WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERIOR DESIGN TITLE FRONT

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There have been some interesting movements recently by professional and regulatory entities to clarify the “profession” of Interior Design and how it is, or should be, perceived by the general public.

First and most significant is this missive from the current president of IIDA, Felice Silverman;

“IIDA exists to provide relevant and meaningful support to Commercial Interior Design professionals and their clients. IIDA promotes the value of Interior Design to business decision makers and to the general public. IIDA stands at the intersection of passion and strategy where Designers create the exceptional environments  that encompass every aspect of the human experience.

 IIDA is the preeminent association for the Commercial Interior Design profession.” (from IIDA membership email)

Note the use of “commercial” interior design in the title.  This semantic shift, while not surprising, is further evidence that ASID and IIDA are not planning on a merge any time soon…within this millenium…..as long as humanity exists….till the end of time.  This is clearly IIDA’s solution to the age-old identity crisis that the terms “interior design” and “interior designer” have struggled with.  Don’t do “commercial” interior design?- Then join ASID or IDS. Seems easy enough.

Unfortunately there are far deeper implications for such a semantic cleaving of the professional domain.

Second and on a state level is this excerpt from a letter to all Tennessee ID schools from the Tennessee Board of Architectural & Engineering Examiners:

December 26, 2013

Dear Interior Design Program Administrators/Educators:

Re: Use of term “interior architecture”

 At its planning session arid meeting on October 9-11, 2013, the Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners discussed the issue of use ot the term “Interior architecture” by interior design programs. Although the vast majority of programs accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) employ the term “interior design,” a growing number of interior design programs are describing themselves as “interior architecture” programs.
Following discussion of this issue, the Board voted to oppose use of the term “interior architecture” by interior design programs, and instructed that a letter be sent to Tennessee colleges and universities with architecture and interior design programs advising them of the Board’s position. “Interior architecture” is not legally recognized as a profession in Tennessee, and a national exam does not exist for this profession. In the context of the design and construction of buildings intended for human occupancy, the appellation “architect” should be reserved for licensed architects in order to avoid misleading the general public.

While a state level issue the precedent set here by the TBAEE is interesting.  It will be interesting to see if other regulatory boards issue a similar edict to their academic programs.

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7 responses to “WHAT’S NEW ON THE INTERIOR DESIGN TITLE FRONT

  1. I must say I’ve been concerned about the use of “interior architecture” since its inception, for exactly the reason that there is not an infrastructure to support/license/self-regulate/advocate that terminology. I’m not sure where I sit on the whole issue, but it will be interested to see how this progresses.

    While not surprised by IIDA’s non-so-subtle change to the language I am disappointed. I can remember back in the mid-2000′s a big push from IIDA to disassociate from the view that the organization was commercial-focused. Now, here they go spelling it out for us. I discontinued my ASID and IIDA memberships a few years ago and have no plans to renew them. I’m waiting for an organization to offer something of value in exchange for my money… still waiting.

    • The IIDA shift toward “Commercial” interior designer MAY….help those seeking the legitimacy of the profession of architecture because they fear the stereotype of “interior design”. But that means that we (CIDA) will have to deal with the semantic shift.
      WILL ALL SCHOOLS EDUCATING STUDENTS TO PRACTICE AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE PROFESSION HAVE TO CHANGE THEIR NAMES FROM BLAH BLAH SCHOOL OF INTERIOR DESIGN TO BLAH BLAH SCHOOL OF COMMERCIAL INTERIOR DESIGN? It’s more than an extra word on the business card or school logo.

  2. Good work by IIDA to support Interior Designers this will help them to increase there business and client base and show there talent to world.

  3. Toni Wyre, ASID, LEED AP, AIA Affiliate

    While IIDA is a great organization, they have contributed ZERO dollars toward the advancement of legislation for the profession of Interior Design, whether commercial or otherwise. The only leader who has dedicated over $500,000 annually and 3 full-time staff (passed 7 bills last year) to advancing the professional of ALL designers is ASID, who has as many commercial designers as residential. I think if you want to specialize, IIDA is great. If you want the freedom to be ANY kind of designer, ASID might be the right fit for you (Think of ASID as the American Medical Association of Interior Design – you can always be a specialist, gastro, etc. but there is at least one organization that provides a place for everyone). They’ve done more evidence-based research, grants, etc., than any other design organization. They also focus on more than just the aesthetics of design.

    Yes, I am an ASID member who does 95% commercial design, but I am also exploring the process of becoming IIDA as well. To me, it’s like adding a CKD or LEED AP to your credentials – just another level of specialty. I know some phenomenal residential designers, manufacturer reps, etc., and I don’t think they should be excluded from the profession of interior design just because they are not practicing commercial design for a large urban firm. I wish ASID and IIDA could have come to terms – the American Institute of Architects doesn’t say that residential architects are less than commercial architects… I’m proud of ASID for standing up for ALL designers!

  4. Thanks Toni……well stated and I hope your comment will help those who are searching for the right fit for them…….

  5. Sharon Marie Lopez

    I am new to this forum and a returning ID student, so bear with me. After spending hours on this wonderful site reading is it fair to say that further education to become a new breed of interior designers or let’s say legally a licensed “Interior Architect ” (or some other name) to have the ability to specialize in a field and perform unencumbered is not appealing nor wanted by some (many). Commercial Interior and residential design can be as vast in scope of work from decorating to life safety, etc as everyone knows, so should the public not have the right to avoid the confusion and truly know what they are getting? A standard I want in my architect vs hiring a contractor to build a home (from plans he has). You know they are both good, but you know what you are paying for. I just don’t understand why the designation of Architectural Interior Designer, never caught on as a AIA designation.

  6. Hey Sharon…some good observations and questions there. It all boils down to who wants to practice in code regulated interiors. Hopefully my blog here helped you realize how complicated this issue as….as the Interior Architect term and the AIA my guess is that if they adopted IA or AID as a legitimate branch of the profession then that by default meant that there are EA’s or EAD’s Exterior Architects……I don’t think they want to go there. Thanks for stopping by.

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