Category Archives: Interior Design



Found this interesting policy statement from the American Institute of Architects:

PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER does not proclaim to be an attorney so take this with a large rock of sodium.  This appears to be a crack in the courtroom door regarding the use of the term “architects” and its variations such as “Interior Architect” or “Interior Architecture”.  That said PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGN is well aware of the ethical issues that this issue stirs up.  I digress.

Also, I am fairly certain that state licensing boards will still protect the right of their rightfully licensed/registered architects to legally own the term so don’t go changing your business cards yet.  If anybody knows, or has an opinion as to, what this AIA missive really means I welcome your comments.

P.S. Just heard from an acquaintance in Connecticut who advertises herself as an interior architect.  A Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Special Investigator just issued her a cease and decist order based on Chapter 390 of the Architectural Licensing Board use of the title- to wit;

Sec. 20-290. Use of title “architect”. In order to safeguard life, health and property, no person shall practice architecture in this state, except as provided in this chapter, or use the title “architect”, or display or use any words, letters, figures, title, sign, seal, advertisement or other device to indicate that such person practices or offers to practice architecture, unless such person has obtained a license as provided in this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall prevent any Connecticut corporation in existence prior to 1933, whose charter authorizes the practice of architecture, from making plans and specifications or supervising the construction of any building, except that no such corporation shall issue plans or specifications unless such plans or specifications have been signed and sealed by an architect licensed under the provisions of this chapter.

Looks like the AIA has gotten out of the 1st amendment business as well they should. Let the states pay for the battle.



Pretty bold title.  As an interior designer, who is somewhat curious about the future of my profession, I was intrigued.  If you are also interested in the future of your chosen profession – here is the publicly accessible article.


PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER concurs- interior design regulation should be seen as an effort to expand opportunities…the subtitle is clear.


However an equally important component of ID regulation is to validate our right to practice in code regulated design/construction environments and be considered peers with, or independent of, allied licensed design professionals.  In my opinion this aspect of the “Future of Interior Design” is less clear in the article.


Unfortunately there are numerous points made in this article that simply do not make sense, do not add up, and a few that are flat wrong.


1.) “Interior designers specify more than $46
billion in product annually, far exceeding
specifications by any of their counterparts.

Who are our “counterparts”? -and if the $46 Billion includes residential furnishings specified by interior decorators and Kitchen and Bath specifiers, which I believe it must, then we are not talking about professional/certified interior designers are we?  If that figure includes only “product” specified by “professional” interior designers then why the hell do we not have more influence in all levels of society?  (not a rhetorical question). Also-from the ASID 2012 State of the Industry Report-“Interior designers purchase and/or specify some $49 billion of products and services each year.”…if $46 billion is the 2013 number then “our industry” took a 6% hit in one year (Hmmmm)…but then who knows how much “more than” and “some” really mean….what’s $3,000,000,000.00 amongst counterparts?

2.) “…… As such, designers
are seeking legislation to establish license and
certification standards that recognize the education
and experience they bring to the profession.

This is not why we seek legislation/regulation.

3.) “…… In fact, ASID played an
essential role in significant legislative victories
in the past year. Notably, six states enacted
interior design legislation into law in 2013 —
California, Connecticut, Nevada, Texas, Florida
and Illinois.”

“Essential”…don’t think so.  California’s private certification effort really can’t be counted as “legislation” and ASID has barely held on to a perfunctory CCIDC board member seat – But now that you took us there I have to ask- is ASID now tacitly supporting the private self-certification process adopted by California…you know the one that stands in direct opposition to ID regulatory efforts in every other state and district in the country?  Just wondering.

4.) “Nearly half of all practicing designers have completed
a four-or five-year college degree and about
40 percent of the degrees are in interior design.
By contrast, almost everyone who is entering the
interior design field today has a bachelor’s degree,
and many are pursuing graduate degrees.

