Total design fees for the group came in at $4.5 billion, a decline of nearly 8 percent over last year’s $4.85 billion tally. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad in the context of what other industries experienced, but just because we’re technically out of 2020 doesn’t mean 2020 is quite done with us.
Since the end of the Great Recession, the design business has been on a fantastic upward curve (2010 fees totaled $2.2 billion, exactly half of this year’s take). That means it took a global pandemic to knock what had been a very strong business backward. The more alarming data: The financial haircut seems to have come primarily from corporate office and hospitality work—two of the three biggest segments in the industry (the other is healthcare).