2015 Legend: David Mourning

The quarterly leadership meetings at the global firm IA Interior Architects include an initiation of sorts for newcomers. Firm leaders fly from around the world to one of the company’s 17 offices, and everyone gathers together around a big table for dinner. Then, all of a sudden, David Mourning will stand up—with all the inherent gravity of being founder and chairman, as well as his imposing six-foot-three-inch height, and say, “Who has the first joke?”

Those who have just joined the firm are startled. “You can see them turn white,” says Tom Powers, an IA co-executive director. “They say, ‘Wait a minute—architecture and design—that’s too serious, we don’t joke.’ But it’s one of the ways that brings people together.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done,” and he would doubtless approve of Mourning’s leadership of the largest global firm devoted solely to commercial interior design with a focus on workplace interiors.

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