The Best Paid Interior Design Firms

Despite a U.S. recession and less spending allowances in most family budgets, interior design is one of the few jobs to experience growth in its market. According to industry resources, the interior design industry made more than $2 billion in 2008 and has seen significant growth in the years since.

Interior designers who are earning the most share of that number seem to be those who operate successful interior design firms. Many specialize in a specific type of style and work in both commercial and residential interior design. Many of the top players work in retail, education, hospitality, and healthcare design.

According to, there are 100 big earners in the interior design industry. (See their list of top paid interior design firms.) The report from attempts to explain this growth trend in a 2009 report about the industry:

“This is going to require a little perspective. Interior Design’s current top 100 Giants earned $2,697,678,869 in 2008, an increase of 13 percent over the previous crew and 9 percent more than their own forecasts. Sounds good, no? But if the pundits who claim the current recession was already under way a year ago are correct, 13 percent is not just good but rather extraordinary.

This year’s Giants were responsible for 750,308,533 square feet, up 19 percent, and $58,375,277,937 in furnishings, fixtures, and construction, up 7 percent. New construction accounted for 62 percent of jobs, renovations 38 percent—pretty much the same as the year before. Project types that paid the best per unit of time or effort were health care, office, and hospitality, followed at a distance by retail. Government and educational paid the least.

As of our survey last October, the Giants predicted a 6 percent decline in interior design income for the coming year. But, again, a little perspective. A 10 percent decline is projected in overall income, which includes earnings from building and landscape architecture, engineering, facilities management, industrial design, consulting, planning, preservation, lighting, feasibility studies, branding, graphics, and set design. On average, interiors account for 58 percent of Giant income, with only 16 firms devoted exclusively to the practice. Declines of 7 percent are also projected in square footage as well as furniture, fixtures, and construction.

The largest portion of Giant income still comes from the office sector, but its share has dropped 11 percent since 2005. Over the same period, hospitality grew from 9 to just shy of 20 percent of income.

Almost 30 percent of Giant fees derived from environmentally responsible design, with 19 firms earning 50 percent or more from the category. Still, 22—including five of the top 10—did not report …

Read more: Up To The Challenge: 2009 Top 100 Giants


Interior Design News

Interior Designers Launch 2-Day Class Tour

A couple of professional interior designers in California are teaming up with celebrity designers to launch a new interior design camp in October. The first classes will be held in Austin, Texas and will feature celebrity interior designers. According to a press release, the 2-day camp will provide instruction that rivals the curriculum in today’s top interior design schools.

(PRWeb) Design Camp is a two-day seminar hosted and instructed by Celebrity Interior Designers Lori Dennis and Kelli Ellis, with special guests segments led by local and national industry experts in niche fields. The event includes interior design instruction, best business practices, and cocktail socials.

The course is tailored for design professionals and design aficionados. Each day runs from 9AM-6PM and is broken down into 8 segments per day. By the end of the course, students will have the confidence and ability to run successful, magazine ready interior projects, take their careers to an entirely new level and a certificate of completion. Design Camps are offered in cities across North America. The first camp will be held in Austin, Texas on October 24-26, 2012.

Internationally known from their appearances on HGTV, Bravo, NBC, Oxygen, TLC and Food Network, and articles in countless publications, Lori and Kelli have spent decades educating designers and design enthusiasts. Additionally Lori and Kelli are authors, brand ambassadors, furniture and product designers, public speakers, a sustainability expert, a design psychology expert and mentors to the design community.

Lori and Kelli’s secrets are the key ingredients to creating a play book with eye opening insight of how the successful designer looks and how a thriving interior business works today.

“Each day of Design Camp provides campers with the opportunity to learn and network with the most respected professionals in the interior design business. The curriculum at Design Camp is on par with course work from any top interior design school. The…

Read more: Design Camp Launches the First National Interior Design, Educational Summit

More Interior Design School News:

San José State University Interior Design Students Win Big at IIDA

Harford Community College Interior Design Students Create Room in BSA Decorators’ Show House

Interior Design News

Interior Design Students Win Stage Design Competition

Not all interior design students are destined for homes, kitchens, and bathrooms-related design careers. Many students are interested in (and excel at) interior design concepts appropriate for screen and stage productions. Interior design students in Borneo showed their skills in this genre by taking the top spots in a stage design competition:

(Borneo Post Online) Four Limkokwing Borneo students emerged victors at a recent design competition organised by KTS in conjunction with their 50th anniversary for impressing the judges with their talents for the built environment.

The open competition comprising a sculpture design competition, a stage design competition and a billboard with a guardhouse design competition was an effort made by KTS to encourage youths to participate in enhancing the environment of the new KTS Anniversary Park, guided by the slogan, ‘We Care, We Grow’.

