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Lessons from the Future

IIDA Student Members offer insight into what’s next for design.

by Louisa Fitzgerald

Students are, quite literally, the future of commercial interior design, making it critical for our industry to understand their vision—what matters now that won’t in five or 10 years? How will current design movements play out? What role can designers play in solving society’s most pressing problems? Here, three IIDA Student Members share their thoughts about how design and designers will evolve.

Scott Ramirez
Illinois State University

Designing Beyond LEED: We are currently seeing advancements in solar photovoltaic systems, high-efficiency equipment, sustainable materials and furniture, wind energy, and many other “green” practices. To imagine what advances we will have in 10 years is difficult; however, designing buildings that have a lower impact on the environment by taking advantage of new technology will be a priority.

Design is a resource that is easily overlooked, but if used properly, can and will help solve major societal concerns.
—Scott Ramirez

A Tool for Education: Design is a resource that is easily overlooked, but if used properly, can and will help solve major societal concerns. Design can educate. With the use of installations and displays we can provide a medium that is engaging and attractive for individuals to learn about issues such as race, gender equality, and immigration—to name a few.

Nicole Trozzi
Art Institute of California—Inland Empire

Removing the Stigma of Mental Health: In the healthcare industry, there is a trend toward building facilities that house healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines. All the doctors come to the patient instead of vice versa, removing the stigma of having to go to a separate mental health facility for treatment. Design plays a significant role in ensuring these facilities function for a multidisciplinary healthcare model.

Supporting a New Workforce: In the corporate world, designers are helping transition workplaces from places of strict hierarchy—“he’s my boss, she’s my manager”—to more collaborative, open-concept spaces that aren’t intimidating or determined by where your position is on an organizational chart. As interior designers, we are thinking about ways to support how this generation works and how we see work changing in general.

Kristi Rotunno
Columbia College Chicago

The Evolution of the Office: More and more, “home” is being integrated into work. This doesn’t necessarily mean working from home; it means making workplaces more welcoming and comfortable while also adding back some of the privacy we lost with open-concept offices. We need to have areas where employees can go away, close a door or put up a partition, and be alone with their thoughts. Employees and companies increasingly understand the value of spaces for quiet respite.

The Expanding Role of Designers: It’s a good time to be an interior designer. More companies are enlisting the professionalism of a designer because research shows that the environment employees work in is so important. The whole idea of mind-body-spirit wellness has many positive effects for businesses, including increased productivity, fewer illnesses and accidents, and potentially reduced health insurance costs. Companies are beginning to recognize the benefits of good design.

Get the Student Perspective

In Fall 2016, IIDA and OFS Brands held a series of Student Roundtables in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta, inviting interior design students in each city to convene with a small group of design practitioners for an evening of discussion about the future of the industry. It was a rare opportunity for open dialogue about the challenges students face when transitioning into interior design careers, the gaps
that exist between classroom preparation and workplace realities, and the next generation’s vision for interior design. The resulting report, “The Future of the Industry,” is available at iida.org.