If you have visited PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER.COM before you know that I have a thing for titles and professional recognition…okay it’s an obsession….but if you are back maybe you understand the importance of this issue as it relates to “Interior Design” and our particular identity crisis. I have posted previously on the effort by the lighting design profession to establish a professional credential. Their effort is relevant in that they are a relatively young profession sprung from the rapid specialization, and relative dearth of design sensitivity, within the lighting engineering profession- much like interior design was cleaved from the well established profession of architecture…and its brief dalliance with interior decoration- I digress.

I see many parallels between Interior Design’s effort to establish professional credentials (note I did not say “licensure”) and members of the International Association of Lighting Design’s (IALD) effort to distinguish themselves as a self-regulated professional domain who deserves respect and a place at the proverbial building design profession’s table.  We can learn a lot from them.  Conversely there are also many things that the lighting designers are doing that are far different than interior designers and our alphabet soup of professional credentials (ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, AAHID, IDS, CID, RID)…I think they have learned what not to do from us…..but I speculate.

Here is an update to the efforts of the IALD to establish the Certified Lighting Designer (CLD) credential;

Here is the link to the CLD website;

My take away from this effort is that a strategic approach that has a singular and inclusive mission is much more impactful than one that has multiple competing/conflicting interests who seek credentials, private, public, or otherwise, purely to distinguish themselves from each other.  Furthermore the CLD seeks to self-regulate in order to achieve professional respect as opposed to utilizing government regulation to gain professional respect. A subtle and oh so misunderstood nuance amongst us professional interior designers. In short theirs is an effort to “certify” and not “license”.  The distinction here is critical particularly as it pertains to regulated interior designers effort to validate themselves as a peer profession with other licensed design professionals.  As Elizabeth Donoff explains in her update;

“The most commonly mistakenly interchanged terms are the difference between licensure and credentialing, and the distinction is a very important one to make. A license allows someone to practice a profession in a particular state and is governed by health and safety issues. Credentialing, on the other hand, is a “method for maintaining quality standards of knowledge and performance, and in some cases, for stimulating continued self improvement. Credentialing confers occupational identity.”

In my bumble opinion the profession of Interior Design has spent the last 35 years trying to confer its occupational identity with a license.  My hat’s off to the IALD task force for making this nuance clear and starting with establishing a clear identity based on performance and not the simply leaping for the brass ring of licensure.

Unfortunately it is too late for us (the regulated profession of interior design) to go back to our roots so to speak and rethink out path to societal respect and then pursual of licensure.  But it isn’t too late to think about how we proceed from this point forward.

Stay tuned.


THIS IS “INTERIOR DESIGN”…..All you need is an app and an iPad

TapGlance – Photo realistic interior design on your iPad

No Experience Needed-TapGlance does not require any prior experience with professional CAD (Computer Aided Design) or 3D software.”

……..silly me….thinking I needed an education, years of experience and a license.


The moral of this story….errr…the point of this post is that as long as “INTERIOR DESIGN” is perceived as nothing more than the mindless selection of furniture and finishes and randomly placing those elements in a space, real or imagined, then we will continue to be perceived as nothing more than furniture pickers with a flair for color. In that case we just may find ourselves displaced by an App.


I can only assume that IIDA & ASID  & IDEC & CIDA & All state Interior Design Coalitions are aware that Louisiana’s Interior Design practice law is being threatened and that they are working together to one, form a strategy to mitigate negative fallout from this campaign and two, martial a concerted legal and policy effort to address the next ID regulation debacle….because if we do not get our collective professional act together it will happen again…..and again….and after that……

Note I did not say save Louisiana’s practice act.  ‘Fraid to say it may be too late for that.

Inform yourself here;


There is much more to this sordid story than the above video…I assume 2 minutes is all you can stomach.

Okay so fellow regulated interior design professionals…..prepare to get slimed once again.

Who’s next on this hit parade?


Here’s a New Title to Consider


How about Registered Design Practitioner?

I know…..I know….PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER tends to get way hung up on titles and credentials and the semantic implications thereof.  OCD?  Maybe.  Insane?  Duh!

So it appears that the Illinois Interior Design Coalition (IIDC) has introduced a bill in which Illinois Registered Interior Designers, and other qualified Interior Designers, will be able to become licensed as Registered Design Practitioners.  Let’s think about this.

Inform yourself here;

So with that we now have a 5th possible regulated title and credential to deal with…well 6 if you count the old school “Interior Designer”….but who’s counting?

1. Licensed Interior Designer

2. Certified Interior Designer & State Certified Interior Designer where such legislation applies.  California CID’s have a private voluntary system that is unique from all other CID legislation…confused?

