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.

HERE IS IIDA’S RESPONSE  http://designmatters.iida.org/2014/09/29/interior-design-vs-interior-decorating/


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…..








I commend ASID for issuing their annual take on the state of the “industry”.   It is helpful for those of us who need to know such things but don’t (so you do get internet in your cave).  Previously I commented on the choice of “industry” vs. “profession” but of course ASID has to cast as broad of a membership net as possible.  You should know by now where I stand on this semantic twist.

But of course there is something else for us to consider here. There is a statement in the Dexigner article that really needs to be drilled down lest it become just another ad hominem, purely rhetorical pitch, with no real purpose other than to placate.  I do not know if it was part and parcel of ASID’s presentation or Dexigner’s spin on the topic but the statement could not be more true- to wit:

“These data, coupled with an increase in the popularity of “DIY design,” suggest that the industry needs to communicate its value more effectively. Interior designers bring to the table vital knowledge about health, well-being, sustainability, ergonomics and acoustics as well as expertise in building codes, standards and regulations. Interior designers also are well-versed in project and materials management.”

Once again the choice of term used to describe the profession as “industry” already convolutes the premise of the statement.  But from PROFESSIONALINTERIORDESIGNER’s standpoint who ever said it could not have stated the larger issue with our…..ahem….”industry” more succinctly.

Begs several questions though; Who’s table is it?  Who is invited to the table? and how exactly are we going to communicate all of this?

I know where to get a good table and some comfy chairs- let’s figure this out.

These data, coupled with an increase in the popularity of “DIY design,” suggest that the industry needs to communicate its value more effectively. Interior designers bring to the table vital knowledge about health, well-being, sustainability, ergonomics and acoustics as well as expertise in building codes, standards and regulations. Interior designers also are well-versed in project and materials management.

Read more: http://www.dexigner.com/news/27569

These data, coupled with an increase in the popularity of “DIY design,” suggest that the industry needs to communicate its value more effectively. Interior designers bring to the table vital knowledge about health, well-being, sustainability, ergonomics and acoustics as well as expertise in building codes, standards and regulations. Interior designers also are well-versed in project and materials management.

Read more: http://www.dexigner.com/news/27569




Seems the California Council of the AIA (or a related chapter) is trying to corner the market on the permit review process in California under the guise of assisting over worked/over burdened  and under staffed building permit departments.  California Assembly Bill 2192, ( http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB2192  )which is currently in committee, proposes a limited pilot program that will allow permit documents to be reviewed for approval by other architects…….That is, where local codes require that permit drawings be stamped and sealed by an architect that another architect, on behalf of  the local jurisdiction,  can review and approve those documents to be permitted…..It is unclear to me how a set of non-seismic/non-structural permit drawings signed and sealed by a Certified Interior Designer will be considered under such a scheme….but I can imagine that since the fox will have the key to the hen-house door that the cost of entry might go way up.

Yes this is only a limited proposal and the bill may never move out of committee but to an anti-government/less government mindset this appears to be a brilliant proposal.  Many building/permit departments already employ architects as plan reviewers and building officials.  If successful the quasi-privatization of local building departments could become a trend…..a stretch maybe but hey this is California….anything can happen and if it catches on Katie bar the hen-house door.

BUT……………..besides the potential issues of bias and favoritism..not that that would ever happen amongst fellow professionals….it just seems that the AIA is using this to idea to monopolize the building permit process which cannot be positive for California’s already sketchy CID permitting process.



AB 2192 (Melendez), the AIACC-sponsored legislation to create a pilot program for three local jurisdictions to implement an alternative plan review process for residential design, has been dropped and is now dead. While the author’s office and the AIACC were confident we would be able to move this bill out of the Legislature and to the Governor for his consideration, the good question the author asked was why move the bill if no local jurisdiction has been found that is willing to implement the alternative review process?

Our bill would have implemented a pilot project in three local jurisdictions that would have allowed residential plans prepared by architects to be reviewed by another architect, and that “peer review” would have been in lieu of plan review by the local jurisdiction. Thus, a building permit would have been issued upon the submittal of “peer reviewed” plans.

Many groups opposed this bill, including the California Building Officials, California Architects Board (oppose unless amended), and several interior design groups.

We, and the author’s office, were unable to find any local building department interested in becoming a part of this pilot project, causing the author to question the need to move the bill.

