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ASID Update: "Connex" with Interior Designers

Enhanced interactive communication can save time and let design professionals leverage their creativity and productivity.

By Rita Carson Guest, FASID


Enhanced interactive communication can save time and let design professionals leverage their creativity and productivity.

By Rita Carson Guest, FASID

Many Factors, including Occupant Perception, Affect IAQ
Recent research on indoor air quality (IAQ) is plentiful-an indication of the urgent need to address this critical health issue. Studies have examined factors contributing to poor IAQ in the home, in schools, in the workplace, in healthcare and day care settings, and other environments, as well as in many different countries and climates. InformeDesign®, the online database of research on design and human behavior, offers more than 100 research summaries of articles on IAQ ... many of which have been published within the past few years. 

Most IAQ research focuses on the causes of poor indoor air quality and methods for removing or mitigating them within the interior environment. Some recent studies, however, have examined factors that may influence occupants' perceptions of air quality, including providing explanatory or educational materials.

  • A study of middle and elementary schools in Southeast Michigan, published in Indoor Air 17:2 (2007), discovered that, for all but one contaminant, VOC levels were higher inside the schools than outdoors. The study also found that many schools had insufficient ventilation, based on ASHRAE standards, and that classrooms with higher ventilation rates had lower VOC levels.
  • Different ventilation methods vary in their ability to control certain kinds of pollutants. In a study of child care centers in Singapore, also published in the journal Indoor Air 17:4 (2007), naturally ventilated buildings were found to have lower concentrations of indoor pollutants and higher rates of ventilation. Air-conditioned buildings, however, were found to have lower concentrations of outdoor pollutants and ozone. Naturally ventilated buildings were found to have the lowest occurrence of respiratory symptoms, while other types of ventilation systems increased these risks. 
  • Two recent studies tested occupant perceptions of IAQ. One study, reported in Indoor Air 17:2 (2007), found that occupants were less likely to complain about odors from certain building materials if they received information about the source of the material (e.g., organic vs. synthetic). Organic materials were perceived as more environmentally friendly than synthetics. Occupants were more likely to attach a positive attitude to odors emitted by organic materials. Another study, published the previous year in Indoor Air 16:2 (2006), found that occupants' perceptions of indoor air quality may be a good indicator of the actual quality of the air.

These and many other studies like them provide important insights that can help you make well informed choices that will better safeguard the health, safety and welfare of occupants of the spaces you design. Research summaries of the scholarly journal articles mentioned, and those representing more than 1,900 other studies, can be accessed, free of charge, at Other articles can be found on the Research Design Connections Web site at, and through Google Scholar.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) recently launched a new online private social network: ASID CONNEX. CONNEX provides members a secure, easy-to-use tool that allows them to CONNECT with the 40,000+ members of ASID. One can log on and immediately see who is online and instantly begin a dialogue with members
who are thousands of miles away. One can join any of the online communities ... or start one of their own. One can even maintain their own blog on the interior design topic of their choice!

Today, social networking sites have emerged as a key medium for connecting complex sets of relationships between members of modern society. By linking professional interior designers, students, and educators to each other and to the industry members that serve them, ASID is creating unprecedented opportunities for its members to grow their networks and tap into unknown resources.

Imagine the possibilities:

  • Students connecting with professional designers as they work on their projects.
  • Professionals asking for out-of-town resources for out-of-town projects.
  • Industry partners providing source information for hard-to-find products.
  • Utilizing fellow professionals for leads on new employees.
  • Asking educators for research tools to support your work.

Members can identify themselves by their practice areas and interests, and they can create as many specialty forums as they need, such as traditional specialty areas (i.e., contract design, healthcare design, retail design, hospitality design, residential design, educational design, institutional design, etc.) or cross-specialty practice areas like sustainable design and universal design. 

In our world of specialization, designers are becoming experts in more narrowly focused practices. I know designers who design only jewelry stores or dentist offices. Specialization gives designers a competitive advantage. The ability to link with other professionals in different or similar specialty practice areas will increase opportunities to collaborate as well as expand our knowledge base.

Through globalization, our world has become smaller. Worldwide education over the Internet is available for most people in nearly every language. The more connected we are, the better we are able to share and build on each other's knowledge. By connecting professionals in different practice areas, interactive communication will introduce new ideas and opportunities.

In today's market, how well we are connected can directly relate to our success. Social capital may be our most powerful asset! ASID encourages its members to use this forum to cultivate innovation and support each other through collaboration.

We can all leverage our productivity by working together. Today, time is the new gold. Through collaboration, we will have more time for creative thought and innovation.

ASID president Rita Carson Guest, FASID, is an award- winning interior designer and longtime advocate for the interior design profession. She is president and design director of Carson Guest, a law office and corporate design firm in Atlanta, GA. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480 or, and on the Web at