The creative artworks displayed by the students impressed the judges as they awarded the top three prizes in the stage design category to Diploma in Interior Design students, Chin Siew Lun, Tang Chung Lee and Jenny Kong Ling Li.

Two of the main aspects that the students considered when designing the stage for the competition was its mobility and versatility as well as the aesthetic value that it had to maintain to complement the function hall in the KTS Anniversary Park.

Coming in first place was Chin Siew Lun, who had the strongest visual impact in his design, which was inspired by the concept of connections.

His focus was to create a connection between three groups, which were the users, the viewers and the surrounding nature.

Using these three points, he was inspired to create a stage using purely triangles as the base of his design.

“People tend to forget how a stage can affect the environment of an event. The…

Read More: Students bag best designs in KTS competition

More Interior Design School News:

Fashion Institute of Technology student shows her colors in Sherwin-Williams interior design contest  

Design Camp launches the first national interior design, educational summit for interior designers, design lovers and retailers

Interior Design News

Interior Design Student among Six Scholarship Winners

An interior design student specializing in home furnishing is one of only six students in the nation to win a full scholarship to a college to further his studies on interior design. The Celia Moh Scholarship will pay college tuition for Bill Lyon – currently a student at High Point University, a school offering a special interior design major to talented students.

(High Point University) Bill Lyon, a senior at High Point University, was recently selected as the recipient of the Celia Moh Scholarship, which was established to provide full tuition scholarships for students whose academic endeavors would logically lead to careers in the home furnishings industry.

Lyon, who is majoring in interior design major with a minor in home furnishings, was selected along with five other students across the country attending universities with home furnishings programs. The extensive scholarship will cover the cost of full tuition, room and board, books and fees.

The Celia Moh Scholarship was established in October 2001 by furniture industry entrepreneur Laurence Moh to honor his wife, Celia. It was funded by Moh’s initial gift of $3 million.

The application process for the scholarship includes an extensive questionnaire, a personal essay, instructor’s recommendations, and a college transcript illustrating exceptional academic achievement. Candidates are chosen by a scholarship committee comprised of notable home furnishings industry executives.

“This award will continue to open doors in my career for job opportunities, networking, and help me reach my goal of becoming an outstanding designer,” Lyon says. “Having been selected from such a great number of students with interest in the same field is an honor.”

Lyon, a native of Creedmoor, N.C., is a member of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success and the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society.

In its 11-year existence, a total of 73 home furnishing students have been awarded full scholarships from the Celia Moh…

Read more: HPU Interior Design Student Receives Prestigious Celia Moh Scholarship

More Interior Design College News:

College Architecture And Interior Design Students Open Habitat Lounge At Mall

Interior Design Student Contest to be help at Antique Show


Types of Entry-level Jobs for Interior Design College Graduates

When it comes to high-paying interior design jobs, it takes work experience to land the best jobs. But in the mean time, interior design students and recent graduates can gain important real-world experiences at an entry-level job. Interior design college graduates can enter the workforce directly without any prior industry-related work experience through available entry-level opportunities.

According to (a job site worth a look if you want to see what companies are hiring for entry-level types of jobs), interior design college graduates or graduate students with an associate’s degree or better can work in the same occupations as seasoned designers. It’s a matter of less pay and fewer responsibilities until the new designer gains experience:

“Working as an entry level interior designer requires at a minimum an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in interior design and sometimes a license depending on the state in which you would like to pursue this career path. The average entry level salary for an interior designer is $37,758, based on research done by The salary ranges vary across states and even metropolitan areas, so make sure to check what interior designers make in your region, especially if you want to do freelance work.

Interior design is an increasingly popular field for many talented young people: the creativity involved makes it a passionate career for many, with the added flexibility to do contract or freelance work on the side. The job outlook for interior designers is particularly good, as this occupation is expected to grow faster than average at a rate of 19 percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS. Both businesses and homeowners are expected to drive the demand for interior designers for the years to come. However, the competition in this field may stiffen in the near future. This should not discourage you, but rather make you proud that you are part of a field that is growing and attracting more interest.

If you want to gain more leverage over your peers, you could specialize in an area of interior design. For instance, an increasing number of interior designers get closely involved with detailed architectural work. A good knowledge of drafting programs such as CAD could be an added value to your resume. Succeeding as a renowned interior designer may prove as challenging as becoming the next famous fashion designer, especially since some fashion designers have already dipped their ink in the interior design industry, however keep in mind that your unique vision and passion about this field can get you a long way, and you may very well be the next big thing!”

