5 Trends Shaping the Future

ASID's annual Industry Outlook reveals the fastest moving trends influencing the future of interior design.

By Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D., FASID, FIDEC

The interior design industry is undergoing tremendous change at the moment. These developments are likely to have a substantial impact on how design is practiced three to five years from now. ASID knows that keeping up with the latest trends is important to our designers and the industry partners who serve them. We analyze data from a wide range of sources, survey practitioners and industry representatives, talk with leaders in the building industry and media, and invite input from experts in many fields. We compile the highlights of this research in an annual Industry Outlook report to share with our members and the industry at large.

The newly released 2015 Industry Outlook report includes information on a number of developing trends that are shaping the practice of interior design. The following are five that industry insiders are seeing as among the fastest moving at present:

The Changing Client. The nature of the designer-client relationship is continuing to change and at a faster rate. This is having a profound effect on both how designers practice and the services they provide. In the residential sector especially, clients are seeking a more participatory relationship with their designer, wanting to be more directly involved in design and purchasing decisions. In the commercial sector, clients are more frequently engaging designers as consultants or advisors, while outsourcing the implementation and installation of their designs to contractors, vendors, and computer graphics firms. At the same time, designers are increasingly serving as advocates for the benefits of good design, explaining to clients and the public how design can make spaces healthier, more functional, and more supportive of the activities for which they are built.

Healthy Behaviors. A profound change in recent years has been the shift within the built environment toward occupant well-being. The recently launched WELL Building Standard establishes for the first time performance requirements in seven areas relevant to occupant health—air, water, light, nourishment, fitness, comfort, and mind. Using evidence-based design, urban planners, builders, and designers are creating spaces that promote wellness and healthy behaviors. We are also seeing more widespread recognition of the importance of biophilia and its impact on health and well-being.

Higher Sustainability Standards. One of the most transformative trends affecting interior design now and for at least the next few years is the rising bar of sustainability standards. The USGBC is currently rolling out updated standards, LEED v4, that will require architects, interior designers, and even property managers responsible for building performance to further minimize environmental footprints. Governments, too, are setting higher standards for energy and water conservation. New “smart building” systems are improving monitoring in all areas of the building. The definition of sustainability is expanding, too, to include occupant health and wellness, and social responsibility.

Holistic Design. The urgency to solve today’s complex building and design problems is making an interdisciplinary approach more important than ever. The design silo is being replaced with a systems thinking methodology that looks at the building as an interconnected, interactive whole. As disciplines become more specialized and continue to merge, we must have the various practitioners at the table—designers, mechanical and structural engineers, architects, facility managers, and more—to develop more holistic solutions.

Emerging Technologies. Technological innovation is transforming our profession, both how we design and what we design. Newer visualization and building information tools, such as 3D printing, BIM, and Revit, have taken planning and rendering to a whole new level. With the advent of the Internet of Everything, spaces will be teeming with “smart” devices that will control and monitor every aspect of its use. Advances in robotics are increasing the speed of construction, helping to reduce injuries and making possible the use of new building materials and methods.

Design is changing, and the future promises exciting possibilities for our profession. I encourage you to read the full Interior Design 2015/2016 Outlook and State of the Industry report to get a full analysis on the leading trends and sub-trends influencing the profession, as well as the latest economic data from the marketplace. Visit www.asid.org to obtain your copy.

Stephanie Clemons, Ph.D., FASID, FIDEC, serves as the ASID national chair, board of directors and is a professor of interior design and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University. ASID can be reached at 202-546-3480 or asid@asid.org, and online at asid.org.