Gallery: Watch Inhabitat’s ‘Big Ideas in Small Spaces’ Webcast and Hear...


Watch the ‘Big Ideas in Small Spaces: Proportion in Design’ discussion right here!

Our webcast has just ended, but you can still hear everything that was discussed by clicking on the video above. ‘Big Ideas in Small Spaces: Proportion in Design’ was an incredible design panel discussion hosted by Ford Motor Company and The Chicago Architecture Foundation. Following up on the successful ‘Design with a Conscience‘ webcast in April, this latest design discussion is focused in on how designers can maximize aesthetics and functionality in small spaces to produce innovative designs that are comfortable, efficient, and beautiful. The Big Ideas in Small Spaces panelists included: Diane Atwood of the Atwood Foundation, John Gately of Jahn, Gensler‘s Carlos Martinez, and legendary car designer and Ford’s group vice president of design and chief creative officer J Mays. All leaders in their respective industries, these four designers are brought to light how similarities in their creative processes have led to some of country’s most famous buildings, and the design of cutting-edge, eco-friendly Ford vehicles like the Fiesta and the elegant Fusion Energi.

Big Ideas in Small Spaces Panelists

Diane Atwood, Director at the Atwood Foundation

Diane Atwood is the Director of the Atwood Foundation and serves as Trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center, School Year Abroad, and Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation. She was formerly the Chairman of Atwood Enterprises, Inc., and a principal at Atwood Architects. She received her Master’s in Architecture from Princeton University in 1980 and her B.A. from Harvard University in 1977.

J Mays, Group Vice President of Global Design & Chief Creative Officer, Ford Motor Company

J Mays is group vice president of design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor Company. He is responsible for shaping the global design direction of Ford Motor Company’s Ford and Lincoln brands. During his career at Ford, Mays has managed and developed the design language of multiple vehicle brands, successfully leading the effort to develop the single, global Ford design language that now applies to most vehicles the company produces around the world. Mays joined Ford Motor Company in 1997 as vice president, Design, and was named group vice president in 2003. In 2005, he took on the expanded role of group vice president and chief creative officer. At Ford, he continues to make his mark. The all-new Fusion is a culmination of the design edict that Mays brought with him when he started at the company. Mays believes that customers develop an emotional bond with their vehicle; the design needs to inspire that. “To me, the most important reason people buy a car is the way it looks. You don’t want customers to justify a car based on logic; you want them to justify the purchase based on emotion. It’s a bit like falling in love with a spouse. You don’t fall in love for practical reasons. You fall in love for emotional reasons. The practical things have to be there – but that’s just establishing trust, the price of entry. Ultimately, you need the emotional side to come through, just as it does in a relationship.”

Over the years, Mays has received numerous professional awards and recognition for his designs. Mays’ design philosophy and a cross-section of his vehicles were the subject of an exhibition called Retrofuturism: The Car Design of J Mays at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2002. Mays received the Harvard Design School annual Excellence in Design Award in February 2002. In September 2002, he received the Don Kubly Professional Attainment Award from the Art Center.

Carlos Martinez, Principal & Regional Design Director, Gensler Chicago

Carlos Martinez is a Principal and firm-wide Design Director for Gensler. Using his design talent and innovation planning training, he works in the Chicago office and on a global level to inform and enhance Gensler’s design of memorable and compelling places. Martinez is acknowledged as one of the industry’s innovative and influential designers. His focus is on creating places that enhance the user journey and interaction with space. He has been Design Director on many award-winning projects. As a professional committed to social responsibility, Martinez aligns his artistic talent with several important charitable organizations. He is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors for DIFFA Chicago. Martinez rounds out and sharpens his practice with an appointment as Adjunct Professor of Design at the world-renowned School of the Art Institute of Chicago and through his design affiliation with Niedermaier, a contemporary furniture manufacturer. Niedermaier commissioned him to design a line of furniture that received national attention in House & Garden’s “50 Things to Love about Chicago.” In his formal training, Martinez earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Ohio State University and his Master of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jonathan Gately, Associate Principal Architect of Design, Jahn

Since starting with JAHN, Jon has worked closely with Helmut Jahn and Francisco Gonzalez-Pulido on the initial development of the design process. During this iterative process the programmatic, spatial, and compositional relationships of the design intent are studied through the collaborative exploration of three dimensional computer models, physical models, hand sketching, material research, and graphic composition.