3. Registered Interior Designer

4. Commercial Interior Designer  &  now….

5. Registered Design Practitioner

Please note, if you have not already done so, the absence of the term “Interior”.  And the shift from “Professional” to ‘Practitioner”.  Curious solution to the anti-ID regulation backlash and possible conflict with the International Building Code I suspect.  But wow are we ready to disavow the term “Interior” just to get a license?

While I am all for state coalitions doing what they have to to obtain right to practice/permitting privileges for the designers in their respective states I really wish we would all step back, take a breath and figure out what the implications for these semantic machinations really mean for our profession. Maybe it does not matter.  Maybe it really should be up to each state to do what they can to earn a modicum of respect for our right to practice as peers with other licensed design professionals….er um…registered design practitioners. Should we care that we may end up with numerous iterations of our professional identity?

Does it really matter?  Me thinks it does.

UPDATE 3/30/15:

Seems the Illinois ID practice act is getting the requisite pushback from the usual suspects;

In reading the justifications for each organization to oppose the Illinois legislation I note the inclusion of a 5,000 square foot minimum on spaces in which one must be a Registered Design Professional (or previously licensed design professional) to practice in.  This is one of those instances where the fine line between our work and the work of other licensed and non-licensed need not be drawn so finely.  Why not simply parrot the Illinois Practice Act which clearly defines our scope.  That should be the language we use in this bill folks…..the AIBD for one should oppose this bill just for that one definition.  What a shame.

“The Architecture Practice Act does not apply to: A. Buildings or structures outside the corporate limits of any municipality used for farm purposes. B. Detached single family homes on a single lot. C. Wood-framed, two-family homes on a single lot not more than two stories and basement in height. D. Interior design services that do not involve life safety or structural changes.”



For several years now I have been lamenting the lack of a unified and cohesive professional identity for those interior designers who work within code regulated interior environments.  My position has evolved over several years…of endless rants and debates, but ultimately I maintain that we (the code regulated) are much more than “Interior Designers”- at least as society understands the practice of “Interior Design”.  I have gone as far to say that we should do what we can to distance ourselves from this term.  We are not merely ‘Interior Designers”.  However, as long as we try to distinguish ourselves solely by pursuing governmental regulation, that supposedly grants society the collective recognition and respect of our learned and vetted abilities to improve the quality of their lives and livelihoods, we will never achieve parity with other regulated/licensed building design professions.   I get tired of saying this….We have to create this distinction BEFORE we pursue such legal/political recognition.  Let’s assume that our current mode of distinguishing our professional domain from the larger domain of “Interior Design” by use of regulation achieves success on a national basis…it won’t, but let’s just assume for a second that all states recognize qualified Interior Designers from the innately qualified by way of title or practice legislation.  What we will end up with is a collection of Certified Interior Designers, State Certified Interior Designers, Registered Interior Designers, Commercial Interior Designers and Interior Designers. Got it?  Some of us will feel better because of the semantic title twist…some of us may or may not be able to pull permits for our work, some of us will be registered/certified via some quasi-public board with no real right to practice and some of us will just have to settle to be lumped in with the local carpet store sales person who has a flair for color and a title in his/her business card “Interior Designer”. But as I said we will not even get to this level of consistency.

We have numerous state Interior Design (note the reliance on “Interior Design” nomenclature) coalitions many of which work as private support entities for their state boards where Interior Design is legislated.  Currently there are 39 such coalitions…in various stages of activity as far as I can tell only 28 state coalitions exist in states with active Interior Design legislation. Michigan just de-regulated its title act and the MIDC appears dormant, California has a quasi private/public regulatory effort and of course there is a litany of various title and practice regulations in place.  Have I convinced you that there may be a better way?

So I have given this dilemma a bit of thought…..”how do we achieve a critical mass of societal comprehension and respect for our profession that will allow us to effectively pursue our right to practice as registered/licensed design professionals?

We need a National Board of Regulated/Registered* Interior Designers.  There I said it.

* I don’t care what we call ourselves…let’s just stop calling ourselves “Interior Designers”.  Let the Interior Designers have it.  Confused?…..join the club

Now back to my big idea.  I have not fleshed this out, obviously.  I am sure my interpretation is rife with misunderstanding.  I do not know everything about our professional domain particularly on the public/regulated side of things.  Know that I exist in State that may never achieve legal recognition based on the current status quo.  Obviously I have made a lot of assumptions.

So here is a link to a graphic model of how I see the profession of Interior Design currently and how it might look with a National Board.

If you have ever taken the time to do an organizational chart of the profession of Interior Design (sarcasm intended) you know how difficult this can be to represent graphically.  Yes it looks confusing, and I will admit to lots of graphic mis-steps but I hope that you can see the kernel of an idea….a big idea.

While the first inclination might be to compare this idea with the architectural profession (AIA & NCARB) I am leaning toward other examples of private/state regulated professions.  Certified Public Accountants for one.  Obviously I have a lot of work to do to fully flesh my idea out.  But I am more than willing for anybody who has taken the time to hear me out to comment/question for better or worse.