Read more about the types of entry-level jobs and requirements for interior design graduates at’s by searching the directory of Entry Level Interior Design Jobs.

Interior Design News

Interior Design Students Win at IIDA Awards

The International Interior Design Association recently announced the winners of its annual student design awards. On the association’s list of big winners are interior design students from the San Jose’ State University School of Art & Design with 3d designs that garnered a slew of awards.

(PRWeb) When words fall short, interior designers turn to 3D visualization. It’s a keen bit of advice and something that the faculty at San José State University School of Art & Design makes sure every student knows before they graduate. Recently this strategy of imparting insight and teaching students 3D tools resulted in a near sweep of the International Interior Design Association of Northern California’s (IIDA) Student Design Awards. It appears all that time learning Luxology®’s modo®, the school’s 3D package of choice, paid off.

What began as a research project designed to teach students about a specific architect quickly blossomed into full-fledged exploration of the modeling, sculpting and rendering techniques the students had been gaining from continuous modo use. One project (a second place finisher) played with the ideas of vegetarianism and photosynthesis in order to produce a restaurant design that mimicked the internal structure of a vegetable. As an avid sculptor, student artist Chase Lunt found that modo’s sculpting features gave him the 3D equivalent of what he had become used to fashioning with his hands.

“When ideas meet modo, the creative possibilities are almost limitless,” said Lunt. “modo brings my mind beyond the pencil and paper into a world of deformers, falloffs, shaders and effects that can quickly and accurately bring what I see in my head out into the real world.”

As ideas were moved from concept to competitive, the students found an edge in modo’s world-famous rendering capabilities. “modo renders beautifully,” noted…

Read more at PRWeb: San José State University Interior Design Students Win Big at IIDA Awards with modo-generated Submissions

More Interior Design College News:

Danube’s initiative to promote young talent paved way for the best interior designers

Students honoured with interior design awards

Interior Design News

Students to Offer Free Interior Design Services

When it comes to college, interior design students have their hands full with learning to please potential clients of the future. One college is taking that lesson a step further and allowing students to provide interior design services, free of charge, to local businesses. The program was a success last year and the college decided to keep the ball rolling in 2012.

(Marshall Tribune) A small, Franklin, Tenn.-based private college that specializes in interior architectural and graphic design, merchandizing, advertising and fashion is teaching class on Lewisburg’s public square again this summer.

It’s in conjunction with the Lewisburg Downtown Alliance of merchants and property owners around the Marshall County Courthouse. Students enrolled in O’More College of Design’s “Studio on the Square” will work on designs for merchants and property owners from July 29 through Aug. 3.

O’More’s “Studio on the Square” program has been offered to local communities in the Middle Tennessee area for a number of years, but this is the first time the “Studio” has returned to the same community.

Due to the tremendous reception received by the school and its students, as well as the success of last year’s program, Associate Professor David Koellein, chairman of O’More’s Interior Design Department, has decided to offer the program for business and property owners in Lewisburg again this summer.

“The O’More College faculty and staff are quite interested in assisting local communities with revitalization efforts,” Koellein said.

Founded as O’More School of Interior Architecture and Design in 1970 has an enrollment of about 200, with a male to female ratio of one to nine. The job placement rate for students is very favorable for graduates.

“Similar to last summer, over the course of a week the school will essentially offer free interior (and some exterior) design services (though not…

Read more: Design college students returning to city square

More Interior Design School News:

Harford Community College Interior Design Students Create Room in BSA Decorators’ Show House

Fashion Show Featured Interior Design Student Work

Interior Design News

Interior Design Student Competition Hosts Special Judges

Jersey interior design students were afforded the unique opportunity to participate in an interior design competition judged by some of the brightest interior designers in the business. According to, the students hailed from interior design programs at eleven area high schools.

The North Jersey report says that the student’s interior design competition was “a free, full-day program, is a partnership between the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms and the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University. It was begun in 2011 during the museum’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Log House at Craftsman Farms, a National Historic Landmark, Gustav Stickley masterpiece, and one of the most significant landmarks of the American Arts and Crafts movement.”

The judges worked with students and helped them with advice on their projects. Judges included “Traci Feldman, CID, Managing Assistant Director at Kean University and in-house interior designer; Don Hafner, principal of H AI Architecture of Northampton, Mass.; Ed Heinle, licensed LEED accredited architect and principal in his own firm; Damon LaCapra, NCIDQ certified, and Assistant Professor at the Robert Busch School of Design at Kean University; and Pete Mars, furniture and home product designer and former Homekeeping Editor of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and designer of the Martha Stewart Everyday Garden Furniture Collection.”

