INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE vs. INTERIOR DESIGN

OR- What’s in a Name Redux Part 3 (Rev. 2) Release 3.2.

So it’s been awhile since PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER posted. I have been busy making toothpicks out of logs. But honestly not much has been happening on the Interior Design identity and regulation front lately.  That is until a couple of things scrolled across my Google Glass recently that prompted me to take pencil to paper…er mouse to pad…

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My alma matter Florida State University has decided to change the title of its Interior Design Program to the Department of Interior Architecture & Design   Not earth shattering news but this was after a recent title tweak by the Interior Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the Interior Architecture Undergraduate Program  -dropping the term “Design” altogether.  These are two highly regarded INTERIOR DESIGN programs. This of course is in addition to numerous other interior design programs that have already adopted the title “Interior Architecture”.  I am certain there are more waiting to jump from the Interior Design bandwagon.  This, as you know, is not a new phenomenon in academia.  Interior Architecture degree programs have existed since the 1960’s in the U.S. and earlier in Europe. I am not ready to call these recent Interior Design conversions a trend…let’s just say it’s a thing.  A thing we need to be aware of.

Full disclosure I have not spoken to anyone in either of the above programs regarding their title shift. But I have plenty of opinions on the reasoning behind and of course the implications thereof.

Okay so why the worry PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER?  “Afraid you might have to change your domain name or something?”   

Good question.  I was not even going to make a point of this department title “thing” until my Google Eyes filled with this missive by Dak Kopec, respected educator and co-editor of The Routledge Companion for Architecture Design and Practice, regarding what he see’s as a trend in the field of Architecture;

“What are some current trends in the field?

Some of the current trends include Interior Design moving closer and integrating with Architecture to form the program nomenclature of Interior Architecture, and we have already seen the integration of landscaping to form the specialization of Landscape Architecture. While Landscape Architecture has already folded itself into the larger discipline of Architecture, Interior Architecture is only at the first evolutionary stages. Today, Interior Architecture continues to be a separate disciple with a separate professional accreditation body, however the use of the word “architecture” to general populace means that Interior Architecture is a branch of the greater foundational profession of Architecture. The current trajectory thus indicates that Interior Architecture will eventually become folded into the greater field and discipline of Architecture.” https://www.routledge.com/architecture/posts/9277?utm_source=shared_link&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=SBU3_mbs_3rf_8sl_1arh_ain16_stan16_X_X 

To be clear…Dr. Kopec’s assessment of Interior Design as we know it is simply not his opinion posted on some fly by night blog that nobody cares to read except the author. He is a vetted, published and widely disseminated author.  His opinion on this topic is not unique and it represents a major school of thought.

So there you have the recent trifecta of actual and perceived semantic shifts that I believe have MAJOR implications for the title and the act of “Interior Design” on the academic and professional levels.

So my point here folks is there are many of us who believe that the term/title “Interior Design” no longer applies.  It is a liability.  It fails to describe us.  Okay I do not disagree.  But if we are going to keep our collective head in the proverbial professional sand while this title shift occurs organically, or by happenstance, we may be surprised by what we see when we do pull our heads out.

Makes it a bit of challenge to demand the public’s respect if we do not know what to call ourselves.

My final plea is this; if we are going to go there (IA) we better know where there is.  Based on my POV…we don’t have a clue.

Now excuse me while I see if the domain name PROFESSIONALINTERIORARCHITECT.com is taken.

IIDA Steps Up to Forge Agreement with Food Service Equipment Distributors

Wow two positive efforts to advocate for the Interior Design profession in one week (see previous post).  This time it is IIDA that ironed out an agreement with FEDA which is an allied association that represents commercial food service equipment distributors.  FEDA has been an IDPC card carrying opponent of most, if not all, recent ID legislation.  For now it appears that the IIDA advocacy team has ironed out whatever misunderstandings there were regarding ID legislation and its infringement on FEDA’s members, real or imagined.  You can read FEDA’s point of view here along with the letter of understanding.

http://www.feda.com/new/2015/10/IIDAagreement.pdf

It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the next round of ID legislative efforts.

ASID Counters Claims of Racial Bias In the Interior Design Profession

Wow……..the anti-ID regulationists finally played the race card.   ASID’s counter statement is well written.  Let’s hope it is well read.

https://www.asid.org/content/asid-defends-interior-designer-capital-hill

All that said, the licensed design professions have struggled to increase racial diversity.  We acknowledge this and from my experience there is, and has been, a concerted effort to address this issue.  To claim that we are conspiring to limit access to the profession due to race is simply politically correct race baiting in reverse.

Ain’t politics fun?

Hey Farooq…..Maybe it’s Time to Change Your Business Model

http://www.newstimes.com/business/article/Ethan-Allen-re-ups-CEO-next-up-designers-6551652.php

Maybe, just maybe, if you considered Interior Design as valuable service and not a free hook to lure in the occasional big sale your staff might earn a bit more respect and increase their sales, and your profit, via ethical business practices.

But what do I know?

POSITIVE PRESS AND THE REGULATED INTERIOR DESIGN MESSAGE

It is rare when PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER comes across a mainstream press article that actually discusses professional Interior Design as we know it.  95% is simply innately talented interior decorators posing as qualified interior designer pabulum.  4% are articles targeting Interior Design regulations as a prime example of government over-reach and the remaining 1% is simply too bizarre to categorize (e.g. http://www.realtytoday.com/articles/33386/20150908/celebrity-real-estate-adolf-hitler-home-interior-design-media-fluff.htm )

So when I came across this article from the Grand Rapids Business Journal I was surprised to say the least.    http://www.grbj.com/articles/83223-states-design-industry-struggles-with-lack-of-certification.  Granted the GRBJ is not the New York Times but at this point a positive and accurate article in any Business Journal is a positive P.R. moment.  I was so excited I almost posted it to the many online forums PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER frequents (well okay only two) before I finished reading it.  And then I checked myself.

