The Top 100 Brave Tough Times
Rough patches and bright spots mark the view from the top.
Judith Davidson -- Interior Design, 1/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Total interior design earnings for this year's top 100 Interior Design Giants dropped 9.6 percent, to $1,444,821,845—not bad, given that the year was saturated by the kind of political and economic uncertainty that unnerves the client classes as badly as the rest of us.
Despite the obstacles, however, five firms reported earning as much as last year, and 42 firms logged increases from 0.8 percent to an incredible 52.5 percent. Three of the six firms reporting increases of over 30 percent are among the bottom 20 Giants. Overall, the average fee earned per employee rose 0.16 percent.
The 53 firms that experienced decreases, as little as 1.3 percent and as much as 41 percent, tended to cluster toward the bottom of the Giants' ranks. The very top was not immune, however; three of the top five Giants' losses ranged from 7.7 percent to 19.9 percent. For the top 100 Giants as a whole, the forecast* for next year is up a modest 2.27 percent.
This year, the study period shifted from our customary time frame of October 1 through September 30 to the calendar year January 1 through December 31, with the last quarter of 2002 projected. During this cycle, the top 100 Giants claimed responsibility for 508,153,074 square feet* of installed space, down 10.95 percent. The total value of the installations was $32,621,498,494,* down 7.62 percent. Fixtures and furnishings accounted for 28 percent of the dollar value, down 1 percent, with construction up 1 percent, to 72 percent.
As usual, the office-design category led the way; retail and financial institutions followed at a considerable distance. Of the 11 major project types studied, seven registered dollar increases, some quite impressive: 43.9 percent for government, 27.4 percent for residential, 9.9 percent for retail, 9 percent for education, 8.9 percent for health care, 2.3 percent for transportation, and 1.4 percent for financial institutions. Nevertheless, even combined, these increases were not enough to offset a 30.3 percent drop in office design, plus decreases of 12.7 percent in technology, 10.8 percent in entertainment and cultural venues, and 10.5 percent in hospitality.
As sustainable design is finally beginning to get its due, we asked some questions this year about green products. Of the top 100 Giants, 94 do indeed specify—in order of frequency—carpet, other flooring, wall covering, paint, fabric, building products, lighting, furniture, ceiling tiles, and millwork that are environmentally friendly. This group also arranges for green disposal of construction waste.
Sustainable design is very or extremely important to the clients of 37 firms, somewhat important to clients of another 52. The use of green products ranges from a low of 1 percent to a high of 100 percent, with six of the top 10 Giants reporting that 50 percent-plus of specified products are green; 87 expect to use even more earth- and people-friendly materials in 2003; 81 are actively seeking more information in this area. Maybe we should elect them to Congress.
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