three portraits
From Left to right: Khoi Vo, Lakisha Ann Woods, Cheryl S. Durst.

Executives of America’s A&D Associations Highlight Pressing Industry Issues

For the ASID, AIA, and IIDA, the answers lie in futurism, data collection, and advocacy.

There’s no monolithic path forward to be gleaned from the leadership of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Instead, there are scores of strategies and tools they’re encouraging members to embrace. Perhaps that’s due to the huge scale of issues practitioners are facing: The climate crisis and social inequity are percolating just as demand for material transparency and artificial intelligence are accelerating. Together these concerns are transforming expectations for buildings and interiors—and for who gets to design them. METROPOLIS’s deputy editor Kelly Beamon spoke with heads of the Big Three. Here are their urgent action items. 

For the urgent and critical transformation of the profession to occur, the architect’s role must include advocacy and civic leadership.

Executive Vice President and CEO, AIA 


Executive Vice President and CEO, IIDA 


“I see conversations about the future very much being conversations about inclusion, [as] some people are being left out of the future for whatever reason: if you haven’t achieved a certain level of formal education, if you are not technologically apt. There are a lot of reasons people are feeling left out or are being intentionally left out of what the future means for all of us. What IIDA would like to do [including with the IIDA Collective D(esign) Live: Beyond Futurism program presented at NeoCon 2023] is better educate people about what the future could look like for them personally, but also, obviously, for us as an industry. ‘What does AI mean for our future?’ I was talking to someone about using AI to create project statements. Can you imagine those not being written by designers? I think about all the things that an interior designer needs to know. That body of knowledge has exponentially increased over the last ten years. I wonder: Would it make a difference if learning to decipher a [product] label becomes part of your professional training in the second or third year of design school? I don’t mean this in a negative sense, but we need to have a level of control and—as opposed to letting things happen to us, or letting the future happen to us—have a bit more leverage over the destiny of this profession.” 


Executive Vice President and CEO, AIA 


“For the urgent and critical transformation of the profession to occur, the architect’s role must include advocacy and civic leadership. Architects are natural problem solvers when it comes to addressing complex and multifaceted issues—especially climate action and equity in our communities. That’s why it’s all the more important to make sure that architects have a proverbial seat at the table when project and policy decisions are made. AIA’s recent updates to the Framework for Design Excellence prioritized integration of four outcomes into each of its ten universal design principles that define design excellence. Those four areas are zero carbon, equity, resilience, and health in the built environment. Each principle has been refined to ensure that the four new topics have supporting content and design strategies. Each principle includes guidance to prioritize key elements, if only one or a few can be included in a project. These solutions can offer a human-centric design approach that advances climate and ecosystem health, and equitable economic benefit for clients and communities. This ‘triple bottom line’ approach directly supports ESG priorities.” 




“Data is king. Investing in post-occupancy research is a key tool for the profession. By showing the human impact of our work in projects (such as diverse or sustainable spaces), designers educate clients and the public on the power of design. We have some great examples of this approach to design in our Focus Awards: The winners come from firms of all sizes and projects of different sectors, but they all elevate ideas of climate, diversity, community, and wellness through their design strategies. And inclusive, equitable design is not just for occupants—these standards need to be upheld for practitioners and other workers alike. Leveraging this data is good for business too. [In] the annual ASID Trends Outlook Report earlier in the year, our research division found an embrace of certain aspects of AI that aid design teams and result in decreases in lead times and an expansion of creative discovery. Like previous technological advances in our profession, designers must learn to take advantage of the tool and not let the tool dictate the work of the designer.” 

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