This industry-wide survey was developed to assess the impact on current projects and business performance, identify challenges professionals are facing and gather insights for advancing the profession during this time.
Survey results will be updated with the most recent findings on the Monday after the survey closes. Check back periodically to get a “pulse” on the interior design world.
We charged through adversities and now focus on continuous improvement.
We identify this as a critical moment for communicating the value of interior design.
We champion for human connection in our projects and practice.
We are lifelong learners motivated to improve in what we do and to demonstrate positive impact.
The average concern for the impact of COVID-19 on the interior design profession saw a considerable decrease, with the overall average falling to 2.88 from January (3.40), the lowest since the inception of the Pulse survey (March 31, 2020). While business development is becoming less of concern among designers (dropping out of the top three for the first time), the percentage of designers who indicate product availability as a concern has increased for the fourth consecutive round (since the August 25, 2020 survey), becoming the top concern reported in this survey.
Project timelines continue towards “normalcy” with over 90% indicating they are in progress (on track or delayed)* – the largest percentage recorded since the first time this question was included in the Pulse Survey (April 14, 2020). Respondents who indicated having no current projects decreased significantly, falling from 14% in January to 5% in April.
*In progress option included in surveys prior to July 28 was deleted to add clarity on project status. Comparisons to these surveys should combine "Delayed", "In Progress" and "On Track" for a high-level view.
Changes in work continue to be minimal with the majority (46%) indicating no impact over the last three months. The majority of interior design professionals have mastered virtual meetings (62%) in adapting to change over the past year. The primary challenge due to changes over the past year has been in product/material availability (72%).
The status of in-person events is on the minds of many professionals as we remember the importance of human connection in a remote environment. A quarter of respondents stated that they are already attending in-person events while 63% anticipated attending an in-person event sometime in 2021.
While social and business engagement is a dominating factor for in-person events, professionals prioritize learning for virtual events and the convenience that comes with the format. Going virtual during the pandemic provided professionals with opportunities to learn, with communication skills (36%), education (27%), and project management (22%) being the top three areas of professional growth.
Respondents are expressing positive sentiment with 42% reporting that their business performance has already recovered to pre-pandemic levels (February 2020). Recovery time estimates for businesses have overall shortened; however, the recovery outlook for the interior design profession to return to pre-pandemic levels is significantly longer with 79% of respondents approximating that it will take up to two years to achieve similar performance.
Interior design professionals continue to churn their creative minds and explore potential solutions for the future beyond the pandemic. Respondents cited business development (49%) as the top area they would like to grow more professionally in the coming year followed by software skills (31%) and project management (24%). Many have identified this as a critical moment to focus on the value of interior design, the impact design has on people and their experiences, and how we can improve design practice through efficient processes and strategic conversations with partners.
Disruption comes with numerous challenges that can be deteriorating but also invigorating. The average level of concern fell significantly over the pandemic year from 4.03 to 2.88 with only 15% indicating the highest level of concern (compared to 41% on March 31, 2020). We have all experienced a tumultuous year, but one year later we see strong resiliency and growth. An inverse can be seen with changes to work: 48% indicated a significant impact on March 31, 2020, 46% express no impact on April 7, 2021. Top concerns for designers have shifted from securing and developing business to project timeline constraints. Despite the constant shifts and obstacles, the sense of positivity among the profession has remained consistent. Recovery time estimates have been optimistic, yet realistic, and with almost half indicating a full recovery in business performance, the path towards the future and beyond the pandemic is clearer and brighter.
165 designers (72% business owners) and 40 employees of manufacturers and retailers participated in this survey. Respondents closely represent the industry when comparing interior designer characteristics reported of the population by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; however, slightly over-represent the South and under-represent the West. Survey respondents continue to over-represent small firms (i.e., self-employed and firms with less than 10 employees).
When comparing with the previous survey conducted three months ago (January 5-6, 2021), the responses from the current survey maintained similar percentages for self-employed and large firms (more than 100 employees) but experienced a decrease in firms with 2-9 employees and an increase in medium firms (10-99 employees). Respondents with less than ten years of experience had higher participation in April (24%) than the previous survey (17%). No significant changes when comparing the percentage breakdown for primary areas of expertise between surveys.