There are several irrefutable facts, based on my opinion, regarding our professional identity crisis that requires us (okay…me) to reconsider our current professional paradigm.
1. Interior Decoration and Interior Design will forever be entwined. The general public will always think of us as interior decorators (not that there is anything wrong with interior decoration). No amount of government mandated title legislation will change this perception.
2. The past effort to own the term “interior design” and shift the meaning and standards for individuals to call themselves interior designers and practice interior design has failed.
2. Our current professional membership organizations are incapable of addressing this identity crisis in a meaningful and non-divisive manner.
3. The current model for advancing the value of professional interior design within the eyes of the general public and ultimately our policy makers is broken-IT DOES NOT WORK (see my previous 300+ posts)
4. We are our own worst enemy when it comes to combating the efforts of those people/organizations that stand in direct opposition to the advancement of Interior Design via government regulation (not that I am supporting that particular model of professional validation). We have failed to create a common sense definition of the title “interior designer” and the act of “interior design”. And even if we had, as the AIA acknowledges, the difficulty with such semantic machinations to define and own certain terms and titles is a costly legal process. http://www.aia.org/about/AIAB091369
I will acknowledge that there has been some progress particularly on the sign/seal permitting front but given the disconnect between our professional member organizations, their professional and non-professional members and our policy makers this “progress” has been too slow and too costly.
What is the ROI on this effort? This is not a rhetorical question- I first asked this question several years ago on this blog- I am still waiting for an answer (that is a rhetorical statement- I am not waiting for the answer to come to me…I am not that arrogant…but I have looked and I can’t find it….nobody knows….isn’t this bad business? I digress)
I could go on. Suffice it to say I am not a fan of the current professional validation model(s)
SO DO WE CONTINUE TO SOLDIER ON AT GREAT EXPENSE (TIME/MONEY/INTELLECTUAL CAPITOL) WITH MARGINAL RESULTS?
That would be the easiest thing to do right? Given the dearth of options it makes sense. Of course there are those who choose to leave this madness behind them by co-opting the term “interior architect” even though they are not architects registered, licensed or otherwise. Can’t say I blame them and before I really dove into this issue from the perspective of a practitioner turned academic I also ignored the time honored stereotypes by calling myself an interior architect.
PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER actually considers this semantic co-opting to be a legitimate option to solve our identity/societal respect issue. If we assimilate the term “interior architect” and change all of the legal trappings that would allow interior designers to call themselves interior architects and legally practice interior architecture this professional pathway MIGHT work. But IMO the effort required to make this shift is insurmountable. I have a better idea. Here is my first step of a several step plan to reinvent the profession of interior design…no really that is what I am doing……well if you have a better idea I am happy to listen.
Step 1. Redefine Interior Design to acknowledge two important aspects that clearly distinguish those that are qualified via education/experience and examination and those that are simply innately qualified or self-proclaimed. TO WIT:
There are two types of interior design. Unregulated Interior Design and Regulated Interior Design (refer to cool graphics). No longer will we be sucked into the never-ending debate about interior decoration vs. interior design, or residential vs. commercial interior design. It is simply unregulated ID or regulated ID. The distinction here is clear. For 50+ years we have been looking to Uncle Sam to help us validate our efforts to be design professionals….well he’s already done it for us.
The evolution of the profession of Interior Design has reached a point where difficult decisions must be made in order for it to advance to the next level which is TRUE parity with other licensed design professionals. We must provide a clear and powerful message about our right to be considered peers with our allied design professionals. This will not happen organically, by chance or one acquaintance at a time. It will take courage, patience and commitment. Crazy as it sounds I do not think it will take more work……we just have to be much more strategic about where we dedicate our financial, physical and intellectual resources. That’s my plan and I am sticking with it.