Hastings brings more than 20 years of experience in the profession to her current position of president of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). When not representing IIDA at major industry events or being a featured speaker at conferences and markets, Hastings participates on advisory boards of organizations such as the Center for Healthcare Design as an authority on the design of health care facilities. She has been recognized by her peers in the industry and has received awards and recognition internationally.
The advancement of the interior design profession is Hastings' priority, which she pursues with a passion. She believes her role as IIDA president is one of guardian, to nourish the soul of the association and the integrity of the process used to govern it.
The mission of IIDA is to "enhance the quality of life through excellence in interior design and advance interior design through knowledge." According to Hastings, "Our mission is made real by the consistent application of our guiding principles."
D&WC: What will be the most important societal issues facing interior designers in the next decade?
Hastings: I believe diversity of cultures is the number one factor in how we are going to practice. Increasing heterogeneity will bring new values and attitudes about gender roles, the changing role of children in the family, expectations for career and educational experiences and reasons for celebrations and lifestyles.
According to a recent research report from FIDER, the U.S. population in the 1990s will see its largest growth since the 1950s, and by the year 2000 the population will increase to 275 million representing a 10-year gain of 26 million persons. More than a fifth of that growth, 21.4 percent, will be the result of immigration. That shift in population will reflect the world's changing balance.
Our society also will experience growth in its elderly population. Nationally, three of the five occupations expected to grow by more than 75 percent between 1990 and 2005 are associated with an aging population: home health aides, 91 percent; personal and home aides, 76.7 percent; and physical therapists, 76 percent. If life expectancy continues to rise at the rate it has risen since 1968, life expectancy at birth in 2050 will be nearly 100 years.
I think interior designers in the next decade will have many advantages if they prepare themselves, for example, by advancing specialty expertise through the Forums available at IIDA. Under the IIDA's structure each member may participate in advanced programs and network with other leading practitioners in the commercial, government, health care, hospitality, retail, residential, and education and research forums.
The benefit of additional education and knowledge is the edge necessary for designers to advance in a very competitive marketplace. IIDA members in 23 countries are experiencing firsthand the opportunities to advance their education and cultural realities by partnering to create standards for global practice such as business ethics and conduct.
D&WC: What are the most important industry and career-oriented issues facing interior designers?
Hastings: Changing demographics, new family structure, different patterns of work and leisure activities, growing concern for conserving environmental resources, an expanding and more global economy, and remarkable advances in communication technology are just a few of the changes that may affect the kinds of interior design solutions needed in the future and the way they are delivered. To ensure a place for themselves amid this global change, I must reiterate, successful interior designers must be prepared to lead and to manage change.
Until we can establish the value of interior design and the process to measure that value, we must continue to bring the issues of research and graduate education to the forefront of all professional discussions for the entire industry to resolve.
D&WC: Are customers more or less knowledgeable about interior design than in the past?
Hastings: Clients have access to more information on building products, furnishings, art, textiles, antiques, green design and unique projects within the built environment through the World Wide Web and cyberspace than most practicing interior designers had just a few years ago. The popularity among Baby Boomers of the home furnishing retail centers has created a real phenomena: anyone who can match a paint chip may choose to use the convenience of one-stop shopping at the local retail center.
Most consumers understand the finished result of a completed project, however, few truly understand the process and professional experience required to achieve it. The interior design professional is challenged to take a leadership position in educating the consumer on the benefits of working with a professional.
A priority for members of IIDA is to support the design services marketplace through continuing education and to remain focused on growing the market for interior design services.
D&WC: How can designers prepare themselves for success in the next decade and beyond?
Hastings: I once was told, "There is no such thing as a bad market, only unprepared people." To meet the next decade head-on, we will need to identify potential problems and developing issues and prepare now to resolve them. As we research the future of interior design and how we will need to work, we also must continue the daily challenge of defending our right to practice our profession by aggressively seeking a leadership position in the outcome of all governmental and regulatory issues at the state, country, territory and province levels. IIDA members took a look at the future and identified the association's leadership role as being the profession's advocate on issues of national and international importance.
To succeed in this role the ability to communicate and display competence in technology, along with management and leadership skills, will be expected from each member. Professionals will work in collaboration as equals, yet each will come to the table with different skills. IIDA is a great example of partnership. It is the product of collaboration and strength in interior design. Clearly the blending of cultures experienced by members of the association has expanded and enriched the profession.
D&WC: Looking at the business side of design, will firms have to market themselves in the future?
Hastings: Competition and change are everywhere; we need to embrace and welcome new opportunities. Design firms must respond to the multi-cultural needs of clients by positioning themselves as experts in additional services or non-traditional skills. For example, a firm may be made of small project teams, skilled in the ability to convey trust and creativity and to demonstrate a sincere desire to respond to the clients' needs.
