Judith Davidson | August 12, 2003
In a world that seemed to get tougher by the day, this year's second 100 Interior Design Giants took the high road. Of the firms on the list, 90 percent specified environmentally responsible products, including carpet, fabric, paint, lighting, and furniture. As for the business environment, total interior design income for the second 100 Giants fell 24 percent, to $271,382,916, two and a half times the drop experienced by the top 100 Giants.
"It's the economy," you might say, "and fear of global disruption." But you could also point out that 12 of last year's second 100 Giants catapulted themselves into this year's top 100 Giants, taking their earnings statistics along. Although the shortfall hit 49 of the second 100 Giants, with decreases of 50 percent or more walloping nine of them, 27 experienced increases, five of over 25 percent. And, of course, the 24 firms new to the list got themselves there through impressive growth.
As a group, the second 100 Giants installed 127,358,948 square feet, 16 percent fewer than the previous year. Renovation projects beat new construction by 51 to 49 percent. Overseas work increased by 1.4 percentage points—a small but amazing feat given 2002's international climate.
Office design earned 38.47 percent of the year's income, followed by hospitality at 20.55 percent, retail at 8.80 percent, health care at 6.82 percent, and residential at 5.71 percent. The second 100 Giants reported significantly higher percentages than the top 100 Giants in both office and residential design as well as almost 250 percent more in hospitality. The 89 respondents who were willing to give information about installation costs racked up a total of $5,970,477,187.
Although half of the second 100 Giants reported taking on no new project types, 12 entered health care and 13 made a debut in the cultural arena: museums, performance centers, and entertainment. Interestingly, cultural projects produced some of the highest fees. When billed by area, they produced an average of $30 a square foot, the top for any project type—and more than double the next highest category, restaurants. Billed as a percentage of total project cost, culture was again at the top, tied with residential fees at an average of 16 percent. Billed hourly, culture and health care tied for third place at an average of $93 an hour.
Designers described green design as ranging from "somewhat important" to "extremely important" for both themselves and their clients, and 72 plan to increase green specifications. In fact, sustainable construction for 2004 is projected to be twice what it was in 2001. Regardless of economic ills, that's news guaranteed to keep our planet thriving.