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March 1, 2016
Chad Stark Named DFA President
Chad Stark Named DFA President

STARK’s own senior vice president, Chad Stark, has been appointed president of the Decorative Furnishings Association, one of the oldest organizations in the home furnishings industry. The position was elected by a board of industry leaders - Cary Kravet, Andrea Rubelli, Jobst Blachy, Karen Marx and Julia Noran Johnston - to succeed Dan Cahoon as the DFA's new president.

“DFA members are ready to engage the consumer in an ongoing dialogue to promote the industry. Chad’s skill set and energy make him a natural to promote design through digital channels.

These initial steps will put the industry on a path towards giving consumers a better way to engage professional designers and products. Chad’s passion is in spreading the word in a new engaging format.” - Dan Cahoon, outgoing president

Chad Stark considers himself a native to the digital world. In his view, social media is key to pushing forward major initiatives, including campaigns and events centered around consumer outreach and best practices. A crucial tenet of the STARK philosophy is a consistency and dedication to customer service; Chad Stark brings that same level of commitment to his new role at the DFA, with a focus on broadening the practical appeal of professional interior design to the sometimes-skeptical modern consumer.

Below, check out the full interview with Chad Stark, courtesy of Editor At Large.

What are your goals as president? What do you plan to do differently, and what will continue as is?

My goal as DFA president is simple: to continue the mission of growing and sustaining the professional interior design industry. However, our strategy to accomplish this will change a bit as we evolve into a widely inclusive voice of the industry: the marketplace, the media and the design community, all uniting to speak to consumers about how their lives can be enhanced by design. We will shift our primary focus from industry education to consumer outreach. We will continue to educate trade vendors on best practices, but we also will be leading an industry-wide effort to galvanize the perception of professional design in the eyes of consumers who can afford these services but choose not to because of various misconceptions about the industry.

Additionally, we will have an increased focus on trade organization partnerships. There are so many passionate groups who all have the same goal. I want to make sure the DFA’s approach is unique, so that we can better coordinate our resources with others to cover more ground.

As a millennial, how is your perception of the industry unique? How will digital strategies be a part of your plan?

I was fortunate to have grown up in a professionally designed home, so I've always understood how beautiful and functional design can positively impact one’s life. However, many of my peers were not as lucky. I find myself in many conversations trying to convince these peers who can now afford design services that they should hire a designer, but I’m met with skepticism and doubt because millennials perceive interior design as unattainable, too expensive, and as a mysterious and laborious process.

Most services in today’s world are very straightforward—they are transparent about pricing and easy to understand. Professional interior designers all have different pricing models, and the industry was built on exclusivity. This approach and diversity is now hurting the outsider’s industry perception, because millennials think secrecy is not trustworthy. The negative perception is perpetuated by a lack of clear and consistent communication about the value of design through the content channels millennials consume daily, which is why digital strategies will be a major focus of the DFA’s efforts moving forward.

What are the greatest assets of the DFA?  

The DFA members are our strongest assets. We represent a knowledge and experience base that is as high or higher than any other trade organization in the industry. Additionally, because all of the members are principals of their respective firms, we benefit from the expertise of the industry’s leading decision makers.

Do you plan additional programs or outreach? Whom will you target?  

Our main focuses will be launching an industry-wide effort that unites all members of the trade—designers and vendors—with a unified message to increase the number of interior design projects by inspiring, informing and engaging consumers. The DFA will be backing an online resource center and advertising campaign—similar to the dairy industry’s “Got milk?” campaign—for the interior design community to promote the use of interior designers. We will be targeting consumers who have the means to afford these services but don’t engage them for any number of reasons. This initiative will have a digital-first approach, and we will be exploring different fund-raising platforms, like Kickstarter, to crowdsource support. To stay in the loop with our efforts, please enter your email address here.

Interior designers, want to know more about how working with STARK benefits you? Check out what other designers who work with us have to stay in our Design Showcase, get a peek behind the curtain in Behind the Scenes, and stay on top of our latest happenings in Press & Events. If you don’t have a trade account, find out the benefits and apply now.

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