As all industries tackle the ongoing effects of COVID-19, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has sought to understand the resiliency of the design industry and profession through times of uncertainty. The 2020 ASID Interior Design Resiliency Report has released the results from its first phase, conducted during the summer of 2020 in partnership with Cosentino, Benjamin Moore and Emerald to further investigate interior design resilience by examining the impact of the pandemic, the response from the interior design community and the changes necessary in design to move forward.
“In their day-to-day work, design professionals are creative problem-solvers who constantly strive to provide a positive, impactful experience,” explains ASID Director, Research and Knowledge Management Susan Chung, Ph.D. “We hope that in addition to helping us understand the changes and challenges that face the industry, this Resiliency Report demonstrates the value of design and contributions design professionals can make to help lead us into a safer and healthier world.”
Prior to this study, ASID had been tracking the impact of COVID-19 on the interior design community through pulse surveys, finding signs of resilience among the industry and profession. The Resiliency Report takes a deeper dive by examining attributes of interior design professionals, their experiences during the pandemic and expected changes in the design of the built environment. The study not only identifies issues interior design businesses and professionals have faced during this major disruption, but also tracks changes implemented in the industry, tests the viability of industry-wide changes and showcases the value of design. The study will be conducted in multiple phases, with this being the first, to better understand long-term resilience.
When surveying designers and other industry respondents, the study focused on areas including impact, response, changes in design and ways to build health and exercise resilience in the profession. Key findings include:
Regardless of age, gender, status, location, firm or experience, everyone has been affected by COVID-19. All respondents reported some level of impact on at least one of the five areas: life in general, country/city, firm, interior design industry/business and interior design education. Although general concern due to the impact of COVID-19 eased somewhat since its peak (March-April 2020), the majority of the interior design community still expresses high concerns (as measured in July 2020).
Impact is perceived as a collective and shared experience, and it is interconnected with personal and professional lives. Respondents’ lives are multifaceted and intricately woven with the external and larger society, and their social well-being was lowest during this time of physical distancing. 73 percent reported experiencing burnout in some frequency, having a major impact on personal well-being.
The design industry made necessary changes and adjustments, specifically focused on working remotely, technology, infrastructure, resources and support. Focus group participants reported different degrees of preparedness, with some undergoing a seamless transition and others facing a longer adjustment. Designers also navigated transitioning clients to a virtual working relationship.
Designers collaborated to create solutions. With a greater awareness of the built environment’s role in health due to the pandemic, client needs changed and professionals pivoted to accommodate new requests. Participants from large firms in particular mentioned including medical experts, HVAC engineers and industrial hygienists in project teams. Some partnered with product developers in creating innovative solutions.
Changes in Design
This is a time to re-evaluate and challenge the profession to reinvent a better future. The interior design community agrees that changes in interior design are expected due to COVID-19 and necessary for the future of design. 45 percent of respondents stated that the most challenging design issue that needs to be resolved to advance post-COVID-19 is public policy.
Designers expect major changes to happen in their process. Areas such as furniture, fixtures and equipment selection, construction, supply chain, and delivery and installation are areas in which designers identify the need for change.
Design has always been future-focused as it identifies better solutions for people, and designers expect major changes to occur specifically in entertainment venues and shared living facilities.
Changes in home design are predicted to accommodate current and future needs, such as more defined office space or workstations, additional technology in home, clean living, more defined e-learning space or workstations, and enhanced outdoor living options.
Major changes are expected in shared spaces, not just in the light of how a virus spreads, but also in how interaction and engagement are fostered to support social well-being.
New priorities emerged from the pandemic, with air quality and spatial layout at the very top when ranking spatial components that need further improvement post-COVID-19.
Building Health and Exercising Resilience
Building trust in design will be more important than ever. Designers must demonstrate the impact design on the human experience through proven outcomes and promote the value of design.
Focus on health and wellness will be the norm, with a heightened awareness from clients. Designers are people-centric and aim to create solutions that satisfy their needs, including the most basic physiological need for health and wellness. Therefore, they must continue to educate themselves and their clients on how design impacts lives.