As the pace of constructing iconic buildings slows the world over, the demand for interior designers is steadily increasing, interior design professor Robert Reid from the American University of Sharjah (AUS) said. In the past, architecture graduates were in great demand, but now the focus has swung to interior designers who are needed to redesign interiors and also offer expertise in lighting, furniture, brand repetition and marketing, the professor said. Reid was speaking at a Danube Student Interior Design Awards roadshow held at universities across the UAE to encourage participation and explain the competition. The awards aim to give budding interior designers in the GCC a platform to showcase their talents. Sponsored by building materials company Danube in partnership with the Association of Professional Interior Designers (APID), Dh85,000 in prize money is up for grabs and winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the end of May. The registration deadline for the competition is March 20 and final entries are due on May 8. \"Interior design students are often a forgotten group, which is why we appreciate the involvement of Danube and APID,\" Reid said. However, in recent years, he said there has been a shift in focus from the shell of a building to its interiors. \"We don\'t have new buildings being built and there is a transition in focus to overall design of interiors, furniture, lighting and brand representation.\" Reid said tremendous opportunities were emerging for interior designers who had a more nuanced understanding of what it takes to make interiors work. Interior design students are now taught about the business side of interiors and are also in demand in unrelated fields such as the automobile industry where creative minds are needed to take a fresh approach on existing or new products. Competition entrant Abdullah Ebrahim from AUS is participating in the first segment of the project, which involves the design of a display case. \"I feel I have the experience from previous projects and exposure to different types of interior spaces to do a good job with this project,\" the second year student said. Third year AUS students Rima Baghdan, Farah Istieteih, Marah Balash and Nadia Ekram are working on the design of a reception area for a museum. \"Last year, we were part of the Index competition and we know what the competition is like at other universities. We\'ve also had experience designing a space for a radio station,\" Baghdan said. Balash said the museum is a slightly more difficult project, which could have many approaches. \"We are brainstorming what kind of interior we want to do.\" \"Right now, our biggest concern is dealing with the deadlines and the very detailed specifications of the project,\" Ekram said.