It’s complicated. It’s dynamic. It’s constantly changing, and at an accelerating rate, too. This is the world we live in. It’s a world comprised of many elements and factors which are intricately woven into a complex system where changes in one area impact the factors related to it. It’s an advancing world where new information and technologies are emerging rapidly. Finally, it’s a chaotic world that’s difficult to comprehend and keep up with.
“Let’s face it, the universe is messy. It is nonlinear, turbulent, and chaotic. It is dynamic. It spends its time in transient behavior on its way to somewhere else, not in mathematically neat equilibria. It self-organizes and evolves. It creates diversity, not uniformity. That’s what makes the world interesting, that’s what makes it beautiful, and that’s what makes it work.”
– Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Yes, the world is overwhelming and difficult to tackle. But, interior designers are problem solvers by nature, and we consistently deliver solutions to increasingly complex problems. Interior designers have been trained to take the challenges of complexity head on and produce creative solutions. One of the tools at our disposal is to employ systems thinking, which examines behaviors and patterns of components, and the connections and interactions between them, to develop an understanding of the interdependent structures of dynamic systems. When individuals have a better understanding of systems, it’s easier to identify where to implement change for desired outcomes.
This is the approach that the ASID Research team took in creating the 2016/2017 Outlook and State of the Industry report. Using systems thinking from a collective of industry thought leaders, educators, and specialists across design sectors, ASID Research attempted to illustrate the key factors that impact the interior design profession. Experts brainstormed a list of key factors impacting the interior design profession at the global, national, industry, and business scales, and then rated how much each factor affects them (i.e., high, medium, or low) and whether they expected the factors to increase or decrease in impact over the next few years. More importantly, they discussed how the factors impact the designer and the work they produce. ASID Research took it a step further to also gather insights from the experts on how interior designers can take a proactive approach to demonstrating positive impact through design.
Capturing the insights of leading designers was a fascinating exercise, and it has helped us understand what goes into the work that our members do. As we explore and better understand the factors that shape interior design, and how the constant interactions among them keep the dynamics changing, we gain a new ability to affect our own change, and we can take advantage of the changes that come our way.
We have the power – so learn it, practice it, and demonstrate it to transform lives through design.
About the Author
Susan Chung, Ph.D., is the research analyst at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) where she connects design and research for improving human experiences in the interior environment. Valuing the needs of design practitioners, her work at ASID translates research on interior design issues and trends into applicable design implications, and directs projects that investigates positive impact on human experiences. She also devotes her summer time teaching students at Cornell University on how design is interconnected with our daily lives and how they can make a difference in this world through design. With a background in both interior design and organizational behavior research from her doctorate degree in Human Behavior and Design at Cornell University, she has a particular passion in how design attributes are related to creative performance in workplace environments.