So let’s see……doing the math…..+/- 40% of “almost” 50%….is….ummmm……okay……less then one-quarter of the college degrees held by “all practicing designers” are in “interior design”.  Is this a good thing? (Rhetorical question for effect ya’ll).  “Almost everyone” …..are these facts or guesses? I am confused.

5.) “Thirty years ago the regulatory environment
was limited, leaving a wide space where interior
designers could work.”

30 years ago ASID was the instigator of legislation/regulation that tried to own the title “interior design” thereby legislating un-certified/unqualified interior designers out of business.  Guess it depends how you define “wide space”.

6.) “The bottom line is that credentials
expand an interior designer’s portfolio,
opening up opportunities and the potential for
new business.”

Well yes and no. If the credential has legal and political gravitas such as M.D. or R.A. or P.E. then yes.  If RID or CID or even ASID……then no.  Read my previous 220 posts.

7.) “………The organization
aims to broaden the language of New York’s
interior design legislation to allow the state’s
certified designers to submit drawings for projects
that don’t affect the building structure or
its mechanical, electrical or plumbing systems
to the local planning authorities for approval.

Okay this is picky but qualified/licensed/certified interior designers should be able to submit documents that address more than furniture and non-structural partitions-in most cases this might not even require a permit.  Now that we have shifted the paradigm to compete at this level we are going to have to be clear about the scope of our responsibility.  Not easy to put into one paragraph I will grant the author that.

So the map of 2013 banner ID legislation does not include Mississippi which IMO was the most significant regulatory accomplishment in 2013 but who’s counting….Okay I am.  Don’t suppose a map of defeats/tabled legislation and ineffective sign & seal privileges for the year would help keep things in context?…Nah.

I will admit that it is incredibly difficult to write a 2 page article that clearly describes the legislative and regulatory nuances of interior design legislation.  I am actually glad that ASID made the effort and I debated raising this issue lest I be looked upon as a non-engaged whiner with nothing better to do than bitch and moan.   But if you are going to frame it as the “Future of Interior Design”, even if you are only pitching to your dues paying members,  I would hope that the message BY THE ORGANIZATION THAT REPRESENTS THE PROFESSION is laser sharp, facts and figures used are accurate and relevant, and that readers can walk away informed- with a succinct and consistent message to pass on.

This is how you actually affect the future of interior design.

………Must stay positive….it’s all good….everything is just fine….the future is so bright I just gotta wear shades.

Risky Business movie image Tom Cruise


Speaking of professional domains and how they manifest themselves in organizational structure…particularly one that we are so closely related….as opposed to the whole Doctor Nurse thing.

Here is an example of an out of the box profession that rose from nothing to a multi-billion dollar industry in 21 years and has influence in virtually all aspects of the building design professions and construction trades.

YES YES I know….this is not exactly apples to apples. LEED is based on the premise that if we do not act to change the paradigm of building design and construction life as we know it will cease.  This is a powerful motivator.

Whereas professional interior design services…..well Ethan Allen offers that as a freebie when you buy a sofa…… not much motivation there huh?

If you agree..and this troubles you- join the club.

What can we learn, if anything from USGBC’s success story and how can we adapt it to serve our own journey to professional validation?

Well LEED was started by a small group of individuals and business entities that had a simple powerful idea- to change the paradigm of the then emerging green building design and construction effort. Note green building was not a new phenomenon at the time….it was just unfocused and happenstance.  Like interior design is to the building design professions, green building design had been around awhile but it was an outlier….partook by tree huggers and doomsday fanatics with a few scientist types  trying to rationalize it all. Many building designers were compelled by the potential of sustainable design but the misinformation and misperceptions, AKA “greenwashing”, within the eco-enviro sustainable design paradigm made it very difficult on several levels.  The green design effort pre-USGBC was unfiltered at best, and polluted at worst.

Ultimately it was hard to find value in pursuing “green design”

I could go on but suffice it to say that all it takes is a good idea and a few people who are willing to make it happen despite what the status quo is doing and what the competition is saying.

Some call me a dreamer…..or worse.  I can accept that.


