Computer-aided design use in interior design firms



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Texas Tech University


Rapid changes in computer technology and the introduction of computer-aided design have contributed to the evolution of the interior design profession. Small firms are being challenged to compete with larger firms in order to survive in today's complex and diverse interior design profession. Understanding how interior design firms are using computer-aided design to meet the needs and expectations of their clients is important to the success of smaller firms.

The sample for this study consisted of 322 professional members of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and 179 professional members of the Intemational Interior Design Association (EDA) selected from the current membership directories provided by the national offices of ASID and BOA. The questionnaires were mailed to each subject and were designed to determine the statistical characteristics related to firm size, type of practice, education and CAD education background, computer usage, and expectations for entry-level employment.

One hundred twenty-eight (39.8 %) of ASID and 78 (43.6 %) of EDA sample members returned questionnaires. The data indicated that interior design professionals graduated with a baccalaureate degree from FIDER accredited design programs, and are employed full time. A large number of ASID members graduated prior to the introduction of CAD to interior design programs. More than 52 % of the ASID sample have practiced interior design for more than 20 years, and 61.6 % of the EDA sample have practiced less than 20 years.

Interior designers in both ASID and EDA expect entry-level employees to have a maximum level of CAD training and prefer to hire graduates with CAD training even if they do not use CAD. AutoCAD software is used by most designers in this study, and CAD software programs are used primarily for design preliminaries and construction drawings.

Study results indicate that firm size affects gross income, but primarily for ASID study participants whose firms have 5 or less employees. Most firms in this study reported grossing more than $1,000,000; however, this is not true of firms with 1 to 5 employees. Firm size also appears to affect scope of work. Most interior design professionals, whose firms consist of from 1 to 5 employees, are residential designers. In addition study results indicate that as staff size decreases the percentage of employees who use CAD decreases and the scope of work also decreases. Most interior design professionals who participated in this study practice in firms with 1 to 5 employees.

Data compiled from this study adds to the body of knowledge regarding computer aided design use in interior design firms and affirms the importance of CAD in the interior design profession. Additionally study results illustrate the importance of continuing to incorporate advanced computer-aided design into all phases of university interior design programs in order to prepare graduates to successfully enter the interior design profession.

The information from this study may provide small firms with 1-5 employees to with information necessary to compete with larger firms. The information resulting from this study may also encourage the Foundation for Interior Design Research (FIDER) to consider including advanced CAD processes, such as 3D modeling and animations, as a additions to the existing levels of computer competencies required for accreditation. Study results may also affect university administrators' willingness to provide additional funding that may result in the development and implementation of university interior design programs that include advanced level CAD instruction in all upper-level interior design studio courses.



Mechanical drawing, Computer-aided design -- Study and teaching, Auto computer-aided design, Interior decoration firms -- Research, Computer graphics, Interior decoration