46 interiors+sources august2017 interiorsandsources.com
Limited resources, a wealth of information, and transforming social contracts are only but a few of the concepts that will likely shape the future of our industry. At the same time, the design process is increasingly digitized, globalized, and constantly evolving. Change
can be hard, but it is inevitable in design.
In the face of change, design professionals must be nimble, casting their
gaze in many directions and sometimes far into the future. I teach in areas
of communication and technology, where change is especially swift and
relevancy fleeting. To stay ahead of changes, I reach out to leading practitioners to understand what’s working, what’s on the horizon, and what keeps
them up at night.
For instance, a colleague and I surveyed designers who noted 110 different
software programs used in their practices.1 So it seems our industry is very
willing to adopt technological tools. On the other hand, a recent interview
revealed the potential pitfalls of this inclination, when one firm’s chief of
design noted that one of his teams was bound to a rendering that they
generated very early in the design process. So it seems that our tools can
get ahead of our process.
I also participate in software conferences to stay abreast of developments.
At one such conference, I saw firsthand the rapid-fire output of generative
design, wherein space
plans are produced via
algorithms. While this
technology is nascent,
and currently only
tackling singular aspects
of design, software
that their programs are
already learning from us.
With each keystroke they
are hoping to track our
processes, thus gleaning
insight about what we do and how we do it. Initially, this had me questioning
if artificial intelligence will beset the design industry with the same fate as
switchboard operators, stenographers, and blacksmiths.
My fear is not new. The hope that technological advances might liberate
us from burdensome tasks bears the risks that will someday also force us
from those that give us purpose and meaning. Why hire a designer when a
computer can do the work for us? Will executives ask this question in the
not-so-distant future? Amidst these changes, some economists and technologists warn: Is any job truly safe?2
On the other hand, evidence suggests that design demands qualities that
even with the cleverest of artificial intelligence would be hard to replicate. In
a recent study, a colleague and I found that character, trustworthiness, the
abilities to work well with others and to communicate, as well as creative
and critical thinking are the most coveted characteristics for job candidates.
What sets designers apart from artificial intelligence is our ability to seek
problems and to share solutions.
Moving forward, the key, I believe, is to use our tools and talents wisely.
This means basing decisions on the best available evidence, choosing only
those sources that are credible and unbiased. We must also strive to be
neophiliacs—curious to discover new things, and willing to listen to a range
of voices. Finally, we need to masterfully leverage a range of communication
tools so that our clients see our value and recognize our ideas as solutions to
While there are likely many challenges ahead, what strikes me about the
future of design is the eagerness and potential of those entering the profession.
Their audacity is contagious. Each day I am privileged to work with students
who have an innate desire to help others. One needs only to look at some of
our students’ self-selected thesis topics—employee wellness, refuge enculturation, neighborhood blight—to see this. Their willingness to explore such
complex issues gives me hope that they will thrive in the face
of change, challenge our industry, and shape its future.
Amy Huber is an assistant professor at Florida State
University. Prior to entering academia she was a senior
designer with Gensler in Denver. Her upcoming book “Telling
the Design Story: Effective and Engaging Communication,”
will be available Spring 2018.
By Amy Huber
MOVING FORWARD IN
THE FACE OF CHANGE
Leveraging their tools and talents, and communicating their value, will help designers succeed in an uncertain future.
...what strikes me about the
future of design is the
eagerness and potential of
those entering the profession.
Their audacity is contagious.
1 Dyar, C., & Huber, A. M. (2015). How are practitioners leveraging technology in the design process? Implications
for design education. In Tina Sarawgi (Ed.), Interior Design Educators Council (pp. 292-297). Chicago, IL: Interior
Design Educators Council. Retrieved from http://www.idec.org/files/2015%20IDEC%20Proceedings.pdf
2 Thompson, D. (2015, July/August). The World Without Work. The Atlantic, 115( 6), Retrieved from
3 Huber, A., & Pable, J. (submitted). Aristotelian appeals and the role of candidate generated videos in talent
assessment. International Journal of Art & Design Education. Manuscript submitted for publication, 28 pages.