Many of my previous posts have addressed the ongoing professional struggles between architects (represented in this corner by the AIA) and professional interior designers (represented in this corner by an assortment of interior design legislative coalitions and hiding behind the curtain-ASID).

But is there really a struggle?  Well yeah but…………

When it comes to the relationship between qualified interior design professionals and architects I firmly believe that respect and mutually rewarding collaborations are commonplace. I have no data other than my 25+ years of commercial interior design/architecture experience in which I have worked for, or with architects.  Of course some unfortunate stereotypes persist but once an IDer proves his or her mettle within the code regulated building design environment the relationships generally turn synergistic.  If an interior design professional can walk the walk and actually contribute to the success of a design effort any licensed design professional with an ounce of common sense will respect that ability.

However try as we might interior designers still struggle with overt biases that have built up over the years. For instance we have the proverbial, “we are only qualified to select furniture and finishes” misperception not to mention the more covert/unspoken prejudices such as sexism and even homophobia.  Yes many of these biases and prejudices are a result of  larger and more complex societal intolerance but to say that they are not endemic in the much smaller cadre of building design professions is simply delusion.  These prejudices generally start in school and little is done to tamp these misunderstandings and biases out until one professional has an interaction with another professional that forces him, or her, to reconsider their assumptions.  This is a hard way for our professions to move forward with any amount of mutual respect and benefit.

I have always maintained that we need architects and more importantly they need us. Much like doctors need nurses……or maybe much like Zubin Mehta needs Vladimir Horowitz….or does he…I digress.

But when it comes to those devout independent ID’ers who are gung ho regulationists I am in the minority on this belief…..add in the gender issue and I maybe alone on my middle age hetero male interior designer island. For it is the issue of regulation and licensure, or right to practice, that severs our professional domains like a serrated knife.  This is an unfortunate circumstance for both professions and is the crux of the aforementioned “struggle”.

Ultimately when the debate turns to which professional domain is best suited to own code regulated interior design work the gloves come off.  The well entrenched AIA continues to lobby against all legislation pursued by various interior design coalitions (vis-a-vis ASID). The AIA oft kicks sand in the our collective professional faces.  I understand the turf protection aspect of this issue as I have been on all sides of this fence.

Ultimately the AIA wants to protect the income producing potential interior projects provide for its sole/small practice members and the pro-regulation interior design contingent claims that they have earned the right to practice in certain conditional code regulated interior environments without the oversight of an architect.  That’s the “struggle” in a nutshell folks.  Correct me if I am wrong.

So over the past few years, as the profession of interior design has slowly made strides in advancing its worth to society and its place in the design of code regulated interior design environments, there have been lot’s of suggestions as to how regulation minded interior designers should, or could, create a valid professional path that avoids both practice conflicts with licensed architects and, at the other end of the spectrum, the vitriolic push-back of disenfranchised interior decorators and residential designers.  By default we have unfortunately modeled our professional path after architects and our similarities are also our biggest roadblock.  Should we continue this potentially incestuous path to professional status or should we create a new and unique paradigm that is uniquely our own?

The one alternative model for ID professional advancement getting the most traction (IMO) is the nursing model….er….um the

The Medical Profession Model


Of course this is not a new analogy.  Both sides of the interior designer/architect equation have pondered its validity and viability for some time now.  The Interior Design Coalition of Arizona has adopted the nursing analogy in its legislation justification material;

“Other states have concluded that establishing this category of registered professional in the field of architecture and design is similar to the prior emergence of the physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner in the medical field.”

Most recently the medical model was promoted as a way for ID to move forward in this March 2013 article in Design Intelligence Magazine.

In it John Weigand posits a very reasoned and eloquent case for ID to follow the nursing model, particularly its education pathways, to move ID out of its professional stasis.

He is correct in this observation;

“Nurses, technicians and others are important contributors in the medical system, but they are credentialed at levels appropriate to the work. There is flexibility in the system.”

And there are numerous comparisons one can make between the two occupations.  Decorators and Medical Assistants , Interior Designers (non-NCIDQ certified) and LPN/LVN’s, and Certified Interior Designers and RN’s or Nurse Practitioners.