Initially, the bill would have given all local building departments the authority to implement this alternative plan review program, at its discretion, but we had to amend it to a pilot program for three jurisdictions in order to get the bill out of the State Assembly, which we did on a 72-4 vote. Unfortunately, with that amendment, we needed to find local jurisdictions in a short amount of time who were willing to be a part of this program, and we were not able to do that.

AIACC staff will work with the AIA Members on the AIACC Advocacy Advisory Committee to consider whether we should work with local jurisdictions in an effort to try this again next year.  http://www.aiacc.org/2014/06/25/legislative-update-june-2014/


UPDATED 6/23/14

Okay fellow ID Professionals time for a history lesson;


Kudos to IDLNY for posting this great information on the history of Interior Design.  For those of you who took the time to follow the time line and note the various shifts in external influences affecting the evolution of the interior design profession as well as the internal struggles to maintain meaningful identity and cohesion you will note that it has not always been a clear path that we interior designers have forged..lots of organizational schisms along the way.  The list of organizations, acronyms, and titles is impressive for a profession that is 100 years old…(or 50+/- depending on which flavor of Interior Design you prefer).

“Schism”….always wanted to use that word in a post….just what is a schism?

noun: schism; plural noun: schisms
a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief.
synonyms: division, split, rift, breach, rupture, break, separation, severance; More
chasm, gulf; discord, disagreement, dissension
“the schism between her father and his brother”
the formal separation of a church into two churches or the secession of a group owing to doctrinal and other differences.

What’s my point?……Glad I asked.

To me it is clear that interior design, unlike “architecture” or “accounting” or “law” is a relatively new profession in comparison* that has taken an incredible effort to define and validate its place in the building design professions.  Kudos to our earlier professional leaders for their time and dedication to get us to this point.  Interior Design’s march to societal respect and legal recognition as peers with other licensed design professionals has been  challenging at best, definitely frustrating and fraught with legal and political missteps. But trying to stay on the positive side of this  process I see a very constant state of  evolution mostly for the better.

It is time to keep the evolution going.  It is time for those of who wish to practice regulated interior design to the fullest potential of our learned and vetted abilities to have that opportunity unimpeded by those who find such evolution threatening.   It is time that we have a meaningful credential and it is time that we have a professional organization whose sole purpose is the legal, political and public advocacy of our rights to practice as peers with, or independent of, other licensed building design professionals.

History…or rather…Time is on our side.


* Personally I find the excuse that we are a “new profession” weak.  Times have changed….100 years ago a 50 year old professional entity would be “young”.  In today’s rapidly evolving business/professional landscape 50 years is ancient.  My perspective of course….you may be a tortoise for all I know.

P.S What is left of Michigan’s ID title legislation effort is on its way to being deregulated/repealed;

Michigan House Bill 4378, Repeal interior designer registration: Passed 29 to 9 in the Senate

“To repeal a law that establishes a government interior designer registry and makes it available to state or local government agencies. To be included on the registry a designer must have passed a test created by a national organization of incumbent interior designers (which has sought repeatedly in previous legislatures to impose a full licensure and regulatory regime on interior designers).


What does this mean for the above described effort?  Is there anything we could have done to prevent this?  Should we care?  Don’t ask me.

Like I said earlier…..there are unregulated interior designers and regulated interior designers….that is,  in my humble opinion, the quickest and cleanest way to distinguish our domain from this;

“• Let pillows pack a punch.

Seasoned design pros often regard pillows as the ultimate accessory on an upholstered piece. A brilliant strategy: Outfit the sofa body in a neutral base cloth. This shows off the silhouette of the frame to maximum effect.

Next, introduce pillows to add pizzazz. Develop a color palette with pillows using fabrics and custom options.”   http://www.news-press.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/06/20/behind-scenes-designer-reveals-secrets/11165443/ 


Pitching a New Mantra- AGAIN

Well it’s been about 2 years since I trotted out this proclamation and while there has been some positive movement toward this vision….we are still singing too many songs from too many hymnals.  It’s time to re-post;



ONE VOICE: We need to have one professional organization that is devoted to serving the best interests of vetted interior design professionals by continually raising the standards of professional status, advocating for our legal/political rights in a unified, cohesive manner, and promoting our unique value to society.  The old adage that there is strength in numbers does not count if we don’t have a clear direction.

ONE CREDENTIAL: We need a brand identity that clearly communicates our unique value to society and demands the respect that we all have earned.  And no this brand is not “Interior Design” nor are we merely “Interior Designers”.  Since anyone with a pulse can claim that title it does not make sense to try to make it our own unique brand- does it?

ONE MISSION: To allow us to compete as equals to, or independent of, other licensed design professionals.

