Interior Design Reveals the 2023 Rising Giants
There’s rising and then there’s Rising. Our list of the second 100 largest firms injected the moniker with helium in 2022. Total fees came in at $532 million, a 50 percent increase from 2021—well above the recent low of $314 million in 2020, and a hair above pre-pandemic numbers.
Rising Giants 2023
|wdt_ID||2023 Rank||Firm||Headquarters||Design Fees (in millions)||FFC Value (in millions)||Sq. Ft. (in millions)||Design Staff||2022 Overall Rank|
|1||101||Wolcott Architecture||Los Angeles||10.04||0.14||-||45||93A|
|2||102||Array Architects||Conshohocken, PA||9.46||420.00||-||78||NEW|
|4||104||Aria Group Architects||Oak Park, IL||9.35||13.30||1.17||67||95|
|6||106||Kasian Architecture, Interior Design and Planning||Vancouver, Canada||9.14||0.00||-||157||100|
|7||107||CBRE Design Collective||Dallas||9.10||364.44||-||67||NEW|
|9||109||EDG Interior Architecture and Design||Novato, CA||9.00||115.00||0.55||53||120|
|10||110||Tricarico Architecture and Design||Wayne, NJ||8.88||432.00||2.9||15||188|
“-“ did not report data
As for the breakdown of business segments, hospitality is to the Rising Giants what corporate projects are to the top 100: the big money driver. But while that sector remained a solid number one last year, it’s down to 30 percent of overall fees ($162 million) compared to 38 percent two years ago. Corporate is second, at 25 percent ($131 million), followed by residential at 17 percent ($89 million), and healthcare at 9 percent ($46 million). The Rising Giants predict only gentle fluctuations in this breakdown for 2023, forecasting a slight drop in corporate and a rise in residential, with hospitality holding firm.
Meanwhile, furniture, fixtures, and construction products appear to be booming—more than doubling, to $35.8 billion—but that figure is driven by large totals from a single firm. Still, FF&C had already been rebounding well from a pandemic low of $10 billion in 2020, and the Rising Giants forecast $38 billion for next year.
Furnishings & Fixtures vs. Construction
As with the 100 Giants, the relationship between number of projects and total square footage is somewhat imbalanced. Projects truly popped, at almost 23,000—up from 15,000 in 2021 and nearly doubling the pre-pandemic figure of 12,000 in 2019. Square footage, at 188 million, doesn’t track with it, however. That’s a slight bump from 2021 but a pipe dream compared to 301 million in 2019, likely resulting from firms diversifying their services (more consulting and branding projects), plus hybrid work affecting client’s spatial allocations.
Risers, like the 100, have seen an influx of new talent to execute this work. Design staff members, which had hovered around 2,600 for the past three years, jumped 62 percent to nearly 4,200 in 2022. The all-employee total also increased 27 percent.
Recruiting and retaining qualified staff remains the biggest challenge, so salaries have also risen since 2019. Most employees have seen a 14 to 16 percent raise (project managers/directors excepted), and the average designer salary has climbed to $80,000—the highest since we’ve tracked this data.
Will all this good business hold? This group has offered a healthy 2023 forecast of $583 billion in total fees, a 10 percent increase. And while most are confident about this prediction, fewer are saying they’re “very” or “extremely” so. Semantics? Perhaps. But the Rising Giants are rising indeed.
See the 2023 Top 100 Giants here.
Firms with the Most Fee Growth
|1||Tricarico Architecture and Design||1,300,000||8,880,000|
|3||Beasley & Henley Interior Design||5,144,000||8,713,480|
|4||EDG Interior Architecture and Design||5,595,000||9,000,000|
|7||KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group||4,400,000||6,800,000|
|10||Bar Napkin Productions||4,000,000||6,000,000|
Fees by Project Type
|wdt_ID||Project Type||2022 Actual||2023 Forecast|
|11||Manufacturing/Warehouse/Data Centers (new)||2,670,883||2,434,869|
|12||Life Sciences (new)||2,130,859||2,280,060|
|13||Sports Centers (new)||1,179,911||1,263,705|
|1||Recruiting qualified staff||89|
|4||Creating new business/Diversifying into new segments||31|
|5||Recruiting diverse staff||28|
|6||Offering staff appropriate pay scale and benefits||28|
|7||Marketing firm’s capabilities||20|
|8||Keeping track of profits and expenses||4|
|1||Retaining current clients||4.30|
|2||New competing business entities entering the market (I.e., Co-working, CRE services, etc.)||12.80|
|3||Finding new clients||25.50|
|4||Client willingness to take design risks||29.80|
|5||Managing client expectations||40.40|
|6||Getting clients to understand design value||52.10|
|7||Client willingness to pay what it’s worth||66.00|
|1||Earning appropriate fees||66|
|3||Dealing with clients’ increasing demands||54|
|4||Increasing interference from clients’ consultants||21|
|6||Managing the growing need for sustainable design||12|
|7||Creating cutting-edge design solutions||10|
Most Admired Firms
Editor’s Note: Take a look at recent coverage of our Rising Giants most admired firms of 2023 below. Gensler tops the list followed by Rockwell Group and AvroKO.
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With large-scale renovation projects, briefs can be tricky—it’s not the easiest feat to carve out a fresh new vision comprehensively complementary to existing bone structure. Such was the challenge for the re…
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AvroKO and BHDM Design Craft Inkwell Apartments From Former NYC Academy
|3||Refresh: Cosmetic Changes Only||9|
Total Projects by Type
|wdt_ID||Project Type||2022||2023 Forecast|
|10||Life Sciences (new)||503||100,643|
International Project Locations
Total FFC Value
Square Feet Installed
|wdt_ID||Year||Square Feet Installed|
|1||2022 Actual Sq. Ft||188,289,490|
|2||2023 Forecast Sq. Ft||210,081,326|
|wdt_ID||Job Title||Median Annual Salary|
|4||Other Interior Design Staff||65,000|
|wdt_ID||Job Title||Median Hourly Rate|
|4||Other Interior Design Staff||100|
|wdt_ID||Billable Time||2023 Giants|
The Interior Design Giants annual business survey comprises the largest firms ranked by interior design fees for the 12-month period ending December 31, 2022. The listings are generated from only those surveyed. To be recognized as a top 100, Rising, Healthcare, or Hospitality Giant, you must meet the following criteria: Have at least one office location in North America, and generate at least 25% of your interior design fee income in North America. Firms that do not meet the criteria are ranked on our International Giants list. Interior design fees include those attributed to:
1. All aspects of a firm’s interior design practice, from strategic planning and programming to design and project management.
2. 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 rank from last year. Where applicable, all percentages are based on responding Giants, not their total number.
All research conducted by ThinkLab, the research division of SANDOW Design Group.
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