The lesson of ASID’s GATHER conference: Interior designers want to be taken seriously and do serious work

The annual GATHER 2023 conference of the American Society of Interior Designers concluded yesterday in Los Angeles. GATHER brings together every facet of the interior design realm, offering a platform for residential and commercial designers, industry collaborators, educators, students, and experts in the constructed environment to delve into the industry’s current state. Several recurring themes emerged throughout the conference’s seminars, breakout sessions, and the State of the Society address, including:

  • The designers’ need for streamlined business processes
  • Increased attention to designing for neurodiversity and aging-in-place
  • Emphasis on wellness and sustainability
  • Designers’ strong desire for advocacy to legitimize their businesses

Project management for interior designers

Streamlined processes have taken on utmost importance as designers strive for efficiency and efficacy. Renowned designer, Erinn V, has dedicated the past two years to crafting StyleRow, a design project management software. Its solutions touch on many pressure points experienced by designers which they use a combination of various softwares to fix currently. Her presentation of StyleRow at GATHER drew a significant audience, and was met with agreeable nods throughout. The challenge in creating universally adopted software for the interior designer is that designers operate independently and creatively, developing their own processes over time. Adopting any singular software, even if exceptional, means taking time away from work to grasp a new system and then training staff accordingly. StyleRow, however, boasts an elegant and instinctive user experience, coupled with high customizability, positioning it as the most competitive choice available in the market. 

Back to basics: What is good design?

During the conference, there was a heightened emphasis on designing for neurodivergent people, an aging population, and a demographic increasingly mindful of health and sustainability. Seminars covered topics like forever chemicals, fire-proofing properties, and findings from neuroscientists designers should know. They affirmed many things designers do and feel intuitively, while arming them with the science to back themselves up. The idea of age-in-place design illustrates an awareness of the changing requirements of the aging population, motivating designers to craft environments that adapt to shifting capacities and ways of life, fostering safety, autonomy and comfort. In a similar vein, the acknowledgment of neurodiversity is propelling designers to adopt inclusive design principles, catering to a wide range of cognitive abilities and sensitivities. Amidst these shifts, the philosophy that wellness is fundamental to good design is gaining traction. It emphasizes the role of environments in fostering physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Collectively, these areas illustrate the multidimensional approach that modern interior designers are embracing to create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also deeply functional, accessible, and enriching. Sustainable and inclusive design is fundamentally good design.

CBS News’ senior national and environmental correspondent Benjamin Tracy led panel discussion with George Bandy, Jr. (Darling Fibers), Anthony Brower (Gensler), and Frances Anderton (author of Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles) on climate justice and design.
CBS News’ senior national and environmental correspondent Benjamin Tracy led panel discussion with George Bandy, Jr. (Darling Fibers), Anthony Brower (Gensler), and Frances Anderton (author of Common Ground: Multifamily Housing in Los Angeles) on climate justice and design.

Interior designers want to be taken seriously

The throughline to the conference was the designer’s yearning for legitimacy. It’s what brings many designers to ASID in the first place. Having those four initials alongside their name lend them credibility. Designers want to be seen as more than glorified personal shoppers because what they do is so much more than fluff pillows and arrange accessories on bookshelves. Seminars on maximizing an ASID membership and on how to advocate for the profession with members of your local government shed light on the designers’ increasing value and significance in the broader creative and economic landscape. 

ASID honors winners of the National Awards Program 

In addition to the seminars and break out sessions, ASID honored their new fellows and the winners of the national awards programs. Recipients were recognized for transformative work in interior design. 

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) announced the winners of sixty-two awards, exemplifying excellence in design. Spanning categories including individuals, firms and projects, as well as career levels from student to seasoned professionals, the awards were announced in Los Angeles during “A Night with the Stars,” the ASID awards reception at the GATHER national conference. Categories awarded included the ASID Ones to Watch program, the ASID Student Portfolio Competition, the ASID Foundation Scholarships and Grants, and the organization’s highest professional recognition, the ASID National Awards. 

This year, new categories were added to ASID’s national awards program to increase inclusivity and accessibility for designers, firms and projects. The honorees are being celebrated across three main categories: the Legacy Awards, the Annual Awards, and the FOCUS Awards. Open to ASID members and non-members alike, the awards allow the organization to maximize inclusiveness in recognizing design excellence. 

