The Impact of Design: Bringing Global Home

With an expanse of information and resources, getting involved is easier and more important than ever

By Sandy Gordon

Call it revolutionary, transformational, or simply to be expected, but the world is no longer operating as it once was. The economic and societal trends at play are incredibly complex and nearly impossible to predict, but one thing is certain: We’re all far more connected and interdependent than we once were.

Whether you work locally, nationally, or internationally, what happens globally affects all of us in one way or another. And whether we are designers domestically or abroad, we all share concerns about sustainability, materiality, social welfare, economic viability, resiliency, and health and well-being.

One of the most interesting areas in which world populations see the effects of globalization is in design. Deeply rooted in generations of history and cultural change, great work can transcend geographic boundaries and bring new perspectives to our lives. One example is how we have embraced indigenous, handcrafted elements in our interiors, while often being more socially and environmentally responsible.

 Seize Information

Congruently, information is being democratized at an unprecedented rate, allowing us as designers to not only access and be inspired by new ideas and materials, but also to share far more diverse perspectives with our clients. We can literally bring the world to their doorsteps, thereby providing new solutions to age-old challenges where we live, work, play, heal, and learn.

Our exposure to global perspectives is also being manifested in the classroom, where the Council for Interior Design Accreditation estimates the percentage of international students in interior design curriculums to be an average of 6.9 percent. Equally as many students study abroad and eventually work in other countries.

Being globally responsive—and responsible—is incumbent upon us. We can learn more about what is happening internationally at events such as World Interiors Day which takes place this year on May 28. World Interiors Day is spearheaded by the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) to spotlight interior architecture and design. The annual event is designed to engage professionals, national organizations, design enthusiasts, and consumers in exploring creativity, imagination, vision, and passion in relation to the role of interiors in society, culture, and future environments.

As the IFI Interiors Declaration states, “In the spaces that are important to us, we experience not only a sense of place, but a sense of who we are, and of what we can be. Thoughtfully designed spaces help us learn, reflect, imagine, discover, and create.”

Get Involved

While the challenges faced by people around the world may differ, the basic human desire for comfort, security, and a sense of personal space are often the same. This year’s theme at IFI’s event “Interiors Intelligence” seeks to foster a greater appreciation for, and connection between, the built environment and its occupants, whether residential or commercial.

You can be part of this event on a local level in many ways. Consider working with your local government to proclaim May 28 as World Interiors Day in your community or city. Offer to speak or start a dialogue in your schools or civic groups about the impact of design. Or create your own activities that will help increase awareness. Every outreach effort helps us all.

At the ASID, we value being a vital partner in such efforts as World Interiors Day. Since 2014, we have taken a leadership position about the impact of design through our workforce and industry development program, called the ASID Protocols for Health and Wellness in Design. First announced at the Clinton Global Initiative, this exclusive education and technology program helps all design professionals make smarter decisions about products, materials, and building components that prioritize clients’ health and wellness in their interior spaces.

We continue to build on relationships and involvement around some of the largest and most respected international interior design gatherings. ASID participated in HOST, the international Exhibition for the Hospitality Industry, in Milan. It was a great opportunity to speak about design, construction, and interiors with some of the most influential figures in the North American interiors community.

We also attended Marmomacc in Italy and the International Design Congress held in South Korea. And later this year, we will again be hosting the annual Impact Summit in partnership with the Interior Designers of Canada. This event, which takes place in Toronto, will convene a community of leaders from the business, government, and nonprofit sectors to forge innovative design solutions for North America’s most pressing health and wellness challenges in the built environment.

Being a part of these international conversations helps keep us both relevant and challenged. Are we ahead on issues within the built environment? What more can and should we be doing? Looking within and, at the same time, far beyond our own world is critical, life-changing, and absolutely necessary.  

Sandy Gordon is the chair of ASID’s Board of Directors and principal of SGI Interiors in Madison, Wisc. Learn more at www.asid.org.

Members of ASID convene at Launch: the ASID National Student Summit.