Hosting the ASID Leadership Experience Conference in Atlanta recently was an EXPERIENCE! Randy Fiser, the ASID CEO and I as Chair of the National Board of Directors delivered the State of the Society, looking forward from the immense change the interior design profession has undergone in the last decade. We advised the audience that the current rate of change is minor compared with what lies ahead as the boundaries of our industry and profession become more permeable.  

Some gasps were heard as Randy overviewed some of the disrupters in the industry. For instance, Autodesk’s artificial intelligence (AI) enabling anyone to input building program requirements with specific criteria and with a tap of the ENTER keymultiple floor plan options (code compliant) are produced, complete with a materials list and VE alternatives. 

Viewing our profession through a series of personas we addressed: 

The EMERGING PROFESSIONAL, likely a member of the gig economy.  A recent stat says 36% of the US workforce is working as Independent Contractors with estimates that within the next decade, that could encompass the majority of workers. At the very least most of us will have a “side hustle” to our primary work.  

 Many in the audience were MID CAREERIST, interested in gaining leadership skills through conferences such as Leadership Experience or sitting on a chapter board. Looking for a network of peers and collaborators and seeking specialization in the knowledge economy, as well as upskilling and microlearning are the buzz at this stage. 

 The SEASONED PROFESSIONALS of the organization possess institutional memory, wisdom about best practices and lateral problem-solving that is priceless. Older workers are working longer in general and designers are no different. I recently attended an AARP conference on the Future of Work that emphasized for the first time ever we are experiencing five generations in the workforce! Career stage currently linked to life stage is becoming irrelevant as we have many entering our profession as a second or even third career. 

 USER EXPERIENCE DESIGNERS are gaining traction in our field where they have been designing interior gaming environments for decades.  I work in the senior living space, often working with a group that is mobility compromised. Empathetic VR is being utilized to help us better understand the user group we are designing for but the field of VR travel without leaving your lounge chair is arriving. Imagine checking into your five-star hotel in a tropical destination or chooses to arrive on your private yacht. These designs don’t require building code knowledge but do require an understanding of how to create a human experience.  

 FACILITY MANAGERS work in the sharing economy is transitioning, as WeWork dominates the leased space evolution, followed by CBRE, JLL, and othersWill FM’s be working with Autodesk Dreamcatcher in the near future to spit out floor plansThe future Facility Manager will become a “human experience” managerworking closely with the Human Resource department to ensure a healthier workforce and bonused on productivity gains created by the design of the environment.  

 Multiple studies indicate approximately 50of the jobs today will not exist in the next two decades. Most professional organizations, governments, and companies are not preparedHow will you LEAD the change? 

 ASID leads with Advocacy for the Interior Design profession, raising over $17,000 from our Experience Fundraiser to assist our legislative efforts as we continue to lobby for reciprocity across fifty states to remove restrictions to practice interior design. Thanks to hosts Rita and John Carson!