DFAD: It’s the Principle of the Matter

Written by Mark Brunetz, National Spokesperson, DFAD

“The design process begins and ends with people.”

As designers, we take great pride in designing for people. I’ve learned over the years that you can’t design for someone else other than the person who will live or work in the space. In fact, every time I’ve tried to do my own thing, I’ve failed miserably. So, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about what matters most in design.

When Design For A Difference was launched in 2013, it was founded on four basic principles.

  1. People are deeply impacted by their environments.
  2. Like beauty, design is in the eye of the beholder. It’s relative, situational and personal.
  3. We all lay our heads down somewhere at night.
  4. We all aspire to have a greater quality of life.

More recently, I discovered what has now become one of my favorite books – A Frame for Life: The Designs of StudioIlse by Ilse Crawford. An absolute must-read for any designer, the author bridges the worlds of interior design, architecture, and product design with the philosophy of putting the human being at the center. Fascinated by what drives us and makes us feel alive, Crawford says:

“When I look at making spaces, I don’t just look at the visual. I’m much more interested in the sensory thing, in thinking about it from the human context, the primal perspective, the thing that touches you.”

Since its inception, Design For A Difference has always started with people. In fact, it’s the staff, clients and volunteers of a non-profit organization that has always drawn our design teams to them. The space was secondary. It’s this primal connection that has allowed us to poignantly impact not hundreds of people’s lives, but thousands. For every person directly affected by the work we do, there’s an exponential number who also benefit. The impact of the gift goes way beyond the physical. This is perhaps why it’s nearly impossible to measure the true impact of our efforts.

As the National Spokesperson, I’ve witnessed first-hand the full scope of our work. The excitement that lasts for a moment and the pride and sense of dignity that spans a lifetime. I continue to talk to people every day whose lives have been impacted by our makeover projects, some dating back to our early days when DFAD was just ‘a good idea’, and the stories they are telling are remarkable.

It’s one thing for a DFAD designer to want a better life for someone, but if we can have people want a better life for themselves, the depth of our work becomes immense. And in many ways, it also prevents us from telling the whole story. We know the beginning; we just don’t know exactly how it ends.

By definition, ‘the principle of the matter’ are the fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a belief system, a behavior or for a chain of reasoning. Here at IDG, we are firmly planted in a belief system. One that gets us up every day, working tirelessly and staying committed to helping people live the best life possible. It may seem like just flooring, but we know it’s so much more. It’s where life happens.

Long before the pandemic, Design For A Difference brought forth a simple yet profound idea. We are in this together. This tagline, if you will, has lived on our website for years. Between our members, designers, staff, sponsors, volunteers and partners, we understand that helping people be better makes us better. And when people are better, the world is better.

If you’ve ever considered being a part of the DFAD movement, know this. It’s highly unlikely that you will be able to tell the complete story; the end all affects your contribution on people. No doubt, you will share the excitement, the comradery and the experience of a talented and committed group of people out to change lives. But how it all plays out? Here’s to a story that never ends.

About Mark Brunetz

Mark Brunetz is the National Spokesperson for Design for a Difference.

He is a well-known interior designer who is dedicated and passionate about not only creating stunning designs that suit his client’s needs, but also giving back to the community.