While the intent of Mr. Nichols article, that of the importance of the NCIDQ exam to the profession and how difficult it really is, is admirable, I noted two glaring misunderstandings included in the dialogue between Nichols and his subject Ms. Autumn Fuchs.  I am willing to consider that  there was some misinterpretation on the reporter/journalist’s part as well- that happens.

Let me be clear here….I admire Ms. Fuchs and her perseverance in taking and passing the exam (cue cheering crowd).  Ultimately this little bit of P.R. is a ray of positivity in our effort to convey our message.  But I would like to illuminate two subtle misunderstandings, per Ms. Fuchs, that perpetuate some very important political/legal nuances that we as a profession must wrap our collective brains around if we are to realize any real progress in our effort to advance the profession on the legislative front.  Bear with me -this gets real fussy;

  • “In some ways it’s a bad thing (that Michigan doesn’t require it) because anyone can call themselves an interior designer. If you wanted, tomorrow you could wake up and make a business card and just say, ‘I’m an interior designer,’”

Unfortunately the courts (in the U.S. at least) have ruled that anybody can in fact claim that they are an interior designer whether they are qualified or not, whether they have an education or not, whether they have taken and passed the NCIDQ or not, or whether they have a pulse or not.  Many interior designers are under the misunderstanding that one must pass the NCIDQ exam and/or become licensed in order to call themselves an “Interior Designer”.  This is untrue.  We cannot force people to surrender their use of the term ‘Interior Design” or the title “Interior Designer”.

  • “I know there’s a lot of talented interior designers that have not passed the exam, so it’s hard for me to say they should be required because then they wouldn’t be able to practice. But I do think there’s a lot to be said for a designer to take the initiative to take the exam when it’s not required,” she said. “To me, it’s not important that it’s required or not. Taking it for myself is what’s important.”

So parsing out this statement there are a lot of simple truths included….”there’s a lot of talented interior designers that have not passed the exam”  and ….there’s a lot to be said for a designer to take the initiative to take the exam when it’s not required,” and “Taking it for myself is what’s important.”  But……………again Ms. Fuchs seems to view the exam as a legal tool to force interior designers to take and pass it in order for them to claim themselves to be “Interior Designers” …….”it’s hard for me to say they should be required because then they wouldn’t be able to practice.” 

That is simply not true.  In the U.S. we cannot force anybody to take the exam (except in Louisiana and D.C.- another story).  This misunderstanding may be a function of Ms. Fuchs also listening to the anti-ID regulationists and their effort to deregulate the ID profession (another other story).

Now if we can just get all Interior Designer who understand the value of the NCIDQ exam and its role in their own professional identity, such as Ms. Fuchs, to also understand the legal issues with the exam and its concomitant  legal/political role in our collective professional identity I would have nothing further to byte about…..well okay I probably could find a few other things….

Defining Our Right to Work

Or in other words….what is our “work” and do we really have a “right” to it?

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER stumbled across this missive from the recent American Institute of Architects State Government Network forum.

http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/aia/documents/pdf/AIAB106707.pdf

I can only assume that this presentation was not meant to be public knowledge and would not be surprised if the link dies…..none the less if you are quick you will note that the issue of interior designers seeking permitting rights and those who claim to be “Interior Architects” was a main topic of conversation.  See slides #9-#14

My take away is that the AIA is clearly drawing a line in the sand by defining what a Registered Architect can legally design and what a non-licensed Architect can design…or get built.

Actually anybody can “design” a building…..getting it permitted and constructed is the real key.  I won’t even touch the issue of “Interior Architecture”……. I digress.

Back to the SGN network document.  We, as a profession, have struggled with how to define what it is that we do, where we do it and how.  Ultimately much of what passes as the common definition of “Interior Design” is simply intended to distinguish us from interior decorators. When it comes to defining our actual scope of responsibility we are not quite sure.  We know we should be able to submit permit documents for our own work but what exactly is that “work”?  Is it anything less than 5,000 square feet as some practice legislation defines or is it interior work that does not affect base building life safety systems, building egress and tenant separation? There are several attempts to define the scope of our rightful work out there….this is not a good thing.  Well why we have been trying to figure that out the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) has provided their own answer…. To wit;

“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent: 1. The practice of architecture performed in connection with any of the following:

(a) A detached single- or two-family dwelling and any accessory buildings incidental thereto, unless an architect is otherwise required by law or by the building authority having jurisdiction over the project; or

(b) Farm buildings, including barns, silos, sheds, or housing for farm equipment and machinery, livestock, poultry, or storage, if such structures are designed to be occupied by no more than 10 persons; or

(c) Any construction of particular features of a building, if the construction of such features does not require the issuance of a permit under any applicable building code and does not affect structural or other life-safety aspects of the building. ”  ( http://www.ncarb.org/~/media/files/pdf/special-paper/legislative_guidelines.pdf ) 

So if your brain is not frozen at this point what this means is that NCARB has clearly defined our scope of practice to small scale residential, barns, silos or any construction that does not require the issuance of a permit.   “Duh.- I knew that!” you might say……

My point is…if we can’t define where the line of work truly lies then we need to accept that others are going to define it for us……and we are not going to like it.

Now does anybody know a good floorcovering material for a grain silo?