Numbers can be fun. They can also be not-so-fun. But given what the latest data from Interior Design’s annual survey of the top 100 Giants firms says, fun gets right to the point. Business is good and looks to stay that way. Fees are up (and 2019 projections look even rosier). Corporate work remains hot—but residential is even hotter. And the Giants logged a total of 1.1 billion square feet in 2018, topping a billion for the second straight year.
Total design fees for the past year came in at $4.4 billion, an 8 percent rise from 2018, nailing last year’s forecast. A funny thing, forecasts. The Giants had underestimated theirs for the past several years, so when they predict they’ll hit $5 billion next year, perhaps we should take them seriously. It’s also worth mentioning that annual fees have increased by 62 percent over the past 10 years.
Corporate work remains the top-earning segment, coming in at $1.7 billion, a 14 percent bump from last year. That’s hot, but residential work might be hotter. That fee total rose $63 million to $300 million (it sat at $183 million just two years ago). Some 74 Giants work in residential, and of those firms, eight out of 10 work on new developments (urban residences rank second in project type). Retail was another sector with some heat, rising 8 percent to $307 million.
Here’s another fun number: $97.4 billion. That’s the latest total for furniture, fixtures, and new construction products, up from $91 billion. The Giants forecast another $99 billion next year—remarkable numbers, to be sure, but even more so when you consider that five years ago the F&F/construction total was $69 billion.
The Giants also logged a total of 1.1 billion square feet in 2018, the second straight year of a billion-plus. This total came from 67,000 total jobs, a nearly 10 percent jump from last year. The Giants forecast another 70,000 jobs to come; these numbers have been upwardly mobile for years now (annual jobs have tripled since 2010).
In all, though, the Giants are enjoying an extended run of growth and prosperity. No one sees the party ending anytime soon—91 percent of Giants are bullish for next year. So, here’s to more fun.
The first installment of the two-part annual business survey of Interior Design Giants comprises the 100 largest firms ranked by interior design fees for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2018. The 100 Rising Giants ranking will be published in July. Interior design fees include those attributed to:
- All types of interiors work, including commercial and residential.
- All aspects of a firm’s interior design practice, from strategic planning and programming to design and project management.
- Fees paid to a firm for work performed by employees and independent contractors who are “full-time staff equivalent.”
Interior design fees do not include revenues paid to a firm and remitted to subcontractors who are not considered full-time staff equivalent. For example, certain firms attract work that is subcontracted to a local firm. The originating firm may collect all the fees and retain a management or generation fee, paying the remainder to the performing firm. The amounts paid to the latter are not included in fees of the collecting firm when determining its ranking. Ties are broken by dollar value of products installed, square footage of projects installed, and staff size respectively. Where applicable, all percentages are based on responding Giants, not their total number. The data was compiled and analyzed by the Interior Design market research staff in New York, led by Wing Leung, research director.