The year 2016 is expected to remain strong for the interior design industry.

According to the Interior Design 2015/16 Outlook and State of the Industry Report, produced by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Research, forecasts continue to predict positive growth for the interior design industry, with several indicators suggesting that design has fully recovered from the Recession of 2008.

The number of designers and design firms is near or ahead of 2007 figures, and the dollar value of sales and product specified is at record levels. With billings and inquiries on the rise, it is expected that the job market will remain active as firms of all sizes and design specialties are on track to hire more employees.

health & well-being: Individuals and organizations are taking health and well-being into their own hands. As a sub-trend, designing for healthy behaviors focuses on how design can motivate more physical activity. As the global health and wellness/well-being economy hits the trillion dollar mark – and with interior design having potential impact on multiple key sectors – this trend places high in the rankings. Thought leaders in interior design selected this as the third most-transformative trend and the fastest-moving trend overall. They also voted it as the most likely trend to appear in design projects next year.

As a sub-trend, designing for healthy behaviors focuses on how design can motivate more physical activity.

In addition, as the industry grows, it has also evolved with six macro-trends for 2015/16 slated to continue: Health & Well-Being, Technology, Sustainability, Urbanization, Globalization, and Resiliency.

“Designers are now expected to solve increasingly complex problems — designing office spaces that encourage health and well-being, integrating multiple generations in one home, minimizing the environmental footprint of a new hotel, or creating retail spaces that utilize the latest technology in an effort to maximize profits,” says Randy Fiser, CEO of the ASID. “To meet this growing demand, providing proper education, training, and tools is critical. Our goal as a Society is to share that knowledge through ongoing research and education.”

In developing the Industry Outlook, ASID analyzed data from both public and private sources, surveying more than 200 practicing interior designers and convening the first-ever ASID Think Tank Challenge. Comprised of six thought-leaders from cutting-edge firms and a variety of disciplines, the “think tank” was tasked with confirming the validity of the six defined macro-trends. Each macro-trend was also analyzed into its own set of sub-trends. Some of the sub-trends are described as highly transformative, such as higher sustainability standards, while others are described as fast-moving, like designing for healthy behaviors.

“Our objective is to help our members understand the trends, analyze what they mean for their projects and business, and push the boundaries of interior design,” Fiser adds.

It is important to note that while commercial designers are experimenting in their practice with many of the trends cited in the 2015/2016 Outlook Report, residential designers – with a few exceptions – are seeing less adoption overall. This may be due to reduced demand from consumers, higher price sensitivity, or lower designer awareness. Those designers who bring some of these trends into the residential market, however, might find a new competitive advantage.

The 6 Macro-Trends

Designing for Healthy Behaviors – itself a transformative and fast-moving sub-trend – is becoming increasingly integrated into the concept of sustainability.

Designing for Healthy Behaviors – itself a transformative and fast-moving sub-trend – is becoming increasingly integrated into the concept of sustainability.

The 6 Macro-Trends

health & well-being: Individuals and organizations are taking health and well-being into their own hands. As a sub-trend, designing for healthy behaviors focuses on how design can motivate more physical activity. As the global health and wellness/well-being economy hits the trillion dollar mark – and with interior design having potential impact on multiple key sectors – this trend places high in the rankings. Thought leaders in interior design selected this as the third most-transformative trend and the fastest-moving trend overall. They also voted it as the most likely trend to appear in design projects next year.

technology: Technology’s impact on design is predicted to grow even more in the coming years, with the ability to connect to almost everything, everyone, and everywhere.  Are you 3D printing your design solutions yet? Immersive visualization technologies – such as holographic technology and virtual reality systems – provide a different, more immersive, way to experience design concepts before construction begins. The Internet of Things is a sub-trend identified by participants in the Think Tank Challenge as one of the five fastest-moving sub-trends overall and second fastest-moving trend in technology. The Internet of Things refers to technologies that connect items like the lock on your front door, your refrigerator, or the temperature control of your house to the Internet.

sustainability: Although it has been around for a long time under a variety of names, sustainability continues to be relevant across all business sectors, including interior design. A broader interpretation that more closely links sustainability to designing for healthy behaviors is expected to increase.  In the ASID’s broad analysis of trend reports, a majority included sustainability as a top trend, and its panel of design experts identified two sustainability sub-trends (higher sustainability standards and energy optimization) as among the five most-transformative of all. Designing for Healthy Behaviors – itself a transformative and fast-moving sub-trend – is becoming increasingly integrated into the concept of sustainability.

urbanization: As more people move back into the cities, access to necessities and amenities will become more important. In conjunction with the growing interest in health and well-being, urban designers are creating neighborhoods that are walkable for increased physical activity. There are 494 cities around the world with populations of 1 million or more. Urban areas are becoming denser due to the new generation of workers valuing proximity as a means to find work life balance. Interior designers must find creative ways to make the most of limited spaces.

globalization: With international travel becoming more common – along with the technology that supports communication when abroad – the world is more interconnected than ever. Design is no longer limited to a single location or culture; it transcends boundaries. U.S. interior design firms are finding growth opportunities abroad. Whether it’s designing for U.S. businesses that are expanding overseas, or foreign companies seeking out U.S. design talent, business abroad is up. This sub-trend is about a growing sensitivity among designers for how our design perspective – while still our own – is inextricably linked to a broader cultural framework. Although great design transcends borders, there are still cultural distinctions among our clients that must be considered.

resiliency: In this fast-paced and constantly changing world, resiliency is becoming a fundamental necessity for survival. For design, that means incorporating holistic thinking in order to solve bigger challenges, not just the immediate ones. Examples of spaces that are being designed under this resiliency sub-trend include domestic violence shelters, youth centers, and disaster relief housing. Additionally, homes that can’t adapt to aging tenants can’t be considered resilient.

Overall, the consensus is that the practice and business of interior design is quickly changing for the better. There is more demand for interior design services than there has been for the past six years, and billings, inquiries, jobs, and specified products are all rising. 

Most interior designers surveyed by ASID believe that these identified trends will increase in 2016. Most designers expect there will be increased use of social media for advertising business (91 percent) and increased customer engagement (91 percent). More designers (though still fewer than half) are reporting an expected increase in average fee per square foot (45 percent compared to 30 percent in 2014). Even though only 37 percent of surveyed designers expect the number of mid-size firms to grow over the next year, it’s still more than they expected last year (10 percent).