100 Rising Giants

Everyone loves a personal best. Records are made to be broken and all that. But we think you’ll find our annual business trends survey of Interior Design’s Rising Giants to be, possibly, the best ever. Lest we bury the lede: Business is good!

Whitney Architects, ranked #23
Project: Cushman & Wakefield Global Headquarters
Location: Chicago, IL
Photography by JJ Jetel
Steinberg Hart, ranked #38
Project: Suffolk Office Interiors
Location: San Francisco, CA
Photography by Vittoria Zupicich
Alliance Architecture, ranked #6
Project: Venable LLP
Location: Washington, DC
Photography by Eric Laignel
Dawson Design Associates, ranked #61
Project: Hotel Palomar
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Photography by David Phelps Photography
Faulkner Design Group, ranked #41
Project: Altana
Location: Glendale, CA
Photography by Dave Tonnes
Group One Partners, ranked #82
Project: AC Hotel Miami Aventura
Location: Aventura, FL
Photography by John Woodcock
HapstakDemetriou+, ranked #91
Project: District Winery
Location: Washington, DC
Photography by Michael Moran
HYL Architecture, ranked #87
Project: White & Case
Location: New York, NY
Photography by Eric Laignel
Kasian Architecture, ranked #3
Project: Toronto Wine Distributor
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Photography by Tom Arban Photography
Lauckgroup, ranked #36
Project: Gaedeke Group - One Legacy West
Location: Dallas, TX
Photography by Garrett Rowland
Legat Architects, ranked #62
Project: Community Consolidated School District 59 – Early Learning Center
Location: Mount Prospect, IL
Photography by AJ Brown
Clive Wilkinson Architects, ranked #43
Project: Intuit Marine Way Building
Location: Mountain View, CA
Photography by Jeremy Bittermann
Ziegler Cooper, ranked #22
Project: Parkway Management Office
Location: Houston, TX
Photography by Peter Molick
Dyer Brown Architects, ranked #16
Project: 116 Huntington Avenue
Location: Boston, MA
Photography by Chuck Choi
Philpotts Interiors, ranked #88
Project: Kalihiwai Ranch
Location: Kauai, HI
Photography by Matthew Millman
Tsoi/Kobus & Associates, ranked #78
Project: South Street Landing
Location: Providence, RI
Photography by Robert Benson
NicoleHollis, ranked #24
Project: Russian Hill Townhouse
Location: San Francisco, CA
Photography by Douglas Friedman
Parker-Torres Design, ranked #76
Project: The Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Photography by The Phoenician
Revel Architecture & Design, ranked #30
Project: Informatica
Location: Austin, TX
Photography by Casey Dunn
DesignAgency, ranked #89
Project: Broadview Hotel
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Photography by Worker Bee Supply

Total fees came in at $527 million, the highest number recorded for this group. That’s a leap of more than $50 million from last year’s total. If this trend continues, next year’s forecast of nearly $600 million doesn’t seem so farfetched.

The Rising Giants also booked 15,500 jobs across 277 million square feet, both numbers the most of all time. That’s an average of $108 per square foot, a new high, and up from $89 last year.

Another highest ever: The Rising Giants pulled in $253,000 in fees per employee, up from $221,000. That came from 2,800 design staffers, which is also very near the highest ever total. But here’s the problem: Interior design staff has been hovering around 2,800 since 2014. But firms expect to hire another 400 staffers this year.

Median Annual Salary
Median Hourly Rate
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Market Sector

What other records were shattered this year? Furniture-fixtures and construction products. The Rising Giants installed $14.3 billion worth, a new high, up from $12.6 billion last year. They forecast another big jump next year to $16.8 billion. For that money you could buy the Yankees four times over.

The type of work the Rising Giants do, however, hasn’t changed much. There’s just been more of it, and for better money. Corporate ($169 million) and hospitality ($150 million) continue to be the cash cows, and next year the Rising Giants expect to add $15–20 million each to those totals. The highest percentage growth is expected in retail, government, and educational sectors, which should bring in another $13 million all together. One area that hasn’t seen any change, however, is new construction versus renovation. That ratio has hovered around 60/40 since 2010.


Growth is robust: 52 of 100 firms saw an average growth of 30 percent—that’s $1 million per firm. Once again, 27 firms reported a loss—the same number for the past three years—but this year the average loss was 4 percent better than last year. And now, with all of these highest evers, we’d like to leave you with one stat that came in, by far, the lowest ever. A mere 26 percent of the Rising Giants mentioned an “uncertain economy” as a concern for next year. Go back six years and that number was routinely in the 70’s. The Rising Giants have indeed risen.

Written By: Mike Zimmerman
Research By: Wing Leung
Charts Designed By: Darlene Portades

The second installment of the two-part annual business survey of Interior Design Giants comprises the second 100 largest firms ranked by interior design fees for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2017. The first 100 Giants firm ranking was published in January. Interior design fees include those attributed to:

  1. All types of interiors work, including com­mercial and residential.
  2. All aspects of a firm’s interior design practice, from strategic planning and programming to design and project management.
  3. 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 the dollar value of products installed. 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.