What are one or two highlights from the past 20 years of programming?
KM: For me the highlight is when we can get some of the best talents in the world to agree to come and be part of our program.
What have you personally enjoyed most about being a part of the Forum?
KM: The friendships that have developed over the years with our guests and board volunteers. We had the fortune to show some of the most amazing designers our home state. For example, we took Australian Architect Glenn Murcutt on a short excursion to Point Hope above the Arctic Circle.
What's the most interesting feedback you've received about the Forum?
KM: Here is a quote I got as a response: "The Design Forum has lifted up design and art for the last 20 years and many times has inspired me and given me hope."
What's next for the Forum?
KM: After being an all volunteer organization for 20 years, we are now in the process of hiring our first full time executive director. We hope that will allow us to do more outreach and pursue programs directly related to architecture and design, and maybe start a summer school program.