Configura, maker of CET Designer software, recently wrapped its 8th annual CET Designer User Conference, held Oct. 28-29 in Orlando.
A record number of attendees, nearly 300 people from the Americas and Europe – including contract furniture manufacturers, dealers, interior designers and IT professionals – participated in the two-day conference held at the Renaissance SeaWorld at Orlando.
Established in 1990 in Sweden, the software solutions company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In addition to headquarters in Sweden, the company also has locations in the United States and Malaysia.
Configura’s space-planning software simplifies how manufacturers and their dealers and designers sell products.
“It’s wonderful to see how our solution has grown across the globe, and to talk with users in person at our conference about how CET Designer helps them to do their best work,” Sune Rydqvist said.
Configura’s solution has become an industry standard
In the late 1980s, Sune Rydqvist – owner of an office furniture company in Sweden – asked his son Göran Rydqvist and Johan Lyreborn to help him find a better way to specify and sell his products. The solution they developed became CET Designer – intelligent, highly visual software now used by thousands of people around the world. Such global companies as Martela, Kinnarps, Steelcase, Haworth, Teknion, KI, Inscape, Midmark, Tranquil, Maars, OFS Brands and others have invested in Configura solutions.
“These new partnerships reinforce that CET Designer has become the leading solution for design and specification,” Lyreborn said.
The day before the CET Designer User Conference, Configura hosted a gathering of its manufacturer partners – a twice yearly event that brings competing companies to the table to talk about the CET Designer solution that each has invested in.
“We get together to talk about the technology and how to make it even better for the future. Having more companies on board as partners means we get more feedback, more input, into developing our solution,” Lyreborn said.
User conference sessions focused on designers, IT professionals
Day one of the CET Designer User Conference featured keynote speaker Debbie Millman, a Cooper Hewitt recipient honored for her work as host of the New York City-based radio podcast Design Matters. At the conference, Millman explored the different functions of the brain and how a human desire for self-expression and connectedness has led to an evolution in design and branding. (Watch the video of her keynote athttp://bit.ly/1Q43Ti7.)
“It’s not about marketing or advertising. … It’s about belonging – to a tribe, a religion, a family, a work environment. … Any brand that fosters the ability to create mutual experiences in which we can share or relate allows our brains to resonate with others,” Millman said. “This is an opportunity for designers to design spaces so we can better connect with people. You have a profound impact on human behavior in that the spaces you design allow us to live a certain kind of life.”
During the first day of the conference, Configura Chief Product Officer Nicklas Dagersten highlighted some of the updates that will occur with the Nov. 16 release of CET Designer 6.5. He also talked about the planned 2016 launches of CET Designer for Sales, CET Designer Cloud and Virtual Reality for CET Designer.
CET Designer for Sales will be a version of CET Designer that’s “lite” so salespersons can use it to do quick presentations for customers. Meanwhile, CET Designer Cloud will let users run Configura’s software through a browser.
“What CET Designer Cloud means for designers and dealerships is huge,” said Brooke Snow, Configura business development manager. “It means they can use any Internet-connected device – a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer – to access and run our software, at anytime and from anywhere.”
Configura first unveiled the beta version of Virtual Reality for CET Designer at NeoCon in Chicago in June. At the CET Designer User Conference in Orlando, Configura had VR demo stations set up to let attendees experience the technology. Virtual Reality for CET Designer puts the designer or the customer “into” the space that he or she is creating or buying.
“VR has so much application. It’s experiential. It’s a powerful communication tool. You can give someone exactly the experience you have designed for them,” said conference presenter and attendee Jason Lund, IT manager for Atmosphere Commercial Interiors, a Steelcase dealership. “I’m very excited about how this will change how we design and communicate with our clients, and I’m impressed that Configura had the vision to produce it even before the hardware is commercially available.”
Idea-sharing, networking and learning
A big part of the conference is the idea sharing between Configura developers and the manufacturers who invest in and dealers who use the solution. Day one of the conference featured Configura Founder Göran Rydqvist, who heads up research and development at the company, talking about Parametric Graphical Configuration (PGC) – the technology and business philosophy on which CET Designer is based.
A “Chat with the Programmers” session invited manufacturers and users to talk directly with the people developing new functionalities in CET Designer.
The conference included a variety of breakout sessions, many taught by what Configura calls CET Designer “Power Users.” The first day included a number of such sessions, including a presentation by Design ManagerChad Bewley of Business Interiors of Idaho who spoke on using CET Designer to redefine the designer role and improve the sales process.
Attendee Lorna Marcuzzo, a senior mobile marketing designer for Price Modern, a Haworth dealership in Baltimore, said she liked getting to see how others are using the tool. “It’s interesting to see everyone in their job roles – I’m in marketing, not in design – we’ve also got salespeople, designers, marketers here at the conference. Everyone’s taken same program and is using it in different ways. I love seeing that and sharing feedback about it,” she said.
Amy Wright, a designer with Encompas, a Haworth dealer in Kansas City, who also presented at the conference, agreed. “This is one of the main events that we come to where we get to interface with a lot of dealers … we’re talking to people and figuring out what bits and pieces of their process that we can implement in our own business structure. I feel like that only makes everyone stronger,” she said.
“We’re spending 90 percent of our time indoors, much of it at work. So this work period in our lives is a critically important period. And as designers, we have an important role not just to prevent disease but also to improve health. … Our alertness, mood, cognitive functions, mobility – these [are impacted by] the physical environment we surround ourselves with,” Fiser said.
He shared a video produced by ASID that explored the transformative power of interior design in the built environment.
“The benefits of wellness-based design/construction decisions include reduced employee absenteeism and healthcare costs, and increased productivity and engagement,” Fiser said. “We must continue to develop a sensitivity of what’s meaningful, with systemic and sustainable improvements. Design really matters, and CET Designer is a great connection between our designers and the design community and technology. We know the visualization of space is such an important part of communicating design intent.”
Offering opportunities to network and socialize is a big part of the CET Designer User Conference. Configura hosted pre-conference welcome events and, during the conference, a Halloween Party that has become an annual event.
Additional sessions and the Best of CET Designer Awards ceremony rounded out day two. The Best of CET Designer Awards program honors the best work of CET Designer users in three categories: Rendering, Video and Best Success Story. Read about the winners and view some of the winning work athttp://configura.com/newsroom/2015/configura-announces-winners-8th-annual-best-cet-designer-awards.
Content and videos from the conference keynote and most sessions will be available online soon atwww.configura.com.
“We’re grateful to our sponsors, to our users, our team and to everyone who made the 8th annual conference our best yet,” Configura Global Customer Experience Vice President Tracy Lanning said. “We’re looking forward to planning an amazing ninth conference.”
Configura leaders have announced that the 9th annual CET Designer User Conference will return to Grand Rapids, Michigan’s DeVos Place. The ninth annual conference will be held Oct. 18-19, 2016.