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The Power of Knowledge

June 28, 2016

Research is the foundation upon which successful businesses and healthy environments are built.

In this Information Age, we “trade” in knowledge. Interior designers are hired for what they know, and by extension, what they know how to do. Insights are gained over time through experience and continuing education, be it online, attending conferences, networking at trade association events, or reading industry publications such as interiors+sources.

Impacting the entire process, research is the foundation that helps us gain the information we need to be successful in our businesses–and, ultimately, improve the built environment that our clients occupy.

As a professional association, ASID is among the organizations that recognizes that, for the profession to advance, it needs to push the limits of what is known about interior environments and their impact on the human experience, and disseminate that knowledge to practitioners, educators, and students.

It’s critical that we continually study who we are, what our needs are, and how we can learn and grow. One example is the Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI), the ASID monthly survey designed to provide a unique perspective on current and future business conditions for the interior design industry nationally and regionally. The study has proven to be a leading economic indicator. If the IDBI is up one month, we reliably expect housing construction to be up by the same amount three months later.

In addition to IDBI updates, the annual Interior Design Outlook and State of the Industry report serves as another authoritative status indicator that we’ve come to rely upon. In last year’s report, ASID examined the trends affecting interior design–from the macro, like the push for health and wellness, sustainability, and resiliency, to technology, urbanization, and globalization, to 30 different subtrends.

For this year’s Industry Outlook report, which was released at NeoCon in June, ASID researchers examined the factors that affect the built environment from the designer and project perspectives. In other words, when a designer begins their process, what are they considering?

rom global issues such as the economy and security to culture and values, the business of design, and the unavoidable crunch on time, the research explores what shapes the people and processes that create the world we live in.

There’s also a Changemaker Challenge section in this year’s report that pushes interior designers to take a proactive approach to shaping the world in the way it should or could be, rather than reacting to the factors around us. New this year, the 2016-17 Interior Design Outlook and State of the Industry report is free for members.

Beyond the release of the initial report, ASID is producing a series of subsequent “sector briefs” through the summer and into the fall that explore the factors affecting design for each of the disciplines–residential, office, healthcare, hospitality/retail, education/government.

I’m incredibly proud of this work–in particular the efforts funded by the ASID Foundation that seek to identify and fill gaps in understanding about the impact of design. Over the past five years, the foundation has provided $622,000 in research grants through the Transform program.

Subjects have included the return on investment of workplace design, ways interior design can improve health and wellness, and how informed design can improve learning environments and outcomes.

Research not only informs what we as designers, manufacturers, and educators do, it inspires us toward new innovations. But the power of identifying and curating such valuable information does not lie only within the minds of researchers. It also lies within us, as professionals.

I challenge us all to become thought leaders. Participate in research studies when you have the opportunity. Conduct your own investigations.

Access the latest information on trends in our industry. And, most importantly, put that knowledge to work as we impact the human experience.

Sandy Gordon, FASID, LEED AP, is the Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Society of Interior Designers and Principal of SGI Interiors in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about ASID and the just released Industry Outlook report at ASID.org.

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