A very important part of any competition for interior design students is the end of the project, when the critiques are given before a winner is announced. It allows students to hear a third-party review of their work and offers areas of improvement. This competition was no different and the awards went to two students. “granting first place to Mike Fogarty, a junior from West Essex High School in North Caldwell, and second place to Jack Campbell, a junior from Westfield High School.”

Read more about the competition on
Local students represent their schools at Stickley Design Invitational

More Interior Design School News:

College Architecture And Interior Design Students Open Habitat Lounge At Mall

Harford Community College Interior Design Students Create Room in BSA Decorators’ Show House


Types of Interior Designers

When it comes to interior designs, there are as many types of interior designers as there are different opinions on what is ‘good’ interior designing. When we break it down to types of projects, there are two primary types of interior designers: residential and commercial. Beyond this, interior design can be categorized by sustainable design, elite design, and budget designing. However, the true categorization of the types of interior designers might best be defined by the types of interiors that these professionals create for their clients.

A residential interior designer is a professional designer that works specifically on designs for the home. This type of interior designer is dedicated to the function, feel, and layout that will please the people that live in the space.

Commercial designers are a type of interior designer that works specifically on offices, stores, and other public or semi-public spaces. They must consider how the interior will affect customers and employees, as well as mood and productivity.

Sustainable interior designers focus on using sustainable products to create their designs and create interiors that best utilize natural air flow, heat, cooling, lighting, water, and other elements. Budget designers create interior designs for clients who are only able to spend a small, specific amount of money on their design, while elite designers are able to create interiors that cost much more.

Inside of each of these types of interior designers lie additional categories. Some span all of those listed above (such as ‘bathroom designer’) while others apply to a specific industry (such as ‘commercial dining’):

Cultural and Style-based Designers – Cultural designers are well-versed in architecture and design concepts from around the globe. This type of interior designer may specialize in a specific type of design, such as eastern philosophy and feng shui. He or she may also understand the general styles that are popular around the world, able to create any mood from western desert designs to clean and modern décor.

Set Designers – As part of the production teams in entertainment circles, set designers are a type of interior designer that specialize in creating false, but realistic interiors that photograph well. Many times, set designers design a working space for a television show or a ‘living space’ for photographs, cinema, and live theatre.

Hotel and Motel Designers – Hotel and motel designers specialize in maximizing the use of limited space throughout a hotels interior. They design rooms, lobbies, restaurants, pool decks, and more for the comfort of visitors and staff.

Health Care Designer – Health design is a fast-growing industry that focuses on health and wellness, as well as employee productivity and mood.

Bathroom and Kitchen Designers – Bathroom and kitchen designers specialize in the unique facets of these common areas. They may work in commercial or residential project teams to choose appropriate lighting, fixtures, tiles, and backsplashes.

Commercial Dining Designers – This is a type of interior designer that is able to imagine creative solutions for spaces where customers will dine. Most restaurants hire interior designers to make the most use of a small space or open floor plan so that customers are comfortable in their environment.

Exhibition Designers – Interior designers that work in museums, art galleries, and other types of exhibit halls are highly-specialized professionals that work to create a mood or ambience for an audience within the inside of a building.

Interior Design News

Job Office Reaches Out to Interior Design Students for Help

Nothing gives interior design students the opportunity to truly practice what they’ve learned like a real-world project. Students need to understand that size, scope, and budget truly matter when pitching the best laid interior design plans to a potential client. While colleges actively seek these types of engagements for their students, it is not often that the opportunity presents itself. But this is what occurred at one college, as a local job resource office contact the interior design department for a little help.

(New Have Independent) May 23rd, 2012 – Sometimes the best way to reach out is to do exactly that. This winter Joe Riccio, director of administration at the New Haven Job Corps Center, emailed Pierre Strauch, chair of the interior design department at Paier College of Art, asking if his students might assist a neighbor. The New Haven Job Corps cafeteria and food service environment was in need of improvement.

Professor Strauch thought this was a perfect opportunity to involve the third-year interior design students in a “real life” project. Instructor Jenna McClure, architect, lead the way with an initial site visit and meeting with Mr. Riccio. Photos of the space were taken and the program was decided.

Instructor Denis Ouimette, architect, took the class on a field trip to the Job Corps campus on Wintergreen Avenue in New Haven. Paier students had the opportunity not only to meet with Mr. Riccio, but to engage in a dialogue with the students at Job Corps. The Job Corps students liked the bright colors of the existing facility. Everyone agreed one of the main problems was noise. The high ceilings…

Read More: Art Students Pitch Job Corp Makeover

More Interior Design School News:

Interior Design Students Win Big at IIDA Awards with modo-generated Submissions

TV’s ‘Design Star’ finalist helps Mt. Lebanon students create classroom