ASID Foundation funds evidence-based research to improve workplace design for knowledge workers

In January 2014, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation selected two recipients for its third annual Transform grants for applied study in interior design and human behavior.

Published: January 28, 2014
By: The American Society for of Interior Designers

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 28, 2014) | The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Foundation today selected two recipients for its third annual Transform grants for applied study in interior design and human behavior: 1) Cornell University and 2) Michigan State University, working with the Herman Miller company. The efforts of these grant recipients will enable the interior design industry to improve workplace design and demonstrate its return on investment.

Prior to requesting proposals for the grants, ASID identified gaps in workplace design and the implications of those gaps in designing for knowledge workers. ASID asked those submitting proposals to quantify the financial effects of design practices on employee retention, engagement and productivity. 

Cornell University researchers will study employee interactions to develop best practices for workplace design, while researchers at Michigan State University and Herman Miller will evaluate the role design plays in high-performing businesses. At their conclusions, expected to be in May 2015, both projects will recommend design principles and suggest approaches to capture return on investment for putting those principles into practice.

“We recognize that solid research is the cornerstone of powerful design, and we are excited to facilitate research about the ways design can enhance our quality of life,” said ASID Foundation Chair Suzan Globus, FASID. “ASID and the ASID Foundation have a long history of working with academic and industry partners to build a strong body of interior design knowledge in all disciplines.”

ASID narrowed 22 proposals to 12 finalists based on a rigorous assessment of innovation, creativity and impact on the design profession, among other criteria. Jurors Rosalyn Cama, FASID, of CAMA, Inc.; Dave Lathrop of Steelcase; Vivian Loftness of Carnegie Mellon; and Ben Waber of Sociometric Solutions then evaluated finalists’ submissions and sent recommendations to the ASID Foundation Board of Trustees for final selection.

The ASID Foundation will award more than $120,000 to fund these projects.

Cornell University
So-Yeon Yoon, ASID, Ph.D., associate professor; Alan Hedge, Ph.D., professor; and Sheila Danko, chair, all of Cornell’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, will use social-sensing technology to study 200 LG and Samsung knowledge workers at sites in California, New Jersey and South Korea. The resulting movement data will provide insight into the workers’ behavior and experiences. LG and Samsung will allow researchers access to calendars and information on the location and frequency of their workers’ meetings. Taken together, this data will enable the Cornell team to assess interactions in the workplace. The final product will showcase specific design guidelines via a dynamic website.

Michigan State University and Herman Miller
Young Lee, Allied ASID, Ph.D.; Tracy Brower, Ph.D., director of Herman Miller’s Performance Environments Group; and Rex LaMore, Ph.D., director of Michigan State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development, will build on established workplace metrics to create an evaluation tool that can assess the effect of design on the productivity of knowledge workers. The team will use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to determine the effect of design on the culture and performance of nearly 100 high-performing companies.

This workplace research complements ongoing efforts by ASID to capture the impact of design on the human experience. Previous research funded through Transform grants has focused on the relationship between space design and healing as well as on healthier building products. Grants are made possible through the support of the Donghia Foundation.

About the ASID Foundation
As the leading interior design organization, the American Society of Interior Designers is dedicated to advancing the profession of interior design. The ASID Foundation supports endeavors that capture and disseminate knowledge, encourage innovation and benefit the health, safety and welfare of the public through interior design research, scholarships and education. The ASID Foundation initiatives include Transform, an applied research grant program; a partnership with The 1% program and National Building Museum; REGREEN, a collaborative project with the U.S. Green Building Council; and Rebuilding Together and its Veteran’s Housing Initiative. Learn more at

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