ASID Outlook for 2021
A conversation with Gary Wheeler, CEO of the American Society of Interior Designers.
By Cris pyle
IN DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION, a universal truth is that successful practitioners are excellent problem solvers.
Gary Wheeler, FASID, CEO of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), said that interior designers examine clients’ needs and desires and solve them to make their lives better, which he also sees as the tenets of technology – solving problems, adding convenience and improving livelihood.
In his over 30 years in the design industry leading global practices both in the U.S. and the U.K., Gary has witnessed the evolution of technology to improve not only the function, but also the appearance of a space.
“I think there is so much respect for technology designers from the interior design end of things because as contractors ourselves, we understand the value of a true, expert partner. Designers want to ensure that the maintenance of something will be easy for their clients and that it will serve the space’s goals, whether aesthetics, health or others. Align on the goal for the space and then the role of the technology will come in naturally,” he said.
This value placed on partnership is a key objective in the ASID 2021-2024 Strategic Plan and extends to the 42 state chapters, other associations, related professions and industry partners, noting that ASID’s “strength comes from inclusivity.”
The plan details the overall vision for the next three years to empower members to have a positive impact on people and the planet through collaboration, design thinking, education and advocacy.
Gary explains, “The new strategic plan was designed to prove the critical value of design to the whole world around us, and educating, advocating and collaborating are how we will reach that point. The plan also shows the importance of taking a research-driven approach to design. It is our hope that this plan inspires ASID membership and all interior designers to take up that mantle and showcase the power of their profession. Our incredible strategic plan committee purposefully designed the plan to be a nimble, living document, as well, so that we can remain agile and responsive to the needs of our design community and the world around us.
Gary Wheeler, FASID
CEO of ASID
“My hope is that in 2024, the interior design field will be more inclusive, collaborative and valued because of our work. Design is for EVERYONE and I hope that the plan helps us demonstrate that.”
Research is key to achieving the Association’s strategic goals and remains the backbone of the work to educate the membership and provide the information they need to take an evidence-based approach and anticipate client demands. The recent ASID Outlook and State of Interior Design for 2021 found that new properties and renovation projects will require design that is both welcoming and functional, which includes technology features that make occupants’ lives easier.
Not surprisingly on the heels of 2020, the report also states that health, wellness and safety are top client concerns.
Gary outlines the design strategies he believes will make a positive impact in these areas, “I think much of it will be about balancing technology in a way that does not feel intrusive.
We all want the ease and benefits that come with technology but are cautious of data privacy while also increasingly experiencing burnout and want to be able to "turn off." Part of that is finding solutions that integrate technology into the home in more subtle ways. Additionally, technology that makes us feel healthy and safe, such as touchless tech and sensor responsive tech, such as air purifiers that adjust air flow rates based on air quality measured from sensors, will become more of the norm.
“With the increase of health, wellness and technology integration
into the home, many consumers understand that a professional interior designer is the person who understands what solutions they need in their home and how to use them.”
The residential market sustained the U.S. design industry overall in 2020 according to the ASID Outlook report and Gary expects this to continue. “We expect new builds to remain strong. While some are just embarking on renovating their newly purchased homes, others are about to complete their renovations in 2021. We have been so confined to our homes of late, and it has made us discover that we may want to use space differently... and that desire to create a home experience that is custom to you is not going to change any time soon.”
Gary noted that opportunities will abound to demonstrate the power of design by working together with other trades. “Throughout the pandemic, designers and homeowners have embraced technology and are incorporating it in new facets of their lives. It’s critical that we learn from the experts in that field.
“Designers are excited about new possibilities that will improve their work and their clients’ lives. By being not just a designer, but a partner giving the ins and outs of the process, the relationship – and project outcome – will be fruitful for all involved.”
Cris Pyle has over 15 years of experience in the residential technology industry, leading marketing teams on the manufacturer and association sides.