Behind the Design: Interior Design Society (IDS)

Behind the Design: Jenny Cano, Executive Director of the Interior Design Society (IDS)

Featured photo by Nathan Cox Studios

Can you tell us a bit about your background and about IDS — when it was started, where it’s based, what its mission is?

My background is actually not in interior design, it’s in non-profit management! I was hired to oversee the business operations of the organization.

IDS was founded in 1973 by the National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) to support interior designers based within furniture stores. Since its inception, the Interior Design Society has expanded its focus to provide support to all professional interior design entrepreneurs nationwide.

IDS is currently headquartered in High Point, NC. Our mission is to help our members grow their businesses, develop their talents, inspire each other, and impact their communities.

How do you educate designers?

Educating designers is a big part of our purpose. There are many ways in which we do this:

  1. Chapter Involvement – Most of our chapters have monthly meetings that have an educational component. They do a wonderful job collaborating with industry partners that designers are interested in. This gives the designers an opportunity to learn not only about new products and services, but also how to run their businesses. IDS has a virtual chapter as well for those who may not be able to attend an in-person meeting.
  2. Annual Conference – IDS hosts an annual conference (this year it’s in Chicago from August 6-9) that offers a wide range of educational opportunities. We incorporate dynamic speakers and seminars with hands-on learning experiences, all while connecting with members from around the country.
  3. Overseas Educational Tours – IDS offers at least 1 trip per year to our members who are interested in learning about design abroad. For the past 2 years we have traveled to Paris, France where we had a personalized tour of the famous Parisian Flea Markets as well as a day at Maison & Objet. We’re currently working on expanding these offerings. 
  4. National Events – IDS holds events at major markets, online webinars, and more.

What other resources can a designer access when they join IDS?

IDS is able to provide access to a variety of educational and business tools. For example, we have strong partnerships with organizations such as the Sustainable Furnishings Council which provides our members with exclusive pricing on their Greenleaders Certification course. We are also able to offer exclusive access to project management software, business insurance for designers, legal assistance, tax and accounting systems, etc. IDS can provide anything that you would need to run your business.

Why are you passionate about the design industry?

I enjoy working in this industry because designers are typically very enthusiastic about their work. It’s easy to work with people who are passionate about their businesses.

We’re doing a lot to help the future of the industry as well through initiatives like our student scholarships. We launched our scholarship program in 2018 and have plans to establish our 501©(3) charity this year to support more programs and invest further in the future of our industry.

Do you regularly attend trade markets and conferences? If so, which ones and what’s your best advice to designers? 

Yes! IDS typically attends the major markets including High Point, Dallas, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

My advice to designers is to have a plan of action before attending. Make a schedule based on who you want to see and what you want to accomplish. Talk to other designers who have attended to see what has worked for them and what has not.

Why is it important for designers to be part of a community?

I believe that no matter what industry you are in it’s important to belong to a community of like-minded individuals/professionals. For designers, IDS gives them a safe and productive outlet to ask questions, learn new skills, network, and grow. A community also gives you the opportunity to give back.

How early in a designer’s career should they consider joining a design organization like IDS?

The earlier the better! It can be incredibly valuable for a young designer who is just starting out.

How can designers make the most of their IDS membership?

Get involved locally or nationally- like most things, you get out of it what you put in!

What have you heard about Ivy from your IDS community? How has it helped your community manage their businesses more efficiently?

Most successful interior designers use project management software – it’s a no brainer in today’s world of technology. These tools allow them to focus on what they do best- the actual design work.

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