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


Kudos to John Czarnecki, editor of Contract Magazine, for coming out in a public forum to counter anti-interior design regulation rhetoric.  It’s about time our professional trade journals step up to the profession’s plate to take a swat at these misinformed and confounding missives.

For the most part Mr. Czarnecki got  a base hit….we have a runner on base…Wooo Hoooo!  Okay enough with the sport metaphor.


Mr. Czarnecki’s grasp of the issue and inclusion of opinions from other designers who have also taken the time to inform themselves of the issues at hand is admirable.    His journalistic scolding of Ms. Gowins and her ilk is spot on BUT….(you had to see that coming….) it is a purely defensive act in response to a much louder message that has been haunting our professional advancement for years, much as the previously mentioned rebuttals from ASID & IIDA which IMO are simply too little too late.

It is too bad Mr. Czarnecki was not around in 2007  for the Anti-regulation shot that started the entire Institute for Justice campaign to impugn the profession of Interior Design.

I also appreciate his subtle inference that we need it get our collective act together if we really want to move this debate from the purely defensive/reactive to a position of real progress. Maybe PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is reading too much into this sentence;

” The rise in television programs about home decorating may have misled some of the public to believe that, well, anyone can be an interior designer. And that may have led to misconceptions about interior designers that manifest in Gowins’s article. While that’s unfortunate, it’s also an opportunity: The article might galvanize the interior design profession to present its case for legal recognition in a more unified way.”

ASID/IIDA/CIDA/NCIDQ are you paying attention?

Now all that said PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER looks forward to see if Mr. Czarnecki plays good on his pledge to provide more insight as to the state of Interior Design legislation. Moreover will he be able to truly address the crux of the ID regulation issue- right to work- without upsetting the architectural side of his readership base?

Until then we should support him as much as possible-SPREAD THE WORD.



At first I was concerned by the misinformation posited by the September 17th Huffington Post article “Arbitrary Interior Design Regulations Hurt Entrepreneurs, Consumers”. Much to our chagrin the Huff post has a pretty broad reach. Hats off to the Institute for Justice and their continued ringing of this bell.
At this point posting comments to this anti-regulatory rhetoric is just pissing in the wind….makes me feel better though. Then there were rumors of an impending rebuttal from ID professional organization ‘A’ -the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Finally 12 days later came
IIDA’s rebuttal issued via their own blog;
Unfortunately IIDA was suckered into the unwinnable debate- what is decoration and what is design. Fortunately their response was issued to its members and not the wider press. Had it been issued as a press release (which it to my knowledge wasn’t) and picked up by the wider press I am not sure any non-designer would have any interest much less be able to grasp the nuances. Hell I know many informed interior designers that can’t explain the difference.
Then ID professional organization ‘1’ the American Society of Interior Designers issue this memorandum to I don’t know who one day later;
While the ASID does a better job dancing around the designer vs. decorator issue there is one closing statement that just does not make any sense to PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER;
“Interior design laws allow designers to sell more products and hire employees as their businesses grow.”
Really…this is why we have been beating our collective heads against the legal/political wall for 30+ years?……So we can sell more product?……
Actually maybe it is a good thing these rebuttals are for a limited audience.

Here is John Czarnecki and Contract Magazine’s take on the issue;


SEE 10/01/14 Update below

In case you missed it the Huffington Post, bastion of the highest journalism standards, posted a commercial rant by an Institute for Justice blogbot that denounced the value of regulating Interior Designers;

Which of course prompted the obligatory defense on several LinkedIn groups…..

Many of which devolved into convoluted descriptions, or arguments, of the differences between interior decorators and interior designers……unfortunately.  The IIDA thread is most compelling as IIDA HQ has threatened to issue a response to Gowin’s bloviation of IJ screeching points.  So in my search for this response (now 9 days from the date of the offending Huff post- an eon in internet time) I discovered a new video on the IIDA website promoting the importance of regulation for Interior Designers;

Hmmmm….well it’s about time.  Well done….but as usual there are a few points that stick out from these testimonials.  IIDA continues to spin itself as the advocacy arm for “Commercial” Interior Designers.  Does that imply by default that ASID is the advocacy arm for “Residential” interior designers?  Not to sure that will fly to well through the halls at 7th Street N.W. in D.C.

And rising ID star Sascha Wagner indirectly, but clearly (at 1:30), ignores the state of California Certified Interior Designer credential.  He is correct.  Something others are unwilling to acknowledge.  A California CID is not a licensed design professional (cue the CID hornets)

While it is short much of the information is current.  It does seem to be geared to the choir (other designers) and not the congregation (general public) which in my opinion is really what is needed to counter the Institute for Justice misinformation campaign.

Until that happens we as a profession will be doomed to bear a never ending barrage of anti-regulatory rhetoric and over-reaction by those who see ID regulation as a threat.  That includes the entire spectrum from the innately qualified self-proclaimed interior decorators to the turf-protecting American Institute of Architects.  And on it goes.




This past legislative season was somewhat uneventful for Regulated Interior Designers but two events should be acknowledged…small victories but wins none the less.

Massachusetts was able to enact legislation that allows qualified Interior Designers to be the prime design professional on State of Massachusetts interior projects that do not involve load bearing elements.  Previously only architects could be listed as the prime contractor for such work.  The right to work/expansion of opportunities for qualified ID’ers seems to have been the right approach

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER will be watching how this opportunity for regulated ID’ers will be interpreted by Massachusetts building and code officials.  While the limits as far as load-bearing work seem clear,

     “Interior Designer”, an individual, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, joint stock company, joint venture or other entity engaged in the practice of interior design, who may serve as the prime consultant for projects that primarily involve construction or other work relating to the nonstructural interior elements of a building or structure and who provides services that do not require a registered architect, landscape architect or engineer; provided, however, that an interior designer shall demonstrate competence by completion of a nationally-recognized certification.
     “Nonstructural”, interior elements or components that are not load-bearing and do not require design computations for a building’s structure, including, but not limited to, ceiling and partition systems and excluding the structural frame supporting a building

the issue of egress and fire ratings is unclear.  This may be a win for ID’ers space planning and specifying furniture but does it allow them to also sign and seal permit documents where local codes require that to occur?  PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER is glad to see that qualified ID’ers can be the prime contracted design professional but who gets to own the permit documents?  Unclear at this point.

And from the country of California it appears that the AIA’s effort to monopolize the permit review process there has been defeated for now….

California CID’s will be able to sign and seal permit drawings and submit them to their local code officials without fear of a Registered Architect being able to review them.

Baby steps…..



This is a Facebook page- if you do not have access to Facebook then I congratulate you.  Please disregard this post.

Just one more reason we (the ID professionals) have got to distance ourselves from this madness.