“ASID is proud to honor the projects and people that design to impact and improve the lives around us,” said Khoi Vo, chief executive officer, ASID. “Across firms, individuals and projects, ASID’s National Award winners exemplify our core values of design excellence, advocacy, thought leadership and community. We congratulate all of our winners and thank them for their outstanding contributions to making the world a better place through design.” 

The Legacy Awards honor interior designers for their work and careers who are dedicated to furthering the practice. This year’s winners, awarded for Designer of Distinction, Luminary of Distinction, and Firm of Distinction, are Charisse Johnston, FASID, Jennifer Kolstad, ASID, and CannonDesign. 

See Also

  • Designer of Distinction | Charisse Johnston, FASID, WELL AP, LEED AP ID+C  
  • Luminary of Distinction | Jennifer Kolstad, ASID, Associate AIA 
  • Firm of Distinction | CannonDesign 

The Annual Awards celebrate the work and achievements of practitioners with significant design achievements throughout the year honoring educators, students, volunteers, advocates and more. Chelsey Beardsley, Tracey Fillmore, Nicole Hollis, Supporter ASID, Taneshia West Albert, Emmy Williams, the ASID New York Metro Chapter Ronald McDonald House renovation  and TBA Studio are recipients of the Annual Awards. 

  • Student of the Year | Chelsey Beardsley, Allied ASID 
  • Volunteer of the Year | Tracey Fillmore, ASID, NCIDQ, CAPS, EDAC, RID 
  • Designer of the Year | Nicole Hollis, Supporter ASID 
  • Educator of the Year | Taneshia West Albert, ASID, IDEC, EDAC, NCIDQ 
  • Advocate of the Year | Emmy Williams, ASID, NCIDQ, NC RID 
  • Community Impact of the Year | ASID New York Metro Chapter 
  • Firm of the Year | TBA Studio 

The FOCUS Awards spotlight stellar design projects that address different areas of global issues. Addressing either wellness, diversity, community or climate, projects were selected on their ability to provide a framework and call to action to advance design in their respective category.  Winning projects of the FOCUS Awards are the Water Works Pavilion, the Lilian DesMarias Youth Library, the Seven Acre Dairy Company, the Family Tree Clinic, The Shop by Porter, Makers and Social-Impact Programs, “The Sanctuary” home project in Kansas and the Falstone Residence. Merit Recipients of the FOCUS Awards category are D’Youville University’s Health Professions Hub and the U.S. Green Building Council’s HQ Renovation. 

  • FOCUS Community – Large Firm | Water Works Pavilion by HGA 
  • FOCUS Community – Medium Firm | Lilian DesMarias Youth Library by bcDESIGNGROUP 
  • FOCUS Community – Small Firm | Seven Acre Dairy Company by InteriorLOGIC, Inc. 
  • FOCUS Diversity – Large Firm | Family Tree Clinic by Perkins&Will 
  • FOCUS Diversity – Medium Firm | The Shop by Porter, Makers and Social-Impact Programs 
  • FOCUS Wellness – Small Firm | “The Sanctuary” home project by Signature Design + Studio 
  • FOCUS Wellness – Small Firm | Falstone Residence by Shine Interior Design Studio 
  • FOCUS Community – Large Firm Merit Recipient | D’Youville University Health Professions Hub by CannonDesign 
  • FOCUS Wellness – Large Firm Merit Recipient | U.S. Green Building Council Headquarters Renovation by Perkins&Will 

You’ll find more information about the National Awards winners here

About ASID
The American Society of Interior Designers believes that design transforms lives. Through its programs, networks and advocacy, ASID serves all those who are a part of the interior design profession and practice. ASID thrives on the strength of cross-functional and interdisciplinary relationships among designers of all specialties, including workplace, healthcare, retail and hospitality, education, institutional and residential. As a leader in shared conversations around topics that matter in design, from evidence-based and human-centric design to social responsibility, well-being and sustainability, ASID showcases the impact of design on the human experience and the value interior designers provide. ASID will mark its 50th anniversary in 2025. Celebrating 50 years of industry leadership, ASID is committed to broadening the impact for the future of design in all of the places we work, play and heal. Learn more at

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