The Top 100 Giants 20236 min read
It’s easy to get hung up on symbolic numbers. Like, say, $5 billion. Nice and round. What could it represent, besides a comfortable retirement? In our case, a growth threshold for the Interior Design 100 Giants. In 2022, fees for the biggest firms came in just shy of that, at $4.97 billion—pretty good when you consider the turmoil of the past few years. That figure also marks 12 percent growth over 2021, beating the group’s forecast by 16 percent.
Top 100 Giants 2023
|6||6||IA Interior Architects||San Francisco||154.20||3,351||51.6||543||6|
|7||7||CannonDesign||New York City||125.00||0||–||520||9|
|8||8||Page Southerland Page||Washington||124.90||2,297||8.3||120||29|
And if you want more fuel for the victory lap, as well as some context for the entire industry, a decade ago total fees for the top Giants tallied $2.44 billion, meaning they doubled in the intervening years. As for how the 2022 fees shook out: At the almost-$5 billion level, there are no insignificant slices of the pie when talking dollar amounts. For example, mixed-use projects make up a mere 1.2 percent of total fees, but that amounts to about $61 million. Though corporate office work remains the biggest driver, at 31 percent of fees (or $1.53 billion), it fell below 35 percent for only the second time in the last decade (2017 being the other blip). That’s a $344 million drop from 2019, when it comprised nearly 40 percent of all fees. So, is this a trend? Well, the 100 Giants forecast $1.5 billion for 2023, or 32 percent of total fees. Time will tell if this is a new reality.
What’s risen to replace corporate? Since 2019, government work is up by $89 million, or 31 percent. Education and transportation projects rose some 20 percent, for a combined $72 million. And of course, the pandemic spiked healthcare by 23 percent, or $139 million—bumping down hospitality from second to third for total fees (more on this subject in their respective sections).
However, healthcare may have peaked as we shift from pandemic to endemic. Sector fees rose only 3 percent since 2021, while hospitality rebounded 21 percent, or $89 million, in that same period. The 100 Giants predict healthcare fees will drop 23 percent next year, which may signal a return to previous levels.
Furniture, fixtures, and construction products also showed health at $74 billion in 2022. Pre-pandemic totals occasionally topped $85 billion, so while the industry is not back to that high, we’ve now hovered in this $73-75 billion range for three years. The problem: a projected 12 percent drop to $65 billion next year. Of all the forecasts, that’s the most dire.
International Giants 2023
Note: Firms on this list do the majority of their work overseas and/or are headquartered outside the U.S.
“-“ did not report data
Total number of projects and square footage also tell a curious story, although the data is admittedly a bit skewed because few respondents reported this metric. From 2016 to 2019, the 100 Giants routinely logged 1 billion square feet from 60,000 to 66,000 projects annually. This year, 66,109 projects were built, but only encompassed 519 million square feet (compared to 65,000/589 million in 2021). Possible indications: Square footage is down as firms diversify into consulting and branding projects—and perhaps hybrid/remote work is allowing businesses to reallocate space.
Now for perhaps the most positive business indicator: Firms are hiring. Total design staff jumped from nearly 18,000 in 2021 to more than 23,000 in 2022—by far the most aggressive upward movement of any data we track. The overall number of employees also leaped from 98,000 to more than 155,000, although that’s still well below pre-pandemic head counts.
Billing rates have risen, too. Designers now bill at $156 per hour versus $133, a 17 percent increase since 2019. Average designer salary also jumped from $70,000 to $80,000 in that same time period, but remained flat in 2022. Other staff members have done particularly well, their salary rising 36 percent in three years.
As to when we’ll hit that big $5 billion mark, it’s unclear. The 100 Giants forecast $4.82 billion in fees for 2023, a slight drop. And a vast majority of respondents—90 percent—are confident in that prediction. That, if anything, might sum up what we’re seeing: Good results? Check. Reason to smile? Check. A lot of uncertainty to come? Check—and mate.
Editor’s Note: Take a look at recent coverage of our Top 100 Giants most admired firms of 2023 below. Gensler tops the list followed by Perkins&Will, Rockwell Group, and Yabu Pushelberg.
Firms with the Most Fee Growth
|1||Page Southerland Page||41,952,000||124,878,244|
|6||IA Interior Architects||128,800,000||154,176,000|
Top Ten Giants by Sector
Hospitality – Top 10
Corporate Office – Top 10
|2||IA Interior Architects||77,935,967|
|3||M Moser Associates||72,148,000|
Retail – Top 10
|5||Little Diversified Architectural Consulting||10,610,086|
|6||IA Interior Architects||7,230,854|
|7||Chipman Design Architecture||7,200,000|
Government – Top 10
|4||Page Southerland Page||24,975,600|
Healthcare – Top 10
|8||Page Southerland Page||40,961,000|
Education – Top 10
|3||Page Southerland Page||26,224,400|
Residential – Top 10
|2||Marc-Michaels Interior Design||27,200,000|
|4||B2 Architecture + Design||14,000,000|
|8||Pembrooke and Ives||9,946,357|
|10||Ryan Young Interiors||9,222,729|
Cultural – Top 10
|6||Page Southerland Page||7,867,300|
Transportation – Top 10
|9||IA Interior Architects||3,715,642|
Read More About Perkins&Will
Projects by Type
|9||Cultural/Museums/Performance and Entertainment Centers||970||897|
|10||Sports Centers (new)||793||508|
|11||Life Sciences (new)||2,546||2,571|
|12||Manufacturing/Warehouse/Data Centers (new)||2,455||2,246|
Read More About Rockwell Group
Total FFC Value
2022 Actual Value: $73,970,503,017
2023 Forecast: $64,967,795,010
Square Feet Installed
2022 Actual: 519,274,725
2023 Forecast: 556,336,471
Read More About Yabu Pushelberg
Fees by Project Type
Furnishing & Fixtures vs. Construction
International Project Locations
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.