Category: Design Thinking

ASID Foundation Grant is Step in Right Direction

Kudos to the ASID Foundation for promoting research that, if publicized properly, will help to shift the paradigm of how society views the value of our service.!

That said it seems like a rather large challenge.  Go big or go to your well designed home I guess.

I hope the results will not require a statistician to interpret nor should those results be relegated to research journals where only future researchers and statisticians will be able to find value in it.

Should be interesting to see what comes of it.


Okay off of my legislation/regulation high horse for a moment….”whoaaa Nellie…somebody get me a step stool…”  Even PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER missed this trend when it first became public over a year ago.  Seems some entrepreneurial real estate developers are trying to weasel in our Health Safety and Welfare trifecta by creating residential real estate that literally improves your HEALTH subsequently improving one’s WELFARE.  If we assume the residences to be SAFE you have to admit that they have a runner on all three of our bases….and these are real estate people…..people.

So maybe I am jealous I did not think of this first…my hats off to the folks at Delos.  First published in the Daily Beast here;

And then more widely publicized this past weekend in the New York Times here;

Why don’t we own this? This is all about interior space right?

Yes there is a bit of hucksterism and elitist sales pitching going on here, fortunately aimed at the uber-rich, but you have to admire the concept.  Who would not want to live in a house that does not merely keep them healthy it actually improves their health.  Granted most of the elements of Delos’ “health-centric” residences have been around for a couple of years…if not more. Anti-microbial self-cleaning ceramics, HEPA/Ultra-Violet filtration systems, Bio-Rhythmic LED lighting, and my favorite walls and windows -that attenuate outside sounds (duh!), are all tools that have been available to us (thanks mostly to USGBC). However, Mr. Scialla and his partners were the first to package it and they have even trademarked the concept.  Not sure how that works but I am sure we’ll find out when another less ambitious developer or one of our interior design brethren decides to mimic the idea.

I do think ID educators and researchers have an opportunity here to fully investigate this new marketing approach to validate its effectiveness….it seems to ring true but what is the evidence and how can we help make the concept more affordable.  I won’t get into the whole socio-economic bias here but let’s face it…eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk food or non- “organic” vegetables…so maybe this living healthy is a similar paradigm….another research topic no doubt.

This reminds me of the ” trend du’  2006 “aging in place” in which the National Association of Home builders capitalized on the benefits of our tried and true “Universal Design” and packaged that knowledge and skill sets in appeal to the obvious demographic opportunity in a credential known as Certified Aging In Place Specialist or CAPS .

Again we, as a professional domain should own this concept…nay many ASID’ers also claim the CAPS credential due to its marketing potential- kudos to the NAHB

So yes it is easy for me to pontificate to the drivers of this profession from the proverbial back seat but I have to say for creative problem solvers we sure miss some golden opportunities to advance the professional domain…and these opportunities don’t involve a bunch of political and legal drama.

It simply is what we do.  Fail to define what we do and others will do it for us.

Carry on.

It was pointed out that the Delos health centric homes may in fact be too clean. Our ability to fend off certain diseases depends on the health of our immune system. Rob it of its exercise and one might actually find themselves more prone to illness…..crazy huh?


Over the past 20 years there has been a remarkable shift in how we design and build buildings.  In response to a rising concern over the impact buildings have on our environment those who have even the most minute stake in creating the built environment are now aware of, if not directly influenced by, the effort to minimize the impact construction and operation of buildings has on our eco-system.  It has changed the way we think and the way we work.  Sustainability is now a real and achievable goal instead of some abstract and fringe ideal.

Initially we were happy to be less bad.  Then we realized that creating buildings that had zero impact on the ecosystem was possible. Now with the living building challenge ( we are actually creating buildings that contribute, or give back, to the ecosystem.  Think about that for a minute……..

We have actually gone from a Chartreuse green to vivid green in one generation.

This is a real and important paradigm shift that in itself is sustainable, as it should be.

Most of us are familiar with all of the various measuring/rating systems used to evaluate and verify that a building, its designers, its constructors and its owners are in fact building green if not sustainably. USGBC’s LEED being the most prominent and influential of those rating models

Unfortunately in PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s opinion the bulk of these rubrics and validation models are based on how well the building has been designed, built and/or how well it performs.  It seems that it is a foregone conclusion that if the building is environmentally sensitive then the actual occupants and users of that building will perform well too.   Hence the point of this thread.


We all get that buildings influence human behavior and for the existentialists in the audience we humans influence how buildings behave- I digress. The human/environmental relationship is clear and the evidence, both positive and negative is copious.  Architects and Interior Designers have been performing post occupancy evaluations for years but the data rarely results in widespread recognition or public outreach. The answer is out there.

