06/29/2012 09:19 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Interior Design Leadership United: An Interview With Susan S. Szenasy Of Metropolis Magazine

On Monday, June 11, 2012, Fellows of both American Society of Interior Design (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) gathered in Chicago for a single, consolidated annual meeting. While both organizations hold an annual meeting of their fellows, this was the first attempt to collaboratively address industry interests together, and serves as compelling evidence that the two organizations have a lot more in common than the things that might divide them.

The incomparable Susan S. Szenasy, Editor in Chief of Metropolis Magazine, was invited to speak in front of the joint fellows roundtable and presented an inspiring address: The Game Has Changed: Now What? Following Susan's keynote, she graciously shared a few moments with me on camera (and likewise via ongoing email exchanges) on the subject of the ASID and IIDA alliance. I'd like to share Susan's input with readers.

ASID - IIDA Joint Fellows Roundtable with Susan S. Szenasy @ NeoCon 2012 from neoconwtf.

Jacob Slevin: Can you describe the differences between ASID and IIDA as you see them today?

Susan S. Szenasy: Both organizations work to advance the knowledge-base of interior designers, and as advocacy groups for the profession. I like to think of ASID as a big tent of interior design, welcoming all sub-specialties: decorator, residential designer, the single person practitioner, those who design small offices as well as those who design large commercial interiors. While the IIDA, the word "international" is part of its title, is a bit more exclusive, it focuses on the needs of the firms that design large commercial interior interiors, anything from hospitals to corporate offices. The IIDA member often has AIA following his or her name, in addition to IIDA, which means the organization has more trained architects practicing interior design that ASID does.

Jacob Slevin: What do you anticipate coming of the two organizations working together now, since they've tried this before?

Susan S. Szenasy: I love the idea of the two organizations working together to advance the cause of interior design, a profession that I think our society needs to embrace in these times of rapid changes to how we live, how and where we work, how we play, how and where we get our healthcare. Interior designers, from both organizations, are already connecting around key issues: programs to support the body of knowledge document and making sure it gets updated frequently; support educational standards; support licensing efforts; support public outreach efforts--all for the good of the profession. At a time when the US is not building as much as in previous decades, and our interior spaces need to be brought up to current standards of performance, the profession of interior design needs to be a key player in upgrading, adapting, and humanizing our interior environments. Previous efforts to unite got hung up on the complexities of a merger. This time both organizations are talking about what they can do together, rather than some legal hassle over names.

Jacob Slevin: Given 2030 is the year everyone's constantly looking at, what do you envision for ASID and IIDA 18 years from now?

Susan S. Szenasy: I am not a fan of mergers, I think they are destructive and distracting to institutions. I am for organizations sharing their knowledge and skills to benefit the professions they represent; they need to collaborate rather than fighting with each other over territory. This unprecedented collaboration has already begun to happen. In fact, the IIDA and ASID are now working together on some projects that engage students--the next generation wants them to do this. I can predict that by 2030 all design organizations--AIA, IDSA, ASLA, AIGA, SEGD, ASID, and IIDA--will be collaborating for the betterment of the designed environment. Designers, at all scales, are key contributors to making our world socially and environmentally sustainable. We need every design specialty at the top of its game to bring their specialized knowledge to the big problems of our time: environmental degradation, world-wide materials shortages, aging populations. Technology in the form of collaborative software programs--the ways of designing in the 21st century, is already setting examples of the best collaborative practices. I'm not sure what all this great connectivity will be called in 2030, but it will have results that will benefit everyone, everywhere. Designers like to say that they want to create "a better world". It looks like they can, at last, get there by 2030.