Current Research Trends in Interior Design and its Influence on Education

Presented by: Dr. Suchismita Bhattacharjee, Thelma Lazo-Flores

The popularity of the profession of Interior Design (ID) could be traced back to over a 100 years, from the time of its origination as the art of decorating. Since its inception as decorating art, the profession has evolved into what we today know as a specialized area of expertise, designing for human behavior and comfort. As interior design projects are becoming more complex, among the various reasons for research in this profession, the primary is to identify the feasibility of the project, client current and future needs and concept development. Traditionally the profession of ID was envisioned as a more craft based discipline, where knowledge was gained by doing. With the inception of the concept of ‘Human Centered Design’ the need for design decisions to be guided through an understanding of research methods and finding is inevitable (CIDA 2014). With the recent shift towards expertized education, more research activities originated which led to the exploration of new design techniques, materials, and methods to advance design, as well as improve ID higher education. Being a developing field, research in ID profession is constantly evolving, and the best actions to take are constantly being challenged. The research efforts in this profession cover a wide range of topics which can be broadly categorized into practice research and academic research. The goal of this study is to explore the trends of research in ID profession and how it has been integrated with ID higher education. The result of this study will not only provide the researcher with a base-line understanding of the research done so far, but will assist them to identify the future directions of ID education. This study adopted the systematic review as a methodological approach to examine the existing research related to the profession of ID. A content analysis method was adopted for the study to analyze the keywords of the individual publications to understand the trends in research. The first three steps aimed to collect enough appropriate related research publication (see attached). Through preliminary search a total of approximately 15 journals and conference proceedings with highest number of papers were identified as target journals or conference proceedings for second search. The results of the second search were used to select literature according to design topics, targeted occupants and targeted building types. The shortlisted papers were then compiled and coded based on seven aspects as listed in Appendix 1. Data analysis was further performed on the basis of the coding results to have an overall understanding about researches focusing on ID. Research gap were further identified to provide a platform to further explore the less-investigated or novel topics. In excess of 400 papers were identified with the earliest publication date of 1970. The shortlisted papers could be grouped under nine different topics based on the area of focus. The broadly classified topics were business process management, social and individual needs for better design solutions, design and aesthetics, building codes, health and safety, fixtures and furnishing, building materials and finishes, building systems, and pedagogical improvements. Majority of the identified papers focused on social and individual needs followed by business process management, and health and safety. A second categorization of the shortlisted papers was according to targeted building types where health care building was the most focus and the least addressed building type was residential followed by hospitality or restaurant. Selected papers when grouped based on occupant types, demonstrated strong focus on elderly population and disabled population. Least attention was provided to the underage population. The study identified gaps in existing literature based on building types, design topics addressed and population type targeted.


  • Guerin, Denise A., and Jo Ann Asher Thompson. "Interior design education in the 21st century: An educational transformation." Journal of Interior Design 30, no. 2 (2004): 1-12.
  • Ulrich, Roger S. "Effects of interior design on wellness: Theory and recent scientific research." Journal of health care interior design 3, no. 1 (1991): 97-109.