What part of that is unclear?  Not a rhetorical question.


“…..Yet when it comes to taking action to advance the practice, many designers feel overwhelmed. The entire topic can seem too complicated, too political, too abstract.  It doesn’t have to be.”

Hmmmm….now you tell me.  Guess it depends on how you define “too”.


Props to IIDA and the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter for trying to SUCCINCTLY explain the issue of legally and politically advancing the profession and how we might be our own best advocates.  I know for a fact that it isn’t easy to distill this issue down to manageable sound bytes or bullet points.

Again for fear of being labeled an arm-chair (albeit ergonomically designed w/ adjustable lumbar support) critic I truly respect the time and effort involved here.  I learn from each of these organizational missives…and I also see lot’s of missed opportunities and mixed messages.  My first reaction is that it is complicated, it is very abstract to those who care not to understand it, and it is hyper political.  I get the soft pitch approach but if you have to sugar coat it to get the message across to your constituents, the ones directly affected, then how do we expect the general public to understand the nuances…..much less care?

Heck we can’t even agree on a definition…..speaking of which I see IIDA is trying to spin a new one;

Interior Design is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

Finally a definition that is less than a chapter and does not require a glossary.  Well done!-No seriously this is the best iteration I have seen.  I am overjoyed to see the issue of quality of life included.  Hallelujah!

My only concern here is the fast and loose use of “Interior Design”.  While we all would like “Interior Design” to hold this meaning amongst the general public (AKA our policy makers) I know (IMO) the common use definition of interior design is far from this (see my previous post http://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2014/04/21/pitching-a-new-interior-design-paradigm/) and as long as the public perception blends decoration with design, which it will despite our continued efforts otherwise, the use of Interior Design to describe what we do is a lost cause.  Several years ago when I contracted this obsession I assumed we could in fact change the “interior design” paradigm simply by educating the general public…..silly me.

The legal and political forces, which I have discovered to be onerous and labyrinthine, have convinced me otherwise- WE CANNOT CHANGE THE DEFINITION OF “INTERIOR DESIGN” SIMPLY BECAUSE WE SAY IT IS SO. Now if IIDA’s message had begun something like this……

Code regulated Interior Design is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

or maybe;

“Interior Design, as practiced by Registered Interior Designers ®, is the development and implementation of an interior environment that provides the highest level of safety, function and overall enhancement to the inhabitants’ quality of life.”

Now that is a unique definition that by default eliminates any societal cross-over with ‘Interior Design” as performed by those born with a flair or are innately talented self-proclaimed Interior Designers….which is perfectly legal -and we all know they are the majority here….. I digress.  Heck IIDA North Pacific should understand this as their neighbors in Oregon are trying mightily to change the semantic paradigm to be “Commercial Interior Designer” via https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2014R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB1521/A-Engrossed

How is that not politically abstract?

I know we would all like it to be as simple as changing the meaning of “Interior Design” to match IIDA’s definition but even if we all wore that definition on our shirtsleeves (or had custom tee shirts made….note to self-$$$) we cannot possibly overcome the critical mass of popular perception that considers us nothing more than finish pickers and furniture arrangers.

Now the next part of the definition gets even murkier….

An Interior Designer is an individual who has been trained to identify, research and creatively solve problems pertaining to the development of an interior environment, and who possesses the knowledge and skills to implement these solutions. Interior Designers apply their expertise of Design and the built environment to solving problems at the interior scale and at the level of direct human experience.”

Again on the surface this is the best summation of our profession that I have seen.  However, according to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida anybody with a pulse can legally claim the title ‘interior designer” and practice “interior design” despite what IIDA says here.  We lost that battle in a very complicated and convoluted legal battle 3 years ago.  If the recent ASID ICON article on the future of Interior Design http://professionalinteriordesigner.com/2014/03/19/the-future-of-interior-design/ and this IIDA effort to re-spin the professional validation effort are any indication of lessons learned by the Locke v. Shore debacle we have a very long, very complicated, and very abstract game of softball ahead of us.


I am well aware that there are many in the profession that firmly believe that it is possible to instill a societal paradigm shift of their understanding of Interior Design by education (one relative at a time) and lots of behind the scenes lobbying- I wish them well but I have a much different take on this issue……as you may now realize.

Call me a pessimist, call me an idiot, call me a pessimidiot….if you think the current model for our professional advancement is just fine then you probably are not reading this.  If you are still here then I hope you find my wry ruminations amusing at worst and thought provoking at best.

Sure makes me feel better.