Bring it.


PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has previously posted about Architecture’s image problems.  Because Architecture is, for better or worse, our bastard step-father (metaphorical stretch for amusement only) we need to be mindful that not all is comfy cozy in their professional house.  Indirectly there are lessons to be learned and in this case I believe there is a big opportunity for the Interior Design profession.  But first refresh yourself as to the issues Architects are facing;

While I do not think the image problem that the Architectural profession currently finds itself is new I do think there is a widening polarity in that profession that will make it very difficult for them to overcome.  They may need to implode and start over.  As long as Aaron Betsky and the Starchitect/Artistes as provocateurs are allowed to set the tone, or have a voice in it, it will.  Let’s face it the 1%’ers are the only ones who generally can afford to hire “Starchitects”….we get what is left which is usually value driven and profit motivated.  At our level much of the built environment is managed not by designers but by ‘Project Managers” or “Builders”.  Much of common Architecture, as Mr. Gehry posits, is Shite. While I do not disagree I find it amusing that he is the one to call out the profession in that manner.

There is no question this is as much an economic issue as one of a conflicted and increasingly polarized profession, like society in general.

Back to my point.  Architects have failed on two levels in my opinion. First they have allowed the concept of great (or even good) design to be upended by the Starchitect as Artiste faction.  Yes mind-blowing innovation is important but just because you can afford to do it does not mean you should do it.  And obviously there is a great cost to these “designs”.  The stories of blown budgets on high level projects are legendary.  This Starchitect zeitgeist has lead society to believe that good (or even great) design comes with a high cost.  Consequently this has allowed the bean counters and profit motivated builders to drive the design discussion on the common level.

 Opportunity #1=  Good design should not equate to cost.

Professional/Regulated Interior Designers can help change this paradigm.

Second, and more intrinsically tied to the near interaction of the human inhabitants of architecture (read “Interior Design”), is a constant thread through all of the non-Starchitect’s laments (with the exception of Gehry) that “Architecture’s disconnect is both physical and spiritual” (Bingler & Pederson).  Ultimately much of modern Architecture as we commoners experience, lacks a soul, or as we Interior Design academics (and Germans) call it “Gemütlichkeit”.

Opportunity #2= Interior Designers who are trained to focus on the human interaction with the built environment should claim the mantle of the profession best suited to design interior spaces that improve the quality of the users lives.

How the Starchitectural zeitgeist plays out may take awhile. All I know is that in the meantime the metaphorical door is now wide open- Professional/Regulated Interior Designers need to walk in and make their presence known.

welcome mat

Don’t forget to put out the Welcome Mat though.







How does a profession grow and prosper?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER has been involved recently in several discussions in which the issue of required work experience (AKA apprenticeship) and how to best earn it is the topic.  All professions rely on their members to apprentice under the supervision of established professionals in order to inculcate necessary practical experience that simply cannot be learned in an academic setting.  This real world experience is critical in the formative years of a professionals journey to examination, continuing education, ethical practice and ultimately professional status within the professional domain.

Unfortunately most of the above discussions regarding the experience component of the Interior Design Education/Experience/Examination process are sparked by questions (in the form of complaints) about the lack of supervised work opportunities.

“I cannot find a certified professional to work for-How can I find a job that fulfills this requirement?”  “Where are the certified professionals that I can work for?”

While not a new topic, or issue, it is one that deserves constant attention particularly in light of NCIDQ allowing recent ID graduates to sit for the IDFX component of the examination. A brilliant change in the paradigm but one that creates other issues (AKA opportunities) down the line.

Which begs the question…who is responsible to ensure that we (the profession) have an effective system in place to ensure that emerging professionals can gain this necessary experience?  NCIDQ is by default the agency that oversees the work experience aspect of the path to professional status. They have a voluntary reporting system in place via IDEP

However, if the IDEP candidate cannot find suitable employment and/or supervised experience opportunities a logging system does not help.

So yes this should be part and parcel of NCIDQ’s mission but this is not to say that every other organization within the professional domain should not have some skin in this game.  They should -but frankly I am not seeing it-I refuse to digress.  If nothing else it is simple self-preservation.  We should all be asking ourselves;

“How can we get as many emerging professionals through the experience gauntlet as quickly as possible?”

Well instead of simply citing a fault with the system I have a solution.  I think every newly certified/professional member of our membership organizations should be required to supervise/mentor two emerging professionals from graduation to completion of their work experience. Distance should not be a roadblock given video technology.  Money should be available for those in remote supervisory roles can at least meet with their mentees…once a year maybe in a larger forum such as Neocon……Once this obligation is fulfilled the mentor receives a merit badge, a pat on the back, or they get their picture in the newsletter, or….hell they should just do it.

It should be a routine expectation.  Do the math.

That is paying it forward…..

Image courtesy of