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The Evolving Landscape of Interior Design


The interior design industry is experiencing a profound transformation, driven by changing trends and consumer preferences. The ThinkLab U.S. Design Industry Benchmark Report for 2024 offers valuable insights into these shifts, highlighting the growing influence of interior designers and the increasing demand for healthy spaces and sustainable products. Let's take a look at these changes and explore why product brands should pay close attention to the evolving role of interior designers.


The Influence of Interior Designers:

Economic Power of Designers: Interior designers wield significant specification power, with the average designer having 40 times the specification purchasing power of the average American consumer. For designers employed at the top 200 “INTERIOR DESIGN Giants of Design” firms, this power increases to 140 times that of the average consumer.

Market Impact: ThinkLab's research reveals that interior designers and architects directly and indirectly impact a total available market of $383.7 billion for commercial and residential building interiors products. Their influence extends to the decisions on what products are sold and which trends take hold in the market. A notable trend within the design community is the increased demand for sustainably and ethically made products, reflecting a broader societal shift towards sustainable design practices.

image of stats saying: average consumer 1x, average specifier 40x, and specifier from top 200 giants of design firms 140x.

The Demand for Healthy Spaces and Sustainable Products:

Environmental Consciousness: This year’s U.S. Design Industry Benchmark Report shows that 75% of A&D professionals expect a significant increase in demand for healthy spaces and sustainable products over the next two years. Simultaneously, of the 5 key specifier personas, the sustainability-first persona has doubled since 2022, underscoring sustainability's entry into the spotlight.

Selecting Brand Partners: In modern design, sustainability is crucial. Many clients have ESG goals and actively seek spaces designed with the environment and human health impact as a top priority. Interior designers look to brand partners they trust, who manufacture domestically, develop products free of harmful substances, create high-quality and durable products, and invest in sustainable manufacturing processes.

Cost Considerations: While staying on budget is important, sustainability objectives are also pursued. ThinkLab research shows that 73% of Architects and Designers feel that it is their responsibility to recommend sustainable products for their clients, even if they are more expensive.

text says: 75% of architects and designers see an increase in demand for healthy spaces and sustainable products over the next 2 years


Top Challenges in Specifying Products Today:

Transparency: When ThinkLab asked design professionals what’s the #1 thing brands can do to simplify the specification process, the resounding answer was transparency. Interior designers navigate a vast array of products, and the brands that are transparent about their products, pricing, sustainability, and manufacturing processes are those that will succeed moving forward. Ease of Comparison: Designers want to compare products based on generic functional attributes in a brand-agnostic way. Digital product aggregators like Material Bank have been instrumental in helping designers compare products efficiently and discover options from brands they may not have considered in the past.

In Review:

The world of interior design is evolving rapidly, driven by a growing emphasis on wellness, sustainability, and technology. Interior designers are at the forefront of these changes, influencing trends and product specifications. Product brands that understand and adapt to these shifts will be better positioned to meet the demands of the evolving design industry.

Learn more in the complimentary Digital Seminar featuring Erica Waayenberg, author of this article, and Head of Research and Content at ThinkLab.


Erica Waayenburg is a member of the Research & Content Development team for ThinkLab, the research division of SANDOW DESIGN GROUP. At ThinkLab, we combine SANDOW Media’s incredible reach to the architecture and design community through brands like Interior Design Media, Metropolis, Luxe, and Material Bank with proven market research techniques to uncover relevant trends and opportunities for the design industry. Join in to explore what’s next at


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