IIDA College of Fellows Share Thoughts on the Future of Design

05/08/2019 By International Interior Design Association (IIDA)

In April, IIDA announced the induction of five members into the IIDA College of Fellows, the highest honor paid by the Association to members whose activities have significantly influenced and enhanced the interior design profession.

All are thought leaders, industry pioneers, and invaluable educators within the commercial interior design community. For 2019, the College of Fellows welcomes:

  • Kenneth Baker, FIIDA, Assoc. AIA, Assoc, ASID, Assoc. RIBA, SBID
  • Edwin Beltran, FIIDA, Assoc. AIA
  • Julia Monk, FIIDA, FAIA
  • Thomas Polucci, FIIDA, AIA
  • Cindy Simpson, FIIDA

Their induction falls on IIDA’s 25th anniversary, marking more than two decades of design expertise and championing for the profession. Because this year’s honorees are experts and innovators in design and have contributed significantly to the Association’s journey, we asked them what they think (and hope) the next 25 years in design will bring. Their responses ranged from a focus on seamless tech integration to design adaptability.



Kenneth Baker, FIIDA, Assoc. AIA, Assoc. ASID, Assoc. RIBA, SBID

“Technology and sustainability will take on more fundamental roles in design in the next 25 years. But nothing will supersede the importance of making human connections and listening closely to clients—in our industry, that’s a constant.”

Kenneth Baker serves on Gensler’s Board of Directors and Management Committee and is co-managing principal of Gensler’s Southeast Region. He’s a global expert on workplace design and planning.

Edwin Beltran, IIDA, Assoc. AIA

“With the pervasive adoption of technology as an intricate component of every aspect of life, designers will be challenged to create environments and experiences that tangibly reconnect us with our highest humanistic ideals.”

Edwin Beltran is a vice president of the IIDA International Board of Directors and principal of NBBJ’s Interior Architecture and Design Practice, leading some of the firm’s most notable and award-winning healthcare interiors.

Julia Monk, IIDA, FAIA

“During my first 40 years, I have seen our design focus evolve from conspicuous consumption to conscientious consumption to experiential design. We now begin to focus on transformational design. The next 25 years of design will bring a focus on design objectives that are adaptive and can transform with time.”

Julia Monk is the global hospitality thought leader for global design and architecture firm HOK. Through her career, Julia has focused on defining luxury guest experiences.

Thomas Polucci, FIIDA, AIA

“In the coming decades, we will experience the complete merging of the digital realm with physical space. This will demand that designers balance technology with a renewed focus on human-centric spaces that will transform the work experience.  The spaces we build today must be future-ready to accommodate this evolution.”

As the firmwide director of design at HOK, Tom Polucci leads the interiors practice in 24 offices globally and guides our next generation of design leaders.

Cindy Simpson, FIIDA

“Good design is not enough anymore. What matters now and in the future are the factors of design that impact the human experience.”

A dedicated client advocate, with an intense focus on her clients’ business drivers, Cindy Simpson is the managing director of Gensler’s Dallas office and a member of the firm’s Board of Directors.


The future of design ultimately depends on the design professionals we uphold in the present. IIDA is pleased to welcome a group of these design professionals into the College of Fellows and looks forward to supporting their ingenuity, hard work and inspiring dedication to interior design

ASID Thought Leaders See Demand for Interior Design [ASID]
How Our Designer of the Year Blurs the Line Between Art and Design [DotY]