Jon has contributed to several international and domestic projects in the office, including competition entries for the Shanghai International Financial Center, Yongsan International Business District, and the Qiantan Area Development.Prior to joining JAHN, Jon was a founding partner of Object31 Image Consultants, where he was selected as an AIA Emerging Professional for his work on PEGBOARD, an exploration of the possibilities within sustainable housing development in Ghana.


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  1. Joni Lane July 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    please #Greenmyride! I’ve been in the market for a bike! I haven’t owned one since I was little but since I live just 3.8 miles from work, I feel I can easily reduce my carbon footprint and limit the use of my personal vehicle by switching up my daily routine and riding a bike to work! It would be a great positive transformation and small change to make a difference and bring a healthy dose of daily exercise. I live in a very bike friendly community in Virginia and my home is within biking distance of the majority of places I travel in town so I’d love to be riding in style with a new Linus Scout BIKE!!

    I look forward to watching the above panel discussion as I’m in the process of designing an aesthetically pleasing and functioning small prefab home so I’m in need of innovative design concepts that are comfortable, efficient, and beautiful!! Thanks, Inhabitat :)

  2. solarquest July 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I would so love some new wheels…in between cars right now and walking is great but sort of slow going. I’m ready for the universe to give the gift of transportation!

    Thanks ahead of time!

  3. solarquest July 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I so need some wheels…in between cars right now and walking is great but kind of slow going. I’m ready for the universe to give the gift of new transportation!

    Thanks ahead of time.!

  4. NITIN PAREKH July 3, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Sir, It Look is Good and study.It also work For 7 to 70 Years old [Man-Woman].It is Good For everybody.

  5. threenorns July 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    i am 47 yrs old and i have a 6yr old daughter. i’m very overweight and MUST lose weight or i’m looking at a hip replacement in the next few years if i haven’t had a heart attack or stroke by then. the town i live in is very small and there’s no public transit. most places are within a 5 to 10min drive but takes way too long to walk. a bike would let me get critical activity in without chewing up my entire day and leaving nothing left over for household chores or spending time with my daughter. a bike would *give* me time with my daughter.

  6. esco12 July 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm


  7. solarman350 June 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    What happened to organic (soy for example) vehicle body components? Didn’t Henry Ford demonstrate a trunk cover made of this material many years ago? Here’s a link to it:

  8. linda Em June 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Is there a “Murphy Bed” type solution to kitchen appliances which you need to keep very handy but don’t want to take up counter space all the time…like a pop up counter for Kitchen Aid and blenders

  9. Antoinette Perez June 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    My 10 year old son home schools and is very interested in product design as a possible career. What kind of mini challenge could you suggest for him (us?) to explore design in small spaces? Maybe a drawing / sketching challenge, or a real life challenge in his room or using a small-scale model? And do you have any books / resources to recommend for this adolescent-tween age? We are looking forward to the webcast today!

  10. design2know June 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Are we READY for the Totally Mobile Home?
    I’d like to know if a New Modern Mobile Home that is Designed for the Off-The-GRID Alternative Energy Solutions-(*Either Totally Electric or Solar or most likely a Combo of Both even Wind Recharging as it Moves down the Highways…is feasible, in the works, or even available soon?

  11. rastewart June 6, 2013 at 11:13 am

    For All: As Design Professionals, is the approach to small spaces the same or treated differently than other spaces?

  12. abdulla11 June 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    As an architect managing the small spaces matters if and only if the constraints around it are rough.

  13. Lovey123 June 5, 2013 at 9:34 am

    As an interior designer, I\’ve often wondered why more architects don\’t consult interior designers on the interior spaces. So often, the practical aspects of every day living — and housework — are overlooked. Simple things like allowing enough room in a kitchen reno for a table and chairs to fit the whole family, and not just a bistro table for two!

  14. drseussni June 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    For J Mays: when will the American automotive industry begin to subscribe to more practical means of sustainability such as those being adhered to by the European industry in terms of closed loop, disassembly, etc.?

  15. portiaporsche June 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    This question is for J Mays – We’ve been seeing transforming furniture gaining popularity. Will we be seeing any real-life transforming cars in the near future?

  16. Yuka Yoneda May 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    As a lover of tiny homes, I’m definitely going to be tuning in!

  17. BettyDawn May 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Can’t wait for this webcast. Looking forward to hearing what J Mays has to say!

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