Michael Vanderbyl

Vanderbyl Design


Michael Vanderbyl has gained international prominence in the design field as practitioner, educator, critic, and advocate. Since being established in San Francisco in 1973, his firm Vanderbyl Design has evolved into a multidisciplinary studio with expertise in identity, print and digital communications, showrooms, interiors, furniture, and product design.

He received a BFA degree in Graphic Design from the California College of Arts & Crafts (now known as California College of the Arts), where he subsequently taught and held the position of Dean of Design for over thirty years. He is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and has served as President and on the AIGA National Board. Michael has also been honored with the Gold Medal award from AIGA, with induction into Interior Design Magazine’s Hall of Fame. He received the Titan award from IIDA as well as Contract Magazine’s 2017 Design Legend award. Michael is also the co-founder and co-owner of Luna Textiles, a contract textile manufacturer.

Session overview


The Measure of a Space- Oct. 18, 1pm -

Historically, there have been various ways to measure how well the design of an interior space “works.” In a volatile economy, the metric may be the ability to fit as many people and desks into as little real estate as possible. Humanizing or stylish touches may have to go. Such determinants have a rightful place among the tenets of design, but it is certainly possible to reconcile economic necessities, with design that’s intelligent, interesting and human-centered. Every element of interior design—the shape of the space, the colour of walls, the arrangement of furniture—is laden with messages. Each speaks to certain values. Each gives cues for behaviour. Taken together, they suggest and invite a way of working, learning or socializing. The visual language of the space communicates and informs, often evoking an emotional response and potentially leading us to pass a verdict on the nature of the enterprise that shaped it.

This session will focus on the elements of interior design and how they may be put to use to create a more positive experience, to create more happiness at work. Our discussion will range across types of spaces one encounters in the modern office over the course of a work day, and proposes that feeling welcome, empowered, connected, calm and comfortable helps people to do their best work. Equally, companies that seek to become skilled in leveraging the power of design, that use design to engage and inspire, often find workers a great deal more likely to exhibit creativity, commitment, and a spirit of community. Whatever the prevailing aesthetic model of design, and however complex the concerns and constraints that designers must address, we have a great opportunity to put beauty and meaning into the everyday work environment. We have a chance, and even a mandate, to improve people’s lives. That, in essence, is the story of design.


Suzanne Tick, Owner, Suzanne Tick Inc.
"Material World"

Michael Vanderbyl, Principal, Vanderbyl Design
"The Kids are Alright"

Jennifer Busch, Vice President A&D, Teknion

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