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!
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.
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.
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:
- 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 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.