What is good interior design?


Last year, I was invited to serve on the jury for a major architecture and design firm’s internal awards program, where teams from around the world submitted newly completed projects. Each nominee was asked to express the results of their project within the framework of the American Institute of Architects’ Framework for Design Excellence, which the organization adopted in October 2019 as “the defining principles of good design in the 21st century. “.

While examining the entries, I noticed something interesting. The projects that shone were grassroots undertakings, drawing on the full range of design services such as architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Which apps have been least successful in defending themselves using the framework? Interior design-focused projects such as renovations, tenant improvements or real estate repositioning.

So how can interior designers better understand and articulate the impact of their work? The five newly created frameworks below, developed by the two Metropolis and some of the nation’s leading advocacy groups, provide crucial advice. And there is much more to expect. IIDA has formed an Equity Council which will soon announce new initiatives; the International WELL Building Institute convened a Health Equity Advisory Committee to develop a rating system; and mindful MATERIALS builds a common framework of materials to guide specifications. (See our NeoCon post, Specifyto learn more about it.)

The problem you hold presents an interior design that recognizes the diversity of sensory needs, access, age and income. Motionspot’s work “Authorized access,” Experiences with friends “Design for Autism”, and architects designing housing in Los Angeles “Tackling Los Angeles’ Homelessness Crisis”, proves that when we go above and beyond to be inclusive, we open up new realms of design possibilities.

All professionals need a clear understanding of what constitutes excellence in their field, and this standard should encourage working for the greater good. I look forward to seeing these varied initiatives coalesce into a vision of how interior design can shape a better future for us all.


If you are an interior designer or work with interior designers, here is a list of promises, commitments and initiatives to help you set standards for your practice:


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