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Interior Design, In Detail

Home Accents Today Special Report

For this special report, Home Accents Today spoke with Kevin Mulvaney, ASID VP-marketing and communications, Kerry Howard, KMH Interiors, Atlanta; Victoria Lidstrom, Leggy Bird Designs, Libertyville, Ill.; Corey Damen Jenkins, Design With Vision, Michigan; Denise McGaha, Dallas; Jason Oliver Nixon, Madcap Cottage, New York; and Kishani Perera, Los Angeles.

Interior design is a $6 billion industry. It grew by about 2% in 2013 and is expected to grow by nearly 6% in 2014, according to Kevin Mulvaney, vice president of strategic marketing and communications for the American Society of Interior Designers.

It's also an industry in which home accents play a major role. "Ultimately, home accents and decorative accessories Q2finish the space," Mulvaney said. "With interior design, as with any process, it is important to see things through to completion. It is amazing how much details matter."

The bigger picture, said Mulvaney, is that the interior design industry is more confident than it was a year ago. "Positive indicators are certainly stronger on the residential front. From housing starts to remodeling spending, that sector of the market continues to look strong," he told Home Accents Today. "While the mood is similarly optimistic on the commercial front, trends in office space - square footage per employee, new business models, technology, etc. - make the positive outlook a little softer."

Although the ASID interior design billings and inquiries index showed a slowing growth rate as 2013 came to an end, Mulvaney said the index has remained positive month over month, a trend he doesn't expect to change any time soon.

But even though the number of designers continues to grow, he said the industry is still far from the highs of its pre-recession days. "Growth is really scattered. While there are small to mid-size markets in Texas and the Southwest that seem particularly strong, we're also seeing growth trends look strong in places as diverse as the Dakotas and the Northeast."

Asked about current demographic and cultural influences - aging population, multigeneratioMadcap Cottagenal households, and sustainability, for example - Mulvaney said such influences and "movements" are more integrated into "good" design. "That being said, demographics and resource demands, even a stronger sense of responsibility, will have a continued impact on the spaces in which we live, work and play," he added.

New technologies are playing a bigger role in the design process. "From iPad apps allowing room visualization and sketching features, to furniture companies and publications offering highly curated experiences - digital and otherwise - technology is having an undeniable impact on design and its influence will only continue to grow."

The industry's biggest challenge, however, is not new. "The tension between the price of design services and the value of design has been a long-standing issue," he said. "As design and its awareness has become more democratized through DIY and other influences, designers must rethink the ways in which they work with, and provide value to, their clients."

For a more up-close and regional look at the interior design industry, Home Accents Today spoke with: Kerry Howard, president-elect of the Georgia ASID, KMH Interiors, Atlanta; Victoria Lidstrom, Leggy Bird Designs, Libertyville, Ill.; Corey Damen Jenkins, Design With Vision, Southeastern Michigan; Denise McGaha, Denise McGaha Interiors, Dallas; Jason Oliver Nixon, Madcap Cottage, New York; and Kishani Perera, Kishani Perera Interior Design, Los Angeles.

How has your interior design business been over the past year?

Kerry Howard: We've seen a major pickup, but I was lucky that my business was even better during the economic downturn - we were lucky to be published in some local and national magazines a couple of times. I did a television show in 2010 - Top Design on Bravo - and last year I was on HGTV's Design Wars, so that was huge. Any of that kind of thing is great PR. Plus it was a great experience.

Corey Damen Jenkins: In 2013, our design firm saw huge burst of enthusiasm from the affluent community here in Southeastern Michigan. It's almost as if people have grown weary of depressing their own spending, which is understandable residue from the economic meltdown. Many have embraced the idea of investing in themselves and the way they live again. As a result, we've seen a return to form in terms of new construction, renovation and historic restoration of residences ranging from 8,000 to 15,000 square feet.

Victoria Lidstrom: Our interior design business has been steadily growing over the past three years. This past year, like the years before, we grew over 35%.

Denise McGaha: While our business sales are flat, our profitability on projects has increased and new starts have also increased in the last quarter due to a rise in new construction projects for our market in Dallas.

Jason Oliver Nixon: We have dipped our toes into new ventures with much success, have tackled an assortment of interior design projects stretching from Florida to Manhattan to London, and we'll soon be unveiling product. Speaking of veils, we like to lift the veil on design and make it accessible. Why should design be rarefied? Life's too short. Why be a lemming when you can be a lion?

Kishani Perera: 2013 was our busiest year to date. So much so that our project load allowed me to expand my business by adding several new full-time employees. I'm very grateful!

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