He is also correct in stating that the ID education model has many of the academic prerequisites in place but getting buy-in from the architect side of the equation would require a quantum leap in cross profession collaboration

“This model could be developed jointly by NAAB and CIDA and might need to exist for some period of time in test mode, not replacing but paralleling current standards.”

Well yes and when all 8 planets, Pluto and the Sun align these discussions MIGHT be possible.  Call me a skeptic.

There are also some parallels with the examination and licensure of nurses…they protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and so do we…..or at least that is how we try to frame our right to be regulated. But let’s face it- justifying nurses responsibilities in that regard is a no brainer. Interior designers ability and obligation to protect the HS&W of the public…well that is a very hard sell….even if you are shopping for ID services.

And to address the 800 pound white male gorilla in this discussion.  What about the issue of gender subservience?  Articles on the subject abound;

So what is the difference between being subservient to male dominated profession of architecture?  Well nothing- no improvement here.

It also appears that at the highest level of the medical profession that Nurse Practitioners and Medical Doctors are vying for control of the patients health…

Sound familiar?

And let’s be honest the profession of architecture as we know it is evolving and reinventing itself.  The days of the black caped walking stick wielding master of the built domain are long gone.  Given the quantum leap in construction and design technology, coupled with the great economic resetting of the past decade (resulting in up to 45% unemployment in the profession at the peak of the downturn), architects, vis-a-vis the AIA, are scrambling to redefine their position in the design of the built environment.  So maybe architects need to retool their image and approach as to how they validate their value to society as well.

Given the UNDERLYING issues of subservience, turf (or in this case patient) protection and gender bias inherent in the nursing model PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER would like to think outside the box a little bit…….okay maybe a lot.

I would like to be so bold as to propose a new model for ID professional advancement….oh and this applies to the architects as well.

The Musical Profession Model


Cutting to the chase. Let’s imagine that the role of the conductor is played by the architect and the interior designer is first chair violinist or if you’re so inclined…the pianist.  Obviously in the design and execution of a large multi-discipline building somebody needs to make sure everybody is in tune, on time and contributing their individual effort to the betterment of the whole composition.  For me the analogy between architect and conductor is much more palatable than architect and doctor.  Another nuance of this analogy that should appeal to ID’ers is that when an orchestra is not necessary, as in a violin solo, or simple string quartet recital, there is no need for a conductor.  If an interior designer/violinist wishes to go solo…they are welcome to do so and can even make a living performing solo.  Arguing with myself here- YES Nurse Practitioners can also treat patients to a certain extent without the oversight of an MD…..but then remember all of the other legal, political and territorial baggage that comes with that.   No thanks.

Now obviously the professional musician analogy looses some validity when you drill down to the issue of regulation and licensure.  But if we believe that ID leaders and architect leaders can get together to even consider the possibility of some sort of mutually beneficial education/examination/practice pathways then what the hell….let’s take full advantage of this fantasy and create something that benefits both of our professions.  Just some food for thought folks.


Fade out and fade in:

Fade to black.

Roll the credits

Cut. Print. THAT’S A WRAP!

I Love the 80’s

So I posted earlier about having an article proposal rejected by The Interior Design Educators Association Journal because the reviewers thought it was a “puff piece”. Well maybe in their end of the world it was but damn if it didn’t set me on a mission to prove them wrong.


I don’t typically dwell in the past but when I do I prefer to dwell in reality.




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… 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.


Even I was unaware that the CID was in the business of “approving” interior design courses. Does this mean that graduates of the NYIAD can eventually become CID CID’s?  (for those of you not up with whole credential acronym thing that would be Certified Interior Decorator Certified Interior Designer)

Of course I am being overdrammatically facetious.

Place hand on head…continue scratching.

P.S. Why hasn’t the Certified Interior Decorators International sued the California Council for Interior Design Certification for trademark infringement? Must be a secret amongst the Cult of CID’s.