The International Interior Design Association is the only worldwide design organization that solely focuses on commercial work. It has more than 13,000 members in 33 chapters around the globe, though IIDA Southwest Chapter President Stephanie Fanger and President-Elect Cheyne Brown have their eye on retaining interior design talent in-state through mentorship programs and raising awareness among the business community of an interior design talent bleed out.
Stephanie, you’ve said nearly half of your students at ASU leave Arizona to find design jobs out of state. Where are they going and why aren’t they staying?
Stephanie Fanger: As a faculty associate at ASU, I see about half of my students leave after graduation. The students that leave Arizona to pursue employment in other states are looking for diverse jobs that just are not offered in Arizona. I have had students describe their passion for interior design within the realms of yachts and boating, aviation, tropical resorts and film sets.
Why is it significant that the students are leaving, and how can the industry increase its retention rate of young designers?
SF: As the economy has improved in recent years, there has been quite a demand for student interns. This past spring semester alone, there was more internship requests from firms than students able to take on the role. The Arizona community can retain young designers by aiding in our mentorship program, a partnership between our professional members and student members. This past year we had more than 20 partnership pairings.
Why did you join IIDA — and what keeps you a member?
Cheyne Brown: I joined IIDA as college student in order to learn more about the industry and meet practicing interior designers. My IIDA affiliation helped me successfully relocate from Phoenix to Los Angeles, where I continued my involvement as a committee member and eventually a board member. Through IIDA, I quickly built a robust professional network and was able to build professional skills of public speaking, conducting meetings and managing schedules and budgets long before I had those opportunities on the job. When the time came for me to present to a client or to manage a project schedule, I had already developed the experience and confidence to be successful.
SF: I joined IIDA during my freshman year at ASU to network with the upperclassmen. I continued to be involved with IIDA after graduating college for the leadership opportunities, something I would not get to directly experience in an entry level interior design position.
Phoenix is one of multiple City Centers in IIDA Southwest. How do the different centers interact year-round?
CB: The City Centers of Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson are all part of the Southwest Chapter and are governed by the chapter board of directors. Often more event focused, the City Centers discuss their calendars and exchange ideas on a monthly conference call, helping them elevate the quality of their individual programs. Twice a year, the entire board, including representatives from each city, come together at a board retreat to determine the future and next steps of the chapter.
What is a major goal for the organization going into 2015-16?
CB: As incoming president, one of my major goals is to increase our student outreach. I would like to build on the success of the Arizona State University Campus Center and bring similar programs like NCIDQ information sessions, design firm tours and mentorship programs to additional campuses throughout the region.