What we need is a universal and uniform rubric or metrics…..and no I am not talking about some arcane research project in which the data is understood only by the research statistician.  We need a rating system that assesses how the users/occupants of a building, green or not, perform.  This rating system needs to be publicly accessible and pre-school clear- akin to the LEED certification model which uses valuable metals as a coding system.  It could be as simple as;




I will leave the actual semantics to you. I would also suggest that the actual award be something more substantial than a glass plate.  Just sayin’

This is a tremendous opportunity for the interior design profession. The USGBC was initiated by a group of concerned manufacturers and vendors.  They have the financial where with all to support such a rating system for human performance and user well-being. We are the ones with the knowledge and moral obligation.  So the idea is out there…..which one of our professional domains will grab it and run with it?

So how about it Steelcase, Herman Miller, Johnson Controls, Philips Lighting, Interface, USG……..and on and on….ready to shift another paradigm?

P.S. Like I said the answer is out there. The Center for the Built Environment at Berkeley (amongst others) has created the research inertia for a human performance/user well being rating system.  Here is a link to their research page;


A Case for Promoting Interior Design as Life Savers…..No Really!

Or making the case for health trumping safety in our hs&w public relations trifecta









Kudos to Perkins + Will for changing the paradigm of the traditional Architecture and Design services firm.  While Perkins + Will has a long history of leadership in both the healthcare and sustainable design realms they have really upped their, and the entire profession’s, game by creating a research specialization.  They have actually been receiving a lot of press for their efforts particularly in non-trade publications.  This is also a public relations coup on their part, but let’s stick with why this has anything to do with PROFESSIONAL interior design.

Here is a brief press item from one of our trade magazines;

Here is a link to Perkins + Will’s Transparency Page;

Now that you have informed yourself as to the perils of the interior environment…..and no I am not talking about specifying Class ‘C’ finishes where the code books clearly state that Class ‘A’ finishes are required, thanks to Perkins + Will,  we now have much greater obligations to our clients than to make sure they do not perish in an unfortunate conflagration.  Quite simply we have to make sure we are not killing them via a glacially slow, far less obvious, and much less appreciated manner.

That is surrounding them with materials that can kill them.

While this idea is not entirely new, we have been aware of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and sick building syndrome (SBS) for some time now, this is the first time (to my knowledge) that a major design firm has latched on to the issue for public outreach purposes.  Which in my mind has upped the ante for not only the architecture profession but more directly, the interior design profession.

Thanks to Perkins + Will for outing this interior issue.  Now what are we going to do about it?



PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER does not get personal on this forum. or at least I try to keep it “professional” but this post is spatial.

I just returned from a trip to Tallahassee, Florida, home of Florida State University where I attended a retirement celebration for Professor Peter Munton. Peter has been teaching interior design and inspiring students at FSU for the past 34 years. I was lucky enough to be a student for two of those years and a friend for the last 32 years (which is astonishing given that I am only 35).

Peter and I could not be more different on the surface. I won’t go into details here but suffice it to say that I am a Midwestern chowderhead and Peter is a brilliant and charismatic British expat.  Thankfully Peter is not one to judge a person by their appearance and we eventually discovered that we shared a passion for the power of design.

Peter has been teaching a class called Creative Problem Solving in which he inspired 35+ years of students that there is not a problem that cannot be solved with a bit of creativity and ingenuity. He instilled in me an appreciation for bad design, good design and truly magical design.  When presented in that framework it was obvious which level of design we were to aspire to.  Why would anyone intentionally aim for “good” designer?  In that sense Peter was also a leader.

Ultimately Peter was teaching DESIGN THINKING before the current crop of design thinkers was even thinking of design.  He was also one not to get hung up in the trappings of titles, credentials, regulations and legalities (yeah I know…but suspend your judgement for a minute here). Of course Peter takes design education seriously but he also respects innate abilities. If you can’t walk the walk it does not matter how well you can talk.

In the end we are designers.  We solve problems creatively and elegantly. We make clients happy. That is what we do. It does not matter how many acronyms one can display after their name or whether you have a permit to pull a permit time permitting…….what matters is your ability to identify the problem and solve it creatively.  Your most important credential is carried in your cranium.

So with that perspective I dove into a career focused on the design of interior space.  Over the years and many a spent neuron pondering our professional identity issues I can say that we spend far too much of our collective energy trying to validate our value by way of titles, credentials and licenses. Are those things important? Well yes that is why I am here (and hopefully you are too) but they are not what defines us.  If we prove ourselves as creative problem solvers with the ability to inspire then the titles, credentials and professional trappings will come. I am afraid we have it the other way around.

Admittedly throughout my 32 year career I created many good designs but I never stopped aspiring to create magic.  Thanks to Peter I can honestly say I was able to experience the real power of design.