AIFD Symposium Quick Q&A

We still can’t stop talking about this year’s AIFD Symposium in Denver, Colorado, this month and we have asked Derek Woodruff and Tom Bowling to walk us through the event from their point of view.

Thanks so much for joining us guys! We loved getting a peek into the event this year through some photos on social media, but we want to know more. Tell us,

What was the overall vibe at the event?

Derek: There was definitely a vibe of excitement in the air this year.  Because it was the 50th anniversary, I think that everyone made it a priority to attend.  And it was so great to see some faces that I haven’t seen in years, because this year was such a big year for AIFD.

Tom: For me, it was all about bringing the past and present together to form the future of AIFD. With so many past presidents and founding members mixing with the newest inductee’s one couldn’t help feel the excitement as both collaborated on many new ideas.

What were some the new trends you noticed throughout the event?

Derek: This year I noticed a particular focus on using plant material… more so than I’ve seen at past Symposiums.

Tom: Eco-Friendly, reclaiming, elegance, and the return to strong design were trends I noticed in programs. Clean design, less emphasis on embellishments to make the styling work….very refreshing!

Were there any new products that you were especially impressed with?

Derek: The creative use of acrylics this year in presentations was very impressive.  Both because of how they were used in designs and because of other applications they have.  For example, the transfer of light!

Tom: Syndicate Sales new line of weathered lanterns that can be used in so many design applications.

What was one of your favorite exhibits at the partners expo?

Derek: Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the partners expo this year.

Tom: In my opinion, Fitz Design had a broad line to capture the eye and also did some wonderful product demonstrations during the Expo. Education is the key to understanding a product no matter what kind of fresh or supply item.

Did you go to any of the workshops? Learn anything new?

Derek: I attended a modern wire working workshop!  I feel that this may be one of my weakest areas as a designer, though one of my favorite areas to play!  I thought I might be able to use some new tricks on upcoming competitions!

Tom: I was so thrilled to see this new and innovative format accompany the regular design programs. In my opinion, it gave the less experienced designer a way to gain understanding of a topic and for others like myself, it allowed me to gain a better working understanding of the materials. I participated in Wendy’s wire class and also Kevin’s A-Lined class – both excellent presenters and also good subjects.

Which event, exhibit, or designer was talked about the most?

Derek: For me, the Leadership Gala was the hottest topic.  It is always so fun to see what everyone has come up with to wear (flower wise). It’s as big as seeing which star is wearing which designer on the red carpet.

Tom: Like any symposium, some programs touch one person for a reason while others are right for others. Every program is right for someone. Myself, I am a color person, so seeing John Haines and Gretchen Sell’s color program was excellent! Also, Susan Ayala’s sympathy tribute to some very special former members was very moving and flawlessly executed. And of course, who was not blown away by Katie and Phillips event presentation….what exquisite attention to detail!

Is there anything else you can tell us about your experience?

Derek: AIFD is truly an inspiring event.  I’ve only missed one symposium since my PFDE in Kansas City back in 2009, and I regret that.  It’s very important to make this a priority in your year, because it comes and goes so fast, and you can learn so much in just that short amount of time.  I’m glad I was able to attend, even if just for a short time!

Tom: Symposium is an opportunity to go and have your creativity recharged, be energized from friends both new and old, and enjoy the vitality of the newest members being inducted as well as those who are reaching out to test and share their creativity. It is always a must attend for me. I cannot imagine not being a part of symposium. Even after 26 years of being a part of AIFD, I still get excited when symposium comes around. I think what keeps it fresh for me is by volunteering to do something behind the scenes each year. It allows me to help in some way make symposium bigger and better for those in attendance or who are presenting. I strongly encourage everyone to raise your hand to volunteer for something and to get involved to make YOUR organization even stronger! Together we are a mighty force!

Well that’s a wrap! We are already looking forward to next year and being with our fellow industry partners again. We continue to be blown away by what people are capable of when they collaborate and innovate together. Thank you again for joining us Derek and Tom, and congratulations to DWF for receiving the Award of Merit for AIFD! Keep scrolling for more behind-the-scenes photos.

IMG_1414We used our Colorful Container  line  as event props by combining various pieces to make pedestals and interesting and unusual containers. We also used our Popsicle assortments and Aquaspheres to add height with tall columns!




The finished Syndicate Sales tables at the Partners Expo



Some of the designs using pieces from our champagne collection at the student competition.






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