ASID Update: The Scene and the Unseen


Much of what interior designers do is unknown and unrecognized outside the profession. We know the critical role we have in affecting people's quality of life and how we impact the places where they live, work and play. Every day our clients expect us to make the right interior design decisions to protect their health, safety and welfare. In addition, our design process and materials selections can, if carefully considered, contribute to addressing the world's environmental and sustainability challenges. Meeting these responsibilities requires us to be up to date with the latest in design technology, business practices and current social concerns, such as accessibility and our aging population. We may specialize in certain practice areas, but we must be generalists when it comes to human behavior and the psychological effects of design.

Our clients and the people who use the spaces we create may not know everything we do, but they assume—and expect—that we are experts in all of the technical and practical areas of interior design. Nonetheless, our design solutions would not be considered good work if the clients and end users did not find them aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes in our efforts to accentuate the professional nature of the services we provide, we fail to acknowledge that the aesthetic value in our designed spaces is a key factor of what makes our projects successful. We also sometimes lose sight of the fact that the understanding of aesthetic value and the need to express it is also the reason why so many of us chose this field to begin with.

By all accounts we are experiencing a design renaissance, not just in the U.S. but globally. Historians may look back upon this time as the "age of aesthetics." Thanks to the mass marketing of good design by companies like Apple, IKEA and Target, excellence in design is all around us and is not only available to many more people, but also is expected by the consumer. As a result, the strategic and competitive importance of design was one of the top business stories of 2005. Although some professionals see the commercialization of design as a threat, in fact designers are reaping the benefits. Product and interior designers, as well as lifestyle gurus who tout the benefits of design, are now major celebrities and media darlings. Watching designers design has become a form of entertainment for millions of television viewers.

For me, it is inspiring to see so many people considering design excellence as an integral part of their lives and not just an added luxury for society's elite. We designers may snicker at the quick-fix "makeover" television shows that some of us consider demeaning to our profession, but the emotions expressed by the homeowners when they see their homes transformed are real. These programs may offer some of the simplest, and easiest to understand, case studies on how interior design, aesthetics and decoration affect the quality of a person's life in a positive way. They are testimony as well to the valuable role of the interior designer as part of the design team and what the designer contributes that makes the project more successful.

Without taking anything away from the builder, architect or engineer, more often than not, it is the interior designer who brings the project to life for the client. We are there to help our clients discover and express their individuality and to make life more pleasurable and enriching for them. For decades, interior design for most of the public was limited to pretty pictures in books and magazines. These were scenes created by the photographer to suit the camera, not interior spaces to be experienced and responded to. The best interior design brings emotional and spiritual well being to those who experience it. It takes into account not only what is seen but what cannot be seen—the inner life of the people in the space. That is the aesthetic power it shares with its sister arts. Today more and more people have the opportunity to feel that power as good design makes its way into public as well as commercial buildings and homes.

I invite all of you, whether a member of ASID or not, to join me and many top interior designers in Nashville, March 16-20, for INTERIORS 06: The ASID Conference on Design. We will meet to share insights on interior design but also to celebrate the best of design by honoring the achievements of our most distinguished members as well as other design visionaries. Our design gala, Celebration: The ASID Design Awards, will be held at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel on Saturday, March 18. I hope you will come and share the experience. For more information and registration, visit the ASID Web site at

  • ASID President Robert Wright, FASID, is an award-winning interior designer, with a focus on office and residential design. He is a principal of Bast/Wright Interiors, Inc. in San Diego, CA. ASID can be reached at (202) 546-3480 or , and on the Web at