contributed by Denise Homme, PhD, ASID, IIDA, IDEC, FCSD, NCIDQ Certificate Holder [DISD program director / practicing professional / itinerant traveler]
It wasn’t too many years ago that the acronymic Three R’s was understood almost universally as ‘reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. While I always felt that there was an element of whimsy in this colloquial cliché, simply hearing someone reference the Three R’s always brings back memories of the first day of school – the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, pristine three-subject notebooks and that new pair of shoes. While I work to uphold the tradition of a new pair of shoes as often as I can, life and career has moved me past the point of thinking too much about pencils and notebooks. Like most people, my days now are filled living the life I’ve chosen for myself and using what I learned in school in an industry I enjoy: interior design.
Like many others who are practicing interior design professionally, I have experienced and can personally attest to the benefits of a good education. As the Program Director of an accredited interior design college, I obtain an immense amount of personal satisfaction sharing my knowledge and experience with others – young and not so young – who have chosen to follow a path not unlike the one I started on so many years ago.
An especially interesting benefit of being on a parallel career track in interior design is that I am able to see what is happening simultaneously in both education and in practice. When I look toward interior design practice, I see many highly talented designers straining under the weight of a historically dreadful economy. When I look toward interior design education, I see several exciting new points of view, many outstanding digital technologies and the blissful, joy of engaging in the design process. I also see students who are looking at the current state of the profession and wondering about their futures.
While I am not able to see into the future, I would like to suggest that we all put a new spin on the Three R’s. Let’s breathe some life – and hope – into this charming, but outdated acronym. I propose that the Three R’s, as of this moment, become “Reflect, Reinvent and Reconnect”. Designers, are you with me”
Whether you are in school, struggling to maintain your practice or out of work, take the time to stop and think about what brought you to interior design in the first place.
The eminent designer Charles Eames once said “We work because it’s a chain reaction; each subject leads to the next”. What aspect of interior design sparks your chain reaction” Is it the tactile pleasure of working with color and fabrics” Are you ignited by solving a deliciously provocative space plan” Perhaps Charles Eames’ prophetic words – and the present state of the interior design industry – are reminding us that a chain reaction is not about staying in one place…each subject leads to the next.
Perhaps you have been intrigued by AutoCAD and wondered how it would enhance your skill as an interior designer but you’ve just never had the time to take a class. You may have considered complementing your interior design practice by doing some part time teaching at a local community college or university. What, exactly, brought you to the practice of interior design and where do you want your passion to take you”
Reflect. (Verb) [ri flekt] 1. To send something back, to redirect something that strikes a surface, especially like sound or heat, usually back toward its point of origin (Encarta Dictionary of North America).
As a practitioner and as the coordinator of the internship program of the interior design college I represent, I have a direct connection with the design industry. Every week I counsel students who are in their fourth year of college and are clearing the runway for take-off into practice.
As such, I’m not at all surprised when I have students report in after an internship interview that their prospective interior design supervisor asked if they used the new BIM (Building Information Modeling) software.
We do offer BIM at our college and so I’m confident our graduates will enter the interior design profession with a skill the industry is currently seeking. But what about an interior designer that graduated a year or more ago…before BIM software became popular and widely available”
Anyone that has consistently attended NeoCon each year can attest to the fact that interior design is an industry of change. Product designers are hard at work throughout the world to bring exciting new products and technologies to the study and practice of interior design…nano-fabrics (textiles designed at the cellular level) and bio-mimetic surfaces (self-washing paints), to name but a few.
In light of the fact that change is inherent and vital to our profession, it doesn’t seem so terribly far-fetched that interior designers themselves need to re-tool and reinvent to stay involved and engaged with a constantly changing industry…”each subject leads to the next” (Eames).
In my opinion, the best way to reinvent and stay current with industry change is to meet it face-to-face by heading back to school. Sign up for a weekend seminar. Give up one night a week for a few months to learn AutoCAD, to get current with your state building codes or to learn the basics of InDesign or PhotoShop. Make the decision to finish your undergraduate degree in interior design or get serious and start that Master’s program you’ve been thinking about for more time than you’d care to admit.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re learning from a trained professional who is up to date on the latest information and technology. For a comprehensive listing of accredited interior design schools in your area, visit the Council for Interior Design Accreditation web site at and click on your state of residence.
Interested in sharing your knowledge and experience in the classroom” Visit the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) website at to learn about a career in interior design education. Whatever path to re-invention you choose, you might be surprised whom you’ll meet in the classroom.
The last of our new Three R’s is likely to be the most enigmatic. Economists predict almost all facets of the architecture, interior design and construction industry should begin to improve by late 2010 or early 2011. Unfortunately, the words “predict” and “should” don’t guarantee very much in the meantime.
Once the industry corrects and returns to some semblance of itself – assuming it will – what can we expect” According to an article printed in the Fall 2008 issue of Perspective magazine published by the International Society of Interior Designers (IIDA), by the year 2010, 30-40% of the jobs in the United States are expected to be moved off shore.
Experts also predict that in the next few years, collaboration will be the primary objective in the workplace and that, by the year 2015, more than 100 million people worldwide will telecommute as part of their typical workday.
Where do you see yourself fitting into the future” Are you using this unexpected down time to retool and reinvent yourself in anticipation of what’s to come” Joyce Gioia, author and business futurist writes: “Those who do not study the future are destined to be its victims.” Are you confident that you will be prepared to reconnect, digitally and creatively, to the future of interior design”
Perhaps there’s no better time than the present to prepare for the future by returning to the classroom to brush up on the Three R’s. Don’t forget your pencil and notebook. New shoes are optional.
Happy Holidays to Ray and Charles Eames – wherever they are…and to all the readers of PLiNTH & CHiNTZ!