Interior design is undergoing its most drastic transformation since the sustainable design revolution of the 1990s. Advances made in creative methods, the application of data, neuroscience and health, and building performance are demanding new interior design leadership. Designers who have mastered the skills to create functional and beautiful spaces are reshaping the interior landscape, from historic preservation and adaptive re-use to innovation in newly constructed spaces to meet the needs of changing working-and-living prototypes. Design entrepreneurs have moved the delivery of their services into cyberspace and are practicing their profession in a mobile, connected community. Interior designers are doing “pretty good.”
“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.” – Steve Jobs
So what’s next for interior design? Who will lead this change? Here is a list of the top 5 game-changing issues affecting the industry today.
1. Interiors shape our experience
Interiors are the leading edge of the “Experience Economy.” The user’s experience is now central to the process of making decisions about volume, color, materials, lighting and furniture. The capability of interior architecture to convey messages and stories about spaces will build on brand identity, not only in retail and hospitality environments, but across the spectrum of interior settings. Data-mining and application of research will increasingly guide design decision-making, enabling the designer to understand the role of cultural and economic variables.
2. Design is strategy
Awareness of the role of design in shaping human experience has caused firms, large and small, to cast themselves as design strategists, advocating for an integrated approach to solving their clients’ problems. Shrinking office spaces, retail changes, and new patterns of residential living are just a few of the reasons that designers are connecting design solutions to contemporary social, economic and cultural determinants. At the same time, the interior design industry is changing, demanding a new kind of firm that operates on fewer resources and operates flexibly among a growing list of “players” seeking to expand their role in the process. The Design Strategy approach asserts the leadership role of the designer as the entrepreneur of ideas, able to best serve clients as the connectors in this evolving process.
3. The important effects of interiors on health
A building is the ultimate wearable, one that will respond to our physical and emotional needs through “smart” (technology-supported) design, user-initiated modifications, and settings that are inherently healthy through orientation, ventilation, air quality, light and views. A 2014 survey found that 64% of designers and educators believe Smart Buildings will have an impact on the practice of interior design in the future.
4. Design is a universal language for social justice
Every designer is now a member of the global community. Concerns of social justice underlie environmental design activities at all scales in the 21st century. Increasingly, interior designers are called upon to articulate the benefits of their work to the individual, the group, and the larger community, and to find a balance of the greatest good in meeting competing demands. Access and use by all, ecological impacts, and participation of end users in the activity of design are just some of the examples of the new criteria for ethical design.
5. Interior design is recasting its professional identity
The Council for Interior Design Accreditation states in its 2014 Future Vision project: “In the future, the role of interior designers will become less narrowly defined as they operate in more integrated, team-driven projects. The scope of work will include clear cut tasks yet also will involve more open-ended types of problem-solving. Opportunities for innovation will increase through participation in interdisciplinary teams. Additionally, interior designers of the future must be well positioned for leadership as they demonstrate strategic and tactical skills.”
In the fall of 2015, the Boston Architectural College will launch its Master of Science in Interior Architecture program, a 30-credit post-professional degree for holders of a first-professional degree in interior design or architecture. The program is offered in a distance format with an on-site intensive experience in Boston each fall. Learn more about the program here to see how you can be a part of this exciting movement and bring your career to the next level.
About Crandon Gustafson:
Crandon Gustafson, Dean of the School of Interior Architecture at Boston Architectural College, is an educator, registered architect and certified interior designer, and LEED Accredited Professional. He has over twenty years of professional practice in California, Colorado, Illinois and New York, and has specialized in the delivery of design for educational environments.