There's something different about this issue of Interiors & Sources. If you haven't noticed what it is yet, turn back to the front cover and open the gatefold. While a regular issue usually features one, two or perhaps three designers on the cover, this month we decided to shake things up and go with 10. Why are there so many people on the cover this month? We're glad you asked.
While following the trends in the industry, we've noticed a shift that is starting to take place in the demographic of the U.S. workforce, as previously reported in the pages of I&S (see March '06, "Design for the Aging"). Most notably, due to what the AARP identifies as a "generational gap" in the population after 1964, the last year of the Baby Boom generation, there will actually be fewer workers to fill leadership positions as the aging workforce transitions into retirement. What this means to design firms is increased competition to recruit and retain young talent in the coming years. And the importance of doing so couldn't be understated. As Robert Wright, president
of ASID, writes in this month's forum article, "The successful future
of the interior design profession depends on today's students and emerging practitioners."
Having also recognized this trend, Antron, a leading manufacturer of commercial carpet fiber, approached us about co-hosting a roundtable of young professionals to find out what the next generation of designers had to say about the current state and future of the industry. So in early March, we held the first Young Designers Roundtable in Chicago and brought in a pool of emerging talent—the 10 people gracing this month's cover—from some of the most prominent firms across the country.
The group delved into topics ranging from education to practice, NCIDQ examination to mentoring, sustainability and product trends to licensing and legislation. Indeed, the participants were passionate about the industry that they have chosen for their careers and are striving, as the rest of the industry is, to communicate the value that design practitioners bring to the table and to achieve the recognition that the practice of interior design deserves. (For more, turn to page 35.)
But where are we, exactly, as an industry if we haven't yet "arrived"? The answer, at least to some degree, can be found in this month's Special Report (see page 26) on The Interior Design Profession's Body of Knowledge, 2005 Edition, which is a joint—and some believe groundbreaking—effort by six professional organizations to continue to define and document the abstract knowledge needed by practitioners to perform the profession's work, and to initiate
and sustain a dialogue among educators and interior designers to document changes over time. This edition of the professional practice paper represents a "snapshot" of where the interior design profession's body of knowledge is today.
Where the industry will be in the years ahead will be determined by what practitioners do today to ensure the profession's survival tomorrow. Wright suggests that mentoring emerging talent is the
best way to guarantee a future for interior design. "We all need to nurture the new generation of interior designers," he writes. "They not only will be tomorrow's professionals, they also will be tomorrow's dedicated volunteer leaders."
If you're not convinced, I urge you to read what our group of young designers had to say about the value of mentoring. Each of them, in one way or another, felt "lucky" that they were surrounded by knowledgeable practitioners who were available to help guide them through the often difficult transition from education to practice. It is imperative that design firms not only recruit emerging talent, but invest in their new employees by establishing mentoring programs and pairing them with veterans who have forged a path for their future so that the young professionals of today can do the same for the ones soon to follow in their footsteps.