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5 Trends to Come

Although no one knows exactly what the future holds, a new report spells out some of the things designers can expect in the coming years.

By Lisa Henry

Although no one knows exactly what the future holds, a new report spells out some of the things designers can expect in the coming years.

Wouldn’t you love to have a crystal ball to foretell the future right now? With just a quick peek, you could find out if your firm or your client should proceed with an investment or start a new project. What would you want to see? Is this the right time to hire that new marketing director? To make a move to that larger space? What if we don’t win those contracts?

We here at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) are not omniscient, but we can certainly help our members prepare for the future with the right tools. One of those tools is our annual Environmental Scanning Report. Based on the knowledge that we have to continually assess our world and anticipate the needs of our clients, the report identifies trends and provides valuable information for designers looking to get their fingers on the pulse of what is affecting their clients and the design of interior spaces.

Several groups, including an ASID Fellows roundtable and the Design Intelligence Design Futures Council, separately identified and concurred on several trends that are likely to shape the future of interior design. According to them, here are five trends that we should expect.

the use of technology will expand.
4-D scheduling, 3-D printing, social media and mobile app computing will become standard tools of the trade for designers. We will be designing interactive spaces using touch screens that will connect internal and external networks, and can be used as digital imagery displays when they are otherwise not in use. More of the products we design and specify will incorporate smart technologies, all linked to a single controlling device, such as a smartphone or tablet.

the search for evidence will intensify.
Evidence-based design and measurable outcomes that are linked to design will be sought across many business sectors and space types. We are familiar with the impact that evidenced-based design has made on the way healthcare spaces are designed and built, but we’re hearing the outcry for research and data from designers in other practice areas as well. They’re asking us to help them clearly document and articulate the values of interior design in a wide array of space types, such as offices, hospitality and educational spaces. This will be done through research. ASID and the ASID Foundation are embarking on new research that will help our members communicate this essential information.

lean practices will proliferate.
Product manufactures have practiced lean manufacturing for years. Now, lean design and construction are viewed as potential solutions to the problems of waste in the building process.

service delivery will change.
A design firm’s willingness to explore alternate delivery processes, like design-build and more integrated design teams, will be seen as a market differentiator by owners who are seeking less conflict and greater efficiency in their projects.

clients will continue to embrace sustainability.
There will be a convergence of what is now considered sustainable, and socially responsible design and development. We have made great strides in the area of sustainability, but today, we are mostly designing interior products and spaces for near-term use. We ought to be encouraging clients to consider long-lasting, adaptable solutions. Recycling and repurposing help conserve resources, but these strategies are grounded in a “disposable” mindset. Designing spaces so they can be easily modified for different uses and specifying products that can be refurbished rather than recycled—think “again-ability”—is much more sustainable.

Such an approach makes good design much more economical and creates a new role for the designer as a steward of design, guiding it through its evolution as needs and functions change over time. Think how much we could learn, improve and document our outcomes if we could switch from treating design as a closed loop—a project or task—and instead treat it as an open system, an ongoing relationship with a space.

There is no shortcut to the future. Fortunately, we have the tools to help guide us along the way. Our clients expect us as designers to look ahead and stay informed about relevant changes that will impact people’s relationship to interior space. If we don’t have a read on the future, who will?

To obtain a copy of the current ASID Environmental Scanning Report, go to the ASID website at and click on “Strategic Planning” under Practice & Business.


ASID President Lisa Henry, FASID, LEED AP, is the Knoll Denver region architecture and design director. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480 or, and on the web at