The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Second Quarter Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI) indicates steady, continued and positive momentum for the interior design industry in the months ahead, according to the organization.

In June, the ASID IDBI stood at 55.8 and the Inquiries Index was 58.2. While both indices are down slightly from May, these figures remain above 50—indicating positive growth across the design space. As an indicator of residential and nonresidential improvement spending, the IDBI brings additional perspective to the already established construction indices.

Firm Size Affected Results

Most firms reported increased billings in June, with index scores of 50 or above. Smaller firms, with either a sole practitioner or fewer than 10 employees, have reported consistent growth since the first quarter of this year as well as year over year, according to the organization. Results for larger firms—those with 25 or more employees—were positive, although imprecise due to the small number of responses. Medium-sized firms (10 to 24 employees) struggled to maintain their positive momentum in March and April, and in June experienced the lowest billings in the past year.

Conditions Differed Across Regions

ASID firms in the Midwest, South and West all experienced increased monthly billings during the first half of this year. While down from May, indices for firms in the West and South stayed above 60 through June, indicating the country’s strongest growth in billings, according to the organization. The Midwest region reported billings increases in every month this year except March, when the region’s score fell below 50. Interior designers in the Northeast struggled over the past six months, reporting billings increases only in May.

Billings Varied by Market Sector

The single-family and multifamily residential sectors reported billings increases in May and June. In the case of single-family billings, that growth extended the momentum from the first quarter and the month-over-month billings increases of the past year. The multi-family billings index varied more over the past year, but remained above 50 for eight months.

The commercial sector was not as strong, with only the office sector reporting increased billings in June. While that came on the heels of billings slumps in April and May, office design firms did experience billings increases more often during the past 12 months compared with the other three sectors. The hospitality, retail and entertainment sectors mostly witnessed declines in billings during the first six months of the year, with the latter two facing eight months of billings declines over the past year. The hospitality sector began with decreased billings, witnessed a rise in billings in February, and ended June with its lowest billings in a year.

The institutional sector showed varied results, with billings fluctuating dramatically over the past six months in government, education and healthcare. The government sector showed increases for the first three months, but slumped in April and May before rebounding in June. The education sector reported increased billings for five of the first six months, only dropping below an index of 50 in April. Year over year, the education sector experienced one of the most significant billings increases, jumping more than 25 points. Overall, billings at healthcare firms improved markedly from the second half of 2013 to the first half of the year.

“While the U.S. economy shifted into a higher gear during the second quarter and the composition of growth has improved, some uncertainty remains,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for this research. “The pace of construction and home improvement spending has been growing in fits and starts during the first half of 2014. Although employment for both architecture and design services is up, the second half of the year may increase at a slower pace and could result in positive—though softer—readings for billings and inquiries.”

Since 2010, the IDBI has informed the economic outlook for the interior design industry as a whole. The ASID IDBI reflects a lead time of approximately three to four months between interior design billings and spending.

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