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Shaping a Bright Future

Emerging design professionals will be responsible for shaping our profession and the world to come, making outreach and education a crucial priority.

By Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, FASID, CID, LEED AP BD+C

Emerging design professionals will be responsible for shaping our profession and the world to come, making outreach and education a crucial priority.

The future is now,” a colleague said to me at a recent design event. It was the kind of phrase that, on the surface, seems empty, and I believe that design professionals of all disciplines must guard against a tendency to use sweeping words without much meeting. But as I began to consider the trends facing the design world, from the rise of urbanization and big data to the stressors we face from globalization and resource limitations, I realized that perhaps it was true: as design professionals, we have created the future we have been waiting for. It is here now, and with it comes as many questions as answers.

Will ours be a world of ownership or access? Will success be measured in terms of productivity or creativity? Will we work in discrete roles or serve diverse needs on a design team? Will the products we specify be off the shelf or produced on demand? Amid these questions, and so many more, one thing is certain: interior designers will play a powerful role in shaping what the future will mean to the built environment and the human experience.  

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is committed to investing in students and emerging professionals as they begin to grapple with these questions. They are the movers and shakers of the future, and it’s safe to say that the relevance—and perhaps even the resilience—of our profession relies on their success.

One example of the Society’s investment is our GO PRO program, which is a national program designed by emerging professionals for emerging professionals, with the goal of delivering high-quality learning and networking opportunities for new designers. GO PRO conferences aim to help students and newcomers develop the skills needed to lead the next generation of designers forward.

Last month I attended GO PRO/NYC, the third conference of its kind to be held in New York. The nearly 100 attendees represented a cross-section of graduate design students from across the country, as well as interior designers from firms of all sizes. Their experiences covered a breadth of interior design practice areas, from healthcare and hospitality to corporate and residential. Attendees earned up to 0.8 CEU for participating in four presentations led by dynamic leaders related to our industry.

One of the panel discussions, PROduct, looked at 3-D printing or, as I learned it is now called, digital fabrication. This radical technology will have untold implications both for how information

is shared, as well as for our understanding of where things come from and how they work. From furniture and textiles to electronic equipment and human tissue, digitally fabricated products will force designers to deal with important questions regarding intellectual property, including how to determine what is proprietary and what is open source. Is it the product or the process that we own? As the tools we use to develop solutions and engage with our clients continue to evolve and expand, the opportunities in digital fabrication will allow for possibilities we can’t begin to imagine. We left the session with a new understanding that these immense opportunities also require us to be better navigators of the dynamic design process—a task that’s admittedly easier said than done, but a necessary responsibility as we move forward as an industry.

In the PRO Bono session, a group of young designers discussed their participation in The 1% program of Public Architecture, and the importance of doing pro bono work to affect change and eliminate the barriers to access for those who need design most. What struck me during this presentation was just how simple the arithmetic is: If every designer donated 1 percent of his or her time—just 4.8 minutes per person per day—it would amount to a 10,000-person firm working full time. The impact of this giving would be profound, and ASID is proud to partner with Public Architecture on this initiative. Be sure to check out the firm’s website at for ways to get involved. Public Architecture’s diverse portfolio of projects needs your expertise and, if you haven’t given of your talents in this way before, I assure you there is no greater joy.

Finally, as was discussed in the PROcess session, there is still much to learn about our clients and the data they seek to understand and justify design solutions. Attendees learned that the “trust me” approach to design is not effective anymore; rather, evidence-based design and solid research will be necessary to demonstrate the value of interior design through proven positive results. ASID and our partners are committed to helping with this by sponsoring ongoing grant programs that explore issues from workplace design to healthy spaces, with the goal of providing meaningful research and project results that can inform design principles and provide value for our clients.

Like the movers and shakers on these pages, emerging professionals inspire me and make me proud to be part of the interior design industry. Their passion and desire for the research, innovation and foresight necessary to impact the communities where we live, work and play will ensure that both the perceived and actual social relevance of our industry will continue to grow. There is no doubt the future is now, but with young leaders like these, it’s also very bright.


Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, FASID, CID, LEED AP BD+C, is the national president of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), a senior associate with Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle in Minneapolis and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480 or, and on the web at