Designing Our Roadmap

Oct. 1, 2003
Lewis Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA

Designing Our Roadmap

The interior design industry is still young, still defining itself, and still splintered. Yet the core ideal of an industry—one that merges art, science and business—is that of a holistic profession with clearly articulated value and responsibility. Having a clear vision of who we are, what we do, the value we offer the public and our clients, how we educate ourselves and how we regulate the profession are all critical to attaining that vision. Without a roadmap of what we want to be, as a profession we will never get there. Therein lies the need for a strategic plan for our industry. It's why every company or organization does one—and it's why we need to do it now.

Interior designers are planners who must look at the complete environment in order for their design solutions to succeed. Too often, though, we look to others—larger firms, manufacturers or even the public—to be the long-term visionaries who set the standards for great design in the future. Ideas come from all of these sources, but we must each take responsibility for looking forward to a true strategic plan for the profession.

Cohesive, long-term planning is needed in many areas. Fundamentally, a call for life-long education and research is needed. We must commit to quality research throughout the profession—not just by manufacturers, but in post-occupancy evaluations by firms and in innovative support by practitioners for research by educators and students (and encouragement and incentive for individuals who wish to pursue a post-graduate design degree). Further, associations must call for information to fill the gaps where research has not yet been completed.

The next long-term strategy is a need for marketing value, an agenda item that can only be successful with advocacy from all stakeholders in the profession. Designers must be confident in the skills they possess and able to clearly articulate the value of professional interior design service. Firms, manufacturers and the coalitions and associations that represent them must be vocal in their advocacy for the profession and the services it provides. A logical extension of this is support for the highest standards for interior design legislation protecting the health, safety and welfare for the public, and mandating and supporting lifelong learning for design professionals. A clear public message emphasizing the value of interior design as an asset—rather than a cost—must be communicated.

Finally, collaboration—establishing a community of design where ideas are shared and corollary professions are truly respected as part of an overall team—is essential to the maturity of the interior design profession. As an association, IIDA is committed to collaboration with partners in the built environment, and that value is reflected in the collaborative activities of our chapters and in our members, those practicing both as designers and as industry members.

Stakeholders for the profession need to define their vision. Taking a leadership role in planning can be a risk, but IIDA looks forward to working with our peers to long-term plans for the profession. The tenets behind these items are present in the framework for IIDA's strategic plan based on knowledge, value and community and in the articulated goals of other associations. The next step is for the leaders within the profession to come together to help facilitate the "roadmap." Although we each must take ownership for the advancement of the profession, it's only collectively that our vision will be realized.

Future planning and innovation were core discussions at IIDA's Industry Roundtable in 2002. For further information and a Call to Action plan developed as an output of those discussions, visit IIDA's Knowledge Center at its Web site: IIDA president Lewis J. Goetz, FIIDA, FAIA, is founding principal and CEO of Group Goetz Architects, Washington, DC. IIDA is headquartered in space 13-122 at the Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL, and can be reached at (888) 799-IIDA.

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