Design firms may wish to promote the fact that they participate and promote the profession by holding membership in a professional association. IIDA has several ways to promote successful or technological projects through the association's journals, competitions and foundation grants.
D&WC: What percentage of projects are new versus those that are renovations?
Hastings: According to the 1995 Interior Designer Universe Study conducted by Yankelovich, 86 percent of design firms are doing contract work. Of those, 42 percent of their annual contract dollar volume is for new construction and 58 percent is for renovation or retrofit. For residential projects, an almost equal percentage of dollar volume is for renovation or retrofit as for new construction, 54 percent and 46 percent respectively.
D&WC: Are consumers spending more on the design of their homes?
Hastings: As a general statement, yes, consumers are spending more on their homes. The issue of design may relate to several family types including dual-earner, single-parent and blended families.
The elements of good design should be accessible to all consumers. The design industry must address the needs of a blended society and consumer base.
D&WC: Do you think companies will spend relatively more or less on interior design?
Hastings: Investments for success will include interior design budgets, the value of good interior design cannot be addressed as less or more.
In order for a business to compete, the workplace will need to attract, retain and nurture the highly educated work force it will need to run the information highways of the future. Therefore, the physical and aesthetic environment should be part of the business plan of any organization. Interior design services may require expertise in fiber optics and robotics. Other developments will force designers to establish equipment parameters in order to provide the needed compatibility and flexibility for future technology.
As the expanded workplace continues to unfold, it is unclear exactly what its impact will be on the future planning and designing of homes, offices and non-traditional spaces. For example, I see some companies paying for professional services for their employees who need to develop home office solutions.
D&WC: What are the emerging contract design style trends moving into the next century?
Hastings: A trend toward a new international style has been forecast for the near future. This trend to treat all industrial products as works of art has been accompanied by a rise in the prominence of design museums. New technology is freeing artists, industrial designers, interior designers and architects to create aesthetically dynamic and technically advanced products. The movement toward socially conscious design, innovation in the design of domestic objects and a renewal of the close relationship between architecture and furnishings, extends to an understanding of the needs of everyday life.
D&WC: Are current health concerns greatly influencing contract design?
Hastings: The primary concerns are HVAC related, along with indoor air quality (IAQ), which is being addressed as a major environmental issue by both the interior design profession and manufacturers. Interior furnishings and finish materials may contain small amounts of volatile organic compounds known as VOCs. To eliminate VOCs, carpeting, wall coverings, textiles and window coverings product manufacturers are complying with stringent specifications from the interior design industry.
The term "environmentally friendly" often is used in conjunction with natural fibers. According to Heiner Zimmermann of Hoechst, this connection completely overlooks the fact that throughout the entire life-cycle of a textile product its natural fibers can present environmental problems whether they be at the growing stage, the production stage, or in the field of care and maintenance because of the fairly short service life of the finished products. By contrast, polyester fibers have a number of advantages that make them one of the most environmentally friendly fibers of all. In the manufacturing stage, for example, they create very little air and water pollution and consume little energy. Many are inherently flame retardant and contain no harmful substances.
D&WC: What is IIDA?
Hastings: The International Interior Design Association, founded in 1994, was formed through unification of the former Council of Federal Interior Designers (CFID), the Institute of Business Designers (IBD) and the International Society of Interior Designers (ISID). The objective of IIDA is to enhance the quality of life through excellence in interior design and advance interior design through knowledge.
IIDA serves the interior design profession through seven specialty practice groups called Forums. Forums have been established for commercial, government, residential, retail, health care, hospitality, and education and research. IIDA also distributes important information unavailable elsewhere to advance the industry.
D&WC: What does IIDA do for its members?
Hastings: IIDA represents more than 8,000 members networking in 33 chapters throughout the world at professional, associate, affiliate, industry and student membership levels. The IIDA mandate is to support the design services marketplace through continuing education and to uphold the industry's highest standards of professionalism.
IIDA represents its members before local, state and national government. IIDA's global network provides a conduit for the exchange of knowledge and resources among interior designers and architects and presents a unique opportunity for partnering.
D&WC: What has IIDA envisioned for the future?
Hastings: The association's ability to envision the future of interior design can be measured by the collective desire of more than 8,000 design professionals throughout the world leaving behind former affiliations to promote the profession of interior design as a united body. As equal partners, members and the board of directors have participated in the strategic planning of the association and have established its path and mandate. The association is to remain committed to collaboration and unification of the profession. To ensure and protect our future we must first realize we need to take responsibility for creating it.