Montgomery is president of Kathy H. Ford Interiors, Lubbock, TX, a firm specializing in design for corporate office and health care facilities. She is a recognized community and business leader, a university instructor and graduate student in environmental design. She also works with the Lubbock, TX, chamber of commerce on economic development. This work helps current businesses grow through business programming and strategic planning. It also attracts new businesses to the area by matching space analysis needs to available properties.
Montgomery sees challenges ahead for interior designers brought about by technology, demographic shifts and consumer needs. She also see opportunities.
D&WC: What will be the most important societal and environmental issues facing interior designers in the next decade?
Kathy Ford Montgomery: In the workplace and in the home, clients are concerned about their personal safety. That may be a sad commentary about the world in which we live, but unfortunately that perception is a reality. This concern creates significant opportunities for window treatments to play a major role in providing privacy and visual security in the home or business.
Designers also are challenged to use computers and communications technology to do business better and more efficiently. At the same time, designers must make available this same use of technology for their clients in their work and home environments.
We will continue to see a shift in the demographic makeup of the population across the country. This change includes the increase in single-parent households, minority populations and the aging of the "baby boomer" generation. ASID is prepared to market to consumers through its new World Wide Web site, http://www.interiors.org and through its national referral service (800-775-ASID, residential; 800-610-ASID, commercial).
The 1990s reflects a cost-conscious consumer base. Consumers must spend every project dollar wisely, but still desire a pleasing, functional space. In fact, ASIDŐs recent research shows that clients want designers to justify costs by proving design effectiveness, based on the designer's knowledge. This study maps out different selling factors for residential and commercial clients.
D&WC: What are the most important industry and career-oriented issues facing designers?
Montgomery: Career-oriented issues will include learning and using new technology as part of our business.
In the future, clients can view a home or office in virtual spaces before it is even constructed. Designers will access samples and product information via CD-ROM, eliminating the need for large catalog and sample libraries, market our firms via the World Wide Web (WWW) and share information with colleagues through the Internet. The only constant that will remain a part of our business is change.
D&WC: In keeping with the design trends for the 1990s, what will be expected of window treatments?
Montgomery: Window treatments provide support for the overall design concept and direction within the space. They must offer flexibility and control as artificial and natural lighting change and mix from day to evening. Window treatments allow designers to maximize the use of natural light and scenic views to make the home or workspace more alive and interesting.
D&WC: What variables most affect designers' recommendations of window treatments?
Montgomery: The amount and intensity of natural light that flows into the space determines designers' recommendations for window treatments. Certainly, heat gain can be an advantage in the winter months, but that same heat gain will reduce the energy systems' operating efficiencies in the summer months.
In the workplace, natural light is such a bonus that even filtered light can have a dramatic impact on improving staff productivity and employee attitudes. At the same time, too much light can create glare and reduce the ability to see computer monitor screens and increase eye strain for those working at computer stations.
When working with a client, my firm studies available lighting in the space at different intervals during the day before we begin to plan window treatments.
D&WC: What do most clients consider first, second and third when choosing window treatments: price, function or aesthetics? When choosing furnishings? Where does maintenance come into play?
Montgomery: Clients lean heavily on information designers provide, which includes price, function and aesthetics. The function of controlling outside light, durability, ease of maintenance and the contribution of the overall design of a space are first considerations.
Once these elements have been determined, then the life-cycle costs of the type of treatment, replacement and maintenance costs weighed against the initial costs for the treatment at installation, can be examined.
Often, my firm will present a client with two or three options to consider for a project. The many variables are outlined so the client has the appropriate information to make an informed decision. When selecting furnishings for a project, clients seem to be more focused on competitive bids or the price variable. That decision includes installation charges, quality of the products and after-sale service and warranty.
D&WC: How can manufacturers be better attuned to the needs of interior designers? What about drapery workrooms?
Montgomery: One of the best ways for manufacturers to stay in touch with the needs of interior designers is to get involved with ASID by joining ASID's Industry Foundation. The Industry Foundation, ASID's corporate membership category, provides a forum that unites the professional interior designers with corporate members to share mutual concerns and achieve common goals.
This membership allows manufacturers to get involved not only at a national level, but also through a local chapter and region. This membership category is available to all levels within the industry from small drapery or upholstery workrooms to major manufacturers whose business extends across the country. On September 1, ASID's board of directors will introduce a new category of membership: Retail Partner. Retail partnerships were developed to build relationships with businesses that offer interior design services to the public. These membership opportunities will help businesses grow and expand.
D&WC: What are your plans for your term as ASID president?
Montgomery: Interior designers are in a unique position to affect peoples' lives in their work and home environments. ASID membership ensures that we bring technical expertise, high professional and ethical standards as well as the passion -- the magic -- which creates truly extraordinary spaces.
Our challenge is to embrace change, and even risk, in order to grow and to flourish. The leaders of ASID, guided by strategic planning, are focused on preparing interior designers to embrace change and equip them with the skills they need to conquer new challenges.
ASID is committed to promoting and demonstrating the value of interior design. This commitment is reflected through our efforts to expand the marketplace for interior designers, protect their right to practice, enhance personal and professional growth through education and provide networking opportunities that allow designers to learn from one another. As president, I share these goals and look forward to working with ASID members to meet these challenges.
A popular saying at ASID is "ASID means business." That thought rings true in our new mission statement: ASID means business by the promotion of design excellence through professional education, market expansion, information sharing and the creation of a favorable business environment for the practice of interior design.
Kathy Ford Montgomery became a professional member of ASID in 1975 and has held the national positions of Vice President, Programs (1993-94); National Training Advisory Committee member (1991-present); National Strategic Planning Committee member (1991-94); National Director, District 9 (1991-93); National Leadership Trainer (1989-present); and House of Delegates Advisory Committee member (1988). In her local chapter, she has served as president (1987-88) and in numerous officer and committee positions. She also is an active participant in local community services as a member of the Rotary Club, on the Board of Hospice of Lubbock, Texas, and with the Texas Society to Prevent Blindness.